The Earl of Pearl

State and Pearl signs .jpg

It all started at State and Pearl...

By Rob Madeo

We're pulling out the AOA soap box each Sunday for people to praise, complain, suggest, joke, or make an observation about things they see going on in the Capital Region.

soap box badgeIt's been a long, hard winter, but now that spring is getting a grip on the ice and snow, things are finally looking up. Some people are waiting for the crocuses to peep their heads out, others for the red winged blackbirds to hit town.

Me? I'm looking for a squirrel, known downtown as the Earl of Pearl.

I remember when I first saw Earl.

There's a coffee shop at State and Pearl where you can watch the world go by. At lunchtime there's a parade of state workers, banker, lawyers, folks changing buses. Eating my sandwich one day, I noticed a squirrel.

It came out from nowhere and carefully darted across North Pearl Street. At the other side the squirrel jumped to the sidewalk and took a serpentine route to the front of Cravings, the candy store near the corner. Then it came back across the street with a peanut in his mouth and disappeared around the side of the building.

Cravings.jpg

Nobody seemed to take any notice of the squirrel, who, in my mind, had just done something extraordinary. A few minutes later it returned and repeated the routine.

The squirrel dodged pedestrians, waited for traffic to pass, navigated under the parked cars. This was clearly an animal with skill and tenacity a cut above his suburban cousins.

After that day, I sometimes stood at the corner and watched the squirrel. Frank De John, the owner of Cravings, would toss a handful of peanuts out in front of his shop and the squirrel took them away one by one, sometimes burying them on the traffic island in the middle of State Street.

But as winter set in, Earl vanished.

"She's been coming around for about six years," says De John, who roasts fresh peanuts in the shop. "It may have been the smell that first attracted her."

She? Her?

"Yeah, we thought it was a male at first -- hence the name Earl -- but she'd come and stand with her paws up against the door. You could see on her belly that she'd been nursing a litter -- or whatever you call a bunch of baby squirrels."

De John has run Cravings for ten years. It's an old-fashioned kind of place that sells bulk candy and nuts -- the sort of store you'd find on every main street fifty years ago.

Earl usually makes herself scarce the dead of winter, but this year was a little different. "She showed up a few weeks ago. There was something wrong with one of her eyes; she didn't look good."

Gray squirrels live for an average of six years in the wild. Going back and forth across State Street all day can't do anything to improve your longevity.

Now there's a sign in Cravings that reads: "The "Earl" of Pearl is Missing." Frank De John looked out the window across Pearl Street. "Every year we go through this. I hope she's alright and comes back soon."

Earl of Pearl sign sm.jpg

The city is a rough place in the winter. It's a frozen, sloppy mess of dirty snow and noisy buses. On a cold March day you'd hardly believe that it will ever warm up again, but I'm hopeful. I'm looking forward to the warm breeze, tulips, sunny afternoons, and God willing, the return of the Earl of Pearl.

Rob can be found at lunchtime in downtown Albany huddled near a wi-fi hotspot.

Comments

I hope that squirrel is found. But I admit that when I clicked this link, I was hoping that Albany had their own version of a Pearly King: http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q="pearly+king"

Really nice, Rob.

Also, if you work near there (I used to), Cravings can save your bacon when you've forgotten a gift, or decide to bring a little something.

Does Cook's Deli (next to Jack's) still rock? Will any business succeed on the northeast corner of State and Pearl? Will I ever meet the lovely girl who noticed me noticing her, in silent passing, for three years, in front of 69 State Street?

If anybody has these answers, his name is Earl.

LQ


ps. Or her name. Or something.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine