thank you, bulletin board #charltonstreet

New York is a magical place, as you know.

And yet sometimes it surprises us greatly.

Take, for instance, the Sudden Appearance of the Bulletin Board on the corner of 6th avenue (what the tourists call Avenue of the Americas) and Charlton Street.

bulletinboard

now Charlton Plaza (for this is what that small yet perfectly tended patch of land is called) occupies that corner of manhattan.

and one day a Bulletin Board appeared – proud as Punch.

black painted frame, a goodly thick glass and a keyhole.

who owns the Key? we thought, curiously looking around.

and being that we’ve worked in digital for many-a-year we looked, in Vain, for a way to “respond” to the Bulletin Board.
charltonplaza

but no.

the Park remained mum on the subject.

not an email address, a website, a social media presence or even a telephone number. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and then – not at regular intervals (that we could ascertain) New Information would Appear in the bulletin board.

historical Prints of the area – interesting factoids and curious ephemera discussed.

who was the Curator of the Bulletin Board?

we asked around (we know many people in-the-know).

it took a while.

and then we got to the right person.

Ah,

said Mary Beth

Richard curates the bulletin board.

do you have his number?

we asked.

could you factor an Introduction for us?

why, yes!

Mary Beth is Most Accommodating.

and so – today – we took tea (actually, coffee) at Cafe Henri, around the corner from the Bulletin Board with Richard Blodgett who is a writer, historian and general Pillar of the Neighbo(u)rhood (being President of the Block Association).

He has written a fascinating account of Charlton Street here which one can download as a PDF, most helpfully.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

so – we started – opening up the trusty moleskine #144 if you’re keeping track – and we are)…

how did the Bulletin Board come About?

Oh! a delicious late morning was had. Richard (for he said we could call him thus) was a splendid storyteller (underpinned with excellent facts because Richard was a reporter in the 1960s on the Wall Street Journal and so most definitely au fait with the facts) and told us all about the Bulletin Board.

Harry Schroder manages the park – Charlton Plaza – and wanted a bulletin board to put in notices and announcements about the park – such as planting days and so forth. But then we found we didn’t have a huge number of announcements so I started putting in vintage prints of the area and the story behind the picture.

Some of the prints come from archival work Richard does for local history (especially being President of the Block Association and thus renowned for knowing about the area) or the Museum of the City of New York or the New York Public Library – OR – rather splendidly – from local people who find out that he is curating the Bulletin Board and provide material from their family histories. The pictures and stories range from those of 120 years ago (a kind preacher at the church on what was Macdougal across the street who gave out bread – but only After the Sermon so he was guaranteed a full house – clever chap) to the destruction caused by the creation of 6th avenue (that was Quite a Forceful picture with the houses pulled down and the street exposed for the innards of the Subway) in the 1920s to – oh how we wish we had a webcam trained on the Bulletin Board so you could see for yourself.

Richard’s favo(u)rite post? He couldn’t say. But he did acknowledge that the sight of people walking down 6th avenue and pausing by the Bulletin Board cheers him greatly (and he has been known to approach and explain but not claim ownership, which is very understated and rather nice).

we told him that we posted on Instagram and put what we thought was an amusing quip:

look! there’s a Bulletin Board near where we live so if the interweb breaks down we’ll have a way of communicating with each other locally still

and then the laugh was on Us – when hurricane Sandy blew into town and yes, blew out the Interweb south of 29th street.

we were very grateful for the Bulletin Board during that week of blackout.

it felt comforting.

a way to link us to the past.

just as we start to say goodbye to manhattan.

thank you, bulletin board.

and thank you Richard.

well-met by flashlight: 39 hours without Power in downtown manhattan.

darlings!

what. just. happened?

horrors.

we’re now at the algonquin hotel (Noel would be proud) – walked as far as here with a sea of new yorkers in black and boots on (no high heels – no subways, packed buses and a hour-wait-for-those, people crammed at bus stops talking and being Kinder than usual) – no traffic lights – cars stop and start and people run for their lives across 6th avenue – tons of cops (as the Americans call Policemen – and there are Lots of them downtown – it’s a very Strange Sight) we drooped by 44th street – and couldn’t go any further – no power south of 34th street since the HURRICANE which kicked out all lights and everything at 20:00 hundred hours on monday night – no electricity – no hot water – no internet – no cell service – everyone walking around with hats on (no hot water = no hair washed since monday at 8pm – many chaps with budding-beards – ladies in minimal mascara), Rather scary, the smell of food rotting from fridges and restaurants and delis is pretty bad – three delis are open near us and there’s lines around the block – cash only – like 1970s british breadlines – everyone kinda scared – no power predicted for another four days – we read by the window until the winter light fades – very 19th century – and then by candlelight – venturing out down the back stairs with a flashlight to see friends locally and gather to talk and share stories and information about what we know of damage and keep our spirits up – a very odd experience…….actually more frightening than we are probably going to admit….which is why having-a-blog-is-so-useful because there it IS – how One Felt about Whatever Happened that day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

east coast portraits: lisa and brian: and waiting for the storm part 1

darlings

we just returned from a Very Breezy walk around the block to meet up with twenty-five fellow Hardy Souls at the 24 hour diner for a spot of breakfast and companionship.

not many leaves left on the ground from last night’s storm part 1 (or more of a pre-storm, from what we understand with 70mph – whatever that is in old money – off-shore and heading this way) but we could not take photographs as it’s just Too Wet out there for the grown-up camera.

however we Did take photographs at the weekend on a sunny day in Brooklyn after a Splendid Brunch at Lisa and Brian’s house (with actual garden – we adore having friends with gardens and books and Pez dispenser collections).

sunny afternoons in Brooklyn are very important memories when one is Hunkering down against the Storm just a few days later.

of course, cueing up an Observation or two – the most interesting thing about storms is how they bring out not only a sense of impending doom but a need to make Soup (and tea, if you happened to have any british blood) and also a renewed excitement about meeting-someone-before-the-Holidays.

we cannot Tell you how much flirting there is going on right now in the tri-borough-ness of NYC – a fRenZY indeed – most amusing……..with some very snappy dialogue (this is, of course, the Place that brought you Nick and Nora Charles.)

we like to think of Lisa and Brian as our Nick and Nora (we know So Few married couples it seems, of the once-traditional M/F situation, that is) so we like to go round to their house and Observe from a small expanding kitchen stool by the fridge and listen to their dialogue and occasionally accept a cup of tea or a glass of grapefruit juice and a pancake made from an eminent French doctor’s Lifestyle Regime.

returning to the Storm for one moment, we’d like to turn to Louisa May Alcott (don’t you?) for her homespun American philosophy:

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning to sail my ship
Louise May Alcott

ah yes.

tis true.

navigating Very Nicely over here at the moment thanks, in great part, to Lisa* – of Lisa and Brian, featured here.

*she’s our Literary Agent (isn’t that a fabulous thing to be able to say? gosh, yes.)