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OF NOTE- People In The News: Tuesday, January 14

Librarian Andrew Medlar. Photo via Flikr

The New York Public Library released a list of the most frequently checked out books of all time, and Brooklyn-born writer Ezra Jack Keats, author of “The Snowy Day,” is at the top. The children’s book has been checked out over 458,500 times since it entered the library’s catalog in 1962. “It’s such a relatable story and pure magic for kids and adults alike,” ANDREW MEDLAR, a library worker who helped compile the list, told The New York Post. Other popular books were “The Cat in the Hat,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Charlotte’s Web,” and “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” Despite not being published until the 1990s, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” came in at No. 9 on the list, with over 231,000 checkouts. “The books on this list have transcended generations and, much like the library itself, are as relevant today as they were when they first arrived,” said NYPL president ANTHONY MARX

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IMPACCT Brooklyn Director Bernell K. Grier. Photo via impacctbrooklyn.org

To educate residents in the most affected neighborhoods, local lawmakers and an army of volunteers went door-to-door this weekend to talk about deed theft. Assembly member DIANA RICHARDSON joined state Senator ZELLNOR MYRIE and New York Attorney General LETITIA JAMES on Saturday to meet with residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant as part of the Protect Our Homes initiative, a new campaign aimed at battling housing fraud in the city. More than 200 volunteers joined the lawmakers for the kick-off event. “For too many years, black homeowners have been targeted by unscrupulous players,” said BERNELL K. GRIER, director of IMPACCT Brooklyn. Greir went on to say she hopes the new initiative will help her organization “protect perhaps the greatest asset our families possess: our homes.” 

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WWII Veteran James Blakely. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

A Pearl Harbor survivor and WWII veteran celebrated his 100th birthday in Crown Heights this weekend. JAMES BLAKELY had a party with friends and family at Sacred Heart of Faiths church on Saturday and met with a New York Daily News reporter ahead of the celebration to share some wisdom from his long and storied life. Blakely was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, a town he said was “not a good place to be a person of color.” One day a white man stepped on his shoe, so he retaliated by stepping on the white man’s shoe. “That didn’t go over big in Arkansas, so my grandfather, who’d served in WWI, told me to go join the Navy before they strung me up,” Blakely said. He was working in the mess hall aboard the USS St. Louis when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. After serving in the war, Blakely settled in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where he bought a brownstone with a loan from the GI Bill. The centenarian expressed concern about a new conflict on the horizon: the possibility of war with Iran. “You never get over war,” Blakely said. “Not if you live to be a hundred.”

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Actress Kathryn Hunter. Photo via playbill.com

Theater For a New Audience is staging a production of “Timon of Athens” at Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn beginning this month. The gender-swapped play will star Olivier Award-winner KATHRYN HUNTER in the title role, directed by SIMON GODWIN of TFANA’s 2018 production of “Measure for Measure.” When Timon suddenly loses her fortune, she finds herself abandoned by those who seemed to adore her in more opulent times. “Timon of Athens” is the 33rd of Shakespeare’s 38-play canon that TFANA has produced, and features set and costume design from SOUTRA GILMOUR, lighting design by DONALD HOLDER, sound design by CHRISTOPHER SHUTT and composition by MICHAEL BRUCE. For tickets and more info, visit tfana.org.

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When then-Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy stumped in Brooklyn during his September 1960 campaign, he took the opportunity to paint the scenic waterfront. Now collector RONNIE PALOGER has compiled some of those vivid watercolors, which he bought at auction in 2013, and placed them up for sale. “Kennedy liked to doodle. The public knew that. But to have actual paintings and they’re really good … that’s special,” Paloger told the New York Post. One of the paintings is titled “Sheepshead Bay, N.Y.” and depicts Marine Bridge as viewed from the neighborhood’s waterfront. The collection is now for sale through Boston-based house RR Auction, and Paloger is asking a cool $1.5 million.

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