Neal Boenzi has an eye for quality, picking up deals on antique beer taps and neon signs at Southern California swap meets. His friends have no idea that the gravelly voiced East Coast retiree once used that eye to make some of the greatest New York City newspaper photographs for much of the latter half of the 20th century.
Why should they? Mr. Boenzi was not a self-promoter. His editors at The New York Times, on the other hand, knew quite well about his vast archives. That’s because he had walked away with much of it when he retired in 1991. Several years ago they dispatched two of his friends and former colleagues, Mary Hardiman and Librado Romero, to persuade Mr. Boenzi to hand over the goods.