Of Paddington Bear and Whores

July 2, 2012

In chapter 3 of the book, there’s an entry on 18 West 11th Street. This townhouse was blown up in 1970 by a domestic terrorist group and later got a one-of-a-kind alteration: the front skews from the plane of the street. The only couple who ever lived in the restored house were theatrical producer Norma Langworthy and her husband David. I recently found out that sadly I was likely the last person to interview Norma for print: she passed away some months ago at the age of 92. She was a favorite on the street for keeping a Paddington bear in her crooked window and changing its clothes according to the season and holidays. The tradition was in honor of her husband, who “loved bears.” He died himself 20 years ago.

The peculiar house recently went on the market for $11 million. The last time I walked by, the realtor had planted a FOR SALE sign out front, and tried to get cute with a detail that was making the neighbors blanch in horror. There was the Paddington bear in the window in its usual spot—but now wearing a tiny tee-shirt with the realtor’s logo on it. The realtor is Corcoran, and they have an office a block away at 49 East 10th Street, in case you are in the area and find that you have a surplus of spit.