Tonawanda News


May 5, 2013

DUVALL: On being a night owl, quiet or loud

Tonawanda News — My first apartment was two doors down from a methadone clinic at Elmwood Avenue and Virginia Street in the heart of Allentown.

Just past the clinic was a fire house, its engines rumbling, sirens wailing at the thought of a neighborhood emergency.

A block north was Allen Street and its seemingly 24 hour revelry — to which I contributed no small amount of debauchery in those years.

The place was never quiet. The rumbling fire trucks, the shouting drunks, the tweaked clinic patients pressing passers-by for change or a spare cigarette. During summer nights you could hear the dull thump of club music on Chippewa and watch fireworks following Friday night Bisons games from my living room window.

I’ve moved to a moderately quieter part of town since then, the wide, stately Richmond Avenue, lined with a canopy of shade trees that seemingly bloomed overnight. Those trees make the city so much prettier; drab and muddy April is now a distant memory.

I’ve traded the fire engines for the slow woosh of a policeman’s patrol car, standing sentinel for we wee hour ne’er-do-wells. 

A city speaks if you listen close enough. The cacophony of sirens, music, pedestrians, garbage trucks, honks of hello and see-you-later shouts.

Even at 4 a.m. on a weeknight there was always something to hear for the attentive listener just a short ride to where I used to live.

I mention this because the thought occurred the other night, plopped down on my porch after work, beer in hand, I was experiencing something I’ve come to appreciate more and more — silence.

For a lifelong night owl who’s lived in a bright, bustling neighborhood for nearly a decade now, the rare moments of silence are poignant. 

I grew up for 20 years on a quiet suburban side street. Silence there was routine. When improperly violated it was cause to call the police.

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