Monday, February 11, 2013

Memory Keeper


Romy Ashby posted the following photo to her Walkers in the City Facebook page this weekend, sharing the sad news that the Memory Keeper has closed.

It may not seem like a major loss, a little photo lab on 14th Street between 6th and 7th, but I liked the place, and it had that old New York feeling. 

In the front window, a man who might have been Russian repaired wristwatches. You could bring in your watch and he'd fix it in minutes, sitting at a desk cluttered with interesting little tools. I often got my battery changed by him and he always gave my watch a quick tune-up. He was meticulous about it and utterly silent, never chatty. I got passport photos taken there, too.

Memory Keeper was one of those places I'd been waiting for to close. You knew it was coming. First of all, there was the name: "Memory Keeper." The city doesn't care much about that business. And then its two functions: developing film and fixing wristwatches, a couple of disappearing artifacts of our old world. How could it last?

(It was also next to La Nueva Rampa, the Chino-Latino joint that shuttered, then reopened.)


Anonymous said...

How sad. My first thought was of Bill Cunningham, the famed and beloved photographer for the NY Times. In the documentary about him, he talks about the difficulty of finding photo processors like this - he uses only traditional film for his work. These places are treasures, and woefully under-appreciated. Bad news, but thanks as always.

Romy Ashby said...

Just so you know, there is a watch repair guy in the front part of the Chelsea Cobbler on 7th Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets. I've had him change my watch battery and put on a new watch band. He does a good job and doesn't charge too much.

Crazy Eddie said...

Many 20 something’s do not own a watch, they use their “smart” phone as their time piece.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i find that so odd--it's like reverting to the pocket watch, really. talk about old school.

laura said...

wearing a nice watch is important. its classless to use the telephone. wish i bought a timepiece when i could afford it.

mch said...

On watches: many people still need them. You can't use your IPhone in court, or in the classroom, or in that meeting or other, or in the boardroom. That little swivel of the wrist, glance downward: you need a watch. (Interesting, that name: a "watch.") People who really need to keep track of time, but unobtrusively, will continue to use watches -- and to need watch-battery-replacers (god love 'em -- which reminds me, it really is nice not to have to wind a watch, though, still, I sort of miss daily winding, too).

Here, rather arbitrarily, I submit a link which I hope proves Jeremiah's labors of love are not for naught -- far from it. The gathering storm is, well, gathering, I think, I hope:

Anonymous said...

Jeremiah got it right this time: demographic and technological trends made the trades this store engaged obsolete. Film developing is a niche, it will not die completely, but it has and will become a niche market for artsy people who use films. More or less like vinyl discs have become today as a medium to convey music.

@mch: many modern watches can have their batteries easily replaced in 5 minutes or less at home. Moreover, many watches come with batteries that last so long that when they die you likely want to replace the watch as well.