Saturday, September 20, 2008

Today is a beautiful day in New York City, crystal clear sky, cooler but still warm. I went to a flea market I haven't been to, the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market on 39th Street between 10th Avenue and 9th Avenue. I rode up on my bike and didn't know where I was going exactly but I followed two younger gay guys in v-neck sweaters, jeans with the cuffs rolled up, and loafers with no socks, and voila, there I was. 39th Street is blocked off to traffic, and it's adjacent to a highway ramp. New buildings and construction sites rise up all around. It's an unlikely spot for a flea market, but I found many wonderful booths and of course lots of people with great style roaming around. Style grows and blooms potentially on every square inch of New York City and that's what makes it so great.

Here is the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market. The big building in the middle is the new New York Times building on 8th Avenue.

I got these hippie beads, $5.

I also got this little metal pot, $3.
I like the green and gold color, kind of Asian. It looks to me like 611. My great aunt Milly lived with her husband Jim Fikes in the Philippines and so she brought back some Asian furniture and bibelot to 611 West German Street, the family home in Herkimer. The Asian things in a Victorian house was a really nice combination. Milly was a fascinating person, extremely intelligent. She was one of the first women to attend Cornell University, and she went on a scholarship. Not bad for a girl from Herkimer. Jim Fikes worked for Firestone Tire and Rubber, and after the Philippines, Milly went with him and their two young daughters to live in Brazil. He had gone to India but decided it was not a good place to bring his family. In Brazil Jim Fikes suddenly and tragically died of a heart attack. Later, Milly lived for many years at 611 and worked in the office of my great uncle Freddie O'Donnell, a lawyer in Ilion. I think if she lived today, she herself would have been a lawyer. Milly always encouraged me to read, and when we visited 611 she sat in her arm chair surrounded by stacks of library books, and smoked. History -- World War I history, World War II history -- was her passion. She used to give me book lists; she had me reading Theodore White. Milly introduced me to the Sunday New York Times, that thick journal of a life beyond upstate New York. My great aunts had seen some of the world and I think they saw in me an eager student. Standing over the dining room table, Milly leafed through the first section of The Times, a dead grey ash hanging perilously off her cigarette. Perusing the department store ads, she proclaimed at last, "There is nothing I like in fashion this year." My uncle Brian recalled that during cocktail hour Milly would put a log on the fire in the living room and not miss a beat in the story she was telling. Cocktail hour, fireplaces, story telling; it was quite magical. Milly had a big influence on me.

What was I talking about? Oh, the pot.

Earlier in the day at the Farmers Market today I bought this potato vine, $1. I like plants that have movement to them; the eye has somewhere to go. I also like plants that are reddish, not green. Again, it looks Victorian to me, like 611.

I put the potato vine into the pot and placed it in the hall next to the window where I hope it will get enough light and be happy.

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