Her fund-raising effort has collected more than $9,600 from 52 donors. A contributor in Sunnyside, Queens, express-mailed $1,000 in cash to The Times, along with a letter that proclaimed Mr. Singh “an extraordinary human being.” It was signed: “Ho, Ho, Ho. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
Mr. Singh was a civil engineer in his native India. After coming to New York in 1980, he tried a number of jobs before settling into his solo act outside the subway.
Even with the station shuttered, he won’t move to a different spot; this is where his regulars know where to find him. Over the years, he has jealously guarded the corner against interlopers: He outlasted the hawkers of free papers who appeared a decade ago. When a rival salesman showed up one night on an opposite corner, Mr. Singh and his customers stared him down until the man gave up a few days later. (Once, back in India, Mr. Singh shot an intruding cobra, but that’s another story.)
Shortly before the subway station closed on June 4, Mr. Singh was thrown a fresh curveball: The Times turned over its retail distribution in Manhattan to another company, National Distribution Alliance. Mr. Singh, who buys his papers from The Times and other publishers, has had to acclimate to new delivery times and payment methods.
The Times article brought him a flurry of celebrity. A married couple visiting the city from South Africa made a special trip uptown to be photographed with him; a young woman from Japan sought him out and handed him $100. Readers from around the world praised him on social media — though Mr. Singh seemed only vaguely aware of the stir. He has no phone or computer. He lives alone and reads the news only in print.
His longer-term fans continue to trickle by every morning. On Thursday, three of them arrived with some belated birthday cake, a New York City-branded towel and a new umbrella. Mr. Singh was cheered, but still mourning the recent death of a loyal customer.
“You see this man for so many years, and then suddenly he is gone,” he said. “I will miss him.”