Saturday, January 05, 2008

Small World

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.


jodi said...

You must be so proud! Ben seems wise beyond his years.

Dr. Deb said...

Wow, what a wonderful boy. And his mom and dad ain't bad either.

Stories like these really make me smile. Thanks.

nejyerf said...

i loved the pushcart wars.

and since i work in a family owned retail store i truly appreciate this story.

what a nice boy you've got there.

a keeper for sure.

OHN said...

Whatever you are doing, you are doing it well. :)

ellesu said...

One of the best things about NYC, to me, is the street vendors. Have you been by the one with the fresh pineapple in front of Columbia -- right at the subway entrance? I never stopped, but last summer the smell was delicious.

I couldn't find any vendors selling wash/bath rags, tho. You wouldn't believe how hard I searched for wash/bath rags until someone directed me to a housewares store on Broadway and 124th ??

Can you tell I'm really missing the Big Apple? Although, it might be a little cold for me now!

HAR said...

"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."
Made me smile :)