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“Bluey,” Inwood Icon, Laid to Rest at Age 31

“Bluey,” a 1982 Honda Civic, will be laid to rest on July 31, 2012, following a ceremony in upper Manhattan, NY. Bluey—so named by the young son of Mr. Ettling’s downstairs neighbors—was lovingly owned and driven for 30 years by Harry Ettling, a jazz musician and long-time Inwood resident.

‘Born’ in the fall of 1981, Bluey was purchased new by Mr. Ettling’s girlfriend at the time, Ms. Lucy Smith, originally of Memphis, TN, shortly after the couple moved to New York. Mr. Ettling subsequently purchased the vehicle from Ms. Smith after the couple parted ways in 1982. Mr. Ettling then employed Bluey as his primary mode of transportation up until the present time, dividing his time with Bluey between driving to literally hundreds of gigs throughout the tri-state area and frequent fishing trips, mostly to Ramapo Lake in Northern New Jersey.

Bluey led a challenging life, having been totaled within the first 3 months of his life by a drunk driver while parked on Fort Washington Avenue. He was patched together, put back on the road, and weathered various bumps, bangs, and break-ins over the following several years, only to be turned upside-down on Dyckman Street during the Washington Heights riots in 1992. Not wanting to give up on his longtime friend, Mr. Ettling once again had Bluey repaired and made roadworthy.

Over time, all these injuries, as well as a defect in his original undercoating, took a toll on Bluey’s appearance. By the end of his life, he came to be considered by many to be the funkiest-looking car in the New York Metropolitan area. His dilapidated looks caught the attention of a columnist for the New York Daily News, and fellow Inwood resident, Josh Max, who did a feature story on the car in 2006 and another in 2007. AP picked up the original story, which inspired numerous spin-off stories around the world in several languages. Despite his unparalleled ragged appearance, he remained in good running condition up until the day of his funeral, mostly due to the care and talent of Mr. Ettling’s mechanic for over 2 decades, Mr. Dirk Neal of Riverdale, NY.

Bluey—and his extraordinary appearance—were legendary in the neighborhood and among the NYC musical community, and stories of his exploits abound. For instance, Mr. Ettling would often arrive at such musical venues as the Waldorf Hotel or the Westchester Country Club, decked out in full formal wear, and hand the keys to Bluey to the astonished valets, admonishing them to “Try not to scratch it.”

Funeral Services will be held at 1:30 PM on Saturday, July 31, 2012 at Seaman Avenue and 207th Street, following a New Orleans-style funeral procession starting at Seaman Avenue and Dyckman Street and terminating at 207th Street, at which point there will be a brief ceremony at the entrance to Inwood Hill Park. Bluey will then be loaded onto a tow truck and taken away, followed by a jubilant, New Orleans “second-line” procession across 207th Street to the Piper’s Kilt bar on Broadway, where Bluey’s life and legend will be celebrated at a wake hosted by Mr. Ettling and the management of the Piper’s Kilt. Attendance to all parts of the proceedings will be open to the public.

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