The Champion of Playground 35

At Steinway Street and 35th Avenue, there’s a patch of pavement that since May 1947 has been designated a public playground. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Nancy’s on Community Board 1. Nancy Silverman knows this not because she has children, which she does not. She knows this because it’s the only open space near her apartment, and she frequently walks or cycles by it. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling She helped get funding for Playground 35. Imprisoned like a penitentiary by a sky-high chain-link fence, the space, which has been christened, inmate-like, as Playground 35, is not a pretty place.…

Continue Reading →

The Creator of the Christmas Village

The lights and stars are twinkling in tandem. The women are shopping in the outdoor farmers’ market, and the men are sawing logs and stomping on grapes to make wine. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Jose with his Christmas village. A crowned king on a camel approaches, bearing gifts for Mary and Joseph’s newborn babe in the stable. It’s Christmas time in Jose Leon‘s village. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling The nativity is the shining star. Every time Jose looks at it, he thinks of home. Nativity scenes such as this are a tradition in Cabra, the …

Continue Reading →

The Seamstress Who Brings Daddies and Daughters Together

In a corner of the bedroom, on a tiny table, Evgeniya Bavaeva sets up her portable Brother sewing machine. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling Evgeniya is from Russia. It’s always at night, usually at 10, after her 3-year-old daughter, Celine, is in bed and while her husband, Serafim Ferdeklis, is working at his restaurant, BZ Grill. She listens to Ludovico Einaudi on her headphones to drown out the rhythmic sound of the needle marching through the fabric. Photo by Nancy A. Ruhling A MiniCelini dress made from a man’s old shirt. “This is my time,” she says. “Serafim comes …

Continue Reading →