Village Hill, Anne T. Dunphy: What's in a name?

Last modified: Sunday, January 10, 2016
The controversy in Williamsburg about possibly renaming the renovated Anne T. Dunphy School (full disclosure: I was a teacher’s aide in the Burgy schools in the early 1980s) raises a number of questions particular to Williamsburg. The interface between the families who have been there for generations and those who are more recent arrivals has always been a bit rough. Friction is inevitable. I’m inclined to think history should be honored.But these matters also arise here in the city. As Village Hill development continues at a rapid pace on what was not so long ago known as Hospital Hill, those of us who have lived here for even a few decades wonder why the State Hospital that once dominated that landscape and employed so many city residents (not to mention buried so many patients in the so-called “Dog Walk” area) should be so thoroughly forgotten, expunged from all mention. Only the PVTA bus and one bike path sign still bear the name Hospital Hill. Old-timers may still call the sledding hill Hospital Hill, but otherwise, memories are short.There’s supposed to be a memorial —the old fountain—someday, with new houses set to start their inexorable march over the top of the hill where once the Old Main building stood. Without some reminder, few will remember the hospital, its workers and its patients.Or the former depths of its woodlands. I heard a thrush singing the other day. Thrushes like deep woods. We’ll lose them if we destroy too much of their habitat.Sweet summerThe linden trees are dropping their scapes, soon to release the subtle perfume of their flowers. It’s also the season of roses and mock orange. While it stayed cool, the iris and peonies lasted longer.Hoop heavenIt was the day of the final NBA championship game, and on the basketball court at Veterans Field a small towheaded boy was tossing a basketball underhand, Rick Barry foul shot style,* up and over and through the hoop, again and again, never missing all the time I watched. *I would not have known that Rick Barry was known for that, but my husband knew.