Thursday, May 22, 2008

93-Year-Old Barfly

3rd\SE Quadrant The Approval Matrix

Claire Oesch, at 93, most likely the city’s oldest and most refined barfly. It’s not easy for a woman of any age to sit alone at a bar and look comfortable, but Ms. Oesch not only looks at home, she practically is at home. She started coming to the Café des Artistes, then a favorite of the creative types who lived upstairs, in the late 1940s, when Ms. Oesch was living at a boardinghouse for young women down the street. By 1953, when she was 38, she had started dating Romeo Sterlini, who then owned the restaurant, and was helping him run it as a hostess whose abundant elegance became a form of charisma.

When the restaurant changed hands in the ’70s, Ms. Oesch kept coming in as a guest, and never really stopped. “I came and I got stuck,” she said, still speaking with a strong Swiss-German accent after 60 years in the United States. -- SUSAN DOMINUS/New York Times
(Photo courtesy of Béatrice de Géa for The New York Times)

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