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Astoria Characters

Astoria Characters: The Woman With a Third Eye

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 06.29.2014 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Manuela Rana never had dreams of the American dream, but when she found the man of her dreams, she didn't hesitate to cross the Atlantic to be with him.

Astoria Characters: The Dawn Dweller

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 11.03.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

The garage door is up, and Pierre Zimmerli is sitting on a stool playing a hand of solitaire. This is what he does when he doesn't have anything else to do.

Astoria Characters: The Crownless Queen

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 08.18.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Gold-hearted, bold and bodacious, Crystal is a warrior woman who wears her punked Medusa curls like a victory crown. So powerful is her will to do good that it puts the sun into permanent shade.

Astoria Characters: The Gem-Setting Jeweler

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 06.16.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

There's a matched pair of elephants on Yogi Lala's front sign. You can't miss them because each one is balancing a diamond the size of the Ritz on the end of its upturned trunk.

Astoria Characters: The Rabbi and His Wife

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 06.10.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

It's Sunday morning, and the Chabad of Long Island City is at rest. The same cannot be said of the Rabbi Zev Wineberg and his wife, Rivka, who are busy planning for the coming week.

Astoria Characters: The Easy Driver

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 06.02.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Seventeen thousand. Manfred Edenhofer is embarrassed to admit that that's all the miles he has put on the 2000 ocean-grey Nissan Altima sitting serenely in his driveway.

Astoria Characters: The Comfortable Couple

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 04.28.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Judy Lopez sits on the couch sipping a soda. Her husband, Ricky, settles into the recliner with Dixie, a bug-eyed pug, riding shotgun on its ample arm. It doesn't get better than this. The trio is content to tune in to the flat-screen TV.

Astoria Characters: The Ever-Weeping Widow

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 04.23.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

The diamond engagement ring doesn't come off Ronnie Hartley's finger easily. For nearly 46 years, she's worn it, ever since Roger, her dear and dearly departed, gave it to her.

Astoria Characters: The Hidden House

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 01.29.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

2013-01-29-astoria_homes.jpgIts future is uncertain, and time may stop for it.

Astoria Characters: The Indiana Granny

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 03.24.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

One thing has to be perfectly clear at the start: Joan Murphy doesn't have much to say. So she's set the kitchen table for tea. And she's made some of her banana nut bread so things won't be a total loss.

Astoria Characters: The Chef's Mamma

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 03.17.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Two vats of sauce are simmering on the stove when Tina comes on duty at Trattoria L 'Incontro. There's enough to feed an army or two. She recalls the first time she had to make such a big batch. How did it turn out? Perfecto!

Astoria Characters: The Ice Sculptor

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 02.17.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

It happened many moons ago, but when Shintaro Okamoto opens the door of the walk-in freezer and sees the tiger's head, he remembers the swan.

Astoria Characters: The Guy With the Extra Six-Pack

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 02.03.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Gurgle, gurglegurglegurgle, gurgle. Rich Buceta gets so excited when he hears this sound that you'd think he'd discovered a multi-million-dollar oil well gushing up through his factory floor.

Astoria Characters: The Peace Broker

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 01.20.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Moustafa Elshiekh places a color photo reverently on his desk. It was taken this year, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, and in it, he's standing between Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Astoria Characters: The Lucky-Strike Bowler

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 01.13.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

BOWLING. That's what the big illuminated sign screams in red-apple letters that look as though they should be shining on a Times Square marquee.

Astoria Characters: The First Family of Fright

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 12.30.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

This is kind of creepy: Evan Makrogiannis is talking about mixing up a batch of blood. The recipe is so simple that even a child can do it, and his sons, 13-year-old Liam and 12-year-old Tristan, are pros at adding red, blue and yellow food coloring to corn syrup.

Astoria Characters: The Man Whose Hobby Is Working

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 12.16.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Rudy's is the only extensive, eclectic hobby shop left in Queens, and surely it is the only one in the world that sells crosses and holy water right alongside jigsaw puzzles and plastic toy soldiers.

Astoria Characters: The New Arrival

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 12.09.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

With the gracefulness of the dancer she once was, Malini "Mala" Ekanayake primly sits on the park bench, puts her feet together in perfect alignment and closes her big, brown eyes.

Astoria Characters: The Actor Who's Late to the Show

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 12.02.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Orlando Anthony Pavich wasn't expecting morning to come so soon. He's hasn't shaved yet or put on a shirt. Zoe, his 2-year-old dachshund, is scurrying around the living room, jumping on the couches.

Astoria Characters: The Woman Who's Counting Up to 100

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 11.25.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Luisa Radeschi's been carrying the photo around for as long as she can remember. She just turned 94, so it's safe to say that it's been going on 70 or 80 years.

Astoria Characters: The Piano Man

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 11.18.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Walter "Wally" Boot finds himself fine-tuning a Steinway, and it's all because of a blue suit he needed a half century ago.

Astoria Characters: The Lady of Losses

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 11.11.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

In the living room, past the pair of wire cages that confine Melanie, Peaches and Shadow, there's a small black table that holds a toy car, a child-size football, a tablet engraved "Georgie" and a large color photo of a handsome man.

Astoria Characters: The Jazz Player

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 11.04.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

A coffee cup. And a trumpet. Josh Deutsch carries them out to his second-floor balcony. He didn't intend to bring them both; it was a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Astoria Characters: The Dream Believer

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 10.28.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

The drapes are blocking the sun, but the darkness doesn't dim Charlene Lite's optimism. Yes, she's had good times and bad times just like the rest of us, but she's made it her mantra to see the bright side of everything.

Astoria Characters: The Puppy and the Pepper

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 10.07.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

It's the dog days of summer, and Zora is sitting on the front porch watching the people pass by.