Where in world...?

An old friend phoned the other day. He never phones. But this time he just had to know: "What are you doing living in Florence?"
He thought I was in Florence, Italy. I told him it was Florence, Massachusetts.
Here are some answers -- my occasional wanderings through Florence, MA and the surrounding Pioneer Valley.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Happy Rosh Hashanah: Florentina New York Nosh Week

After dim sum on Wednesday, the cousins and Joey's Dad moseyed from Chinatown to Houston Street, via the Bowery. The Bowery is rather different now from what I remembered as a child. If you've ever seen the book Flophouse: Life on the Bowery by David Isay, Stacy Abrahamson, and Harvey Wang (2001)  then you have seen some of the rooming houses and the men who lived in them, frequently visible streetside whenever my parents drove through the Bowery to get to Chinatown. Nowadays we have a new art museum right near the Bowery Mission. However, the more interesting industrial parts are still visible: the row of lighting stores, the cash register store, and the restaurant supply stores. Cousins Mona and Oliver were really intrigued by these stores because they don't often see such things where they live in California; here they are right in the city. The city used to be where we always went to get anything we needed for cheaper. Some people seem to have forgotten that now.

Pastrami Palace.
Picnic lunch (www.katzsdelicatessen.com)
(from russanddaughters.com)
But I'll bet the folks at Russ and Daughters as well as Katz's Delicatessen still remember those old days. When I was that kid in the backseat of the car, driving down the Bowery, trying not to make eye contact with some of those tired-looking men lounging streetside, I always looked forward to seeing these two storefronts. I was always especially impressed by Russ who loved his daughters so much that they were added to the company name and the store's neon sign. Cousin Oliver ran into Russ and Daughters and ran back out with a small portion of smoked salmon for all of us to have a taste. 

At Katz's Deli, we got pastrami sandwiches to go. We were going to picnic at Central Park before visiting the Met. It was the best pastrami sandwich ever, and we watched the toy boats lazily sail across the pond at the model sailboat pond.  You can rent a boat and test your ability to tack the tiny vessel. It's kind of nice to be dead in the water when you're not actually in the water. Cousin Oliver was very tempted to rent a boat, but decided we had to move onwards to the Met for the arms and armor display.

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