The LA Times profiles Patti Romp, who sells Christmas trees each year on Montague Street:
LA Times: Things have changed over the years. Patti and Billy split up last year, so now Tim works with his mother in Brooklyn while Billy manages his own stand at the old family spot in Manhattan. Toby, 17 — related through marriage to the Romp clan — joined Patti and Tim this year on the bustling avenue lined with small shops, a few chain stores and elegant apartment buildings.
But some things never change — sudden snowstorms, celebrity customers, bizarre requests — making life for all-night sellers predictably unpredictable. Not even the recession has had a major effect on business, said Patti, her 4-foot-10 frame buried in heavy boots, a lumberjack shirt, bulky coat and a furry hat with ear flaps. Her small radio played Christmas music as Tim, wearing a white cowboy hat, pulled an 8-foot-tall Fraser fir through the red tree-bagger, then balanced it on his shoulder and staggered down the street to deliver it.
The Romps began selling trees in 1988, when they piled the family, including the dog, into a camper and set up shop on a corner in Greenwich Village. The couple home-schooled their children, and when they were babies, Patti would strap them to her back as she worked the tree stand, marveling at the tall, elaborately dressed women with heavy makeup and hairy legs walking past. She soon realized they were transvestites, part of the neighborhood’s landscape and a reminder that she was no longer in rural Vermont.
Photo: Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times