Nine Snaps and Then Three More

The first 8–all recent–photos were thrown up in random order by forces ruling technology. I thought of protesting, of diligently rearranging them according to some structure of chronology or location then decided that was just the voice of my New England schooling and it’s incessant demand for order. The last three though, I made sure to arrange so as to support my little bit of narration. Richie and I were both 23 in 1965 when I, mourning the death of my dad, dropped out of grad school and moved to New York to become a starving poet. Richie owned half a bar, a joint called The Annex on Avenue B between 10th and 11th, which was annexed to nothing beyond the whole incredible ethos of the East Village as it emerged from the Lower East Side.

When I checked “The Annex” in my blog look up, it produced four more entries:

Whatever, here’s some brief respite from concerns of pandemic, race, religious, political and gender hatreds.




Outside MoMA


Under 103rd and Broadway


Amsterdam & 79th


Viewing the Alice Neel show at the Met Museum


Broadway at 125th


125th west of Broadway


125th west of Broadway


The Highline crossing 10th Avenue around 30th Street


Grafitto on the A train platform under 8th & 34th subway

*   *   *

And now the “Three More.” Think of these as a short story and, having done so, feel free to create your own plot. Should you actually do so, please continue feeling free and submit your creation as a comment. Rest assured it will be printed.

RSG, who in 1965 lived across East 11th Street, remarkably near Avenue B, from the Free Public Baths of the City of New York.

The very baths referenced in the caption above.


Richie V, the man who in 1965 gave the man who lived across from those

Baths his very first job in New York City and who now lives in the

self-same building occupied in 1965 by  the (I love this word!) self-same RSG.

St. Catherine of Sienna said it…


…All the way to heaven is heaven…


All the way to heaven is heaven…


All the way to heaven is heaven!

I work in a holy place, a place of healing, and I’m lucky enough to know it.    My dad worked in a holy place.  He was a clerk in a pre-supermarket food store.  He tended the produce.  He made sure that his customers had fruits and vegetables no less than he would bring home to  his own family.  In fact, when my mother shopped at The Hartford Market, the place where he worked from the 1930’s through the ’40’s into the ’50’s when it was sold to the chain that destroyed it, she would never buy from him.  His co-workers, she was well aware, would “take better care of  her” when it came to watermelon and corn and fresh spinach and red onions and peaches and, yes, even iceberg lettuce.  img_30463

My dad didn’t want me to work in a grocery store.  One day in maybe my freshman year at Hartford Public High School I stopped by to hang out with him.  Even then–before our run-in at the Wooster, Hartford’s great and ancient poolroom–it was cool to hang out with my dad.  He was down in the room off the big refrigerator.  The shelves weren’t cooled back then, so his day would begin with carrying his stock up from the basement refrigerator and end with bringing whatever leftovers back to their cooling place.  Today he was making up fancy baskets of fruits for hospital shut-ins and folks leaving on fancy ocean cruises.  Each basket received equal attention.

Most unusually Dad worked without words.  My every attempt at conversation–we both talked eagerly of sports and politics–met with silence.  I sensed nonetheless he was telling me something, but I didn’t know what.  After perhaps an hour I said some dumb thing about how hard he worked.  He put down his cutting tool and looked over at me.  There was no expression on his face.

“I work hard so you won’t have to.”

He went back to silent work.

There were so many messages in what he did and said, but the ones I carried away and continue to carry may well not have been what he had in mind: first, the importance and beauty of  what he did.  For all I know my love of art and willingness to even make some of it may well have begun by seeing how he placed fruit together on a display rack or in a basket.  My love of work may have originated in watching this man who meant so much to me at his work.  He never spoke of the importance of what he did.  Perhaps he didn’t see it that way.  I however did.  Just as now I see the importance of what I do.  Secondly, I felt–perhaps for the only time in our life together–his love for me.  Third, the sheer nobility of work done fullheartedly.

So here are my questions to you: What’s your work?  After salaries and health benefits and vacation time and job titles are put aside, once you get past those labels of “special” and “good” and “prestigious” and “important” and, yes,  “meaningful”  what is your work really about for you?  Who benefits from your efforts?  Do you build buildings?  Do you make them clean and safe?  Do you teach others or provide them with their clothing or tools?  Do you contribute to the wealth of information which increasingly dominates our world?  Do you contribute to justice being done or hours otherwise spent in boredom being made entertaining?

Write something!  If you have a website showing what you do, send a link.  Whatever, put it in the Comments box.


Published in: on February 2, 2009 at 10:55 pm  Comments (7)