There is something unique about a gentleman. It goes beyond the distinctive gestures and tasteful clothing. A true gentleman distinguishes himself by putting his fellow humans before himself. This trait lets him rise above mediocrity and a gentleman’s actions can be remembered for generations to come. Our story is about one such gentleman whose name is forgotten but whose generosity and chivalry are his legacy.
According to legend, one builder stood out from the rest during the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge in the late 1800s. In an era when most builders were scruffy and disheveled, he always came to work in a tidy suit. He spoke quietly, politely and with authority. Others listened when he spoke. What truly made our hero a gentleman, however, was his habit of putting others first no matter the race, class, or creed of his fellow builders.
Every morning, our gentleman arrived at the building site before the workday began. Taking his time, he would brew a cup of his fine smoked black tea and sip on it leisurely while watching the sun rise up over the horizon. He enjoyed these precious moments, which let him feel at one with the city and understand his existence in the world. He was aware that, in helping to build the Brooklyn Bridge, he was creating something that would last far beyond his lifetime.
The smoky and earthy aroma of the tea would waft along both sides of the East River. The other builders were enticed by the scent, and they began coming to work early just to be sure that they had a chance to smell the tea before the workday began. Our gentleman could have just left his coworkers to smell the tea, but sharing was his nature.
He began to bring enough fine black tea for everyone and made sure to brew extra for his coworkers. Anyone who asked for a cup received one, and a curious thing began to happen. The workers began to lose some of their roughness and become more refined. They still worked hard, but dressed neater, were more courteous, and became better husbands and fathers.
Within a year, the morning brew of the fine smoked black tea was a tradition among the builders and engineers of the Brooklyn Bridge. Workers agreed that the bridge could have taken another three to five years longer to complete were it not for the bonds built while drinking tea during those early mornings. Even today, some say that the pride and love that are evident today in the bridge are the result of the tea that supported the workers who built it.
Is the legend true? Nobody can say for sure, but the spirit of the true Brooklyn Gentleman is alive today if you look carefully.