The Fantasy Man

Fantasy. That’s what it promises on the big blue sign outside, and that’s what’s written on the floor at the front door. In case you forget, “Fantasy” is embroidered in glittering gold on the royal-blue smocks of the salesgirls who snap to attention like Stepford Wives when customers come in. Fantasy Curtain & Linen Shops, a mom-and-pop Bed, Bath and Beyond that is known for its custom and ready-made window treatments, has been a staple of Steinway Street since it was opened by Harry Last and his son, Mel, in 1951. Harry and Mel are gone, but Mel’s …

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The Crownless Queen

She had planned to wear her hot-pink ball gown. And her silver stilettos. But she couldn’t find a strapless bra. That’s why Crystal Smith is in a long brown number with a swishy skirt that the wind is trying to play Marilyn Monroe with. It’s not every day that Crystal — mom, grandmother, wife and devoted child of God — gets to tell her story, so she’s feeling (and dressing) like a red-carpet celebrity. She may not be famous — yet — but OMG, she is a Force To Be Reckoned With. Gold-hearted, bold and bodacious, Crystal is a warrior&…

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The Analyze-This Psychologist

A dozen African masks. A baby grand. And a bouquet. If we are the sum of our possessions, these tell us most of what we need to know about Milton “Mickey” Wilner. Let’s start with the flowers. Mickey bought the $40 bunch of carnations, daylilies and daisies for his wife, Dorothy, on the occasion of their anniversary. (Dorothy’s fresh out of the hospital, and there may be other gifts coming, but that’s a surprise.) He remarks that they have been married 84 years. Oops, that’s a slip of the tongue. Or, being that Mickey’s a psychologist, a …

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The Walk-On Woman

You can set your clock by Dana D’Ascoli. Every morning in every kind of weather, she’s in Astoria Park logging lightning laps from 5 to 6. She does her swift strides solo, which makes the whole act even more impressive because …

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