Yes ... It's the 70s.
(Peter with Marie)
The saying is if you are a true New Yawker -- you consider yourself multi-lingual -- because you can curse in a multitude of languages.
When Peter died as you can imagine a multitude of neighbors showed up to the funeral to pay their respects to the family, while honoring Peter's untimely death, amazing talents and beautiful personality. The most interesting thing was the wide range of people who arrived. There were childhood friends from East 15th Street ... there were long time friends from Peter's early musical career (Stan Pillis, John Campos to name a few) ... there were parks department buddies ...
... and then there was a small group of teen Hasidic Jewish boys and their father, Mr. Gelber who came to pay their respects. While they didn't cry, they did tear up a little when speaking with Peter's sister Pamela about their relationship with Pete. They talked about how they first met Peter when they were very young (he would turn their lights on during the Sabbath). Then throughout their childhood Peter would invite them into his life ... by showing them how to work on his car, or what the meaning was behind the symbols that Peter painted on stage backdrops ... they talked of Peter's cats ... how they missed Nettie ... and how Peter would ask them specific things about their religion and their family traditions. They felt that they could ask Peter questions about current affairs or to talk with Pete about what it was like traveling the world and playing instruments for millions of fans. They believed that Peter was a cherished friend. And in their life, there was no one like him.
Just like the Gelber boys, Peter had a desire to reach out and communicate to people who didn't fit neatly into his "inner circle."
When we were younger (I was 10 yo), a chinese family moved onto East 18th Street. The mother and father seemed to work all the time, leaving their children, Joseph and Linda, with their live-in grandmother. She was a short, stout, serious-looking women who didn't speak English, but created the most amazing backyard vegetable farm we had ever seen. While Marie and I became friends with Linda (my age) and Joseph (Marie's age), the grandmother wasn't very friendly to us at first ... but then she met Peter.
Every morning, Linda's Grandmother worked in her garden, and when Peter saw her, he would call out to her, in a made-up chinese SOUNDING language just to see what her reaction would be. He'd laugh and make goofy faces to see what she would do. At first she seemed to be a little frightened by him. Whenever she'd see him and he'd call out his language to her, she'd run back into the house. Then the next couple of times Peter saw her, he'd continue with his make-believe language. She would look at him and say something in her language and run in the house.
When Linda and Joseph were allow to play in Nettie's house with us, Peter asked Joseph to give him a couple of words to learn. To spell them out phonetically so he could try to mimic. Then one day we were all out playing "running bases" on the sidewalk -- Peter, Nancy, me, Marie, Joseph, Linda, Michelle, Josh and Tara -- the Grandmother came out to call her grandkids in for dinner. When she called their names, Peter mimicked her voice perfectly (Yuēsèfu 约瑟夫). And for the first time she smiled, waved, and Peter waved back.
Then every morning that Peter saw her, she would say hello to him in Chinese and he would have a conversation with her, using his made up Chinese language, and she would smile, laugh, wave, talk back to him, and blow kisses to him. Weeks later, she had invited Peter into her garden (he climbed the 2 fences between them), and she explained about her vegetables to him in Chinese, while he bantered back in English and his make-believe language. She would send the kids over with presents from Chinatown to Peter (Chinese Taffy was a favorite) and he would bring her watering buckets for her garden. She never learned English and he didn't really learn Chinese, but they were friends because Peter had an interest in her.