A couple weeks back, I posted an item about a mysterious doorway in Yorkville that looked like it had been padlocked by Father Time himself sometime back in the 19th century, so rusted over were the metal gates and locks.
I took special notice of an old metal thermometer, advertising an ancient product called Nature's Remedy Vegetable Laxatives, nailed the right side of the door jamb. It seemed proof positive that the door had been locked up ages ago. (A reader informed me that Nature's Remedy later became Tums.)
I happened to be in the neighborhood of 84th and York Avenue again last night, so I took the time to give the door another looksee. And Bammo!—the thermometer is gone! You can see the outlines where it was, and the nail it hung on is still there.
I have a couple theories as to what might have happened. My post might have excited the felonious tendencies of some lusting antique collector, who snuck out under cover of night and snatched the thing. A more likely possibility, however, is the owner of the deli of which the doorway is a part—George & Sons Gourmet Deli—took the thermometer down.
Here's why I suspect the owner. Not long after a posted the item, a reader who lives in the neighborhood wrote me to say he was so intrigued, he went and inspected the doorway. I, in turn, asked him if he had queried the deli owner about the door. He said, no, he hadn't, but he was willing to. So he paid another call and asked the deli owner if he knew anything about the weird old doorway. The crazy old merchant responded by giving the poor fellow a kind of third degree, asking where he lived, if he had ID, and then saying he knew all about the door, but refused to tell. Moreover, according to the reader, the deli owner seemed surprised to learn there was a thermometer hanging there.
After seeing that the thermometer was gone, I went into the deli and asked the workers if they knew what had happened to it. They didn't seem to know what I was talking about, and if the owner was among them, he didn't speak up. I went back outside, and saw a man exiting the door that led to the apartments above the deli. He was unaware of the thermometer as well. But he said, "I know the deli doesn't have a proper exhaust system. I live upstairs and it kills me every morning. I've called the EPA but nothing happens."
Given these hints into the deliman's character, I surmise that, alerted to the presence of an old and perhaps valuable thermometer attached to his building, he took it down and is presently trying to get the best price for it on eBay. A shame.