February 14, 2016
Of course I love this book!
It was published right around the time that I was born, in the place that I was born – and it captures the Village I grew up in. It was a friendly place; PS 41 (the old building, a pre-civil war monster, stood on the site of the current playground), was so small the principal knew every one of us by name. Sutter’s Bakery, on the corner of tenth street and Greenwich Avenue perfumed the entire street with the scent of butter and sugar, and we’d stand there, listening to the women in the House of Detention across the street, shouting down to their boyfriends who stood on the sidewalks below. We’d linger, hoping that e.e. cummings, who lived in Patchen Place, the little mews behind the school, might come out.
It really was a place of artists, writers and musicians; nobody had much money (I don’t think I ever met anyone who actually owned their own apartment), but the proximity to Little Italy, Chinatown and the old Jewish Lower East Side meant that we ate interesting food.
As for the Old Lafayette Hotel on Ninth Street and University Place – it was pretty sad by the time I knew it.
Strange, isn’t it, to think of “Peter” Seeger as a “young voice on the radio”?
I love the directive half-way through Morris’ Ernst’s Potato Eleventh Street. (Mr. Ernst, incidentally, co-founded the Civil Liberties Union) : “Sprinkle with paprika, which has no taste but looks pretty.” Tells you how long that particular spice sat forlornly on the shelf. (Were he still alive, I’d advise Mr. Ernst to go uptown to Paprikas Weiss to buy fresh paprika.
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