Q: Is it true that the New York State Thruway Authority is catching speeders with E-ZPass? Please let me know so I can get rid of the damn thing.
—Bill Marcella, New Rochelle
A: Not only can they track your speed, give you a ticket, and fine you, the system also has a way to determine if you’re a registered Republican, in which case the current administration will have you detained and most probably waterboarded. Kidding, kidding.
The theory behind this fear is that the E-ZPass system can determine how fast a car on the Thruway outfitted with its device has traveled by measuring the distance and time it took to get from its point of entry to its point of exit. The E-ZPass system could do the calculation and bust your speeding butt without having to pull you over and listen to your weak sob story—Big Brother at its finest.
Some folks even claim they’ve received such tickets from E-ZPass in the mail.
Well, Illuminati fans, I’m sorry to report that the Thruway Authority as Orwellian villain theory just doesn’t hold up. Yeah, I know, it all has to be true because you read it in an email, right? No, it isn’t true, and the New York State Thruway Authority has heard the rumor so many times they even issued a statement saying that “the authority and state police do not use E-ZPass to enforce vehicle and traffic law.” The Thruway Authority also pointed out that it doesn’t even have the authority to issue speeding tickets, since state law requires an observation or radar by a police officer to charge someone with speeding. But what about those letters that people have claimed to have received? Those are caution letters for having traveled too fast through the toll area.
Q: There have been so many stories about Pete Seeger since his passing. I heard something about him building the chimney of his house with rocks that were thrown at him during a protest. What can you tell me about that?
—Ron Deepe, Ardsley
A: One of our county’s darkest moments came during the Peekskill Riots in 1949. African-American singer and civil-rights leader Paul Robeson was scheduled to perform in Peekskill. At the time, he was labeled not only a civil-rights leader, but also a communist, a rabble-rouser, and a danger to the American way of life. On August 27, the Ku Klux Klan fueled a mob that rioted and prevented Robeson from performing. Crosses were burned, people were beaten, and, in general, it was very ugly stuff. The concert was canceled.
A rescheduled show was planned, and artists like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger performed with Robeson to show their support for him and the causes he represented. Afterwards, another angry mob formed and attacked a car with Guthrie and Seeger in it. The rioters smashed all of the car’s windows with rocks and continued to hurl them at the folk singers as Guthrie and Seeger sped away.
As was Pete Seeger’s way, he got the last laugh. He reported that he collected the rocks from the back seat and added them to a chimney he was building on his house so he would always remember that night, Paul Robeson, and the Peekskill Riots.
Q: I was watching an old movie on cable last night called It Could Happen to You. Supposedly, a diner customer who just bought a lottery ticket fails to tip a waitress but promises to give her half of his winnings if he gets lucky. A friend told me it is a true story and it happened in Westchester—what’s the deal?
—Heather Riggi, White Plains
A: Sal’s Pizzeria in Yonkers is known for more than its exquisite thin slices and eggplant parm sandwiches.
Robert Cunningham, a police detective in Dobbs Ferry, was a regular there, and Phyllis Penzo, who had worked at Sal’s for more than 20 years, often waited on him. In 1984, Cunningham offered Penzo the chance to go half-in on a lottery ticket, promising her half the winnings if the ticket was a winner instead of his normal gratuity. And, lo and behold, when his $6 million ticket hit, the man kept his word. By the way, $3 million is significantly more than the 20-percent tip on the $15 bill Penzo was due.
The rest of the Nicolas Cage movie doesn’t quite hold up. Cunningham and Penzo didn’t fall in love and get married and run off together. They stayed married to their spouses and kept in touch—the least you could expect from the person with whom you split $6 million.
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