ASK AUNT BOBBI
INTERVIEW WITH A GREENWICH VILLAGE LEGEND
Bobbi Barrow has lived in Greenwich Village for more than fifty years. All who know her benefit from exposure to the advice she shares and her regularly replenished stock of quality red wine. For this interview, we sat down in her apartment with her beloved dachshund Molly.
I came in as a baby, and then out as a two year old, in as a five year old, out again. I moved back to New York in 1964.
Don’t forget: when I first moved back here, NYU was a baby. It was the school that all kids went to if they could afford it – bright kids, rich kids, city kids went there, that could afford it. We had hospitals and good restaurants and everything else. They went where we did or they stayed on that side of town.
It seems to me that young people today seem to always be in a relationship, whereas when we were young we were in a thousand relationships. We had more flings and didn’t really care. Today everything seems to need to go somewhere. We've made it so complicated.
They have money. They have jobs. Their work ethic is totally different. They’re working to get better and change jobs, whereas we were working to keep them. Who sees their faces? They’re all on their fucking cell phones.
There were no diversions. You were walking in the street, they said hello. You either knew them, thought you knew them, or wanted to know them. Not just excuse me, where is Magnolia fucking Bakery?
You guys are like groupies in apartments. We lived alone. We made it by living on our own. And we had the wherewithal or the drive, or the bringing up or whatever, that if we couldn’t make it on one job we had two. We thought nothing of working a second job. I tended fucking bar on weekends so I had enough money to buy dope, cigarettes, and go to Europe.
I would say to the kids: you can’t work harder at a job that you’re trying to make a career out of, and you probably don’t have time to have a second job, but if your parents say they’re going to give you money, there’s no harm in taking it. There’s just not.
Look what is here that wasn’t here. Go walk over on the west side. Air rights are a thing of the past. People are losing all semblance of a neighborhood. There’s nothing to see anymore. Buildings are taller. It’s kind of a travesty.
There was a lowness about the neighborhood. You just couldn’t wait to get home. It was lovely. It was small. Little stores – art stores, leather, shoes, beautiful jewelry. Just people hanging out of their stores and proud of it.
It’s capitalism. It sucks, in the biggest sense. Parking meters – what the fuck is that? It sucks, but it happened.
Brooklyn was like a fifth cousin. Nobody went to Brooklyn. Your old maid aunt lived in Brooklyn in like a beautiful brownstone and if you were lucky you got to see her once a month or your parents would drive out. Brooklyn wasn’t even like an issue.
Coney Island to some people is just a place you wouldn’t go. Me? In a minute. I love Coney Island. I love Nathan’s.
We have an expression, most of the people who are my age or similar: “Oh my god, you’re vertical!”
They’re going to carry me out in a plant. I’m not going anywhere else, because I don’t know where else to go.