Some of the people in my neighborhood...

When I moved to the Upper West Side in 1982, this neighborhood was much more on the edge than it is now. When my husband moved here a few years before, some folks wouldn't visit him because he lived north of 91st street.

By the time I moved here it was somewhat safer, ( even scaredey cats came up to 96th street--and in those days I didn't go north of 122nd) but there was a cast of folks one saw on the street on the regular basis. One of my favorites was a man I called "Onion Head". He always wore paint and plaster spattered clothes and wore an mesh onion sack as a veil over his face.

Another member of the cast of characters was the woman I called "White Hotel". She looked just like one of the covers for the novel. Her long hair was sprayed straight up above her head for about half a yard. It was pretty impressive.I always wondered what brand of hair spray she used.

I haven't seen either "Onion Head", or "White Hotel" in years. But both the mean blind man and the mean and crazy blind woman ( who once hit my baby's stroller so hard with her cane , after an exploratory tap, and then let out such a string of curses at me that not only I, but all the folks around me gasped with horror--- and I don't shock easy) are sill active members of the street scene here on Broadway.

When I used to walk my youngest to elementary school I always passed a well dressed man walking quickly to the subway while he was shaving with his battery operated shaver. It seemed the male equivalent of those intrepid women who put their mascara on while the subway is lurching from stop to stop.

My new favorite man on the street is a young man on a bike who I pass as I go to morning services. He has a boom box strapped to his bike. What I love is his surprising choice of music. One would expect a young man to listen to something with a strong and strident beat, instead, he listens to lush romantic instrumental music. It always makes me feel like something lovely will happen to me.


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