The Hushed Hustlers of Central Park
From their perches in the heart of Manhattan, two quiet New Yorkers let their signs start the conversation.
On a sweltering Independence Day, Clare Hogenauer, 66, sits on the same park bench she has occupied in Central Park’s Strawberry Fields many times over the past decade. Wearing a brace on her right knee to relieve her arthritis, Hogenauer relies on a rolling walker to assist her to and from this bench, which serves as something of a second home to her penthouse around the corner. She sits here in silence, a fixture in a peaceful patch of shaded greenery designated a city “quiet zone” in honor of John Lennon. Hogenauer allows one of her homemade signs, a flimsy poster-board with a blunt message scrawled in capital letters, to speak for her:
“PLEASE HELP ME END THE BARBARIC DEATH PENALTY.”
On other days, one bench over, a wiry man young enough to be Hogenauer’s son sits behind a message of his own, hustling for a different kind of change:
“1 DOLLAR, 1 JOKE,” the plastic, A-framed sign at Joey McDevitt’s feet advertised recently, as he silently sought to earn a buck …
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