Tags: joe ades


Memories of a Street Vendor

Perhaps you've seen him. I had no idea that Joe Ades was so well known. I told my friend, Max Schmid at WBAI, that I'd bought a vegetable peeler from this interesting fellow on the street and he knew exactly who I was talking about. Then yesterday I noticed in passing that there was a story about him in the NY Times. It was on second examination a little later that it was an obituary. Learning that his name was Joe Ades, I Googled him up to find any number of references to him and a popular YouTube video.

Last spring I was serving jury duty in Brooklyn.  During the lunch break I saw this guy across the street from the courthouse.  Normally I turn a deaf eye and ear to street hawkers, but i had some time to kill and he was demonstarting a kitchen gadget.  I love gadgets, and if they're kitcheny so much the better.  Besides, this fellow had an unusual approach.  Whether he had an audience or not, he did his schtick in a brisk, yet unhurried, tone; all the time whittling away skillfully at carrots and potatoes iwhile squatting over plastic bins to catch the peelings.  He never broke stride with his spiel, using a low-key London (maybe East End) accent, even when asking a question.

After observing for 10 minutes I *had* to buy a peeler from him.  I might've bought two, but he was only offering a discount on four.  I figured I'd take it home, try it out, and buy another the next day if I liked it.

He wasn't there the next day -- maybe there were better pickings at a Greenmarket somewhere.  Just last week, mid-potato peel, I was thinking that I'd love to run into him again; especially with Barbara, so that she could enjoy his act.  Then I saw that obit last night.

Joe Ades hearkened from another time and place, and brought it into 21st Century Brooklyn and other parts of New York City. I've thought of him frequently while fixing dinner, and will continue to do so.  Apparently he touched a great many people as well.  Enjoy the video below -- he might reach you too.

[ If for some reason the video doesn't embed properly, try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCUct4NlxE0 ]

RIP Joe, and thanks!