On Delancey, right next door to Frank's hair salon, there was a little newspaper-candy-cigarette stand. The old man owner never really shaved or if he did it was a couple of days ago.
On the visits to Frank's a couple of times a year or returning from the weekly shop at the Essex Street Market, that candy shop beckoned like a mini-Ali Baba's cave, promising magical and spectacular candies. But the firm rule of no sweets, rare gum and a once-a-week hostess cupcake/ cola at Grammas held. That, however, didn't stop my six year-old heart from longingly dreaming of having my way with every delight in that shop.
And then one day...
Florence, fresh from a cut, nothing much else - she was one of the rare ladies in the neighborhood who didn't dye or tease - was buying a New York Times or maybe a pack of cigarettes and, in the brief second she looked the other way, my hand zipped up to the window counter and quickly slipped a penny stick of gum into my pocket.
Perhaps I took it out and started chewing it or was admiring it or transferring it to a safer pocket, but somehow Florence saw that stick of gum in my sweaty little palm and, and knowing SHE'D never allow an unauthorized piece of gum onto my daily menu and that I had no obvious means of income to buy anything, demanded to know where I had gotten that piece of gum.
She had taught me never to tell a lie.
I was marched right back to the candy store and there I apologized to the candy story owner and then, shamed but with great reluctance, returned that single stick of penny gum.
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.