A Gypsy in New York (part 2.6)
by Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Pre-publication preview courtesy of Ash Tree Publishing
Springtime brought the window cleaners to New York. A professional thief came to clean ours, not a window cleaner at all but a man who went from apartment to apartment, robbing women. He was a half-caste man, with a grey-yellow face and many gold teeth in his mouth, tight greying curls pushing beneath his trilby hat. He came to me with the plausible story that the owner of the apartment house had recommended him to clean the windows. Therefore, as I had let him into the apartment, I let him carry out the wishes of the proper owner.
He sent me to get soap for him. In other countries window cleaners provide their own materials; however, I supplied a bar of soap as asked. This he smeared on the windows and then declared that it was bad quality and he wanted soap powder instead. Again I went in search. My children were out with our dog, and meanwhile I was feeling such an aura of violence and rape about the personality of that man that I kept close to the outside door all the time that I was alone with him, ready to slam the door behind me and if he should threaten me in any way, run away outdoors.
I was thankful when my children returned with our dog. They brought events to a conclusion – for the Afghan hound stepped directly up to the window cleaner and sniffed at his jacket pocket. A shout of rage from the man, declaring that he would not clean windows where there were dirty dogs around and that we must tie up the dog at once. I told my son to do so.
The window cleaner then muttered that he must go out for some better soap, and hurried from our apartment, leaving all the front windows well smeared with soap. He also left his cleaning rags on the floor, an old blue shirt torn up into a number of pieces. I at once told my children to look around and see if the window cleaner had taken anything because he appeared to be a bad type of man.
We searched around, but found all things still in place; nothing seemed to be missing. Only the window cleaner himself was missing! He did not return to clean the soap off our windows. When I needed some things from the shops, I went to the well-concealed place where I kept my purse, hanging behind a screen, mixed up with dog leads, luggage straps, and so forth.
My purse was still there. But when I went into the first shop and made ready to pay for my purchases, I found it had been emptied of all the money, nearly fifty dollars. The window cleaner, in the clairvoyant way of the professional thief, had known within the few minutes allotted to him while I searched for the soap where to find my purse! And again like the professional thief, he had taken only the money, and left the purse.
The loss of fifty dollars was a blow to me at that time, otherwise the incident would have been funny. I have since learned the New York way of keeping one’s door on a chain. So that when the doorbell was rung, one could peer out with the chain barring entry to all callers, and that way only admit into one’s place people who could be trusted.
Commercial travelers [door-to-door salesmen] must have a hard time in New York obtaining entry through those chained doors of the housewives! I also gained for myself a lecture from the New York police, for daring to let an unknown man into my apartment while I was there alone, and for therefore helping to make profitable the work of the criminal class operating in New York. When I told the police that as a writer with therefore necessarily observant eyes, I could give them a detailed description of the thief, they did not need that, they already knew him down to the smallest detail, and said that he had been a wanted man for a long time.
I then told them that I had, untouched, still in my possession, the man’s cleaning cloths: my education in crime progressed, for I was told that cloth does not hold fingerprints well and is therefore useless for clues. As a contrast to the locking and chaining of New York City doors, friends of mine in country houses (a short car drive from New York City) never locked their doors. Some friends in nearby Connecticut had lost their house keys years ago and had never replaced them.
My children found a new pastime resulting from the visit of the thief. Whenever we went into a New York post office, they would seek out the sheaf of papers pinned up there, giving photos and descriptions of Wanted Men. They were searching for the ugly face of the window cleaner. I wish we had let our Afghan hound have her way with him – we might not have lost our fifty dollars.
to be continued....
Juliette de Bairacli Levy is herbalist, author, and breeder of Afghan hounds, friend of the Gypsies, traveler in search of herbal wisdom and the pioneer of holistic veterinary medicine. For more than sixty years she has lived with the Gypsies, nomads and peasants of the world, learning the healing arts of these peoples who live close to nature and listening to nature herself. Her books include “Traveler’s Joy”, “Nature’s Children”, “Common Herbs for Natural Health”, “The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat”, “The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable”, and “Spanish Mountain Life” among others.
In this richly detailed memoir, Juliette de Bairacli Levy – one of the founders of American herbalism – offers us a rare documentary. It is at once an herbal, a travel book and a compendium of Gypsy lore and Gypsy ways. 210 pages,
index, illustrations. Retails
This collection includes three great herbal medicine books and one video by Juliette de Bairacli Levy, well-known as the "grandmother of herbal medicine."
Nature's Children is a classic book on natural childrearing; it includes remedies, recipes, and fascinating lore. Traveler's Joy is a unique guide to finding the wild bounty in simple living; Juliette covers topics such as travel, water, dwellings, medicine, and food.
Common Herbs for Natural Health is an essential herbal with lore and uses for 200 herbs including cosmetic, culinary, and medical recipes.
Juliette of the Herbs, the exceptional video included in this collection will delight, entrance, and inspire!
20% savings YOURS for $49.95 ($63.80 value), plus shipping.
Take an herb walk in and around Arab, Alabama, home of southern herbalist Phyllis Light. Arab is located in northern Alabama at one end of the Appalachian Mountains. She is joined by her good friend and northern herbalist Matthew Wood.
Herbs covered: blackberry, briers (sarsaparilla), cleavers, daisy fleabane, dogwood, fringetree, honeysuckle, hydrangea, poke, prickly ash, sassafras, solomon's seal, sowthistle, tulip poplar, wild cherry, wild yam, and yellowroot.
Chapter index included.
In this empowering book, Stephen Buhner offers conclusive evidence that plant medicines, with their complex mix of multiple antibiotic compounds, are remarkably effective against drug-resistant bacteria. You'll learn how antibiotic herbs such as aloe, garlic, and grapefruit seed extract represent our best defense against bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, and Salmonella -- and how their use will ensure that, in the future, antibiotic drugs will still be there when we really need them. Extensively researched. Paperback: 144 pages