Villager Expat

Two years ago I moved away from Greenwich Village. Now after living in three different neighborhoods all over the city, I'm trying to move back.

November 24, 2019

Lingering at the Waverly Diner for its art of the past

Going to diners became a habit when I moved to New York. The urge to get out of my apartment strikes as soon as I wake up, as much to escape a small space as a craving for that first cup of coffee. I don't like Starbucks. I always pick a Greek diner with windows.

Waverly Diner, looking north to the Jefferson Market Library

The Waverly Diner sits on a corner, and from a table on the raised platform I can look out at Sixth Avenue and down Waverly Place towards the park. A few weeks ago I sat by the window and saw Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez come up the subway steps with someone, looking lost. They turned every which way then took off down Sixth Avenue.

Waverly Diner on Sixth Avenue, NYC
But I don't go there looking for famous people. It's the pictures inside the restaurant of the Jefferson Market Library that make me really like this place, that big mural of the library, a color copy of the famous 1878 etching. I said 'hey' when I first saw it. When I lived on Waverly Place I had a framed copy over my fireplace. In a conversation with myself, I say to the diner's owner and the artist, 'so you like it too?' 

Sixth Avenue El Train, 1868

This is an old Village place, and that's why I like it. There's an old photo by the window of the diner's corner in 1860. There are elevated tracks and wood buildings. It was run down and shabby even then.

The Waverly Diner block in 1860

John Sloan's "Snowstorm in the Village," 1925
Link to Reynolda House museum description

"Snowstorm in the Village"--I love this etching and I love John Sloan! 

Library, library, library. Even the menu has a drawing of it.

Waverly Diner menu

No one knows how the mural got there or who chose the pictures. I wish I'd had a chance to talk to them. The owner died in June and his daughter who lives in Greece doesn't know. I hope the diner stays open. I hope the mural doesn't get lost. 

I'll be going there this Thanksgiving to linger in the neighborhood's past by stepping into these pictures, Mary Poppins-style. Maybe it'll be slow and there'll be someone to talk to. Maybe an old guy sitting at the counter will tell me what he knows about the mural and won't be so truthful. That's how legends are made. 

Waverly Diner mural

October 16, 2019

Psychics and gypsies: a shared fascination by the women in my family

As I walk past psychic storefronts in the Village I'm tempted to go in and make an appointment but I'm wary. I want to talk to my mother again, and things that happened around her passing have made me want to seek her out. The story she wrote about my great-grandmother who was hypnotized by a gypsy into withdrawing all her money from the bank came to mind, and sent me on a trip to her hometown this week to look for the traces it says existed.

Annie's Gypsy
by Barbara Carter

On my way home from kindergarten I would always cut through Annie's backyard. The chickadees were at the pedestal birdbath in her garden . . .

October 1, 2019

My tenement apartment in Soho, and how air rights have changed the neighborhood

The view from across the street, 
my former tenement building (Google Maps screenshot)
I wasn't getting my hopes up. I'd seen an apartment in this building three years ago. It was on a high floor and overlooked the small park and tenements with antique stores where I lived 17 years ago. But the home of an old woman who used to emerge from the front door of the house to go sit on the benches with the Italians in the park has been torn down, and a glass tower twice as high as the tenement buildings has taken its place.

September 11, 2019

Veterans Fishing Station, a/k/a The Clam Bar, Cold Spring Harbor

Do you remember those days hanging out at the Village Green?
Engineer boots, leather jackets and tight blue jeans
--Billy Joel,
"Scenes From an Italian Restaurant"

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing two lithos of my mother's at the financial services firm Deloitte U.S. in Rockefeller Center (below). One is an image of the Veterans Fishing Station in Cold Spring Harbor, a/k/a The Clam Bar, next to the Village Green that Billy Joel sings about. The Whalers Inn across the street is now the Harbor Mist restaurant. Many thanks to Huntington town historian Robert C. Hughes for identifying the site and to Jeff Springsteen for sharing the photo of his friends from 1978-79 ("I Grew Up in Cold Spring Harbor" Facebook page).

September 1, 2019

Small talk with friends in New York restaurants

On this Labor Day my friends from the Chinese restaurant Charlie Mom are on my mind. It was my Cheers, I made small talk with the waiters, mostly about my never-ending apartment hunt. For the apartment upstairs, David told me, they were asking $4,000 a month for a thousand square feet. "They remodeled it." After a pregnant pause in which we both imagined how nice it could be--a Greenwich Village apartment that used to be a house in the 1800s, the brick walls, original wood floors, lots of windows--we agreed that the rent was ridiculous and anyone would be crazy to pay it. "Rent is money thrown away." And the rents in Greenwich Village were over the top.

August 3, 2019

Celebrating John Sloan's birthday around the world

A Woman's Work, 1912,
Cleveland Museum of Art

What images come to mind when you think of John Sloan? For many women from as far away as Spain, Turkey and Iceland who remembered his birthday on Twitter yesterday, it's his paintings of women hanging laundry.

Sloan painted these scenes from his apartment windows in Greenwich Village and, later, Chelsea. In his time, clotheslines were ubiquitous in immigrant neighborhoods (for  photos see "A Fine Line: The Art of the Clothesline" on MCNY Blog: New York Stories).

May 12, 2019

Ladies who lunch: remembering my mother on Mother's Day

Are you a lady who enjoys the ritual of lunching out?

I am! When I was around five my mother invited me out for our first lunch together, a special trip to Kaufmann's department store in Monroeville, PA. It was a Saturday, and we spent all morning getting ready . . . 

April 17, 2019

Making my way back to Greenwich Village

Are you stuck with your lease, wishing you lived somewhere else? I made a mistake. I left Greenwich Village. Tempted by larger apartments and lower rents in other neighborhoods, I left. But once you've lived in the Village, you'll miss it.

I'm trying to get back. I signed a lease for a one-bedroom in Midtown . . . 

November 12, 2018

Exploring opportunities in digital and other media. No longer representing writers or accepting submissions.

Waverly Place Literary Agency has closed. If you're looking for an agent, I recommend looking at writers' conferences' websites for participating agents. 

Writer's Digest held a conference in NYC August 22-25, 2019


June 6, 2017

Contact info

Debbie Carter, Blogger
(212) 925-3721

WaverlyPlaceLiterary@aol.com is no longer accepting queries

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