This website would not be complete if I did not mention Joe Plourde. I have ruminated for some years as to whether to include him. You will never meet Joe Plourde, nor will you read of him anywhere. He is in many ways an ordinary man of ordinary means. He has seen hardship with an austere upbringing. Appropriately, he lives in a town called Plainville.
But in other ways, Joe is an extraordinary man. He is disarmingly friendly and loved by everyone he meets. He is, like my family, of French Canadian ancestry, but unlike my parents who were born in Maine, he is from the Province of Quebec, moving to Maine and then later to Connecticut. It was in Hartford, that he met my family when they made the same move and helped us find our first apartment.
I have written a number of times about the demonizing of the present and the praising of the past. That many believe everything has been dumbed down and the best was in times past. In Better When, I quoted from Jill Eisenstadt's New York Times article about this very topic. However, with all due respect to Jill, she (or I for that matter) is not someone who left home at 14 years old from the woods of Canada.
Joe is quite direct and not always politically correct, but he is a fair and reasonable man and not materialistic at all. He does not champion the past. On one occasion he told my father: "Al, you know what they can do with the good old days. The can shove 'em where the sun don't shine." A bit vulgar, but a point I have never forgotten. The few pleasures of the simpler life of days of old did not outweigh the hardships he endured - he much prefers his modern life with simple comforts, like central heating and indoor plumbing.
Flower shops have been around for a long time and Ovando Flowers, at 337 Bleecker Street, is a good example of how many retailers today excel in the quality of goods offered and presentation. Ovando's extraordinary window display is itself a tourist attraction. From their website:
The owner, Sandra de Ovando, was born in Mexico City to Spanish and Russian parents. Sandra fell in love with nature, flowers and bold colors at a very young age when she often spent weekends gardening with her mother.
Later, in her travels throughout Europe and Asia, Sandra discovered exotic flowers, plants and fruits which she began incorporating into her designs – hence was born the signature style that today defines Ovando’s dynamic compositions.
Intent on indulging her bright passion for flowers and design, Sandra moved to New York where she soon after opened Ovando in 2003.
Today, Ovando has blossomed into a full-service Floral and Event Design Company. Sandra’s unique approach, the culmination of her life’s journey, has made her the favorite floral designer of New York’s elite, including celebrities, high-end restaurants, fashion houses and boutique hotels. From stunning bouquets, moody lighting, and the full-scale construction of breathtaking displays and environments, Ovando is a dazzling celebration of form, function, and flowers.
I don't expect to find Joe Plourde there, but I know he would like it :)