27 heart-warming encounters with elderly New Yorkers

Brandon Stanton, a photographer, takes pictures of elderly New Yorkers and records their stories. They are beautiful, funny, and full of wisdom.

In fact, ’Humans of New York’ is not only about the elderly people — Stanton takes photos of everybody he comes across on the streets, helping him to make a portrait of one of the liveliest cities in the world. But the senior citizens above all are unique, with their wisdom and good humor. Their stories are not just about New York, but about the life itself, of what we all are going to become, and how.

After I took her photo, she turned her cheek for me to kiss. After I kissed her, she asked me, ’Isn’t love gorgeous?’ I said, ’It sure is.’ Then she leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, ’but sex is better.’

I love it when they embrace style at their age instead of ignoring it. Everything they express is an indication of their experience, be it their grey hair, a cane, or glasses. They should be worn proudly, like medals.

Put me on the internet! On Google even!

This was fantastic. Yesterday I had the honor of being photographed by a true master — Jill Enfield. She utilizes the same technique they used during the Civil War to make shoots of the soldiers. It’s called the wet collodion process — when the picture is taken, Jill instantly transfers the image to the glass with the help of special chemicals.

I actually stumbled upon a national treasure yesterday. I was walking down Third when I saw an old man in a wheelchair. Despite his condition, he was wearing this screaming canary yellow outfit — it was yellow all over, even his socks. I got interested in his appearance and asked if I could take his picture. The old man nodded his consent.

When I was done, his carer presented him to me as Banana George, the oldest waterskier in the world. He is 97 now, and when he was 92 he set the world record as the oldest person riding water ski. In fact, Banana George couldn’t even keep his balance on the skis until he was 40, but then it became his passion. During his sports career, he broke his spine four times, as well as his ankle, knee, and eleven ribs. I saw pictures of a very old George being dragged along on the water, him in the wheelchair on skis, and he was grinning from ear to ear.

I can’t even think about wearing boring clothes.

I asked her what were those leaves in her hat. She replied in a thick Russian accent, ’The scent of these leaves decreases my blood pressure.’

’My favorite part of her is how caring she is.’

’This is true for me, too — for all 56 years that we’ve been together, he managed to support me in everything I’ve been up to.’

’Can we take a close-up?’

’I’m not sure about now, but thirty years ago you could.’

’I’ve been a widow for five years now, and I’m worried people will think I’m trying to hook up with someone, the way I dress and all. I’d like to meet someone, sure, but I’m not going to do anything for that.’

The first time I met this lady was at Cinco de Mayo. She was sitting in a loud and crowded Mexican restaurant, reading a book, and wearing a shirt saying, ’It’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years’. I came across her again yesterday, and she was wearing an even more fantastic t-shirt.

’I’m a Catholic monk, and I live by prayer.’

’What about the cigarette?’

’Well, someone has to make clouds.’

’What do you like most about your wife?’

’I can’t say that out loud!’

Prepare to shed the tears of adoration.

’What do you like best about him?’

’Whatever makes him better.’

’What’s your favorite trait in her?’

’Her love of adventure.’

’People try to buy my hat off me along with my head.’

’If you could give one piece of advice to people, what would it be?’


’How many times did you fall in love?’

’Once. And then she left.’

A meeting in Harlem.

I asked them how they still manage to love each other. Their replies were, ’She never forgets she’s my mother’ and ’He never forgets he’s my son.’

He tried to make an excuse: ’It’s for my grandkids!’

’When my husband was dying, I said, ’’How will I live without you, my love?’’ And he answered, ’’Take your love for me and spread it everywhere.’

If this guy can’t make you smile, nothing can.

’Soon we’ll be living in a corporate fascist state. Nobody pays attention. We pay $3.50 for a cup of coffee. You know the price for a pound of coffee beans? $3.50. But nobody knows it. And the reason is — it’s nobody’s problem.’

’The picture will be on my website tomorrow.’

Lady: ’Oh, wonderful!’

Man: ’Oh my God…’

’These are the rules of the club: you must be over 50, wear only red, and have a desire to have fun!’

’You have to learn to think positively. Even about those things you don’t want to do.’

’Sounds hard. How do you do that?’

’Well, I was once almost crushed by a brick wall during my work at a construction site. That helped me change my views.’

’It’s important not to hurry so much that you can’t find the time to do things you really ought to.’

’What kind of things would you like to have more time for?’

’I’d learn to drive a race car. I’d learn to cook. I’d hook up with one young lady I know. I’ve prepared a pile of books to read that I should’ve read 50 years ago. I haven’t even read Harry Potter!’