Barber Poles – a Little Tale

While getting in my daily exercise, I often start re-looking at places I have been before. For example, on this walk, I noticed that along 2nd Avenue there seemed to be an unusual amount of barber shops. You could hardly miss the white, red and blue poles outside. It hit me that the barber pole tells you what goes on inside – in fact a few shops had no sign at all.

When I got home, I wondered how many other shapes and images convey meaning so fast – they are more meaningful than words. Some are easy to understand and their universal meaning makes them as useful today as they were over the years of existence.

I plan on adding some on another blog post.

Warning stop here if you would rather not know.

Red, white, and blue barber poles look patriotic, but there’s a blood-soaked meaning behind their design.

Those rotating red, white, and blue poles outside barbershops have become an icon. At first glance, you’d probably assume barber pole designs have a patriotic background. But the reality is pretty gruesome.

Not too late to stop.

Barbers have been cutting hair for centuries, but they used to have a longer job description. In medieval times, the professionals were known as barber-surgeons, which is just what it sounds like. They weren’t just there to give customers a trim—they’d also perform minor surgery, pull teeth, and amputate limbs and one procedure—bloodletting—led to the barbershop poles you see today.

At the time, people thought having too much blood in a certain area could cause diseases like fevers or the plague so barbers started offering the service instead.

Last chance to leave.

During the treatment, barber-surgeons would give patients poles to hold, the original barber poles. Even back then, people knew there was a limit to bloodletting, so barbers would stop the bleeding with a white cloth. They’d then tie those towels to the poles and hang them outside their shops. Some towels stayed blood-stained even after they were washed, so it was common to see a pole with white and red swirling around in the breeze.

These days, barbers leave the medical treatment to doctors, but their poles are a nod to their bloody past.

Now, that you have joined me this far it is up to you to decide.

Just SCARY STORY OR THE TRUTH ?

Do you recognize any of these?

Read Now: November 2020 Dated info for NYC skating and more

11/21/2020 – 1/17/2021:the rink at Rockefeller center opens: the world-famous outdoor ice skating rink opens for a limited season this year, with timed-entry tickets required. $25-35 admission, plus $15 skate rental (or byo).

Completed Ruth Bader Ginsburg mural in the east village: you can view street artist elle’s tribute to rbg at 1st avenue + 11th street.

Macy’s holiday windows: this year’s windows at the herald square flagship honor nyc’s frontline workers.

Bryant parks’ Winter Village Rink is open.
Contactless ticketing: all skate time must be reserved online.

https://rink.wintervillage.org/

The Rink
Oct 31 – Nov 25: 8am-10pm
Nov 26 – Jan 3: 8am-11pm
Dec 31: 8am-4pm*
Jan 4 – Mar 7: 8am-10pm

This weekend – 11am-6pm:Hester street fair closing weekend: last chance this season to shop from a curated selection of vendors at the lower east side weekend market. free admission.

Egg Cream and a visit to NYC.

egg cream_blog_image

“When I was a young man – no bigger than this
A chocolate egg cream was not to be missed
Some U Bet’s Chocolate Syrup, seltzer water mixed with milk
Stir it up into a heady fro – tasted just like silk.

“You scream, I steam, We all want Egg Cream.”

From the song, EGG CREAM, words and music by Lou Reed.

Most visitors to New York arrive keen to sample the city’s culinary delights, but while pretzels, bagels and jumbo deli sandwiches figure highly on many tourists’ food shopping lists, the egg cream is as foreign as it gets.

Everybody has egg cream memories. You may have them and not even be aware. One in six Americans trace their family roots back to Brooklyn, New York.

For those of you interested in the historical details, it is rumored that the first product that could be described as an egg cream was developed during the early 1890’s.

How its made

It’s essentially the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit,

Sometime around 1920, the Lower East Side of Manhattan also claimed origination of an egg cream formula. [To this day, a source of debate.]

Many  of the traditional fountain services began to disappear during the 70’s. Some Diners, and delis are trying to keep The egg cream tradition alive. However, I don’t think that there are many people today keeping the drink popular. I have listed a few places that claim to still serve them.

The East Village is a great place to find egg creams with an Eastern European old world charm associated with them.

LITTLE POLAND 200 Second Avenue
VESELKA 144 Second Avenue 

RAY’S CANDY 113 Avenue A
ODESSA RESTAURANT 119 Avenue A

A few others

  • SQUARE DINER 33 Leonard Street
  • WASHINGTON SQUARE DINER 150 West 4th
  • EISENBERG’S SANDWICH SHOP 174 Fifth Avenue
  • LEXINGTON CANDY SHOP 1226 Lexington Avenue
  • NEIL’S COFFEE SHOP 961 Lexington Avenue
  • 3 STAR COFFEE SHOP 541 Columbus Avenue
  • LANSKY’S OLD WORLD DELI 235 Columbus Avenue
  • TOM’S RESTAURANT 2880 Broadway

Warning:

Before planning a visit to NYC you should check to see what stores and/or restaurants are open. Also, realize that most will only have outside seating.

If driving into the city be aware that there are fewer on street parking due to the use of some spaces for restaurant use.

Note that major tourist areas may have limitations but places like Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park and Central Park are all open-air spaces.

Elizabeth Street (Little Italy) – delightful garden

Updated from 2015

There is a small park – Elizabeth Street Gardens – on Elizabeth Street , between Prince & Spring streets (Little Italy) that is very unusual. While not open all the time it is a great place to have lunch (bring your own) or picnic or sit in the shade. You will be surrounded by statuary of all kinds. Oh by the way, it is free. Check here for when open.

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The Elizabeth Street Gallery, open to the public in a park like setting, contains a variety of ornamental stonework, some of it depicting mythological figures

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I walked the length of Elizabeth Street and found most of the people enjoying the day. The restaurants were busy and  those stores that were open had customers.

Most of the buildings in the area are multifamily, or apartment buildings dating from the first decade or two of the 20th Century

Some people think that the boundary between Chinatown and SOHOis mid-block between Kenmare and Spring,  The area to the south is mostly Chinese.

Before  the virus arrived the northern area was home to upscale galleries and shops north of Kenmare.

As of this date,  many shops have closed due to the pandemic. The street is filled mostly with outside dining. and there is a lot of construction going on. However, visiting the garden is still very enjoyable and all along the street people were animated and enjoying their visit. Most wearing masks and other than restaurants and bars, keeping some separation between each other

I am confident that after we solve the health situation  These  two blocks just South of Houston will, again, become quite alive and quite trendy.

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Carved, painted and lettered shingle signs that hang over the sidewalk are becoming popular in the neighborhoods where the hip people go,

 Photos taken on November 8, 2020

Trivia

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Elizabeth and Hester may be the only intersection in Manhattan where both streets are women’s first names, though Hester isn’t used much anymore. Elizabeth Street is one of the few major streets in Manhattan that begins and ends at a T-shaped intersection.

Veterans Day – 2020

First posted 2019

Many of us who live in New York City, as well as those who visit, may not get the chance to visit many of our public parks. I came across this article from the NYC Parks Department and wondered how many other comminities have memorials, to veterans, that are rarely visited.

5 of the Places in Parks that Honor Our Veterans

There are hundreds of memorials honoring the nation’s veterans spread throughout the city’s parks. Here are a few of the memorials we encourage you to visit to pay respect to our soldiers.

Visit our War Memorials in Parks page to find out more about the monuments near you and the battles they commemorate. 

Brooklyn War Memorial

Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn

Brooklyn War Memorial, source: Wikicommons, Ingfbruno.

source: Wikicommons, Ingfbruno.

This granite and limestone memorial is dedicated to the more than 300,000 heroic men and women of the borough of Brooklyn who served in World War II. Inside are displayed approximately 11,500 names of Brooklyn service members who died during the war.

Learn more about Brooklyn War Memorial

Van Cortlandt Memorial Grove

Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx

Van Cortlandt Memorial Grove

The Memorial Grove honors local servicemen who fought in World War II, local soldiers who served and lost their lives in the Korean War, and those from the community who served in the Vietnam War. A variety of oak trees (a symbol of strength and endurance) were planted to provide shade and create a tranquil area for reflective contemplation. Bronze plaques dedicated to twenty-one soldiers were placed beneath each newly planted tree. In addition, plaques to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and to the sons of the American Gold Star Mothers were also dedicated.

Learn more about Van Cortlandt Memorial Grove

East Coast Memorial

Battery Park, Manhattan

East Coast Memorial

This awe-inspiring monument consists of an eagle gazing past eight 19-foot tall granite pylons on which are inscribed the names of the 4,601 American servicemen who died in the Atlantic Ocean during World War II.

Learn more about East Coast Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Kissena Park, Queens

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The memorial plaza and sculpture honors the forgotten heroes of the Korean War. The bronze sculpture by artist William Crozier consists of a larger-than-life solitary soldier. On a smaller scale behind him are the silhouettes of five soldiers carrying a stretcher and scaling the dangerous mountain terrain of Korea. The plaza surrounding the memorial has two types of granite paving stones that are laid in an asymmetric pattern symbolic of the rice fields of Korea. Prairie grass, which is native across the U.S., grows at the base of the sculpture and represents the soldier’s return home.

Learn more about Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Hiker

Tompkinsville Park, Staten Island

The Hiker

This statue honors the local soldiers who served in the Spanish-American War. Depicting a foot soldier dressed in military fatigues, with a rifle slung over his shoulder, the image is derived from the long marches that the infantry endured in the tropical Cuban climate.

Learn more about The Hiker

NYC – The Day of the Dead Celebration during a busy weekend of concerns

Publication delayed due to election.

Day of the Dead statuettes

Over the years of writing this blog, I have tried to include the many  traditions of different cultures. On November 2nd was a celebration called “Dia de Murtos” or The Day of Dead – it  is a time to honor and revere deceased family members and ancestors.
 It is important to pass on to each generation the celebrations that embrace their heritage. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities is a time honored celebration.
They believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them. Celebrations are bright and lively, in belief that the souls of the dead are still alive and can return home annually during this time.  Nov. 1 is the Day of the Innocents to pay tribute to deceased infants.

To celebrate, people built altars, called ofrendas, to the dead. The altars incorporate photos of the deceased, their possessions, sugar skull decorations (see below) and their favorite food and beverages, including pan de muertos (“bread of the dead”). Altars also feature orange marigolds, the Aztec’s flower of the dead. It is used to attract souls to their altar.

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Skull imagery is central to Día de los Muertos celebrations, with people painting their faces in ornate skulls and buying or making sugar skulls.

The Sugar Skull Tradition
Sugar art was brought to the New World by Italian missionaries in the 17th century. The first Church mention of sugar art was from Palermo at Easter time when little sugar lambs and angels were made to adorn the side altars in the Catholic Church.

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Actual Sugar Skull made of sugar

Mexico, abundant in sugar production and too poor to buy fancy imported European church decorations, learned quickly from the friars how to make sugar art for their religious festivals. Clay molded sugar figures of angels, sheep and sugar skulls go back to the Colonial Period 18th century.
Sugar skulls represented a departed soul, had the name written on the forehead and was placed on the home ofrenda or gravestone to honor the return of a particular spirit. Sugar skull art reflects the folk art style of big happy smiles, colorful icing and sparkly tin and glittery adornments.

Sugar skulls are labor intensive and made in very small batches in the homes of sugar skull makers. These wonderful artisans are disappearing as fabricated and imported candy skulls take their place.
 It is more of a cultural holiday than a religious one. It is a wonderful way to celebrate the memories of our loved ones who are now gone… through art, cooking, music, building ofrendas, doing activities with our children, we can recount family stories, fun times and lessons learned… not how the person died, but how they lived.

NYC – Rockefeller Center – Art Deco

A visit to Rockefeller Center––a city within a city––is a must. New York’s most important urban complex of the twentieth century, the Center was built between 1931 and 1939. Rockefeller Center extends from 48th to 51st Street, and from Fifth to Sixth Avenue.

The promenade separating the British and French buildings

The Fifth Avenue frontage is a show case for the cause of international understanding–hence the International Building, the Maison Française, the British Empire Building, the Palazzo d’Italia––and the Channel Gardens (named for the English Channel separating France and England), between the French and British buildings, lined with fall foliage and statuary

Seeds of Good Citizenship
Above Channel Gardens Entrance of La Maison Francaise
Winged Mercury -Above Channel Gardens Entrance of 620 Fifth Avenue

Rockefeller Center epitomizes the Machine Age––building materials like aluminum and stainless steel, parking facilities for cars and trucks, high speed elevators, air cooling, noise silencers and escalators. There is so much to see both inside and outside but I thought it would be nice to feature a few of the works that are on the outside of the buildings.

I placed the street location or reference point on each photo.

PROGRESS
Above 49th Street entrance.
CORNUCOPIA OF PLENTY
10 West 51st Street
THE JOY OF LIFE
Above 48th Street entrance

What is Art Deco?

Although the question seems simple, historians have not been able to agree upon a single, definitive answer. The time period, aesthetic principles, motifs, and just about everything else that typically defines a style or movement, are all open to interpretation when it comes to defining Art Deco.

NEWS
Above 50 Rockefeller Plaza main entrance.
SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI WITH BIRDS
Above 9 West 50th Street entrance of 630 Fifth Avenue

I thought I would include something you might miss when going to or walking past Radio City Music Hall.

Dance, Drama, and Song

These three large stylized decorative plaques, placed high up on the south façade of Radio City Music Hall.

Two of the six playful plaques under the marquee at the front entrance.

A couple of observations as of this publication date.

  • Overall, New York City is less crowded.
  • Check ahead to see if places you want to visit will be open.
  • Public bathrooms are even fewer that usual.
  • There is a bathroom in the main building at Rockefeller center.

Flower – The Venus Flytrap

I am republishing this article at a request from a neighbor who  thought these plant’s were only in a movie.

The mysterious Venus Flytrap – a death trap for insects

The leaves of Venus’ Flytrap open wide and on them are short, stiff hairs called trigger or sensitive hairs. When anything touches these hairs enough to bend them, the two lobes of the leaves snap shut trapping whatever is inside. People still do not understand fully how the trap closes. The Venus’ Flytrap does not have a nervous system or any muscles or tendons. 

Like other plants, Venus’ Flytraps gather nutrients from gases in the air and nutrients in the soil. However, they live in poor soil and are healthier if they get nutrients from insects. Carnivorous plants live all over the world but Venus’ Flytraps live only in select boggy areas in North and South Carolina. Because of people’s fascination with these plants, they collected many of them and they became endangered. Venus’ Flytraps today are grown in greenhouses.

Will a Venus flytrap bite a person? … Fortunately for people, Venus flytrap plants can‘t eat anything much bigger than a housefly and mostly they eat mosquitoes and gnats. If you put the tip of your finger in the flytrap’s bug eating mouth, it will quickly snap shut, but it won’t hurt at all.

NYC-Central Park-Bethesda Terrace-carvings -slightly updated

New York City’s Central Park is a must place to visit and the Bethesda Terrace (fountain) should not be missed. It is a magnificent terrace that has much to see – a towering fountain, a beautiful lake, a distant boat house and, often missed, intricate carvings on the railings and columns of the Terrace.

Over the past years I have returned to the Terrace area many times and my latest visit brought my attention to the intricate carvings that adorn the railings and columns. I found that they are placed in groups to represent each of the four season’s .

I came across a FB video describing the carvings in great detail. The video is from the Central Park Conservatory and is well done however the background noise can be a little distracting (not sure to put volume up or put your ear to the speaker/.

video here

I had intended to create a longer blog but I think the video will do a better job of showing these marvelous carvings. I encourage you to take a look the next time you visit NYC

How to enjoy a Sunny Day in NYC

Yesterday, I noticed an article about Digital Art Month. What interested me was a their plan to have an art display along 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue. The day was sunny and mild and just waiting for a leisurely walk.

So, off I go!

I decided to begin at 57th Street and 5th Avenue and then head up 5th Ave to east 61st Street and then up along Madison Avenue.

Using their map. I set off on my journey. For whatever reasons, I found only a few of the displays(However, It could have been my inability to recognize them).

Having walked several locks I decided to walk back to where I began. I wondered if I could add something to this walk ? Just to be outside on a pleasant day is good enough.

Mid Town Fashion

I thought this was a little different. In hind sight I would have set the camera to manual focus
East 59th Street
Van Cleef & Arpels Jewelry
Michael Kors

Madison Avenue Art Displays

Central Park

Contemporary Art

Please stay safe. Avoid large crowds, wear your mask, stay outside and keep moving?