Editor’s Note: The following guest column was submitted by Joanne Lamoureux, owner of Pack ‘n Ship Store on the Ithaca Commons.

To submit a guest column, contact me at jstein@ithacavoice.com.

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Downtown Ithaca Bingo
Shop, Dine, & Play To Win

ITHACA, N.Y. — For the longest time, we only knew her as The Cookie Lady. We got to know her because she took to bringing us cookies from The Dollar Store after she figured out that we treated her well. Almost daily, she would slip in and hand over a package of no name cookies, then slip out.

We didn’t want to eat them, what with them being of uncertain provenance, but we didn’t want to throw them out, either. One of my staff got mad about it, wanting to tell her to stop, so that we didn’t waste her resources (which we perceived as limited). But she was not to be dissuaded, despite my very polite efforts.

Over the years, she would ebb and flow as a presence on The Commons and in the store. We learned her name. It was clear that she was smart. And well read. And prickly. And lonely.

We didn’t ask questions, even the most basic “how are you?” because it would set off a tirade. She didn’t want to be greeted by name in the presence of others, because she was sure there were people who wanted to kill her. But mostly, she glowed with the pleasure of being listened to, especially if it was Scott who was paying attention to her. She would come in looking for him, often with a joke.

Now, we are a place of business, not a social service agency. But I’ve always believed that it is our collective responsibility, as members of a community, to do what we can for the people who are part of our circle. Call it moral proximity. And she was a regular part of our lives for the past ten years or so.

So we welcomed her. Talked with her. Listened. Now that we hear that she has died, we realize there is a lot about her we didn’t know. We don’t know if there is a family that mourns her. But we know we do.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.