Joe Ades, who peddled potato peelers on the streets of New York in a delightful British accent, was a pleasure to watch and mystery to behold. Now that he's gone, he turns out to be even more fascinating then I imagined.
As a fine piece by Dan Bergner in the Times explains, he was a native of Manchester, England who peddled goods in Britain and Australia before he moved to New York and fell in love with the city. His handsome suits and smooth patter carried him far: he earned a good living and spent his after-work hours sipping champagne in the piano bar at the Pierre.
And his potato peelers were no joke. I bought one years ago and it serves me well today, although I never mastered Joe's technique of turning whole carrots into sunflower sculptures.
At their best, the sidewalks of New York are the best show in the city. Surely Joe Ades was one of our stars.
I bought my peelers from him years ago on the corner of 57th and Madison. I was just watching, but he got me when he julienned the carrot. Went home with 2 of them. Haven't used them yet. Great pitchman, one of the great old characters of the city.
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