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TROY, N.Y. — It’s been almost 10 years since Vic Christopher, 37, and Heather La Vine, 35, landed in Troy. They came here to recharge a minor league baseball team. But they fell in love with the city and with each other. Their “office” romance was not allowed. So they got hitched and left professional sports. Today, they’re working to revitalize the city, instead.
In this rolling and sometimes outrageous conversation, Duncan Crary speaks with Christopher and La Vine about love, marriage, urban renewal, gentrification, economic development and The American Dream.
TROY, N.Y. — In 1916, James Connolly led the Easter Rising in Dublin, which eventually resulted in the creation of the Irish Republic we know today. He was a freedom fighter, a husband, a father and a Socialist labor organizer. Connolly lived in Troy, N.Y. from 1903 to 1905, where he worked to promote socialist ideals in this city that once bustled with industry and inequality. He was executed by the British on May 12, 1916.
In 1986, Belfast native James Devine worked to create a monument to Connolly in Troy, to honor his years spent living here. Like Connolly, Devine was a labor organizer at the time.
TROY, N.Y. — William “Bill” Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize winning author of “Ironweed,” is famous for writing about another small American city, Albany, N.Y. He grew up in the place and always wanted to do what his son is doing today — live downtown where all the action is. But when he and his wife arrived back in Albany in 1963, the place was like Desolation Row. All the stores were closed. The windows were dirty. All the theaters were closed. Nobody was coming downtown. “It was like the city had just imploded,” he said. So when the time came to raise a family, the author and his bride, opted to raise their family in a small country town.
TROY, N.Y. — They say it takes a village to raise a child, or three. Here in town, just about everyone knows Annabella, age 10, and her twin sisters Scarlett & Evelyn Kennedy, age 6. And though they don’t have a playground, these little women do have lots of kooky adults to entertain them when they’re out on the town.
TROY, N.Y. — When you first arrive in Troy, you can’t avoid seeing it. A playful sticker placed here and there. A black and white oval, with happy little lowercase lettering that says “enjoy troy.” This “meme” has spread all over town. But for a long time few people knew where the cheery mandate originated.
As a carpenter, Peter Albrecht has built many of the “third places” in Troy, where the people come to life when they are out on the town. But as a barroom Socrates, he holds his own with Ph.D’s, crack heads and all strata in between. He is as quick to cite the ancient texts as he is with a bawdy tale. He’s also the last stop for Trojans down on their luck, often sharing his meals and even his home for those with nowhere else to go. In this far-reaching conversation, Peter provides a glimpse of a life examined.
It’s been a long time since novelist Jack Casey had his last drink. But they say Troy stands for “Tell Right On You,” and some locals in this place still spin yarns about those wild days before this reformed bohemian novelist took the pledge. In this episode, we get the scoop straight from the source. Like many Trojan stories, this one was forged at the bar before it spilled onto the street to tangle with history, class warfare, politics, justice, celebrity and iron.
For many Americans, “The City” only refers to New York City, or one of the other major metroplexes in the country with populations in the millions. But North America is filled with smaller cities that were once just as lively, if only at a smaller scale. And they may come back to life again as events already underway continue to unfold.
Urban polemicist James Howard Kunstler believes that Troy, N.Y., with its currently population of 50,000, has many characteristics that make it a universal stand-in for every small American city. But he also believes there are aspects that make Troy uniquely poised for a genuine comeback.