Sunday, October 6, 2013

An Encore Becomes A Sunday Memory Many Years Later: The Secret Of The Fruit Man

Originally posted October 1, 2009

For the first time ever the Fruit Man by the Avenue A bus stop on Clinton and Grand was closed. Well, the first time not a Jewish holiday. I knew he couldn't have been evicted because the building was a city building sold to the tenants so that everyone could stay there without being kicked out because they weren't rich.

I said to Irene, "Where's the Fruit Man?"

His stand, basic and built on old boxes, a beat-up space inside for the stuff that couldn't stand the heat or the rain or the snow, was like all the fruit and vegetable stands in the neighborhood, but his remained while the rest dissolved into fancy supermarkets or gourmet coffee shops or Chinatown where fresh fruit sold from their shipping boxes still meant something.

Everyone in the neighborhood went to him. Even Florence who hated him. Irene loved his cantaloupe.

"He retired," Irene said.

"Really? Why? Was he sick?"

"No. He was 90."

"He was mean."

"No. He wasn't.

"He yelled at everyone."

And Irene said, "All his customers were old and hard of hearing. That's why he yelled."