In Memory of George “Mr. Spoons” Gully 1929 – 2010

It is impossible to exaggerate how much the world I found on arriving in New York City in 1974 was a radical departure from anything I had known before.  I was – and in many ways still am – a Southern California kid whose upbringing was almost precisely recreated in the ABC-TV series The Wonder Years.  But when the Carey Bus dropped me off in Times Square I never looked back, and was immediately captured and captivated by almost every new sensory experience.

I still remember how closely people stood next to each other in the subway and how that meant touching people by circumstance rather than choice. I remember the strangeness of people speaking more loudly and more assertively in public places than I had ever heard before. And I remember seeing my first street performers. (Think back to every episode you ever saw of The Wonder Years and tell me if you ever saw a street performer.)

Which leads to George “Mr. Spoons” Gully, who I first saw perform beneath ground at the Times Square stop of the #1 IRT train. I loved his act, his personality, and the idea that silverware could become a symphony in his hands.

Over the intervening 35+ years, I have intermittently checked to see what he has been up to, and – moments ago – I Googled his name and discovered that George passed away on November 9, 2010. This web site will tell you more about this amazing man.

I think that only now – years later – do I understand why I was drawn to Mr. Spoons. Arriving in New York, and having been a fairly cloistered son of the SoCal Burbs, I almost immediately began to wonder how in the world I would be able to define “cool” or “cutting edge” when so much was happening and changing so quickly. And when I was feeling so completely “uncool” in the midst of it all.

George “Mr. Spoons” Gully was immediate evidence that the wild ride that would be my life in New York City would include everything — the conventional to the bizarre, the sacred to the profane, the reactionary to the subversive — and that I had even found a place where – as Professor Huey Lewis once noted – it could even be “hip to be square.”

That was Mr. Spoons. I’ll miss him.

5 thoughts on “In Memory of George “Mr. Spoons” Gully 1929 – 2010

  1. Thank you for the memorial of my father. It is amazing how many lives he has touched. He would have been so happy to know the he has affected so many just by playing his spoons.

  2. Dear Prof. Gorelick,
    thank you so much for your very thoughtful remarks about my husband George “Mr. Spoon”)Gully. He would have been thrilled to know he was remembered by you. He loved entertaining people and he honed his talent at nursing homes, schools, street fairs and also appeared on TV a few times. He loved making people happy.

    Thank you for remembering him,
    Mrs. Jean Gully

  3. Thank you Prof. Gorelick. I am one of Mr. Spoons “little spoons, he had five children – I am George Gully’s first born. Thank you for sharing such a poignant tribute to my father, he would truly appreciate knowing he was being remembered in such a “cool” way.

    The memories most precious to me are the years of my childhood in the 50’s and 60’s in New York, those were the “cool” years when we lived in one of the coolest places to live; Greenwich Village nestled between Chelsea and Little Italy. Mr. Spoons was a long shore man by day, he also worked a second job at channel ABC where he met and became friends with one of the coolest radio disc jockeys of those days; WABC’s Bruce Morrow, aka “Cousin Brucie.”

    We may not have had much money, but love and having fun was plentiful – our lives were never dull or boring and that was a gift no monetary value could ever be placed upon. My father’s life was a mix of Marlon Brando as Terri Malloy in “On The Waterfront” and song and dance man James Cagney playing George M. Cohan in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” It was a wonderful life. George Gully was a true “New Yorker” and he was just about as “cool” as they come.

    • Georgene: I am so touched by the kindness of your message. Also curious if your Mom is hanging in there, doing OK? it’s hard for her, I’m sure.

  4. I miss ya pops. RIP Mr.Spoons<3 I miss you everyday.and every night…..Mr.Spoons was an AMAZING spoon player and hes uhm…dead now… D: But he'll Rest In Peace as i visit his grave<3333 HES SO AMAZING….*cries* excuse me…im sorry….i get emotional about this topic…my favorite song was Old Bones…what an amazing man….RIP popers. D: ❤
    ps…dont haunt me(:

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