Neighbors call her the Mayor of 14th Street, but the woman beside me just smiled and shook her head. “I never wanted to be famous,” she said. “I just like watching out for everyone.”
One would be hard pressed to find a better guardian for South Slope than lifelong resident Dora Hanrahan. On any given morning, she can be found standing in front of the Holy Family rectory, located on 14th Street between 4th and 5th Avenue, chatting with friends, organizing day-to-day operations for the church and waving the neighborhood kids off to school.
“I like to talk to the kids,” said the 26-year veteran of religious instruction. “I like to encourage the teenagers. I love kids, I do.”
If my two-year-old is any indication, kids love her right back.
In many ways a big kid herself, Dora’s face shines with pride when sharing stories of her South Slope childhood during the 1940s and 1950s.
“I grew up on 16th Street,” she said. “My dad drove a hot dog truck and my grandfather owned a grocery store over on 16th between 3rd and 4th. When I was off of school, I would go with my dad and it was always a lot of fun.
“We knew everybody when we were growing up,” Dora continued. “From my mother, I learned to respect all people. Oh, she was wonderful with people, my mother.”
Despite the myriad of changes that have taken place in South Slope over the years, it has always been the people who continue to bring Dora back to the neighborhood.
“I feel at home here,” she said. “There are different people here from when I grew up, but the atmosphere is still home. The people make you feel welcome and that you’re a part of the area. You’re part of the group now, too, Chris,” she added with a smile.
I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be. Thank you, Dora.