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A Valentine from the Mayor

It is a Yellow Hooker tradition to give Mrs. Yellow Hooker marshmallow heart-shaped Peeps for Valentine’s Day.

“After all,” I always tell her, “Valentine’s Day is only a creation of the greeting card industry — while the marshmallow peep is a creation of pure confectionary sugar genius!”

Then she smiles. Then I smile. Who needs fancy dinners or diamonds when one company in Pennsylvania has already invented the perfect expression of love — all for 33 cents?

This display of Yellow Hooker romanticism has given the critics ammunition. It is not uncommon for some locals to search for an adjective that combines the words Cupid with Scrooge. Luckily, neither “cooge” nor “scrupid” rolls easily off the tongue, but when it does, I just let it roll right in one ear and right out the other — that is until the Mayor himself called me out.

No disrespect to Mayor Bloomberg, but locals know that the real mayor of Bay Ridge is nowhere near Gracie Mansion — his throne is in front 79th and Third Avenue.

“Everyone calls me ‘the Mayor of Bay Ridge’ because I know more people and shake more hands than any politician you will ever meet,” the Mayor, Walter Short, said.

As a former bar owner back in the days when Bay Ridge was known as Bar Ridge, the Mayor has developed into an iconic character who loves two things; his wife of 50 years and his neighborhood of longer.

The Mayor says he knows more than 900 locals by first name. Yellow Hooker believes him. On any given day, the Mayor can be found sitting in front of Millennium Carpet, the Third Avenue store he owns, talking to random passers-by, and passing out free jokes and unsolicited advice. A lot of unsolicited advice.

“It just isn’t right,” the Mayor told me last February 14. “With all that she puts up with from you, this lady deserves more than stale marshmallows — she deserves her face on Rushmore.”

Stale marshmallows?

Despite that easily ignored advice, I sought out the Mayor this year, but couldn’t find him at his usual haunts.

When I did catch up with him, he told me his wife Helen had had a sudden heart attack. Fine one moment, fighting for her life the next.

“It is hard for me to breathe right now,” he said. “You just never expect that moment to come when you see everything you ever loved in your life just lying there — not knowing if the next breath she takes will be her last.”

I asked him if there was anything I could do for him.

“Go home and give your lady a hug, and don’t let go,” Hizzoner told me.

This time, I took the Mayor’s advice.

Valentine’s Day has arrived — and 33 cents never felt so cheap.

The Kitchen Sink

Offshore banking? Relax, they are just sprucing the place up. Offshore Restaurant, at 7822 Third Ave.. will close for renovations from Feb. 12 – 23. What are they going to renovate? “We are going to surprise you,” the manager answered. …

Assemblyman William Colton (D–Bensonhurst) has introduced legislation that holds electronic equipment makers responsible for the recycling of their products. No word yet on whether legislation will be introduced that requires producers of redundant press releases to be held accountable for the mess of papers littering my desk. …

Rep. Vito Fossella (R–Bay Ridge) nominated local community leader — and Conservative Party playa — Fran Vella-Marrone for the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s 2007 Environmental Quality Award for her role in improving conditions at the Owl’s Head Park treatment plant. Now, if conditions would only improve, that would be something! …

Brooklyn-based Boy Scout Troop 20 will observe its 97th birthday on Feb 11 at the New Utrecht Reformed Church in Bensonhurst. The troop, which is the oldest continuously chartered Boy Scout unit in the country, recently pinned a prestigious honorary Eagle Scout emblem on Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Can Don Rumsfeld say that? …

One “Fun Fact” on state Sen. Marty Golden’s Senate Kids Web site — “Keys mysteriously jingle, doors open on their own, and an unusual wind sweeps by, but no window is open. Sounds like a haunted house, right? Wrong! It’s the fifth floor of the State Capitol in Albany, New York. Strange events such as these have been reported over the years, and some actually believe the Capitol has its very own ghost. One popular theory identifies [him] as Sam Abbott, a 78-year-old night watchman who died in a fire that devastated the Capitol on March 28, 1911.” Having fun, kids? …

Throw the books at them! Happy Pets on Fourth Avenue and 99th Street is holding a book drive for shelter animals. Just drop off your used books and 100 percent of the proceeds go towards saving unloved Fidos out there.

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