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This is Frank

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Frank is 85 years old, born in Brooklyn and grew up in Queens.  He and his wife didn't always live in New York City.  Frank taught Journalism on the college level.  He taught in Spain, at Barnard College, St. John's University and in California.  He has a master's degree in film and a Ph.D. in Journalism.  In 1960, he was the founding editor of Chess Life Magazine and president of the Marshall Chess Club.  He is also a writer of many books including "End Game" about Bobby Fisher.  I asked him how he knew Bobby Fisher. A chess club at which Bobby Fisher played.  Frank said that he had never played chess at the level of Bobby Fisher, even when Fisher was 10 years old.  But then, who does?

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Frank loves living in Manhattan as he can walk to Lincoln Center and almost walk to Carnage Hall.  There used to be even more movie theatres available than there are now.  The Lincoln Square Theater closed, and he pointed to a building right across the street and said that had also been a movie theater.  But, there is still so much that is convenient about living in Manhattan.  Frank and his wife enjoy sitting in the park, soaking up the city air, and taking care of each other.

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I saw Frank sitting on a bench in Verdi Park with his wife on one of those slightly warm Sundays in New York City after several bitterly cold windy days - the kind of day when New Yorkers are basking in the sunlight which seems to make everyone happy just to be alive.  After a while, Frank's wife left. He was alone when she returned with a cup of coffee for him.  I don't think he had asked her to get it for him because he seemed pleasantly surprised.  As she gave him a kiss goodbye, she said: "I'll see you later."  I took that opportunity to say to him "she takes good care of you."  He responded by saying "yes, for 56 years."  That was the beginning of our conversation.

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Frank and his wife had traveled for many years.  At one point, his wife wanted to try to stay in one place for ten years.  They got an apartment on the Upper West Side, only one block from the Verdi Park where we were sitting.  That was 45 years ago.  They have not moved since.  I asked what are some of the most significant changes that he has seen in the neighborhood in the 45 years.  He said it is now a much safer neighborhood than when they first moved in.  He called it a "dicey neighborhood." He pointed out that Verdi Park was called "needle park" with prostitutes walking the area.  He recounted that he had gone to mail a letter on a  late Sunday evening. Three men started coming at him.  He ran into a local coffee shop that is still here.  He stayed there long enough to feel safe enough to go home. The other change that he has seen is how expensive it is to live in the city.  One of their favorite coffee shops, The Utopia Restaurant (the same one he took refuge) has become so expensive that he and his wife go there much less often.  He had a conversation with the owner and told him his prices were too high. The owner said he has no choice because costs and salaries keep going up.