Recap: Funeral Procession for Billy’s Antiques on the Bowery

Posted on: March 11th, 2012 at 8:22 am by

Yesterday afternoon was the official sendoff for Billy’s Antiques after more than two decades at 76 East Houston.  Real or symbolic, it was no doubt a funeral for the Bowery in every sense of the word. There was a modest gathering of bereaved in the remaining shell of a tent; former employees eulogized about their experiences; and pallbearers carried the coffin.

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The spectacle began shortly after 3 pm, when a couple dozen folks (mainly press) arrived at the stripped corner lot. No more big-top tent, just the skeleton.  Speeches by Billy Leroy and his longtime cohorts (“sad to see the space in this way”), as well as somber song from wife Lorraine Leckie, were followed by the conspicuous procession. A prepared wooden coffin was stuffed with what remained of the tarps, and nailed shut. With a soundtrack of tambourine and guitar strumming, a group of pallbearers carried the Bowery remains in a circular route up the Bowery across Bleecker, and down Elizabeth. As expected, dumbfounded pedestrians gawked in confusion.

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And this Ferrari parked on the Bowery just says it all…

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Upon return to the tent, there were more speeches about the good old days, and pointed commentary toward Pulino’s and Rag & Bone(r) across the way. Billy then proceeded to tear down his wall of press clippings, narrating the tale behind each one. The event was capped with burning sage, a bottle of vodka, and a pair of scissors to cut the tarp into souvenirs (and autographs). Oh, and the three seaman that showed up…

On our way out, we learned that the tent frame will soon be painted bright red, and the coffin placed behind the gate.  It’ll allegedly remain this way for two months before construction starts on a new building. Whether Billy returns is still an unknown.  It’s a sad day for the Lower East Side.

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