It was cool in the Bronx this morning so for the first time since the spring I wore a jacket. Happened to have a wool cap in the pocket which was good because it was chilly once I got outside. Dude lives in my building is standing on the steps outside with his son and he says to me, “It’s not that cold you gotta wear a hat.”
Few blocks later I pass by an old woman I see every morning. She says, “It’s not winter yet, you don’t need to wear a hat do you?”
Remember when you were a kid and you wouldn’t wear a hat for anything, not even if it was freezing out? Now that I’m grown I’m not about getting sick, man, so if the shit is cold, I’m wearing a hat.
So, what to take from this story? That the citizens of the Bronx are kids at heart, or maybe they are sad that the summer is over. Both may be true. What’s also true is that certain parties just love to bust balls.
Lloyd Ultan does not use email. He doesn’t own a cellphone. He doesn’t eat in restaurants, drive a car, or even have a driver’s license, for that matter. “I have the longest chauffeur-driven limousine on the highway: it’s called the bus!“ he says with a roaring laugh.
Truth be told, Ultan would have little use for a vehicle, as he rarely leaves the borough where he has lived for all of his seven-and-a-half decades. Ultan is an author, researcher, and the Borough Historian of the Bronx, an official position appointed by the Borough President, and one he has held since 1996.
“By state law, I am paid a six-figure salary,” Ultan says. “Unfortunately, by the same state law, all six figures are zero!” he adds, erupting into another fit of laughter. In each of the five boroughs, the post of official historian is an unpaid but highly respected position. Instead, Ultan pays his bills by teaching and writing books.
[Photo Credit: Luisa Conlon]