All the Right Things
Here are some ways that a short man got by:
Eric Allen was diligent, determined and headstrong. He was so tough, so capable, that it would never occur to people to look down on him, a 5-foot-5 tower of gym-rat power.
He knew how to size up potential trouble quickly and dodge it adroitly. Once, while driving cross-country with his buddy Joe Ruggiero, the two walked into a bar on the Texas-Oklahoma border and, in the blinding daylight, saw half a dozen oversized cowboys playing dominoes.
"Drinks for everyone on us!" shouted Mr. Allen, buying a barfull of friends.
The short guy cast a long shadow: Mr. Allen, 44, was a ubiquitous, modest Mr. FixIt for friends and the elderly in his Bay Ridge, Brooklyn neighborhood.
His motto was "Do the right thing," which for him meant taking extra courses to be eligible for the hazardous duties of Rescue Squad 18 of Manhattan.
He was a sweetie with a crust, a shy man who loved acting.
As he drove on jaunts to the country with his wife, Angelica (whom he nicknamed Schnauzer) and their 3-year-old, Kathleen (whom he nicknamed Mouse) he would make up songs about how much he loved them, yelping happily.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on March 10, 2002.