#295, Baltic Street, Brooklyn
For years I have walked past this 295 and admired it. The oversized numbers, the distressed finish, and the slight cheekiness of the font have always been a refreshing sight, and the grumpy lion door knocker to the side somehow holds the whole weird diorama together.
Today was a sunny October day today, one of those warm-but-not-too-warm fall afternoons where the air smells a little fresher and the yellow leaves look a little yellower. Hoping to re-capture my much-loved 295 in the flattering slant of setting autumn sunlight, I set off with my camera and was much maligned when, upon reaching the house, I saw that the three cheeky numbers were gone. Just -- gone. The brick beside the red door was bare. All evidence of the 295 ever having graced the brick had been copiously scrubbed away. I've been going through withdrawal over the recent uglification of my beloved 4 Verandah Place, so this came as extra bad news.
Injury often follows insult, and sure enough, I saw that the oversized 295 had been usurped by a trio of ugly white vinyl numbers over the fanlight window, so uniform they may as well have come with their own green generic stripe and bar code. Fresh red flowers had been planted nearby -- doubtless to show off the new look -- but all it managed to do was lend a funerary air to the scene.
It's always sad when a neighborhood loses a landmark. Yes, I sometimes miss spying into the depressing, interior of the OTB across from Raccuglia Funeral Home, but now I have a wonderful boarded-up derelict storefront to make me even more depressed about the human condition. Restaurants close, cafes shut down. It happens all the time. But sometimes it's the disappearance of smaller details that tugs the heartstrings a little harder. Because then you wonder: did anyone else ever notice this? Am I the only one that's bummed about its absence?
This particular subtraction from the 'hood is going to hurt for awhile. Was it vandalism? Did someone steal the numbers? Or was this somehow someone's misguided idea of improvement? I may never know. But for now, I'll rest a little easier knowing that at least I managed to capture it on film and share it with the rest of you before it went to the great number line in the sky. Amen.