Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Neighborhood Secrets

Jose is wearing a new jacket when he gets on the 2 train at 149th Street and the Grand Concourse.

“It’s got thick lining for the cold weather,” he says. “The guy at the store told me that it’s the same kind the Yankees wear.”

“What store?” someone asks.

Jose doesn’t know the man sitting across the train, but he quickly sizes him up – wearing a slick suit and shiny shoes – as a banker or a stockbroker. Either way, he is someone who might call the cops.

“It’s just a store,” Jose deadpans. “I think it might have been uptown. No, it was more downtown. I don’t really remember.”

Some places don’t need to advertise.

This store sells men’s suits one week and women’s dresses the next. They offer sweaters and gloves in the winter and baseball caps and T-shirts in the summer. Sometimes they sell backpacks and bags. Other times they have canned soup and peanut butter and breakfast cereal.

Every once in awhile they get some Yankee merchandise: T-shirts, hats, sweatshirts and maybe even jackets like the players wear.

There are plenty of these stores in the Bronx. They are also on Ditmars Boulevard in Queens and on Utica Avenue in Brooklyn and all along Broadway in Manhattan.

They don’t have signs or set hours, but people depend on them.

“I couldn’t afford this jacket anywhere else,” Jose explains after the slick suit gets off at Wall Street. “That guy could buy anything he wants.

“You do what you can to survive,” Jose continues. “And you try to help the people around you. But I’m pretty sure that guy doesn’t live in my neighborhood.”

He might have a new Yankee jacket if he did.


Henry said...

The stores with no names are very important to people.

That’s all I’ll say.

Allison said...

I am a longtime reader and a first time commenter. This blog brings New York City to life like nothing I have ever read. Thanks for doing this work.

SOXRULE said...

All you illegal spics should be in jail. You make REAL Americans sick!

Henry said...

Yikes, this guy is back.