Jeremiah had the awful news about Fontana's shoes being gutted on Friday. Walked by myself and saw the aftermath.
He had been at this location for 27 years; been in business in the neighborhood since 1962. Jeremiah has more photos here. And there's this feature from The Villager. Meanwhile, I can't help but wonder what Angelo is doing now. He's 75, and doesn't want to stop working.
“I would like to stay another 10 years, well maybe five years,” he told The Villager. “I’m used to working all my life. I don’t want to stop now. I don’t know what I’ll do. I’m not the kind of person who sits and watches TV all day. I like to be active.”
Why was this man's life destroyed? So the landlord could try to make an extra $1,500 a month in rent from Angelo, who was already paying $4,000 a month.
This whole thing bothers me on so many levels...the greed...the heartless removal of a neighborhood institution...the fact that this kind of thing is happening too often today...
There was also something comforting about the shop. For several years my walk home from work took me by his shop...no matter how shitty things seemed to be, you could always count on seeing Angelo working away in his rather ramshackle store ... the TV with the rabbit ears that was always on but no one ever seemed to watch...
My walk home included passing by the Bendiner and Schlesinger medical buildings on the northeast corner of 10th Street and Third Avenue. The buildings weren't much to look at, though there was a plaque on the 10th Street side commemorating Peter Stuyvesant, whose family once owned the buildings. Oddly enough, I found comfort in this place too. At night, I'd look up to a paneled office in the lab. I could see enough to tell that it looked as it the place was frozen in time circa, say, 1974. It reminded me of an office my father had.
Of course, though, these historic buildings were demolished in 2005 to make way for more soulless apartments and a Commerce Bank. You can read more about it here.