Jimmy Burton


If you have walked up or down Lincoln Place between Nostrand Avenue and New York Avenue when the weather is warm, you have probably encountered an old man sitting in the front yard of 848. If you make eye contact he will wish you a “good morning” or a “good afternoon” or a “good evening.” The man is Jimmy Burton. It turns out he was born January 30, 1928, which means he he has just turned 90 years old. He was born at Jewish Hospital and grew up at various addresses in Brooklyn with his brother. His father made a living delivering coal and his mother was a domestic. In the early part of his life Jimmy was in a hurry. He dropped out of Special Trades High School on Flatbush Avenue because he was eager to get to work. He held a series of interesting jobs – shipping clerk, maker of costume jewelry, and later he got a job in a printing company He liked this job because it was located in Brooklyn; for his earlier work he had to make the laborious trip into Manhattan. In the 1950's Jimmy decided to settle down. There was a woman named Lenore, whom he had known since he was twelve, and they married in 1952. Eventually they had two daughters – Carol and Valerie. After Jimmy married, he and Lenore moved into his current house on Lincoln Place. It was right next door to his in-laws' place. Jimmy continued to work at the printing job; his marriage to Lenore was happy and his girls grew up to be young women. But then in a few years in the late 1970's everything changed. In 1977 Jimmy had an accident during a delivery. A heavy load slipped from the loading platform into the bed of a truck. The damage to him was extensive and permanent. Jimmy had to go on disability. And next in 1980 Jimmy's wife got a call that their daughter Valerie had gone into the hospital. She rushed to the hospital only to find out that at age 25 their daughter had died. Suddenly, Jimmy, the young man in a hurry was stuck sitting in the front yard of his house with a lot on his mind. He has been there to this day. Jimmy, the man on the run is now someone who observes, and he has seen a lot. He watched as the neighborhood, that was nearly all white when he moved in, became all black, and now he is seeing white people moving back in. Three times his car was stolen over the years never to be heard of again. Once Jimmy found a robber leaving his house. The man at the top of the stoop threw Jimmy's TV at Jimmy and he was nearly crushed by it. He afterwards installed an alarm system that malfunctioned. And Jimmy became the eyes and ears of the block. When a “New York Times” reporter found an old family album in the trash, it was Jimmy who could explain who the people were pictured in it, and an article appeared entitled “Searching for Etta Mae Taylor” on Sunday, January 29, 2017. He takes packages for everyone in his section of Lincoln Place and he knows everyone. His wife passed away on October 18, 2016 at Methodist Hospital. He has truly seen and done it all and has emerged with a wisdom that comes from deep experience. Jimmy has 90 years written on his face, the good and bad, and he still wishes everyone who looks his way a good day.