Growing Up Bank Street: A Greenwich Village Memoir

Growing Up Bank Street: A Greenwich Village Memoir

by Donna Florio
Growing Up Bank Street: A Greenwich Village Memoir

Growing Up Bank Street: A Greenwich Village Memoir

by Donna Florio


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A vivid memoir of life in one of New York City’s most dynamic neighborhoods

Growing Up Bank Street is an evocative, tender account of life in Greenwich Village, on a unique street that offered warmth, support, and inspiration to an adventurous and openhearted young girl. Bank Street, a short strip of elegant brownstones and humble tenements in Greenwich Village, can trace its lineage back to the yellow fever epidemics of colonial New York. In the middle of the last century, it became home to a cast of extraordinary characters whose stories intertwine in this spirited narrative.

Growing up, Donna Florio had flamboyant, opera performer parents and even more free-spirited neighbors. As a child, she lived among beatniks, artists, rock musicians, social visionaries, movie stars, and gritty blue-collar workers, who imparted to her their irrepressibly eccentric life rules. The real-life Auntie Mame taught her that she is a divine flame from the universe. John Lennon, who lived down the street, was gracious when she dumped water on his head. Sex Pistols star Sid Vicious lived in the apartment next door, and his heroin overdose death came as a wake-up call during her wild twenties. An elderly Broadway dancer led by brave example as Donna helped him comfort dying Villagers in the terrifying early days of AIDS, and a reclusive writer gave her a path back from the brink when, as a witness to the attacks of 9/11, her world collapsed. These vibrant vignettes weave together a colorful coming of age tale against the backdrop of a historic, iconoclastic street whose residents have been at the heart of the American story.

As Greenwich Village gentrifies and the hallmarks of its colorful past disappear, Growing Up Bank Street gives the reader a captivating glimpse of the thriving culture that once filled its storied streets.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781479803200
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 03/09/2021
Series: Washington Mews Books , #10
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 687,462
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Donna Florio is a lifelong resident of Bank Street in Greenwich Village. Nurtured by colorful, eccentric neighbors who taught her to “never wonder about life from the outside. Jump in!” Donna has, over the years, worked as an opera singer, a TV producer, a Wall Street executive, and an educator, and has backpacked around the world.

Table of Contents

Foreword Constance Rosenblum viii

My Bank Street

1 Six Blocks of America 3

2 Opera on Bank Street 18

My Building

3 The Frydels 35

4 Mr. Bendtsen 40

5 Mrs. Swanson and the Browders 45

6 John Lavery 54

7 Grace Bickers 56

8 Lena 61

9 Sabine 70

10 Sid Vicious 80

Artistic Bank Street

11 John, Yoko, Rex, and Many More 91

12 Al 98

13 John Kemmerer 108

14 George and Gloria 122

Stylish and Splendid Bank Street

15 Jack Heineman Jr. 127

16 Jack and Madeline Gilford 134

17 Auntie Mame: Marion Tanner 139

18 Bella Abzug 149

Secret Bank Street

19 The Jester, the Bishop, and the Eavesdropper 159

20 Stella Crater 163

21 Yeffe Kimball 170

The Heart of Bank Street

22 Billy Joyce 181

23 Marty, Roz, and Marty's Harem 190

24 The Many Kinds of Friendships 196

Epilogue 203

Acknowledgments 205

Works Consulted 209

Index 213

About the Author 225

Illustrations follow page 123

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