A Man On His Own,But With Many Friends
The entrance to 187 Beach 115 Street, an SRO, was like a walkin box this week, but residents of that dwelling and others nearby still sat on the cold, black plastic treads of the enclosed front steps. So what if the temperature in their meeting place was in the upper 40s, as always there was conversation to be made. And this week, they were all talking about Arthur.
At the top of the steps and to the left, were three sheets of office paper push-pinned to the wall, and in black magic marker it said, "In memory of Arthur there will be a service Saturday evening at 7:30 at Rock Church. May he rest in peace." Another sheet had Arthur's funeral arrangements.
Annie Scott, an employee of a nursing home up the block, walked in on Tuesday afternoon and strode to the top of the staircase to have a look.
"Arthur was a very nice person," she told me. "He was a people person. He was a very loving, kind person," she said. "He always liked to help someone."
She was greeted at the top of the stairs by the SRO's superintendent, Ed Goodwin, who, of course, knew Arthur because he lived there.
Arthur was a fixture in the area around Beach 116 Street. The people who knew him say he picked up work where he could, doing whatever he could. He sorted papers at the Tobacconist for years. Last Friday night, Arthur Ingram, 54, put himself in the way of a subway train at the West 175 Street stop in Washington Heights. A spokesperson for the Chief Medical Examiner said he died of blunt trauma to his head, torso and extremities. His death was ruled a suicide.
In Rockaway, the people who knew him were surprised and saddened by his death, but what they focused on was his helpful and gentle nature.
"He did a lot of things," Goodwin told The Wave. "He worked for a lot of people," he added
before rattling off a list of stores, bars and even doctor's offices.
Goodwin is now the custodian of his friend's belongings. He searched through a navy blue suitcase filled with Arthur's belongings for the picture that accompanies this story. The suitcase contained the expected: old mail, religious items, a New York Rangers jacket, and the unexpected: Aphoto with his own face scratched out, the Science Section of The New York Times
To see him on the street or to rummage through his belongings,
you wouldn't know much about his life. Arthur was a resident
of the St. John's Home for Boys from 1963 to 1972, when he left for the Marines, according to Brother Tom Trager, the home's
executive director. "Arthur was very cooperative, friendly, helpful," Trager said. "He was very pleasant and upbeat. He never said anything to me that would indicate self destructive behavior." Lately though, Trager said, he noticed Arthur looked thinner than usual, and he complained about not being able to survive on the benefits he was receiving.
Like others we spoke to, Trager said Arthur always greeted him warmly. "He'd always give a big salutation," he recalled. Among the people we spoke to or overheard talking about Arthur a theme emerged: He liked helping people.
"He always liked to help someone," Scott told me. "Arthur was a nice man, he was a people person."
Then there was Karen Johnson, who wrote to The Wave this week regarding "A Man Named Arthur." He made an impression upon her on a cold December day when she forgot to feed a meter and she enlisted Arthur to help her
out. "Arthur only wanted to help people and did so every day that I saw him for the past four and
a half years working in
this area," she wrote in a
letter that accompanies
And it's also true that he would beg for
change, so you may
remember him as a
nuisance - a part of
society that many people find irritating
or easy to ignore.
One thing he was
not, according to the
Attorney's Office, is
a criminal. No
On Wednesday afternoon, a man
named Tony, who
lives across the street and knew Arthur, sat on the chilly steps of 187 Beach
115 Street. "Arthur knows a lot, a lot of people and he used to
do a lot of work for different people," he said.
"And he was a gentleman," added Frank, the superintendent of a dwelling on Beach 114 Street, as he pushed the door
open and headed out into the cold. Arthur Ingram's funeral
arrangements have been entrusted by a paternal aunt to
the Calvin P. Parker Funeral Home at 1183 Bedford Avenue
in Brooklyn. Visitation will be held at the funeral home on
Friday, February 9 from 5-7 p.m., followed by a service. A
service will be held at the House On the Rock Church at
114-15 Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Interment will be at
Calverton National Cemetery.