Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bobby's Happy House

VANISHING: August 2007

Photo from in8vision

Update: The Times just tuned in to this news.

There was a rally in Harlem this weekend to save Bobby's Happy House, the shop owned by record producer Bobby Robinson. Opened in 1946, it was the first black-owned business on 125th Street. Now, at age 90, Bobby is being evicted--along with other small businesses and residents. Like Copeland's, another Harlem landmark is crushed under the bootheels of gentrification.

I can't find any news about the rally.

From the Daily News:
Robinson himself wants to stay: "I've been on this corner since 1946. I came back from the war, I had some money and I became the first colored man to own a store on 125th St. It isn't fair to make businesses close."

If history counted, he'd stay there forever. His wall is solid with autographed pictures of artists who came over from the Apollo Theater, a half block away: Al Green, Eddie Kendricks, Berry Gordy, the Miracles with Smokey Robinson. There's Jackie Wilson and Fats Domino together, and of course, James Brown.
"Very good friend," says Robinson. Robinson has a lot of those.

"I was the only store to stay open the night of the [1964] riots," he says. "The liquor store near me, 10-15 guys smashed the windows, carried it out by the case. But I wasn't touched. Everybody knew me, respected me."


Anonymous said...

You know? There really ought to be a law. I mean it. For every chain store that moves in there they should be required to sponsor the preservation of a small business.

- A humble proposal

JAZ said...

This was one of the most shameless evictions of them all. Almost inconceivable. And of course, Bobby Robinson died within 3 years of his business getting pushed out.