Me and Bobby Blow



7th Ave & 23rd St., NY, NY 10011

Neighborhood: Chelsea

I was walking down the steps to the downtown train at West 23rd Street & 7th Avenue. I heard a trumpet being played and someone singing. As I got to the bottom of the stairs, I see this guy sitting on a bench facing me as I was slipping my Metrocard through the turnstyle.

He seem to be around 70 years old, white hair, thin, black sunglasses, black skin, obviously blind, and singing Nat King Cole’s song “When I Fall In Love.” When I was a little girl, to me Nat King Cole was my fantasy dad, because he had such a beautiful, calming voice, and I always felt he was singing just for me. I stood there and listened to the man playing and singing and the next thing I knew, I began singing along with him. “It will be forever, or I’ll never fall in love again. And the moment that I feel that you feel that way too is when I’ll fall in love with you.” By this time I was standing right in front of him and we ended the song together. He had such a surprised look on his face when he heard someone joining him in song. I reached out and touched his hand. He looked up at me as though he could see and said, “You must be gorgeous!” I said to him, “You can see.”

He said, “No, I’m blind.”

“No you’re not, you see, you see with your heart.”

He stood up. “Can I hug you?” he asked.

“Of course you can.” As we hugged one another, I looked around at the people waiting for the downtown subway, and there was one woman with a big smile on her face that radiated right through my bones.

His name was Bobby Blow and he lived at The Home For The Blind on West 23rd Street. He said that he was going to have a big birthday party for his 70th year, gave me the date, and wanted me to come and I told him I would. Just then my train was approaching, we hugged again, and I left to go home and Bobby contined playing.

He was like the Mayor of the 23rd Street Subway. Everyone seemed to know him. “Bye, Bobby,” I yelled out as I got onto the subway. He waved good-bye to me and yelled out, “Goodbye gorgeous.”

Bobby’s party was one month later, but I never went. What I did do is call him a year later. When he got on the phone, I introduced myself to him and refreshed his memory. I told him that I had written a story about him, and asked if I could read it to him. He said “sure, but I have to quiet down my damn roommate first.” “Shutup,” Bobby said to his roommate, ”I got some important business to take care of on the phone.” Bobby said, “okay, you can begin. Sometimes my roommate is a pain in the ass.” When it got quiet I began to read, and at the end there was silence on the other end. Bobby said, “God damn, that was a great story. You wrote that about me? Well I’ll be God damned. I just love that. Thank you for thinking of me and writing about me. “

This summer I graduated from an Interfaith Ministry in NYC, and during graduation week we had a talent show. It’s a tradition that they have at the school with each graduating class. I got up and began telling the ministers this story between me and Bobby Blow, which is now three years later since it happened. After I finished sharing the story one of the ministers came up to me and said “Sherri, I know Bobby Blow, I visit him every week at the Home for the Blind.”

I never saw or heard Bobby again at the West 23rd Street subway, but Bobby is and will be in my memory bank, just like Nat King Cole.

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§ 2 Responses to “Me and Bobby Blow”

  • Stephanie Potter says:

    Piper at the break of dawn – Big Heart

  • Nacretia Haynes says:

    I knew Bobby for years! I had the honor of taking care of him when he was a patient at Beth Israel Medical Center. He always had a few “talking watches” to sell to the staff lol. Bobby and I became fast friends, and we ALWAYS kept in touch (either by phone or by my dropping in to see him at his apartment on 23rd St.). We listened to his tapes of his radio show that he did in the building where he lived, and he was ALWAYS seranading me with his songs! Bobby LOVED the ladies lol, and he would tell me stories about the people he met everyday that complimented him. Bobby became very ill in 2004, and I remember taking the time out to visit him whenever I could. He passed in December. He was a dear friend, and I miss him terribly!! RIP Mayor of 23rd Street!! Trish “the Dish” will always love you!

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