I spent a lot of time in SoHo beginning in the first half of the 1980s, though I always lived in other neighborhoods. I had friends who lived in SoHo, and there were many places I liked very much; Joe’s Dairy, Fanelli’s, a toy store where you could buy a monster who lived under the bed, Milady’s Bar, a little Ethiopian restaurant on Grand Street called Abyssinia that was inexpensive and delicious where I I went quite a lot. I could go on and on
Many jobs in those years. Coffee wagon for one.
I have a lot of SoHo memories, but one of the people I knew there and visited often was the artist, Buffie Johnson, who lived on Greene Street. I remember her telling me that she had decided to come down and live there in about 1975, and that some of the streets lined with those gorgeous old cast-iron buildings reminded her of Paris. Her studio was full of big paintings that she’d made over decades, and she had wonderful stories from life, which she liked to tell while sitting at her kitchen table on Greene Street. Once in a while she took me to a party with her, full of artists all much older than I was, and so interesting. At one of those parties, she pointed at a woman and said, "That’s Daphne Hellman. For a long time she was the most beautiful woman in New York." And it was Daphne the harpist, who used to play her harp all over the city and all over the world. Walking with Buffie around her neighborhood was always a little adventure because every corner reminded her of a story, and her stories were always very good.
Another place that I think of fondly is the vintage dress shop on Thompson Street called Stella Dallas. That, I think, is still there. One of my friends, Emmy, used to buy party dresses there in the ’80s, and once while wearing a fabulous polka dot dress she bumped into a lady on the subway platform who said to her, "Watch it, girl, or I’ll knock those dots right off that dress." Emmy thought that was hysterical, and I did too, and still do.