Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Once the weather was nice – meaning no further threat of a snowstorm – people claimed their spots on the sidewalk in my neighborhood.  There was a line of men who sat on chairs, wheelchairs, or on the seat of a walker along a storefront on Lincoln Avenue. One man was particularly friendly and always called hello whenever I passed by.  

Around the corner and down the block on Flatbush Avenue, there were a couple of permanent kitchen chairs outside the barber shop, usually filled with men complaining about one thing or another.  They never spoke to me, but looking inside the barber shop it always seemed like a party was going on.  

On Parkside Avenue, where there was a sort of crummy grocery store, sometimes I might pass gang members – there was a shooting there one afternoon while I was shopping, once there was a hooker laying on the sidewalk (saw that in Manhattan too).  Once, I was propositioned once in a very vulgar way by a large sweaty man getting on a bus.  Good luck, buddy.

Walking down Ocean Avenue on a warm day, I might find Chester standing underneath the awning of the apartment building where he lived. He was friends with my landlord so I had been formally introduced and we always chatted whenever I saw him.  He’d lived in the neighborhood for forty years and he told me all about the changes that had happened

He told me that some of the apartment buildings along Ocean Avenue had doormen and carpets and furniture in the lobbies.  Now they were lucky if the front door actually locked and the elevators were running.  The lobbies were now floored with cheap linoleum and empty of all furniture.

I remember one day Chester was just chatting about his foot hurting, then changed the subject, saying, “Hitler was sitting on my refrigerator this morning for three hours.  Yes, he was only 12 inches tall and he sat on the top of the fridge from 9 o’clock until noon.  I tried not to look at him, but I could see him out of the corner of my eye.  I went out of the kitchen for a long while, checking every once in a while to see if he was still there, and finally he was gone.” 

Well, that certainly surprised me. 

Another day he told me about some crows three feet tall that flew in his bedroom window and spent the night.

I wasn’t quite sure what to say during some of his conversation, but I sure did find him interesting.

Post by Alana Cash

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