Douglas Matrullo was a natty dresser. “He always used to walk around with the snakeskin boots,” his cousin Richard Matrullo said. “And fancy jackets, cowboy hats.”
Richard and Douglas grew up together in the West Village, playing games like skully, Johnny on a Pony, and kick the can. Douglas went to Our Lady of Pompeii, a Catholic grammar school on Carmine Street, and then Aviation High School. He didn’t stick around to graduate. Instead he dropped out and headed west to open a clothing boutique in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury neighborhood.
After a while, he returned to New York, where he struggled with drugs and entered the city’s shelter system. Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association, met Douglas Matrullo at a neighborhood synagogue that serves the homeless. “He was quite a guy, quite a character in the best possible way,” she said. Matrullo later settled in to Kenmore Hall, a resident for the formerly homeless on 23rd Street.
Harrison said that even decades after his boutique days, Matrullo put a lot of care into his appearance. “I would see him in his black outfit, always with his black, in a black suitcase on wheels, meticulously dressed,” she recalled.
But she said it wasn’t his style that made him stand out -- it was how he helped people new to the shelter system by showing them the ropes. He was very private, she said, but welcoming and caring, too. “That’s how I see him – quite a special person.”
This collision happened on September 4, 2014 near Park Avenue South and East 23rd Street in Manhattan. See details in the Mean Streets Tracker.