November 12 – Our last day together started with a short breakfast at a little diner in Gramercy, followed by a trip to the Lower East Side. Our destination was the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.
Having several hours to kill, we picked up a neighborhood guide and snooped around the area. Turns out we were in the east-most section of Chinatown, which includes a district rich in textile businesses. Mother found fabric at three of them. Most significant were some bargains at Mendel Goldberg Fabrics on Hester Street. Goldberg’s daughter Alice was a pleasure to visit with, and a superb saleswoman – Mother walked out with not only the black and white wool houndstooth she has long been looking for (enough for a cape and a skirt), she also found the same amount of another plaid in her taupe and black. I can’t wait to see what the finished garments look like. (Note to self: I’ve promised Alice photos when they’re completed, and hope she holds me to that promise... I’ve given her the address of this blog.)
One sight that intrigued us on our walking tour was Dumpling House on Eldridge Street. We made a note to return after our two-thirty tour.
The Tenement Museum was interesting, and is a place I have been wanting to see for years. Educator Max Weissberg spent an hour with our small group guiding us through a building and sharing the stories of actual tenants there, immigrants in the garment (or schmatte) industry. The rooms were furnished and set with props, some of which were original to the building. One room is said to have been wall-papered over twenty times, a discovery made by early curators.
So off to Dumpling House we went. It is tiny, and was packed with diners. For only nine dollars, Mother and I had sesame pancakes with beef, fried pork and chicken dumplings, and chicken and corn soup.
What amazing food this is! The pancakes were my favorite. For such a low price, I can visit this place again and again. I told Mother this is one place where I will be sure to tour the entire menu and try as much as I can.
We ended our day with refreshments at the Comfort Diner on 23rd Street. Winding down from a day is a pleasant thing to do, especially over Bailey’s or Pino Grigio. After popping our heads into the thrift shop one last time, we headed back to the hostel to say our goodbyes. Tomorrow Mother will catch the M60 bus to La Guardia Airport one block from me in Harlem, so if I am lucky enough to get a good night’s sleep, I’ll try to meet her there and give her a second hug and kiss goodbye.