CHRISTINA AND PATRICK SULLIVAN


The couple’s knick-knacks<
Patrick and Christina Sullivan’s wedding portrait

“I put the collar on her.”
“But he let me run lose.”

I recently visited Christina and Patrick Sullivan at their house on 39th Avenue in Sunnyside Gardens, where they have lived for more then 40 years. Both came to New York by boat from Ireland. Patrick used to work at the airport helping to track down lost luggage, and Christina worked as a housekeeper. The couple, both long retired, first met at Gaelic Park in the Bronx.“I put the collar on her,” Patrick said in his thick Irish accent. “But he let me run lose,” Christina quickly added among giggles that turned into full-blown laughter.”The wheels of life are turning,” said Patrick, who is 84 years old. When the couple bought their one-family house in 1968 they paid $26,000. The sellers, who had lived in house since it was built around 1930, had paid around $6,000. Real estate prices in the neighborhood went down during the Great Depression and one of their neighbors acquired his house for $5,000 in the 1930s. In 2000 the same house sold for $270,000. now a one-family house in Sunnyside Gardens sells for $500,000 and up.“What happened?” Christina said.“Real estate is a very good business to be in,” Patrick said, matter-of-factly.“We had a very rude one,” Christina said about their own real estate agent 42 years ago. “Oh, he was rotten.”

After Christina and Patrick had put down a deposit for the house, the agent received a better offer and tried to give them back their deposit. But the couple refused to take it back and thus managed to acquire the house.

Christina and Patrick did not want their photo taken, so we settled on their marriage portrait. (“The good-looking fellow, that’s me,” Patrick said, laughing.)

In the podcast Christina and Patrick talk about old times—the creative potential in their neighborhood and mom and pop stores that have long vanished.

Listen to Christina and Patrick’s interview