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The Popsicle Cemetary of Vincent Lepani

The Popsicle Cemetary of Vincent Lepani

Annie Lanzillotto a.k.a. Rachele Coraggio (July 12, 2009)
Vincent Lepani at The Popsicle Cemetary on 67th and York Ave. photo by Annie Lanzillotto
Another Italian American great work. This is Vincent Lepani, a Dispatcher for New York City Transit, Department of Buses. This is his corner.

As a patient of Sloan-Kettering, 67th and York is a corner rife with moments for me. A rare joy are my meditations and participation at The Popsicle Cemetary, created by Vincent Lepani, a shrine and memorial beneath a bush.


After Michael Jackson passed, I was at Sloan-Kettering to pick up meds.  My saxophonist, Rose Imperato came with me.  Thats the kind of saxophonist I need in life.  I said, "Let's go to The Popsicle Cemetary" to say a pray for Michael Jackson.  She looked at me and said, "The wha--?

We stepped to the SouthWest corner of 67th and York.   Ah there it is, talismans and adornments.  "Look under the bush," I said.

There at gut level.  Popsicles in the dirt, names on each, marking cultural icons.  Sure, Sinatra is there.  And there, between Elvis and The Pope, is Michael Jackson.  "King of Pop Jackson" written in ink on the popsicle stick in the dirt.

Over the years, I've spent hours outside the hospital at night.  Sloan-Kettering has felt like a rock in the wind.  A wind that bites both ways.  The steady stream of traffic and the breeze stopping with the light. 

This day with Rose, we had the remarkable luck to meet the creator, Vincent Lepani.  What a great guy.  After all these years I finally met him and he regaled in our cognomi.  Funny thing is, I always knew that whoever created this shrine was Italian American.  It's just something you know, like when you walk by a garden with a fence made of copper pipe.  When you see a planter made of a truck tire turned inside out.  There's a handiwork that is unmistakeably Italian American. 

Meeting Vincent was a tribute to all of our heritage.  I told him my goal is to be in The Popsicle Cemetary.  It's a place I worship at, more than any other.   "We don't put in friends," he said.  "I know, I know, I can see that.  Well then, that's my reason to get fame; I gotta be in that cemetary."

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Vincent The Man

Always there. Always helpful. Always smiling. And loves Marie

Your truly, "Bobby"

lruberto's picture


thanks, annie, for posting this piece (catching up on my i-italy reading....). I love it! -Laura Ruberto

Enduring popsicle sticks!

Though ownership and privatization have colonized NYC, a collection of public Popsicle sticks have not been bulldozed for their 1&1/2 square feet of real estate, nor vandalized. Poetically, there they sit like a secret, commanding respect and winking at it's finders. I feel winked at by your article to be "in the know," and love being introduced to the maker himself! Bravo to Mr.Lepani and always to Ms. Lanzillotto for her intimate discoveries in this vast city.

alanzillotto's picture

and if I don't get famed

and if I don't get famed enough, than one of you Please enscribe my name on a tongue depressor and stick me in the blessed dirt of The Popsicle Cemetary at least for a day!