Yesterday, Grieve reminded us of the anniversary of the death of Merlin, the homeless man who made his spot for 8 years outside the Con Ed substation on Avenue A and 6th St., and who died there August 16, 1996.
I thought I'd post these two color photos I took of Merlin's memorial in the summer of '96, which I've recently scanned from prints.
A few years ago this week, Bob Arihood posted photos of Merlin on his blog, Neither More Nor Less.
Bob recalls: "A wake and vigil of considerable moment, lasting for the better part of 2 weeks, was held in the neighborhood at Merlin's corner. Some nights the sidewalk and street around the memorial were so densely packed with people that it seemed that everyone in the neighborhood and the surrounding communities was attending, crowded together, all kinds of folks, from all professions and callings, from high and low paying their respects to Merlin."
Merlin's birth name was Paul Hogan. I remember him as a friendly guy, always regally reclined in a pile of clothing and bedding, with books spilling all around him. Young people, girls mostly, sat beside him to talk. He had the bearing of a sage. You wanted to know him.
"To strangers," wrote the Times about him, "he is but another intrusion on the East Village's gritty streetscape, a reason to avert their eyes. But to many local residents, he is a cherished asset: a timekeeper, a message center, a town crier and a source of good, solid conversation."
New York Magazine, 9/96
New York Magazine wrote about the memorial, saying that when the news of Merlin's death was announced on Con-Ed's brick wall, "Shocked locals scurried to nearby bodegas for candles and flowers. Even rowdy Long Islanders and New Jerseyites stopped and stifled themselves for a moment of silence."
Could such a memorial happen for a homeless person in the East Village today?