I got to the Tony Randall memorial at about 11:00 AM, when the line was still short, near The Majestic Theatre. A well-dressed, spry, silver coifed, 80ish woman got chatty with me, and I regaled her with celebrity sightings around us. She was from Ft. Lauderdale, and comes up to New York City, for six weeks every year.
“Do you stay with relatives?”
“No. I rent an apartment. It’s expensive but worth it.”
I inquired further. She was originally from New Jersey, where she and her late husband, had the VERY successful Abram’s Furs. He came to the U.S. from Poland, at 17, with nothing, and due to the booming times during and after WW II, and before animal rights activists and red paint, was able to retire at 51. “We got out at the right time!”
“We sold the business to a lousy Greek, who ran it into the ground! It broke our hearts.” When women came to get their furs out of storage, they were told that there was a robbery, and it was gone, and that they should contact their insurance company. Actually the furs were stolen by the owner and sold to a Greek company. Eventually the scandal was exposed, and was in the newspapers, and the good name of Abrams was tarnished. By then, they were busy on the golf courses of Florida.
This year she rented a one bedroom on 48th Street between 1st and 2nd avenues. Usually she takes a studio, but her grandson from Connecticut, said he’d visit with his girlfriend on weekends. “He came once on Labor Day and that was it! “If I’m still around next year it’ll be a studio!”
We also spoke of my activities.
When it came time to go in, I said I was going to run to run the men’s room and as it was very crowded, “If I don’t see you inside, it was very nice meeting you.”
“Oh, I was going to take you lunch after the show.”
“Then I’m not going anywhere.”
We watched the event from good seats, as she complained to the usher that she couldn’t walk up any more stairs to the mezzanine, where those without invitations where supposed to sit. She is a big opera fan and was delighted by Marilyn Horne and Sherill Milnes, who performed.
After it ended, in the lobby, she extended her hand, “I’m Harriet. Where do you want to eat?”
We crossed the street to go to Angus McCindoe, where we could watch the crowds outside from the large, front window. I ordered a turkey wrap, and she a hamburger, while we chatted some more. She was very encouraging but suggested shortening my last name, “It doesn’t flow…”
After lunch, there were farewells and best wishes outside.