Sunday, April 25, 2010

Maybe We'll Leave Ridgefield

Eleven years ago Carol & I moved to Ridgefield CT after seventeen years in beautiful Pound Ridge to live in a quaint New England town. This was going to be our last stop. While Ridgefield remains a wonderful town, it's beginning to remind me of what happened to us in New York City.

Many, many years ago we bought into an historic brownstone on an historic street on NYC's upper west side. It was in the 70's between Central Park West & Columbus Avenue. We had a neighborhood watch. People cleaned up after their dogs (before there was a law). Mr. Tiffany had once owned the brownstone across the street & you could see his study, complete with a back lit Tiffany glass ceiling; it was that kind of neighborhood. And it had a mix of all kinds: from folks who had moved there 30-40 years prior to newcomers, renters as well as owners. The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards was a neighbor. So was a well known heart surgeon.

Columbus Avenue was replete with tiny mom & pop shops: dry cleaning, fruit & veggie stands, cheese & hardware stores & the corner newspaper shop where Morris (who owned it) was the only person who cashed personal checks, knew everyone and had everyone's preferred paper ready for them in the morning. There were old styled soda shops with stools and counters, ordinary coffee and lots of mirrors, chrome & vinyl. Richard Ruskay of Ruskay's served reasonably priced, delicious meals to couples in old fashioned booths.

Then the neighborhood got gentrified. Fancy coffee houses, those kitschy little shops sprung up like so many weeds, Morris had to move out to make way for Putamayo and the rest is history. The sidewalks became so crowded with strangers that stepping into the gutter was sometimes necessary just to get by.

The neighborhood had been devoured and so we moved away, having lost the very quality we had bought into, worked hard to preserve and loved so much.