Yukie Ohta, a 46-year-old New York–based archivist, is an old-school fan of SoHo, having grown up there in the 1970s. Now she has a created a mobile mini-museum to preserve her memories of the early days of Soho.
This poem describes my first apartment on Union Square. I always had to live near a vacant lot or ruined building. Couldn’t stand that finished feeling. Rent? A prayer I prayed each month.
With a sense of dread I followed Jo and Randy up the block to a beat-up old car parked beside stinking garbage bags. I prayed we weren’t being taken to some dire fate—murder, or slavery. But no. We drove eight blocks south and…
The apartment was so rundown that the floorboards had spread apart and you could clearly see into the apartment below through the wide cracks. They could literally see up my skirt when I walked around above them.
Nothing is easy in NYC—and getting an apartment is really not easy, as I found out when I moved from my beach place in California to downtown New York. I had one day to find my place—a day of lowering my expectations and mentally downsizing.
We moved into the apartment in early June of what was one of the hottest summer’s in New York history. And we didn’t have an air conditioner. When we had people over that summer, to take a break we’d walk across the street to the Food Emporium to stand in the frozen food aisle. After a visit from…
The walls were as thin as the saltines on which I spread Potted Meat Food Product for dinner. I was privy to every sound of one neighbor’s bed squeaking and creaking in response to his nocturnal movements. His incoherent mumblings almost made sense to me some nights. Another neighbor was an opera singer. He was a horrible opera singer.
A man came running up to us screaming, “Did you see the person who just drove off in that station wagon? My car was just stolen!” This was an eye-opening experience, and as I started to pay more attention to my new neighborhood, I realized that ten blocks made a big difference in 1976, and I was not in “Kansas” anymore.
These were my wild NYU days and I had lots of romantic encounters. My interactions with men in my building, however, were not always so romantic.