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New York, Act 2, Scene 2

February 23, 2013

We walk slowly, eager to hear from Kevin, to the Carnegie Deli on 57th Street and 7th Avenue. This old restaurant built in 1937 holds a fond place in memory. John and I have eaten here many times when we lived in New Jersey, impressed with movie stars and actors we sometimes saw, impressed with the large communal tables shared with New Yorkers and other tourists, impressed by the quantities of food, heaps of corned beef, mounds of dill pickles, bagels, and for the asking, 4, not 2 slices of seeded rye bread.

John remembers a conversation with a young student from Hunter College.”What are you taking up?” he asked her.

She answered with a toothy grin, “Shpace.” (Aren’t we all?)

Lots of space in the Carnegie Deli this morning. Nine-thirty is early for New Yorkers and tourists on a cold Saturday morning. The restaurant seems smaller than I remembered. Seated at a table for eight, the five of us put our coats on the empty chairs. An annoyed waitress told us to remove them. Ah! Community tables. We put the offending articles on the backs of our small chairs. Soon a woman took the empty chairs. This waitress, now smiling, placed a dish of dill pickles in front of her.

Kevin described his 6 hour bus trip from Oberlin and his plans for the day. We ordered – for me – a large orange juice, a half glass of water, and a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich on seeded rye. The sandwich came on white bread with no pickles. Disappointing, but not disastrous. John had three eggs, corned beef, mounds of home fries and an onion bagle. Tim had a gigantic platter of corned beef hash – enough to feed Manhattan. The large bill could be paid only with cash – no credit cards – imagine- stuck in the dark ages.

Restrooms were in the cellar, steep narrow stairs leading to antiquated plumbing. The years have not been kind to the Carnegie Deli.

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