ROBERTS, FRANCES/FREELANCE NYDN
Life in Brooklyn is synonymous with hanging on the stoop. Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio has lived in a one-family house in the borough with his wife and two kids for 13 years.
Stay put, Bill.
I hope Bill de Blasio turns Gracie Mansion into a day care center and stays in his one-family house on 11th St. in Brooklyn where he’s lived with his wife and two kids for 13 years.
I was thinking this on Monday as I walked from Little Purity Diner on 12th St. and Seventh Ave., which boasted a de Blasio poster in the window, and passed 378 Seventh Ave., where I was raised in a top-floor railroad flat, and where the fruit store displayed another de Blasio poster.
So did most of the storefronts leading to 11th St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves., where I did most of my growing up, playing stickball, touch football, Ringolevio and hanging out on stoops.
I was thinking: Stay put, Bill.
Here’s just one reason why. A woman named Amy Flynn pushed her son, Rowan, 3, up 11th St. in a stroller. “I’ll be voting for him tomorrow,” she said, waving at de Blasio’s house. “I especially like his position on funding pre-K. I also like the idea of having a family guy from a Brooklyn street like this who understands the concerns of regular New Yorkers in City Hall.”
So stay put, Bill, and commute to City Hall. Then return home to 11th St. every night, say hello to the neighbors, drag out the garbage cans, take out your keys and let yourself into the house and have dinner with the wife and kids.
There can’t be a better way to keep in touch with the real concerns of your city, Bill, than by staying put on 11th St. where my friends and I, like your kids, learned just about everything anyone ever needs to know about life.
Stay put and your neighbors will let you know — on the way to the dry cleaners, sitting in Little Purity Diner, shopping at the corner grocer or eating a slice at Smiling Pizzeria — what’s on the city’s mind.
I walked down 11th St. on Election Day eve and rang the doorbell of my old friend Eileen Winslow, who has lived for 62 years in this brownstone her police officer father bought. She lives 14 houses up from de Blasio.
Tom Leaver, Eileen’s husband, answered the door. He said Eileen wasn’t home but that she would probably be voting for de Blasio. “I’m voting for Lhota,” Leaver said. “Probably the only guy on 11th St. who will. I mean de Blasio’s a really nice guy. He was up and down the block on Halloween as kids went trick-or-treating. I like him. I just think some of his ideas are wacky.”
Leaver laughed and stepped out and gazed down 11th St. where I grew up with his brothers-in-law, Jimmy and Ray Winslow. And guys named Sammy Gentile, Tommy Hanley, Tommy Ivancich, Dennis and Anthony Szczygielski. We all sat around on hot summer afternoons spinning boyhood dreams about growing up to play center field for the Yankees, becoming airplane pilots, spies, Wall Street brokers or cops.
Nobody on 11th St. I ever met dreamed of becoming mayor of New York.
But here came Bill de Blasio, stepping out of his house just after noon, dressed in a sharp gray suit and locking his front door.
The next mayor of New York stopped at his weather-beaten garden gate to peruse some old photos of himself taken in 1980 by Daily News photographer Todd Maisel when they were both NYU students.
“Wow, my hair looks like Dante’s in these,” de Blasio said referring to his teenage son who sports a now-famous Afro. Fifteen minutes earlier, his friendly wife, Chirlane McCray, howled at the same old photos.
She sounded like a mom from 11th St. and not like some diva who’d descended from a Manhattan penthouse 40 stories and $ 40 million above the concerns of average New Yorkers.
De Blasio put the photos in his vestibule and relocked the front door of the house for which he pays taxes on a street where he mingles with neighbors at block parties and often is seen carrying groceries, laundry and takeout food home.
I asked him if he planned on moving from this quintessential Brooklyn street for the grand gates of Gracie Mansion.
“First, it’s presumptuous to answer that before the election,” he says. “But if I am elected, that will be a family decision. We all love 11th St. It’s convenient for my son to get to Brooklyn Tech. We love our neighbors. We’d miss Smiling Pizzeria big time. So we’ll decide that one as a family.”
I hope his family decides that Mayor Bill de Blasio should stay put.
On 11th St.