I picked Ben up from a play date on Wednesday afternoon. It was the first truly cold day in a long time. We scurried down 10th street and I stopped into Kmart for some luxury items - - rubber gloves and glass cleaner.
Ben was coveting my earmuffs for the last few days so I offered to buy him a pair before we got to the cashier. He didn't take a moment to check out the merchandise before saying "Mom, I don't want to buy my earmuffs here. I want to give my money to small, local businesses. Let's go buy them from one of the street vendors."
Now this approach to consumerism has been my husband's creed forever. Only in the past year has he walked into a Starbucks (out of desperation). In all of Ben's nine years, I've never seen him take a political stand on any consumer issue that stood in between him and the desired object.
A street vendor was selling his winter goods right outside of Kmart. It was freezing and he must have been standing out there for hours. He was covered from head to toe except for his eyes peeking between a hat and scarf. Ben got his three dollar ear muffs and explained his new philosophy.
He just finished reading The Pushcart War, a children's novel written by Jean Merrill and illustrated by Ronni Solbert. It was first published in 1964. The plot focuses on a war between pushcart peddlers and delivery trucks in NYC. As traffic becomes increasingly horrendous in the city, three huge trucking companies try to alleviate their parking problems by running the pushcarts off the curb and out of business. Needless to say, the NY pushcart vendors unite and push back... so the story begins.
What Ben didn't know was the Jean Merrill and Ronni Solbert lived in East Village and were very good friends with my dad. Ronni also wrote and photographed a super cool book I Wrote My Name on the Wall (1971) profiling city kids in their words, kids who never went beyond their neighborhoods.
What goes around comes around. Especially with art.