It was a chilly Monday morning, and I decided to take my first day off from work at my grown-up job. Taking a first vacation day is worth celebrating. It’s a monumental moment in the coming-of-age story. It’s a right of passage. This was my vacation ay, and I was ready for adventure. The wind bit through my light jacket as I walked south on 5th Avenue, and the shade made everything colder.
A street vender caught my eye. “I don’t sell anything after 1945.” The man said to me as I walked near his cart. He wouldn’t tell me his name for fear of his wife, who was sitting in the car flipping through a Japanese magazie, but he did tell me that he was from Yugoslavia originally. “I’ve been selling antiques for 18 years. I have maps for everything. I’ve had a long time to collect.”
I shivered as I sifted through map, after map, after map, after map. Although the cold had numbed my fingers-and my nose-I was on a hunt for the perfect map and the nameless Yugoslavian did have maps for everything-from Africa, Asia, and Australia to Los Angeles City maps from 1939 and lithographs of Astragalus flowers. Each was beautiful; each was different. “I cut the pictures [of the maps] out. See? It’s good quality. And if you buy this map of Rome, you can cut it yourself and make it into two!”
The Yugoslavian salesman was persistent, and though he was hesitant to share his story with me, he felt free to air his complaints about the American Economy: “I would sell these maps at the flea market, but they charge us $150 a day to sell. Do you know the problem? It is rent control. Rent is always too expensive. If rent was controlled in the corporate buildings and in the home buildings, everything would be alright. But it won’t because every politician is corrupt in every country.”
Although I disagree with his economic policy, it reminds me of a funny video that shares the same sentiment:
The Antique Map Man sits on the South East side of 5th Avenue and 26th Street from 10a to 3p on Wednesdays & Fridays.