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My LES: Carol Markel and Richard Cramer

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Carol Markel and Richard Cramer. Photo by Tobi Elkin.

This weekly feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. If you know someone you would like to suggest be featured in “My LES,” please email us here.


What do you do?

I am an artist and hat maker. And I recently started a blog called Femme et Fleur where I write about fashion, travel, humor and fun. My husband, Richard, is an artist.

How long have you lived on the LES?

We moved to Rivington Street in 1985. We lived there for 9 years, then 9 years in the West Village. We bought our Seward Park co-op in 2003.

Favorite block in the hood?

Orchard between Grand and Broome.

Favorite date spot in the hood?

Sitting on a bench in Seward Park with the Forward Building clock and a full moon shining above.

Favorite coffee in the hood?

Brown Cafe.

Favorite slice in the hood?

Chicca, 184 Spring Street in Soho.

Where do you take visitors when they’re here?

Laboratorio del Gelato, Schiller’s Liquor Bar and great boutiques like Edith Machinist vintage for shoes and bags at 104 Rivington.

Favorite dive bar/locals bar in the hood?


How has the neighborhood changed in the last few years?

When we moved to the LES in 1985 it was quite rough and tumble. Leaving for work in the morning, I would either find a crew from Law and Order or drug dealers on the block.  When we crossed Delancey to shop at Fine Fare, which wasn’t that often, we wondered what the heck are these buildings? Of course, they were the Seward Park Co-ops. ABC No Rio held raucous events with the Goth kids from the suburbs drinking beer on the sidewalk. Bernstein’s on Essex, the Kosher/Chinese restaurant, was next to the only hip bistro, La Luncheonette. Of course now we’ve got lots of restaurants and shops, the drug scene has abated and there’s a wonderful mixture of people living here.

Favorite LES memory?

The Captain and Marvin. The Captain was a Dominican man who was the unofficial street cleaner and traffic cop of Rivington Street between Clinton and Suffolk. He wore a black ship captain’s hat while he worked. He had a pad of what looked like parking tickets, and one day he got annoyed with a car from Connecticut and issued a “ticket”. Marvin was our building super. He had a church in the basement, and you had to open the metal doors in the sidewalk to go down. It was quite a sight to see the church ladies coming out of that basement.


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  1. I remember that (1985) place on Rivington Street. Loved it; and you two were fortunate to have such a wonderful and large abode! I especially liked your guest room which consisted of a gurney for guests to rest, and palette tables to set things on when not being used as palettes! You would also roll your tiny TV on a cart, out of a closet to watch any shows you had an interest in then. Very minimal!

  2. What an interesting couple.  I’d like to visit and be treated to Carol and Richard’s favorite slice and coffee.  Of course shopping at a vintage store sounds divine.

  3. Hey I know those two…they are wonderful friendly neighbors!  Richard is a funny lovable man.   Carol is a super nice elegant lady.  Honored to live in the same building as you.

  4. Well, I hope Carol and Ricardo read these because it’s me, their old friend and assistant Patty. Carmina and I still see each other/talk sometimes and fondly remember being the Cramerettes… and other stuff on Chestnut St.

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