When my husband, Jason, and I were courting—nice old word, isn’t it?—we spent a great deal of time in Greenwich Village. As a matter of fact, our first date was at the “Circle in the Square” to see Ben Johnson’s play, “Valpone.”
Although entering my senior year in college, I was still only 17 and very taken with this “older man” of 23. He seemed very worldly and ‘gallante’ and always brought me nosegays of violets. A nosegay is a small bunch of flowers tied up with ribboned bows (what Eliza Doolittle sold in “My Fair Lady”).
Our favorite haunt was Cafe Reggio, a cozy, very “au currant” coffee house, which boasted a resident elderly lady who offered bunches of violets at the front door. It was lovely and romantic and a time of dressing up rather than dressing down as we do today. It was a moment in time I shall never forget. Greenwich Village danced until the wee hours of the morning, people walked the streets unafraid, and there was laughter and camaraderie. We all had our lives before us and were ready to meet whatever was to come with great joy and confidence.
We’d walk hand in hand from shop to shop savoring the wonderful flavors of Africa and India and finding quaint little antique stores, where we could go back in time and sample the past. Every shop keeper was open and friendly and we forged lasting relationships with people from all over the world. There were also many art galleries and we learned to appreciate the different schools of painting and photography and soon became avid collectors.
In the ensuing years, we’d take our children to Cafe Reggio and it became part of our family history. As our children grew, they took their children and, believe it or not, our grandchildren still frequent that enchanting, out of the past, coffee house.
The “Village” is very different today, but Cafe Reggio survives, unchanged. The same pictures are on the walls along with the same charming old world decor. The only new item is a shiny espresso maker... but they still have the old one to look at!
On our 60th wedding anniversary, our children and grandchildren surprised us by sending a limousine to our home in Putnam County and had us arrive in style, to join them at Cafe Reggio, where they had gathered to celebrate our wonderful milestone.
As I crossed the threshold, I saw again the innocent 17-year-old and her dashing, handsome swain and felt again the first stirrings of a love that would last forever... all that was missing, for me, was the elderly lady sitting at the door and offering, in her bent but seasoned hands, those lovely, long lost violets.
Adrienne can be reached at AKL.firstname.lastname@example.org.