Greatest Fictional New Yorkers #19: Ralph Kramden

19%20-%20ralph-kramden.gifName: Ralph Kramden
Address: 358 Chauncey St. in Bedford-Stuyvesant
Occupation: Bus driver for the Gotham Bus Company
Hobbies: Member of the Raccoon Lodge
Memorable Quote: “I gotta big mouth” and “Hamana-hamana-hamana-hamana”

When we first meet Ralph and his wife Alice, he has been a bus driver at Gotham for 15 years. Though his heyday was in the Fifties, Ralph is truly a trend setter, having many characteristics of today’s up and coming New Yorker. Firstly, he lived in Bed-Stuy long before any gentrification trends began. His stark, sparsly furnished one bedroom apartment would seem familiar to anyone trying to make it in the City. Ralph was a serial entrepreneur before that term was even invented. Who can forget the episode where he buys a thousand all-in-one kitchen utensils. Like any dot-com mogul, Ralph decides to use the TV medium to promote his product. His best friend Ed Norton serves as the in-house evangelist for this (and all other) scheme of Ralph. Together they develop the memorable “Chef of the Future” TV commercial. Of course Ralph and Ed often had creative disagreements, which ended with one of Ralph’s favorite expressions (usually shouted at Ed): “Get out! Get out!”

Ralph had a loving and close relationship with his wife Alice. More practical than her husband, she often pointed out the weaknesses of his entrepreneurial dreams. Their disagreements would provoke such gems from Ralph as: “One of these days, Alice…one of these days…POW, right in the kisser!” or “You’re going to the moon, Alice!” Invariably though, Ralph realized Alice was wiser than he, and would end their disagreements with his favorite line: “Baby, you’re the greatest.” Ed’s relationship with his wife Trixie was far more prosaic. The two couples were inseparable, living a floor apart. Ed worked for the municipality’s sewer authority, and had some memorable expressions of his own: “A sewer worker is like a brain surgeon–we’re both specialists!”Alice and Trixie often made use of the New Yorker equivalent for instant messaging – shouting at each other through the window (something that still goes on in many New York neighborhoods).

Ralph served as a role model for many future television “husbands”, notably Fred Flinstone and even Homer Simpson. Rumor has it that Ralph finally made it by buying taxi medallions in the early Sixties when they were still inexpensive, and that he and Alice eventually moved to the Jersey shore. But more than anything, Ralph epitomizes the New Yorker temperament with this saying: “Don’t steam me, Alice, don’t steam me! ‘coz I’m already steamed!”

Other fictional New Yorkers in this series.

2 Comments so far

  1. Emma (unregistered) on August 15th, 2006 @ 11:57 am

    Ralph really IS one of the greatest. I forgot how much I enjoyed this show!

  2. Tim (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2006 @ 8:56 pm

    He should be #1 or #2.

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