Smoking…… Like Garbo

November 9, 2013

I was saddened today to open the New York Times (but touched by the NYT for putting the article on their Front Page) that Lorenzo Robinson had passed on into the firmament…..

I did not know him at all…had actually only met him once….but that impression I will NEVER forget…as when he saw me he said “Hello, Young and Handsome”…which stunned me…

He was the attendant of the men’s room in the ’21’ Club in NYC…I went there alone in 1990 (I must have fortunately been between husbands)…..

His presence and warmth were just OVER Powering….I frankly just wanted to stay there and listen to his stories…the Hell with eating…..

Ronald Reagan was so touched by him that he took off his Presidential cuff links and gave them to the “Rev” as he was called…Lorenzo wore them every day until he died……

He first preached in 1957, was ordained in the Baptist Church in 1962 – he held two divinity degrees – as he said “there were 39 Baptist ministers in my family..My Great Great Granddaddy Lawrence Dudley, an ex-slave, built four churches in the panhandle of Florida.”

It was his Uncle Otis Coles (known as the Deacon…and who was known as “the man of style”)….who first started working at the ’21’ Club in 1949….according to the NY Post: “Robinson…took over the restaurant men’s lounge from his uncle in 1989…he passed away after giving the eulogy for his sister at a service in Connecticut”

He was a Beautiful, Beautiful Individual…..who gave so sooo much…….feeling, sensitivity, security and warmth…with wonderful humor….all within ..what 5 minutes…..

he gave me a ’21’ Club pen that I still have…..

Now that I look back ….there have been 3 people.(well really 4 )…….whom I will NEVER forget….and they are all Black…..no White person has ever done this….of being directly down to earth sensitively warmly honest with me…..I think white people are too uptight…well I know I use to be….and still am at times…..

like the accent you were born with that you just cannot get rid of…..white people cannot shake off their innate up-tightness..

The First …. was my dear Alice…who had one eye….who was our laundress in DC …who taught me more about Life than my parents had time to….

I use to race home from school to go to the basement to talk to Miss Alice as she ironed…I would tease her and she would chase me around the ironing board…in her drab grey uniform and starched white apron. white collar and white cuffs (have no idea why the color as mother’s favorite color was blue.)…..and man her fried chicken and cakes were just out of this world…..her Ex use to pick her up in his Henry J ( a car built in the early 50’s)…he was VERY respectful of Miss Alice…his name was Terry….but way back then I never thought of asking Miss Alice…WHY did they break up….I guess I might have thought it but it would be just downright disrespectful …….

The Second was this very Handsome older woman…I met in a hotel bar in Las Vegas.in the late 60’s ….I was standing in the waiter’s section at the bar waiting to order a drink and started to open my cigarettes….out of the blue this gorgeous woman said “Ohh Honey..NO NO!!!!……You do NOT open a cigarette pack that way”….stunned I turned …she took the pack our of my hands and showed me HOW you properly opened it rather than ripping it apart as I use to….

I mean the way she opened it …was the way the movies did…so when you were offering a stranger a cigarette …you held the pack in your right hand and tapped it against your left index finger….

ohhh the days of smoking like Garbo…WERE so wonderful at that young age…before the Surgeon General had to step in and save our health …(sigh!!!)

2 Responses to “Smoking…… Like Garbo”

  1. Richard Steele said

    I loved the stories once again, Keep writing. R&R

  2. susi said

    Wonderful …let’s hear about the other two, now!

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