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Astoria Characters

Astoria Characters: The On-the-Ball Pool Player

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 08.07.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Who's that guy? The one at the back of the pool hall. See him? You can't miss him. He's the big dude, the one with the scary scorpion inked on his arm and the spiky porcupine hair.

Astoria Characters: The Couplets Couple

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 07.31.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Gil and Maria, husband and wife, are poets. They don't complete each other's thoughts or even their sentences, but they do look over each other's work.

Astoria Characters: The Genial Beer Garden Host

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 07.24.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

When Larry Spacek, a Czech immigrant, was asked to manage the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, he jumped at the chance. "This is a payback to my heritage," he says.

Astoria Characters: The Lady and the Parrot

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 07.17.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

This story is not about Laurie Lieberman, or at least that's what she says. It is, according to her, about Zeus, who has just hopped onto her fingers. Zeus is her 4 ½-year-old Congo African grey parrot.

Astoria Characters: The Internationalista

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 07.10.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

London. Johannesburg and Nairobi. Fort Worth, St. Louis and San Diego. Tokyo and Manhattan. And Astoria. What do they all have in common? Well, let's see... Matthew Peipert.

Astoria Characters: The Single Supermom

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 07.03.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

The top of the piano is crowded with framed photographs of a cute little boy with big beautiful eyes. The little boy isn't here. He's in the Hudson Valley, living in a boarding school for autistic children.

Astoria Characters: The 95-Year-Old Spring Chicken

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 06.26.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Don't let her age fool you. Henrietta Spilkia looks 75, and she's as vibrant as her hot-pink turtleneck and cherry-red lipstick.

Astoria Characters: The Coolest Club Kid

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 06.19.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Paris has had a hard day's night. As usual, he was out clubbing in Manhattan, and he didn't make it home until it was time to wake up anyway, so he's starting his day with a drink -- of water.

Astoria Characters: The Born Baker

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 06.12.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Rosario Notaro, a compact man with big milk chocolate eyes and the energy of a youngster, doesn't like cookies and cakes; perhaps it's because he's been baking them nearly all of his 74 years.

Astoria Characters: The Nun of God

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 06.05.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Being a Rikers chaplain is much more than a job to Sister Margaret. What she offers inmates is simple -- love with no toughness or any other strings attached.

Astoria Characters: The Pet Protector

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.29.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Flushing-based Second Chance Rescue finds foster parents for pets who are sentenced to Animal Care & Control shelters in Staten Island, Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Astoria Characters: The Sewing-Machine Savior

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Eleven. That's the number that forever altered Sakis Karagiannakis' life. That's how old he was when his father died, paving the way for his becoming the prime provider for his mother and two sisters.

Astoria Characters: The Big Guy With the Cute Beagle

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

When Bob Koch walks in, Caesar, a benevolent Beagle with big eyes, is lounging in it. Up until Caesar's arrival 2½ years ago, it was Bob's chair. "Now, it's our chair," he says.

Astoria Characters: The Steady Shoe-Shine Man

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

"Shoe Repair & Shine." That's what the sign says in big, snow-white letters. But it's probably been there since Kennedy was president; no doubt the owner never bothered to update it.

Astoria Characters: The Ageless Storyteller

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Betty Deudon was only a schoolgirl standing by Long Island City High with a classmate when the handsome French sailors strode by. "Let's pick them up," Betty told her girlfriend.