Volume 75, Number 22 | October 19 - 22, 2005


Villager photo by Jefferson Siegel

Memorial photos of Gilbert Lamont Mention, one showing him in the familiar act of giving a local dog a treat.

Tenants remember doorman who was part of the family

By Jefferson Siegel

A relationship with a doorman, like fine wine and lasting friendships, develops over years. Some lobby attendants will spend their careers just smiling, tipping their caps and opening doors. But a rare few will be adopted and cherished by residents for their courtesy, compassion and discretion.

The memory of one such Village doorman was celebrated this past weekend. Gilbert Lamont Mention, who manned the portal to 40-50 E. 10th St. for the past 25 years, died suddenly on July 14.

On Sunday, former and current tenants, local business owners and others from the neighborhood gathered to bestow on his memory the highest honor a doorman can achieve, that of family member.

Mention died after a brief bout with cancer. He was 65, but looked like he was in his 40s. His loss left a wound on the block that has yet to fully heal.

“He was a very special member of the 40-50 family,” recalled Peter Livingston, a vice president of the building’s co-op board.

Many in the building felt a proper neighborhood memorial service was necessary. So last Sunday they planned a gathering on the building’s roof garden. However, as R.S.V.P.’s poured in, organizers made a last-minute decision to move to a larger venue, the ground-floor Rhode’s Room in New York University’s Brittany residence hall across the street.

“We have a building of 100 people, we had 130 responses. It’s a community,” Livingston noted. Speaking of Mention, Livingston continued, “He didn’t just come to work every day; he would play with the children, he gave treats to building and neighborhood dogs.” Livingston recalled how, when Mention was on vacation, neighborhood dogs would pause outside the building, waiting for Mention to appear with his seemingly endless supply of treats.

Among other attributes, Mention was a jazz aficionado. So, as people entered the room they were fittingly greeted with the music of Anne Mironchik and The Full Moon Jazz Ensemble. On the stage was a photomontage, including a classic image of Mention offering a treat to a neighborhood dog.

Pauline Frommer, a building resident for 10 years, delivered the opening remarks at the ceremony, observing, “I have to say I think this is a larger crowd than ever came to a board meeting.”

Indeed, every chair was filled and people stood in the back.

Eileen Ain, who lives down the block from 40-50, played a jazz-inflected version of “Over the Rainbow” on flute to complement the shared memories.

Martha Gabriel, a 25-year resident, offered high praise for Mention’s work ethic: “When it came to security he was the very best, because he knew how to protect our secrets.”

A young lady named Jessica, who grew up in the building and moved out last year, recalled how Mention always kept an eye on her and any visiting friends as well. “When we moved, that was the hugest thing, saying goodbye to Lamont,” she said, almost breaking into tears.

Pat Bartels seemed to speak for everyone in the room when she said, “He was a very special person. I always thought he should get a supplement for social work because he was always very kind” to single and lonely people. Bartels recalled how Mention, who worked the 4 p.m.-to-midnight shift, would spend time talking sincerely with people who seemed sad or preoccupied. “He was an extremely intelligent guy, which is why a huge variety of people here could have conversations with him,” she offered. “He had personality. He was gifted in human relations.”

The tributes concluded with Henriette Rattner, a building resident for 60 years, reading her poem “For Lamont.” “He lit our persons with that smile,” she read.

As people mingled afterwards, the jazz trio played “There Will Always Be Another You.”

“He made himself, really, part of the family,” Livingston said.

As for his own family, Mention was born in Harlem Hospital and spent his early years in New Rochelle, before his family moved to South Ozone Park, Queens, where he attended high school. He never married and had no children. For the past 20 years he lived with his mother in Queens and for the past five years his constant companion was his dog Alydar (Allie).

He is survived by his uncles and a host of relatives and friends — and all his friends at 40-50 E. Tenth St.

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