Lucy Wollin died on March 11th of lung cancer. She had battled the disease for several years. She finally refused treatment, except for home hospice care. Lucy asked me in early March to report her death to Antioch’s alumni when the time came. But her life deserves some reporting, too.
Lucy, a retired intermediate school librarian, lived most of her adult life in New York, close to Union Square, which eventually became home to one of the city’s biggest and most popular farmers’ markets. She regularly visited to see what was available, information she initially shared with a few friends via a listserv. In time, the listserv evolved into a full-blown blog called Lucy’s Greenmarket Report.
“Welcome to the world of journalism,” I told her. She responded with what I can best describe as an ironic snort.
“Journalism?” she asked. “What do I write? ‘Joe’s farm has asparagus?’”
Well, yes, actually. But nobody else was regularly reporting what was available at Union Square. She founded and covered a beat. She expended shoe leather. She developed sources. She found facts, documented them with photographs, made editorial decisions, and then reported useful information that drew loyal readers. That’s a fair definition of a journalist.
Lucy's readership was a confluence of farmers, foodies, locavores, and perhaps most interestingly of all, sous chefs from some of the city’s most distinguished restaurants. Lucy was their reliable guide as to whether head down to Union Square and grab the good stuff while it lasted, or to forget the trip and call a food wholesaler.
Sometimes the sous chefs were almost a fan club. We went to dinner one night at Gramercy Tavern, one of the city’s celebrated restaurants. Before long, you could sense the staff buzz. Several small dishes, not on the menu, arrived at our table. A guy in a white apron would come out of the kitchen and tell Lucy, “I made something special for you. Try this.”
“This” would be wonderful. And people at the next table would stare enviously and wonder who Lucy was.
On March 7, via another friend to whom she had to dictate her copy, Lucy’s Greenmarket Report said its final farewell. Part of her post: “Dear foodies: It turns out that I need to give up this blog…I’ve loved doing this for you, but the time has come to say goodbye.”
Four days later she was gone.
Submitted by Peter Hochstein '61