Sunday, June 03, 2007

Writ in tin

Tin ceiling, Life Cafe, East Village, Manhattan

Pressed tin ceilings remind me of when I was very young.
One of the enduring memories of my childhood 40-odd years ago was visiting my mother's mother in her apartment at 287 Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn, across the street from Prospect Park.

The building was very old, a vestige of the Victorian era. The ceiling in the lobby was of pressed tin, painted white.
My grandmother's apartment had what to a child seemed like towering ceilings.
The original gas hookups for lighting fixtures protruded from the walls. Long since disconnected, their ends were covered with metal caps. But in my mind's eye, I could still see the flickering flames of the original gaslights once Nana explained what those small pipe stubs were for.

I had lunch Sunday at Life Cafe in the East Village, a favorite haunt. The cafe is blessed with its original tin ceiling. In many buildings of similar vintage, the details of the tin ceiling have been obscured by multiple layers of paint or hidden entirely by a drop ceiling.
At Life Cafe, though, the richly textured details pop out at you.

Momentarily neglecting my hamburger and gazing straight up, I was wafted back to long-ago summer days in Brooklyn.


east village idiot said...

I have a tin ceiling in my kitchen. I have to admit, Life Cafe is a great place to have a hamburger and hang around. There is so much to look at.

Michael said...

Yes, I mostly like the staff at the restaurant, and the food's good and relatively inexpensive. And tin ceilings are cool.