Florence worked at Grosingers, that we knew. There was a story of her almost getting fired for bringing a glass of milk to a little girl in the meat dining room. One version has Mr. Grosingers himself chasing her around the kitchen with a knife. There was another story of her giving a New York taxicab driver her savings to bring to her mother on Hester Street. Needless to say, it never got there.
She may have also worked at the Youngs Gap Hotel in Parksville and the Flagler in South Fallsburg - Flagler's postcard says it's a country club with a golf course and wooded trails to ride horses on. I didn't meet people who rode horses until I was a teenager, hanging about a rich new age commune. I didn't meet anyone who played golf until I was almost 30.
Working at these places Florence wore the starched white collar, black dress of a waitress, not a pianist, That's her, left side, lower corner, her chin resting on her hand.
Did any of the people she served, did any of them see her? Did any of them know that, despite the dishonest cabdriver, she was able to save up enough to purchase her own Steinway? Did any of them know her playing would one day be described as brilliant, presented in a vivid color and compelling rhythmic force, or that her Chopin demonstrated an affinity with the composer?
She never, to my knowledge, ever got to stay in places like this.
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.