Last night, I stopped off at the mini-mart by the Exxon Station on Fourth & Senator. A woman waiting at checkout asked if anyone knew what was going on at 69th and Third. The local TV stations had camera crews down there.
None of us knew why.
Today, on a plane bound for Chicago, the newspapers told me what happened. John Rossi, one of the owners of Lowen's Pharmacy, was found dead, apparently by suicide.
I'll not speak of the troubles John Rossi apparently was in, or speculation from some parties that perhaps this wasn't the suicide that it appears to be. I don't know.
I've shopped at Lowen's many times over the years. This business has long roots in the neighborhood - Kenny was telling me how he remembers their old location, and the real life Mr. Lowen, pharmacist ,who ran it, near 68th and Third, right next to Three Jolly Pigeons.
When the neighborhood's other small pharmacies --including Alpine Pharmacy and Physicians & Surgeon's , both on Fourth Avenue, quietly expired, Lowen's actually expanded. It moved to 69th Street and took over I think three stores. This gave it some degree of size, so that it actually prospered while competing against Rite Aid and the ohter mega-chains that invaded Bay Ridge and all of America.
Now a suicide. I took some comfort in knowing that it didn't happen in the store. I am advised that it happened in the office above the store, at about 7pm.
I hope that the employees are OK, and I hope that the store remains open. Lowen's Pharmacy has been a beloved part of the neighborhood for 30-40 years or more.
This has been a terrible year for 69th Street. There was a fatal shooting in an apartment, which was followed by the August tornado ( some houses remain closed ), and now this.
I hope to shop in Lowen's this weekend.