Neighbors mourn Soho’s Jessie Blue, cry street is unsafe

Barrett Gross, left, speaking at a memorial for Jessica Dworkin, said, “She reminded us of the mystery of life.” Photo by Tequila Minsky

BY TEQUILA MINSKY |  There was a lot of love and a lot of tears at the northeast corner of Houston St. and Sixth Ave. on the evening of Sat., Sept. 1, at an impromptu remembrance gathering for Jessica Dworkin. It was at that corner six days earlier that friend and neighbor Dworkin, 58, also known as Jessie Blue, lost her life in a horrific, freak traffic accident.

Filling the park benches outside Passannante Playground and the sidewalk at the corner, a crowd of 65 who knew Dworkin lit candles at the makeshift memorial to her on the playground’s fence and shared anecdotes.

Celebrating her life were members of the senior center programs at Our Lady of Pompei Church on Carmine St. and Greenwich House on Barrow St., shopkeepers from Thompson St., Franciscan fathers from St. Anthony of Padua Church on Sullivan St. and many neighbors.

One waitress at Milady’s Bar at Prince and Thompson Sts. spoke, mimicking Dworkin’s distinctive voice, recalling how the longtime Soho resident would stop in and give encouragement on slow nights.

Another told how Dworkin would say, “I’m spreading the pixie dust.”

One neighbor recounted how she was going through a personal hardship but a conversation with Dworkin helped, and led her to hug a tree. The anecdote brought smiles to the faces of many in the group.

A Thompson St. friend spoke of how being in the late artist’s presence brought forth light and reminded people to be kind.

“Be a little nice” was the message that knowing Dworkin in all her eccentricities conveyed, another said.

Through his tears, Craig Walker shared the pain of her absence and how much he missed her.

Holding a candle, Barrett Gross of Thompson St., summing up the feelings of many there, said, “She saw the world differently and reminded us of the mystery of life and that there are different ways of seeing.”

The gathering concluded after singing “Amazing Grace.”

According to the Police Department, the driver of the truck that killed Dworkin was issued two summons, one for failure to yield to a pedestrian and a second for failure to exercise due care. No information was available about witnesses to the accident.

Speaking this week, Paulette Mooney, a Sixth Ave. resident, complained, “Sometimes, three lanes of vehicles make a turn at the same time.

“We’re all terrified,” Mooney said, “especially seniors and mothers with baby carriages. It’s a free-for-all. Like they said at the memorial, it’s a three-lane highway feeding into a residential neighborhood.”

Village resident Phyllis Klein, who lives on the same block where the tragic accident occurred, described what she called the  “terrible intersection.”

“People are going at the same time that cars are racing on Houston to make the turn,” she said of the chaotic crossing. “I know how to do it — you have to know how to negotiate the crossing.”

Neighborhood resident Roxanne Arena added, “There’s an elderly woman, about 85 years old, and she’s petrified to cross the street. I have to cross her. I am always looking behind me with an eye on the traffic.”

Many others who frequently cross at that intersection spoke of near misses with cars that they have had or that they have witnessed.

“It’s a speedway,” said Jerry Vaughan of 178 Bedford St., who ran a laundromat on Bedford St. for 35 years, admitting that he, too, was scared when crossing Sixth Ave. there.

Poet Steve Dalachinsky, a Spring St. resident, suggested, “No trucks should be allowed in the neighborhood except for sanitation trucks and those proving they’re making deliveries.”

Stopping at the memorial, Paulina Torrescano, 29, a Thompson St. resident, commented of the intersection, “It’s super-dangerous. I cross all the time and see that people don’t pay attention. They need a dedicated traffic light with an arrow for turning.”

Asked how the Department of Transportation is responding to concerns about this dangerous and scary crossing, a spokesperson replied in an e-mail, citing recent statistics on fatalities and injuries.

“There was one previous fatality in the last five years and one serious injury between 2006 and 2010, the most recent year for which data is available,” the spokesperson said. “Safety is the agency’s number one priority and D.O.T. will review any community requests.”

A memorial for Dworkin will be held Tues., Sept. 18, at 10 a.m. at the senior center at Our Lady of Pompei Church, at Bleecker and Carmine Sts.

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9 Responses to Neighbors mourn Soho’s Jessie Blue, cry street is unsafe

  1. It gives me such comfort to see that my sister Jessica had such wonderful friends that loved her. I so wish I could have been there amongst all of you to share Jessica stories. She would have loved that you were all together celebrating her life. I know she loved you all as much as you loved her. Thank you, Tequila, for telling this story and sharing it with me.

    I hope that because of this tragedy and your writing about it something gets done about that intersection so that no one else gets hurt or has to ever face the heartbreak that her family and her wonderful friends have had to endure.

    • Melissa, there are also a lot of Worcester friends who are remembering her as well. Many of us haven't seen her for 40 years but remember her wonderful spirit. We wish you comfort in this very difficult time.

    • The Community Board #2 Transportation Committee will be addressing this issue (3rd on the Agenda) Sept. 11, 6:30pm, Our Lady of Pompeii.

  2. Melissa, I am so sorry for you all & extend my deepest condolences.
    I remember so many good times with Jessica. The bus your Dad took us on to the beach…
    Times at your house n Worc just hanging out being teenagers. Hugs & Peace to you Sweetheart

  3. these large trucks enter 6th ave on a diagonal
    then quickly straiten out
    which brings their back wheels
    onto the space about ten feet behind
    where the front entered the crosswalk
    anyone standing there can be hit by the back wheel
    they all do it and pretend they cant see you standing there


  4. I am so sorry for your loss… I spent many days ‘playing’ with Jessica on our street… I always enjoyed her and the fun we had.. On a funny note, I remember her having so many Barbie
    Dolls!! We had a lot of fun role playing.. And I remember all the times with the bus..parked up in our circle at the end of the street. I drive by our neighborhood and always think of Jessica .
    My thoughts are with you.

  5., 220,000 victims on NYC streets since 1995. For three days in aug you get summer streets that are safe and Fun. Why did this Thompson street resident not realize the speed trap of Houston street, and cruise quietly along Washington sq park a safer route, but more of an inconvenience to her destination? Flip floppers need to wear shoes. The CIA, FBI need to mind their own business and stop bullying, controlling, killing innocent civilians. The insane police state erupts because the citizens allow it to, and are delusional in their pixie dust reality. Living in this neighborhood for 25 years, coming here to help people, and keep things going, has taught me the neighborhood and population would rather sing while scooting to the stars, call 311, than deal with real problems. wolves in sheeps clothing, alligator tears.

  6. A big part of the accident was the use of the foot scooter, and failing to anticipate that when a long truck turns, the back end goes in the opposite direction at first as it makes the turn, so turning right, the left backend near the end is very dangerous to being crushed between the deck/side of the trailer and whatever may be parked or driving on that side. On the right side of the traielr or truck, those wheels in the rear begin turning TOWARDS you to cross your path.

  7. The Terrible senseless death of Jessica Blue Dworkin on August 27th at Houston Street and Sixth Avenue is just the latest in the series of pedestrian injuries and deaths at that dangerous intersection.

    On Tuesday September 11th ,6:30 pm
    Our lady of Pompii Church
    25 carmine Street at Bleecker Street
    Father Demo Hall

    Please go and have your voice heard. The item is third on the agenda. So you don't need to be there exactly on time, but you do need to be there to offer your ideas for improvements. A large turnout will send a message to the city that the intersection must be made safe for pedestrians.

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