Thursday, February 3, 2011

Unlucky for Lucky Brand's "hood" (in the twinklin' of an eye . . . )


"For Rent" signs are all too familiar  a sight in New York City (and I imagine in many other parts of the country). The "For Rent" sign in the photograph posted above can currently be seen in the branch of a LUCKY BRAND store that was located on the southwest corner of 70th Street and Columbus Avenue. As seems to be the case with stores that go out of business in New York City, this happened without warning, or in the 'twinklin' of an eye' as  the saying goes. LUCKY BRAND at 70th was in full swing one day, and had a 'ghost-town' look the next. I confess I only bought a few things over the years at this store, but was very aware of their presence for a number of years — and not for the apparel that they sold. As it happens, I live in a "hood" where shopkeepers reach out to their comrades (other shopkeepers in this instance) as I discussed in a previous post this past fall (Nothing Small Minded About Small Business). HoweverLUCKY BRAND, reached out to individuals, and not just to sell their products.

Allow me to digress as "they" used to say: Here's the "back-story" of what I want to tell you. I have lived in the Upper Westside since the early 1980's, and have lived in my immediate area since the 1990's. Like most New Yorkers, I walk almost everywhere I go, and when doing so I often encounter many nameless faces. Sometimes, after seeing the same face over the years, I have a brief encounter: the "hi-how-are-you" sort, and, eventually, I might even learn that person's first name and a few details of their life. Such is the case with Richard Morris. Richard is a man I saw on many occasions, often several times in a day. He was a retired school teacher, but had made occasional money from jingle writing, and a lot — a whole lot — of money when he penned and sold the phrase."Sit back. Relax, and Enjoy the Show!" And indeed Richard enjoyed life's show, spending only summers in New York City as well as Italy, and bitter winter in Florida. He was hard to miss — especially in the summer where he would often be seen wearing his brightly colored clothing while doing chin-ups from the lamp-posts (poles of street lights), or while sitting in an outdoor café as he watched folks going up and down the avenue as he truly sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the show.

Alas, one day, without warning or in the "twinklin' of an eye," Richard was struck — and struck hard with Parkinson's Disease, and he went from swinging on lamp-posts to walking hunched over a walker. He had always kept living in his walk-up apartment, but, once he had a walker, he had to pull himself up by the banister within his building to reach his apartment. He would still go outside, not to swing from lamp-posts, but to watch the show of pedestrians streaming up and down Columbus Avenue while he sat on the benches near the many "avenue" cafés. The question became where to store his walker on a daily basis (since he could not hoist it up his building's stairs). The answer became LUCKY BRAND who stored his walker for him, and Richard would come get it fom them in the morning and take it back every evening.  Richard rarely comes to New York these days — even in the summer — but his legacy still remains, as will the kindness of various shopkeepers, such as LUCKY BRAND.

1 comment:

  1. How movinng. Wish I could have stayed in the neighborhood. I lived there from the day I was born in 1946, when it felt like a neighborhood. I had to leave my building two years ago and I miss it terribly, but not the building I lived in. Still, I will miss Lucky Brand.

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