National Geographic : 1964 Jul
The World in New York City Robert Emmett, playwright Edward Albee, anthropologist Margaret Mead, actor Mau rice Evans, and Joseph Crivelli. Mr. Crivelli is one of the 75,000 Villagers who aren't famous. He lives near the corner of Bleecker and MacDougal Streets, and when he comes home from work in the Fulton Fish Market, he wants peace and quiet. Can he get it? Never on Friday. Nor on Saturday. Often not even during the week. "The honky-tonks, the types, the goings on...." Mr. Crivelli left himself speechless. What pulls these crowds? Is it the many off-Broadway theaters, the coffeehouses, the shops with weird jewelry, the yearning to get away from the Bronx, or from Cincinnati, and be free? A big magnet is the folk singing and guitar playing, the parading of beards and toreador pants around Washington Square on Sunday afternoons (page 94). I stopped a tall man with a beard and a gold ring in his left ear lobe. "Would you call yourself a beatnik, sir?" "Some people use that expression," said the girl with the man. Her face was very white, her stockings black. "It used to mean non conformist. Some still say they're beatniks, to impress the tourists." The man said: "I call myself a tramp. I ride the trains, all over the country and to Mexico. Excuse me, we must go." One afternoon I stopped the car in Har lem. I ate a sweet-potato pie, and admired the flower boxes and bright brass doorknobs of the brownstones on 138th Street. Then I drove on, into a scene of agitation. An old peddler had been knifed to death by two young men. At the police station a lieutenant said, "What can you do, life is cheap in the city." He heard who had been killed. "Oh," he said. "Oh, my God. Julius! I knew him, he knew my father...." A Time and a Place to Unwind In the city it sometimes seems that time is as precious as life itself. I had been rushing through crowds and traffic from one appoint ment to another. For each appointment can celed, I'd make two others-"shoehorn them in," as the phrase goes. I carried a tiny radio receiver, and as I drove, I put it to my ear. An antenna on the Empire State Building might be broadcasting my number, meaning that my telephone an swering service had a call for me. The voice would bark, "Three Two Five... Six Six Seven... Eight One One." That was me, Eight One One. Came the day when a little boy said, "Mis ter, you got two different shoes on." Then I knew that I had to unwind.