Something new and altogether different, from The New Yorker:
At the Bensonhurst outpost of Flynn O’Hara, a school-uniform store, the busiest time of the year is usually the Tuesday after Labor Day. By late September, families have stocked up on the insignia blazers and tartan jumpers that are commensurate with a Catholic education. But this fall, with Mayor Bill de Blasio twice delaying reopening the city’s public schools, Flynn O’Hara had lines around the block. Harried-looking mothers gave themselves away by asking the telltale newbie question: How many pairs of pants should I buy?
Dana Conlon, who manages the Bensonhurst location, started working at Flynn O’Hara ten years ago. Her son and daughter attended Catholic schools on Staten Island—Monsignor Farrell and St. Joseph by the Sea—and she went to St. Brendan and St. Mark. “We still sell that uniform,” she said, on a recent Monday. “Plaid eighty-seven was mine.”
Every plaid has a number. At Flynn O’Hara, the mostly navy-and-green fitting-room curtains are eighty-three, the weave worn by students at St. Bernadette, in Dyker Heights. Eighty-seven, the plaid Conlon wore, is navy, yellow, and gray. “Which happens to be one of the oldest plaids,” Wayne DeAngelo, a district manager of the chain, said, stepping out of a storeroom.
The previous day, the union representing the city’s principals announced that it had lost confidence in de Blasio’s plan to reopen the schools. Conlon, expecting a crowd, had called extra salespeople in to help. A customer named Thomas Aellis came in at around 4 p.m. to buy gym shirts for his three daughters, who are all at St. Bernadette. The year had taken a toll, and he mentioned that he was thinking of leaving New York. “I own a limousine company on Eighty-sixth Street,” he said.
Aellis’s wife is a public-school teacher. “So she’s in the middle of the bleep storm,” he said. “Two of our best friends pulled their kids from public,” he added, and enrolled them at St. Bernadette. “Kids are in full days, one-hundred-per-cent capacity, every day,” he said of the school. “My kids wanted to go. They were tired. They missed their friends.”
“I hope it’s not just a temporary switch,” Louise Romano, an assistant manager, said. “Where families are just putting their kids in there for now, then in a year they’re going to put them back in public schools, because a lot of the Catholic schools are in danger of closing.”