Photo by myself in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Just a street away from Fairway supermarket stands an incredible house filled with memorabilia. I was lucky enough to get a tour of the ground floor Monday afternoon, by the owner.
I'd always marveled at a particular house in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Its quirky facade is adorned with nautical items and a homemade tribute to the World Trade Center.
Monday both Mark and I had the day off. Passing by, we saw the garage door to the house was open. I took some photos and a man walked by with his dog.
'Ralph's inside,' the man said. 'Go on, he'll give you a whole tour.'
The man was right. I got the grand tour from Ralph, and I was astounded.
I'm not alone. Ralph had his property featured in the New York Times. A lifelong resident of Red Hook and former member of the Parks Department, he remembers when the street outside was a dirt road. He's seen the neighborhood change from a center for ship repair to what it is now - an eclectic home to artists and superstores, like Fairway and Ikea.
Ralph was kind enough to let me wander around the ground floor, which was enormous. Collectibles of all sorts were artfully arranged on the walls. Hats lined the rafters. There was a horse carriage and a gorgeous car. And a pool table below a skylight.
Something about the entire scene was beautiful. I can't put my finger on what it was. The colors? The history? The sheer amount of stuff?
Ralph himself lives a few blocks away. He opens up the garage door so he and his buddies can spend time with each other. It seems everyone knows Ralph, and Ralph knows everyone - as people passed by on foot, they would holler hello.
As I was leaving, Ralph asked me where I lived. 'Park Slope. It's changing so quickly.'
'Everything's changing,' Ralph said. 'It's all changing.'
Related posts: You Can't Take it With You, Parked in Park Slope and Still Life, Antique Store.