Salute to a neighborhood exemplar

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  • The memorial service for Manikkam "Mano" Srimanean at St. Monica’s Church. Srymanean was struck and killed by a taxi on April 22 as he crossed York Avenue near 78th Street from the market he had managed for decades.

If ever there was a “love-one-another” New Yorker, it was Manikkam Srimanean, known to all as “Mano.” Many of us wouldn’t have known about him, had he not been so tragically killed, reportedly by a turning cab as he crossed York Avenue near 78th – just outside the Super Del Market he managed for decades. (The police investigation is ongoing and no charges had been filed as of this week.)

And had he not been such a mensch as noted in a memorial sign now outside the deli, his tragic death, on April 22, would not have received considerable media coverage or remembered in a packed memorial service at St. Monica’s. Mano, incidentally, was Hindu.

He was surely the epitome of someone who takes the “love-one-another” commandment to heart; a role model of the very finest kind, as speaker after speaker at his memorial service recalled. He was known, they said, for his everyday kindnesses, his smiles, his greetings by name. (But how we need those in general in a less and less connected culture). They recalled his numerable generous, “second mile” acts for people down on their luck or ill or unable to get to the store. When an elderly woman’s computer broke and Mano gave her his own. He paid for another elderly woman’s funeral after no one claimed her body at the morgue. Mano, 50, who lived on East 78th Street nearby, was a great everyday friend to all, including to the children, parents and teachers from nearby PS 158. And I just now learned how grief counseling was needed after Mano’s so untimely, so tragic and yes, preventable death.

But we must hear again and again how vehicular failure to yield when turning into a crosswalk is the number 1 killer and maimer of pedestrians. We need on-the-spot warning signs and stencils the Transportation Department is reluctant to provide. The word must really get out there and stay out there until it becomes as abhorrent a traffic crime as driving drunk. Ah, think how Mothers Against Drunk Drivers made the real difference. And let Mother’ Day this May be the start of Mothers Against Failure To Yield. The same for Father’s Day in June and Grandparents Day in September.

And may this small but densely populated Yorkville community become renown for this continuing crusade — a role model for all neighborhoods — as safe traffic activists.

So much to say and do with a need for many a column, editorial and sermons, including memorial service notes taken by my son Todd because my hearing is no longer “20/20.” And while little was said at the memorial service about Mano’s so tragic and wrongful death, now we need to hear, to remember, about the lasting loss and grief especially for those who so personally loved Mano – and how, as my son Jeff said, “so that the changes needed to prevent such traffic tragedies really get made – at long last, are made.”

It can be done if enough of us try – if enough of us try. To be continued, of course.

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