Monday, April 23, 2012

Only in new york

On the bus home from a lovely lunch with an old college friend. Sitting in rush hr traffic, so amusing self with blogger on iPhone.

I arrived early. So treated self to a walk up and down 39th st ( ) 8th & 7th in the garment district. I had the luxury of taking a leisurely stroll and of being alone. Sadly , I saw many 50 percent off EVERYTHING MUST GO signs in fabric store windows.  OTOH - I went into one and was surrounded by to-die-for-linen cloth 60" wide, $4.99/yd; silks, wools, cashmeres...  I was so overwhelmed, I couldn't buy any of it.  Maybe tomorrow, when I am in the City again.  But what am I going to do with it???  --- if only I could SEW...
Home now and have had a cup of coffee and uploaded the rest of the story. Yes, there is a story. This man is the story. The restaurant was dim, so my trusty iPhone didn't get a sharp picture - but that's ok.
Karen and I had about a 3 hour lunch, catching up after 50 years.  This man, who was nursing his espresso, overheard our whole conversation and decided to chat with us.

He told us he had been a bag man for gangsters long gone (none from natural causes) and he named names, most of which I recognized because they were not only famous during prohibition and in Las Vegas, but one of them lived across the street from the house in which my mother grew up in Newark.
(nice family, according to my mother's memoirs).

I don't think he was boasting, and I can't imagine what he is up to these days (probably not much) - but this was not an inexpensive French restaurant; lunch for one set me back for what dinner for two might cost somewhere else.  But, hey - this colorful guy was worth the price. 

He had financial advice for us: 1) buy gold.  2) ditch American dollars and buy Aussie dollars  because the American dollar is already worth very little and will shortly be worth ZIP.  He repeated this emphatically, several different times.  Maybe he can afford to eat there every day because he is paying in gold and/or Aussie dollars.  And maybe I'll check back tomorrow to see if he is there again, to get more advice.

Finally, as Karen and I were leaving, he pulled a photograph out of his wallet and told us proudly it was Benny Siegel, one of the people he had been associated with and had named earlier.  Benny Siegel?? 
I googled the name after I left the restaurant. OMG. Unless you knew him really well, you knew him as Bugsy.

Only in New York.


Sherryl said...

Love that story!

Connie Rose said...

There's a distant connection in my family to Bugsy maternal grandmother's 2nd husband was Harry Greenberg, who was on the fringe of Bugsy's group. Harry was gunned down by Bugsy's men on the front lawn of their home in L.A., in front of my grandmother. True story.
In the movie "Bugsy," Elliott Gould plays Harry Greenberg.

Debra Spincic said...

That was interesting! Did he want a date?

Eva said...

This guy could write a book and greatly contribute to historical recording. Probably he would prefer it to be published after he's gone -- but what a wealth of knowlege could be exploited if all these people wrote down their memories!

tiedyejudy said...

Amazing story! But back to the linen.... if you can't sew, maybe you need to find a good seamstress, dye/print/etc your fabric, and hand it off to have a glorious garment custom made for you! On the other hand, you could take a sewing class... :-D

patty a. said...

Was it at the Hamed Fabric that they had the 60" wide linen? I love linen and wish I could go and help them reduce their inventory!

GerryART said...

Rayna, only you.
You've provided me a glimpse into NYC that no one else could.
A new adventures abound with you.

Michele Bilyeu said...

Oh my goodness! Did he LOOK like the photos of Bugsy? I mean are you sure, for sure it WAS him? You really met him? Super awesome in a macabre sense of life kind of way. He must really be feeling that life and fame are passing him by to have this need to say who he is like that. Wow. Love stories like this!

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