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Nash, Edith / Practice the here and now: selected writings of Edith Nash

Nash, Edith
Sixteen,   pp. 13-15

Page 14

14Lewis' daughter Janet always called him, acknowledged his defeat. Next
day he brought a good red apple and put it on his desk. Then he called the
man, whose name now surfaced as Bert Luckenbach, up to the desk. Bert split
the apple in half with a practiced gesture, offered half to Dr. Lewis and
returned to his place, happily munching on the other half. My heart turned
over. He suddenly appeared larger than life: urbane, witty, masterful. I
imagined him on his horse. (It was the era of The Desert Song.) He had challenged
our beloved teacher's authority and gracefully accepted his token of victory.
 I had to talk with him to find out if he was real. We went for coffee and
soon became friends, Bert Luckenbach and I. He was mysterious and adult,
worked for City News Service, haunted police stations all night. Sometimes
he said he was on parole from some place in Pennsylvania. He swore me to
secrecy and said he would come after brother Paul to beat him up if I told
anybody, so of course I never did.
 The first project that I managed to complete at sewing class was a pair
of underpants, pink checkered gingham with a white waistband, and Lucky,
as he preferred to be called, went with me to the office building downtown
to pick up my masterpiece. I showed him my pants and he took them and put
them in his pocket. I wanted them back but he was adamant, laughing all the
while. I was flattered and confused at the same time, but I could not figure
out how to get them back. I guess he still has them; it was seventy-one years
 Only once I remember eating with him in a restaurant. We went to a favorite
place of his, the Red Star Inn. Although I was familiar with many of the
well-known Chicago restaurants, going to most of them with my parents on
Thursday nights when we went to the symphony concerts downtown on the cook's
night out, I had never been to the Red Star Inn. It had a German menu and
was known to be a Bund hangout, and as the word rumbled out of Germany of
the rise of National Socialism and the persecution of the Jews, the whispers
reached even our un-Jewish Jewish family and put a negative mark on the Red
Star Inn.
 In any case when Bert Luckenbach and I met at the Red

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