1886: Love in New York

Jenny Jin, guest writer


Holding this proposal letter, as I look back, the scene of Percy’s proposal leaps before my eyes. On the letter, Percy wrote:

Dear Alexia,

            How time flies. Today is your 21st birthday. We have known each other since we were little kids. I feel so glad that you are still here with me and that I have the chance to celebrate the first day of your adulthood. In the past 15 years, our relationship has changed a lot. When I was five, I considered you as my best friend and like a little sister. Do you remember that tree house which we always stay in till night? That tree house has stored so many of our intimate conversations. I still remember that you told me you want to live in a vibrant city in that tree house. Since economic developed considerably in New York, it became to our dream city. I still want to go back to that tree house, but life needs to go on, and we can not fit in that tiny tree house anymore. When I was eighteen, I felt that something marvelous was happening between us. I was not sure at that time, and I asked myself several times, “how could I fall in love with someone who’s like my little sister.” but when I was able to recall things between us, I realized I had been  fallen in love with you for a long time. A few months later, you became my girlfriend, and now it is the third year that we’ve been dating. Today is your 21st birthday, and I have struggled for a long time to choose a gift for you. Actually I have prepared this gift for like a

 year. Alexia, would you marry me? I want to give you a home . . . a family, just you and me. No more tiny tree house, but a real home. I will be a strong pillar in our family, and you will be a perfect wife and mother. Alexia, if you are ready to spend the rest of your life with me, there’s a ticket in the envelope, The destination is New York. Let’s start our new life there. If you are not ready, I can wait, five years, ten years . . . trust me, you are the one and the only for me; I will never give up loving you.

                                                                                                                        Sincerely yours,

                                                                                                                         Percy Sherman

May 1, 1886.Rainy.

Looking at this city, which has daily and nightly been in my thoughts, is not appealing anymore. I remember the first day we arrived here. Everything in front of my eyes seemed full of vitality, but now life is so hard. You may not know, you are such a powerful support; you are always the one I turn to when I am in dilemmas. I have never regret that I chose to start this bittersweet life with you in New York . . .

“Honey, what are you doing? Diary again?” Percy asks holding on to my shoulders.

“Yes, I want to remember every single day that I spent with you when I’m old and not  able to recall the memories. Everyday seems so precious to me, I wish there was a camera like my eyes so that I could record every detail of my life,” I say as I snuggle into Percy’s bosom.

“I read today’s newspaper; workers in Chicago are going on strike. I think it will influence New York, I think now is a great time to get a new job, which has a higher salary. I just found a job in Fraunces Tavern ; the restaurant which is thirty minutes away from

our apartment. So . . . I’m afraid that I can not be back home before you sleep because the work finishes at 11:30. But I can not miss this chance to give you a better life”. . .

“Percy”, I intermit Percy’s soliloquy, ” life has already changed a lot. Remember that crafty landlord? We have been scammed half of our money because of that fake renting contract.”

“Honey, stop reminding me of this, it’s a long time ag–”

“Listen Percy, time will give everything an answer. Life is tough before, but look at us! Just look at us! Heaven never seals off all the exits. I don’t want you to be too stressed. What if you just keep delivering newspapers and be a simple newsman?” I try to convince Percy to secure his position instead of finding a new job in this unstable situation, but it doesn’t change Percy’s determine of sacrificing himself to give us a better life.

* * *

Since Percy got his job at Frances Tavern , his salary did help our livelihood.

“Alexia! I’m back!” Percy shouts outside the door. Usually he comes back at 11:30 at night, but it’s only 3:30 now. Why is he back? I walk to the door, see him holding something, and he shows a smiling face.

“You are early today. What’s wrong?” according to his expression, I assume the reason why he’s back earlier is not bad news.

“Guess what is this?” Percy holds the box in front of me and asks.

Looking at his face, I start to smile too. ” What is that? Show me.”

“Surprise! Remember that time you said you wanted a camera just like your eyes? Dream comes true, Honey! You have a new way to record our life.”

Tears spin in my eyes. He worked so hard to buy this camera. I answer him with shaky sound:” Percy, you just gave me a new reason to record our life. I love you honey, but you know what? I rather you spend more time with me than making money to give me surprises.”


After Percy bought that camera, we made a photo gallery wall in our small apartment. More and more photos are being added to it.

“Did you read today’s newspaper? It says the Statue of Liberty’s unveiling ceremony is on October 28th. What do you think Alexia? Isn’t it breathtaking! Shall we go check it out?”

“Honey, I knew it months ago. Isn’t this known everywhere? President Cleveland is going to have a speech in the unveiling ceremony. Since the Statue of Liberty was a joint effort between France and the United States, intend to commemorate the lasting friendship between the peoples of the two nations, and it was given to America to commemorate the ending of American Civil War and the ending of slavery, the speech is going to be so encouraging (History). Can you remind me to bring my camera and I really need to make sure that it has enough battery.”

“Well, you should let me finish my words. I saw an advertisement downstairs, and it says, there’s a chance to appear on the newspaper by taking pictures with the Statue of Liberty on October 28th. This seems so much fun, what do you think?”

“Oh really, so you think we could appear on the newspaper. I mean, it’s not bad to give it a try, but don’t expect too much . . .” I answer him with an uncertain tone.

* * *

October 28, 1886.Sunny.

Percy and I got up early this morning to take part in the parade, there were over a million people in the ranks of the parade. The route started at Madison square, and we went to Battery Park by way of Fifth avenue and the Broadway, as the parade passed the New York Stock Exchange, traders threw ticker tape from the windows (Khan). Anautical parade began at 12:45 p.m., and President Cleveland embarked on a yacht, that took him across the harbor to Bedloe’s Island for the dedication (Bell). After senator William Maxwell Evart finished his speech, president Cleveland’s speech began. Just as I expected, the speech was encouraging. I can still remember president Cleveland’s word, he said: “Streams of light shall pierce the darkness of ignorance and man’s oppression, until Liberty enlightens the world”. Percy took a picture for me with the statue, since there were too many people, I didn’t have the chance to take a picture for him. So we decided to contribute my picture only.


“Do you remember that address Alexia . . . Alexia? We need to contribute the photo today . . . Oh never mind, I just found it.”

* * *

“Alexia here’s a letter for you, did you check it yet? And I got a letter too.”

“No I didn’t, let me see . . . Honey . . .Pinch me!”

“What’s wrong . . .”

“Are my eyes blurred, it says I’ve been invited to be Cosmopolitan’s first cover model!”

“Wait a minute . . . Come see mine. . . Did it just say, I’m invited to shoot the advertisement for Coca Cola?”

I couldn’t hold my tears, but I get suspicious. Why am I invited to be the cover model? I can’t stop questioning myself, so I keep reading the invitation letter. After finish reading the letter, I figured out the reason. Cosmopolitan is a family magazine, and they are going to publish their first periodical. In order to raise their popularity, they had partnerships withthe newspaper office, which Percy and I contributed our photo with Statue of Liberty. Same as

Cosmopolitan, Coca-Cola company did the same thing. My vigilance has improved since Percy and I got scammed by the landlord.

* * *

1 year later, Percy and I went back to Cleveland, our home town. Nothing changed but us . . .

Works Cited

Bell, James. In Search of Liberty: The Story of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. New York:                 Garden city, 1984.

History.com Staff. “Statue of Liberty.”History. com. A+E Networks, 2009. Web. 28 March. 2017.

Khan, Yasmin Sabina. Enlightening the World: The Creation of the Statue of Liberty.New York:    Cornell University, 2010. Print.


Bell, Lonnie. The Story of Coca Cola. Smart Apple Media, 2003. Print.

Sutherland, Cara A. The Statue of Liberty. New York City: Barnes & Noble Books, 2003. Print.