So much of the history which helped me to understand this area came from the people who ate there every day. They would tell me stories of the present and the past, knowing that the painting would make the area prove that the Garden Cafeteria did exist, even though the neighborhood was changing from day to day.
This was a gathering place for the Lower East Side Jewish socialists, intellectuals, writers and actors, where they ate and drank, and discussed and argued about countless issues.
The square across the street was once a gathering place of people hoping for a day’s job and the people who looked for someone they could hope to hire. Money to put food on the table was a serious day’s quest, and for them the idea of a meal in the Garden Cafeteria was a luxury for people who recently had been refugees.
At the time the area was slowly changing from what had been a Jewish world, into the black, Hispanic and Chinese world as well. Then, as I continued painting within these streets, I saw the change progressing, and was told that years later, that in the early 1980’s the Garden Cafeteria became the Wing Shing Restaurant.