Upon returning to Crown Heights, I walked down Kingston Avenue to obtain something to eat. Quite a number of noticeable improvements were apparent. In addition to the new luxurious library, there was Gil Hirsch’s flower shop. (The Rebbe had advised him to open this shop last year. He had done so well with his personal service and artistic arrangements that he had found it necessary to expand to the shop next door, too!)

There is a new kosher pizza shop, which I noted was also very well patronized.

I then came to a new snack bar. I was delighted to discover that the owner was my old friend Chaim Boruch Halberstam. Chaim Boruch and I were among those privileged to partake of the yom tov meals with the Rebbe in times past. Here, again, the Rebbe had told him to open a refreshment bar and he was doing exceedingly well. It is a small place, but clean and very modern. Though it is an establishment serving fleishig (meat) foods, they had some “dairy” alternatives in pareve, including ice cream. Even the “milk” for the coffee was pareve. [When this was written it was obviously still a novelty to find kosher pareve substitutes for dairy products. –Ed.] Plastic plates and cutlery saved the work of washing up. The specialty of the house was fish-and-chips with salad. The main attraction, however, was a “Pita” a sandwich of sorts. I decided to be a sport and try this. I had never seen a pita before. It looks like a large round piece of bread about eight inches in diameter. It is warmed up and then opened up like a bag and filled to the top with a piece of fried fish, french-fries, mayonnaise, salad etc. It all looks very exciting. One needs to wash his or her hands for this sandwich and make hamotzie. (One has to wash up afterwards too!) Still, for one dollar, it is very reasonable. It is available from 10:00 in the morning until 1:00 after midnight.

Two “friends” (I do not recall ever having met them before) joined me at my table. “Oh Zalmon,” they pleaded, “tell us a story about the Rebbe.” They pestered and nagged me until I agreed. I told them that last year I informed the Rebbe that I had been satisfied that the Rebbe gave us his brocha “iber dem kop,” (over the head) so I would also like the same for this year, to which the Rebbe retorted, “Have you no ambition?”

My “friends” were delighted, they said it was worth coming all the way from Israel just to hear this one story, “but please, please, tell us just one more!” I told them how I had arranged the shidduch for which the Rebbe promised me shadchonus gelt and how I immediately wrote to the Rebbe asking him not to send me anything for now, but instead to credit me with this in his “ledger.” They laughed very heartily at this story. They were getting more comfortable and preparing to settle down at my table until closing time. All I had to do was tell stories about the Rebbe. Unfortunately, I had made other arrangements.