The 86-Year-Old Boy with the Skateboard

Just to be clear, Ralph Charell did not ride his skateboard to Astor Bake Shop. “Are you crazy?” he asks. “I’m 86. I don’t want to kill myself.” Photo by Nancy A. RuhlingRalph’s had success in several fields. He rests the board on a chair and orders a cup of coffee. The story of Ralph and his skateboard doesn’t travel in a straight line, and the telling of it takes so long that his coffee will go cold before he gets to take a sip. It involves three best-selling books, a carrier pigeon, The Guinness Book of …

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The Painter Who Puts Time in its Place

As Sharon Florin climbs the wide staircase to her top-floor studio, an act that she has done going on 40 years, it reminds her of how much things have changed. Photo by Nancy A. RuhlingSharon paints the city fantastic. The three-story red-brick building started out life as a factory in the 19th century, and by the time she and her canvases came in 1980, her floor had been divided to house artists like herself. There used to be five of them. As the last one to arrive, Sharon got the smallest space. But it has a big window, and the…

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The Woman Who Does It All for the Kids

“Would you like to see my corner?” Before there’s even time to answer, Aiysha Mayfield strides down 14th Street and plants herself squarely in the bold white stripes of the crosswalk at 30th Avenue.   Photo by Nancy A. RuhlingAiysha’s a crossing guard for P.S. 171 elementary, aka the Peter G. Van Alst School. She puts her hands on her hips. She owns the space; no car is going to mess with her. Every school day, this is where Aiysha is stationed as the kids at P.S. 171 cross and re-cross the busy intersection. “…

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