Tradition, Tradition, Tradition

Dear Diary:

While paying for a magazine at a newsstand in the Biltmore Room, a high-ceilinged and ornate hall off the main concourse of Grand Central Terminal, in the early afternoon in late May, I heard familiar sounds.

I walked in their direction, and in a corner of the room I saw about two dozen men, mostly in business suits, distinguished from the average station user only by yarmulkes, chanting mincha, the Jewish afternoon prayer.

Behind them, an ancient signboard listed the 20th Century Limited and other trains that haven’t arrived in Grand Central for about 50 years.

Passengers made their way through the hall to nearby Tracks 39 to 42 and business was brisk at Eddie’s Shoe Repair. None of the passers-by or customers seemed to notice as the prayer leader recited the liturgy in a lovely soft voice and the congregation murmured the traditional responses and then swayed in silent prayer. The service was soon over and the congregation dispersed.


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A Central Park Fantasy

Dear Diary:

I am a tour guide who was taking a group of eighth graders through Central Park the other day when a magical encounter happened.

Before I take any group through any of the arches in the park, I stop them, gather them around me and give them this speech:

“Do you see that tunnel? That is the tunnel of love. If you walk through that tunnel from the beginning to the end within six inches of anyone, you will marry that person and live with that person for the rest of your life.”

Most of the kids take off running and zigzagging to avoid being next to anyone. Some hold hands or lock arms, and that gets a reaction.

Well, unbeknown to me, there was a young couple listening to my speech and following the group through the tunnel. When they got to the other side, he took out a ring and proposed marriage to her. The kids were ecstatic and I was dumbstruck.

The guy said he was planning on popping the question in the park when that chance encounter came up. Quite magical.


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