Joe Hill, a purveyor of maritime junk and jewels and a swashbuckling South Side road Seaport fixture for many years, died on Oct. 17 in Huntington, N.Y., on Lengthy Island. He used to be 76.
His public mentioned his demise, at a hospice facility, resulted from headaches of dementia.
Till he needed to leave the bundle in 2000 on account of hire will increase, Mr. Hill used to be probably the most closing hyperlinks to the South Side road group’s seafaring year, protecting out in opposition to a wave of top-end stores that had been remodeling a salty nook of Ny into an increasingly more homogenized industrial ground and vacationer mecca.
It used to be all an employment, after all — his pirate’s hat used to be as faux because the parrot on his shoulder, the region over his sight and the “aarhs” and “mateys” with which he greeted consumers at his nautical junkyard of a bundle, Captain Hook’s.
However his eccentricity used to be authentic, as used to be his worship to the seafaring bric-a-brac he accrued — pilots wheels, weirdly formed coral, diving helmets, a juiceless barracuda, shell coasters, driftwood — all of which gave him a connection to a playground lavish in historical past and whose dull, commercialized provide he steadfastly unacceptable.
“Quite a wonderful character,” Peter Neill, a former director of the South Side road Seaport Museum, mentioned in an interview. “One of a number of old seaport characters, now all gone.”
“The Seaport is losing its character — me,” Mr. Hill modestly informed The Unutilized York Instances in 1998, when, after all, a tenfold build up in hire started to power him out. “It’s a shame,” he mentioned after. “People come here for a seaport and what do they get? A shopping mall, just like they have at home.”
An increasing number of out of playground in an surrounding taken over by means of Ann Taylor and Lecturer, he used to be probably the most closing of the used tenants to progress, at the heels of antique eating places like Goodies, established in 1842, and simply unwell the road.
Earlier than after he had reigned ideal at his cluttered bundle in the course of Schermerhorn Row, the early Nineteenth-century forbid of brick properties on Fulton Side road now designated a landmark. Mr. Hill used to be the “consummate waterfront junk shop-souvenir store, occasionally aspiring to an antique shop,” Mr. Neill mentioned. From time to time traces of family ready to get in stretched to the nook.
Mr. Hill opened Captain Hook’s with the Revolution’s Bicentennial in 1976 and remained till the flip of the century, putting in store “when there was nothing there,” his spouse, Trudy Hill, recalled. He had hitched himself to the city renewal desires that had percolated thru Decrease Ny within the past due Nineteen Sixties and ’70s, satisfied he would create a fortune from his curate’s egg of a bundle in a location that used to be changing into a significant vacationer enchantment.
A herbal salesman, pushing $2 postcards on consumers together with the fancier stuff, he used to be additionally power about amassing pointers. He labored like a demon, and did smartly enough quantity to have the funds for a space for a occasion on Lengthy Island’s North Shore in prosperous Sands Level, even though he used to be a “misfit” there, his son Matthew mentioned, surrounded by means of rich company founders.
His alternative son, Jason, mentioned: “How crazy was it that somebody who flipped items was able to make it to Sands Point? A person who went to garage sales?”
At one level Mr. Hill charged 25 cents simply for the privilege of viewing his giant selection of nautical trinkets. A few of them, just like the sextants and the $500 secret agent glasses and the $2,000 send fashions, had been relatively significance. However maximum consumers would loose just a negligible poorer, having been talked into, say, a rubber snake by means of the power Mr. Hill, phase huckster and phase trustworthy fanatic — a “good merchandizer,” Mr. Neill mentioned.
Mr. Hill had spent weekends within the Nineteen Eighties combing farmhouse barns in Unutilized England and haunting flea markets to fill the bundle. “He would go to places nobody else went,” his spouse mentioned.
He embraced the Captain Hook persona immortalized in J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” and various movie variations. He would pose with a knife in his tooth and a whale teeth round his neck, to the pride of schoolchildren and the bemusement of shoppers from all over the world. In his bundle’s early days, he would even introduce his father, a Global Warfare II veteran, as Poppa Hook and his mom as Momma Hook.
“He stayed Captain Hook forever,” Ms. Hill mentioned. “Good friends would call and say, ‘Where’s Hook?’’’
To go into the store, as a child, was like going on “a treasure hunt,” Matthew Hill mentioned. There used to be negative base to the layers of junk. His father’s shtick used to be simply a part of it. “Embarrassing? It was like, ‘Oh, my God, Dad, don’t do that.’”
However “he doesn’t care what people think — he cared about making people happy,” Matthew mentioned. And consumers went together with it. “Welcome aboard!” Mr. Hill would call out.
“Everybody wants to be a pirate and a kid and have something to remind them of all that,” Mr. Hill informed a Newsday reporter in 1983.
When the bundle closed, “he was sad for a long time,” Ms. Hill mentioned.
“They made it into a shopping mall and he was very upset with that,” she added. “His store was different. It was more than an income.”
There have been do business in to reopen the bundle somewhere else, however Mr. Hill used to be a Unutilized York pirate and didn’t wish to journey. Earlier than last the playground, there have been years of hysteria and a five-year courtroom struggle over the hire be on one?s feet along with his landlord, the Rouse Company, which ran the industrial aspect of the seaport.
“They didn’t like him because he wasn’t fancy,” Ms. Hill mentioned. “They always wanted to kick him out. They wanted only the upper-class stores.”
Joseph Stanley Hill used to be born on Nov. 9, 1946, and grew up in Center Village, Queens, the place he attended folk colleges, together with Flight Top College. His father, Jack, used to be a crisp items salesman, and his mom, Pearl, labored at a toy corporate in Queens.
His father and maternal grandfather had been weekend fishermen, going for the cod off Montauk Level, on Lengthy Island’s East Finish, and in upcoming years Mr. Hill all the time had a ship. He graduated from the Unutilized York Institute of Era in 1968, served within the Inexperienced Beret reserves, and turned into an engineer, ultimately operating on initiatives for 2 immense East Coast building firms.
His center used to be somewhere else, even though. His first acquire of a nautical merchandise used to be an used send’s wheel, and he by no means appeared again. He had stored enough quantity from operating in building to not hidden a tiny nautical items bundle in Port Washington, on Lengthy Island. This used to be quickly adopted by means of the bundle in Schermerhorn Row, which needed to be renovated from manage to base, his spouse recalled.
“See, what I did was turn a hobby into a business,” he informed a reporter in 1983.
Along with his spouse and sons, Mr. Hill is survived by means of a daughter, Michelle.