|Remembering Conrad Gersuny|
|Conrad Gersuny, 75, who called himself “The Dog”,
died Thursday, January 4, 2007 at Copley Hospital of end-stage lung
cancer. Born in
Vienna, Austria in 1931, he emigrated by ship to New York City with
his big brother and their parents (father Otto, 1890-1964, and mother
Lisbeth Stiassny Gersuny, 1900-86) in the midst of the infamous
Atlantic hurricane. If his dad had not been Czech, they may have
during the Holocaust as did most of their relatives. Otto studied
English while the family stuck it out on a small loan in their
home until he could reestablish his pediatric practice 2 years
Conrad was a true outsider-- in his demeanor and vocation. A student of jewelry and metal sculpture since 1946, he only completely retired after his diagnosis last November. His fine and offbeat baubles, whimsical metal figurines and charming “tin men” (made by soldering steel, burned-until-black food cans together) occupied 2 consecutive stores-- first in New York, then in Stowe. The Conrad Shop(circa 1956) at 108 MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village basked in the dawn of a new folk and arts culture. Patrons and friends included struggling artists Dave Van Ronk, Shel Silverstein, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan and budding legends Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. There, he pierced 40,000 ears, including those of Odetta and Joan Biaz. He made a signet ring for a fledgling comic named Bill Cosby; Bill’s wife, Camille’s, engagement ring; bangles galore for Mary Travers (Peter, Paul & Mary); and so on. The Shop was resurrected in Stowe’s Lower Village (where The Taylor Shop now stands) in the late ‘70’s. Post-Conrad Shop, he joined Vermont Hand Crafters, Inc. and displayed his craft under the name “Mad Dog Enterprises” at area shows and venues around the country over the next 2+ decades. It is now at The Bryan in Jeffersonville, Frog Hollow in Middlebury and Gallery In The Woods in Brattleboro. If you find a precocious “face” in copper, brass or sterling, it’s probably his. If it’s giving you the razz berry in contrasting metal, it is. Ever a gem in the rough, he was gifted with an overt quirkiness that concealed a dazzling brilliance.
He counted the hours for 2 years in Alaska during the Korean War and through a difficult semester at Oswego State Teacher’s College. Like most people then, Conrad knew nothing about the dyslexia he had; but he strove to change, and change he did. He mastered reading and recall to a fault through a New York university program. In 1985, he received a Bachelor’s in Sociology at Johnson State. He loved his work, books, history, cultural diversity, New York’s Chinatown and the Greenwich Village of his years there, the beauty of nature in Vermont and, yes, talking-- for as long as you would listen. He also loved animals (Your dog usually met him before you did.), advocated social justice throughout life and was a hospice volunteer for 3 friends. His unfailing sense of personal responsibility, constancy of purpose, honesty and loquaciousness-- with a proper diplomat by his side-- would have made him the ideal king.