When I was 10 in the 1960s, my parents would load us into the Studebaker Lark every couple of weeks and scurry us through the Lincoln Tunnel to 10th Avenue and Grandma Katy’s deli. At lunchtime her store, Katy’s Delicatessen, was a melting pot of hungry regulars. The stage was set for Grandma to become an envoy to unmarried patrons.
“Young man,” she would bark at the first pairless male in line, “where is your girlfriend today?” If a response of “I don’t have one anymore,” echoed through the lunch line, Katy would say, grinning like Lewis Carrol’s Cheshire cat, “My neighbor lady upstairs is out of this world.”
She got Roy, her hard-working right-hand man, to marry the mysterious “A,” a girl with Rapunzel-like hair.
Proposals took place in her deli back room over beer and what I suspected much later to be homemade red wine. Grandma was not only a Hell’s Kitchen business proprietress, she was a reincarnation of a shadchen from the Middle Ages.
One day many years later I asked her how she did it. With a deep laugh and dismissive wave of her hand she said, “It was in the kielbasa!”