Kat’s Book: Getting to Know You/Getting to Know All About You

Kat and I went out every weekend after our first date and never dated anyone else.  The only exception to our dating every weekend  were the weekends that Kat visited her family  in their apartment in Avon By The Sea, New Jersey.  Kat would make one visit a month for the entire weekend.  She would take the bus from Port Authority Friday night and arrive back home in her Brooklyn apartment on Sunday evening.  Except for Sheila meeting Kat at the John Holmes party, we would not meet each other’s family until the following August in 1968.

We would meet for lunch once or twice a week, depending if we were both in the office at the same time.  We were both caseworkers.  That meant we would be spending a lot of time away from the office,  visiting welfare clients in their living quarters.  Kathy was trying to gain weight at that time.  She weighed 93 lbs.  Every time we went out for lunch she would finish her meal with a malted.  She seemed to be able to eat anything without gaining weight. 

After we had been dating several weeks, Kat asked me to meet her for lunch at Bickford’s cafeteria on Fulton Street in Brooklyn.  Bickford’s was part of a citywide chain of cafeteria’s.  The cafeteria was very close to our office. We sat down at our table in the cafeteria and Kathy was very nervous. She was having trouble getting the words out but, finally, she told me that she thought we would have to stop dating.  My heart began to beat rapidly,  but I maintained my outward coolness.  I asked her why she felt that way.  She said she really didn’t want to break up but she was having problems with the way I kissed her.  She just didn’t think she could come around to my way.  Let’s just say I was an aggressive kisser.  Details are reserved for private conversations.  I responded with the best thing I could have done. I laughed first; then I told her it wasn’t really a serious issue and I was sure we would work it out now that it was out in the open.  Kathy was surprised when I laughed,  but she later told me that defused the situation for her. It was the best reaction and totally unexpected.  She was completely relieved and we went on to have a great lunch ; followed by 48 years of great kissing.  I don’t know if my reaction would have worked with any other woman.  We always looked at that lunch as a seminal moment in our relationship.  I look at it as a time I may have started to fall in love with her.  She was so genuine; completely herself and not only not afraid to show it but incapable of being any other way.

Another memorable meal I had with Kat was the time I invited myself to her place for dinner. This was a spur of the moment thing.  Basically it was the middle of the week and I wanted to be with her after work. I gave her absolutely no notice. I think she was also happy to be together because she didn’t say “no”.  The only food she had in the house was hot dog  (yes, that is singular; she only had one) and baked beans.    She cooked the hot dog and about six baked beans in a frying pan.  As the story got retold in future years,  I always insisted there were only six baked beans.  Kat always insisted there were more than six beans but I am sticking to that story and I never let her forget it.    My guess is that Kat had a liverwurst sandwich for dinner.  All in all,  a pretty disgusting dinner,  but that didn’t make any difference because we were together and there was nothing better than that.

In November and December of 1967 Kat and I would hang out with Terry Graham until Terry  went to Arizona in January.  We started a life-long habit of going to the movies very often.  We would take the subway from near Kat’s apartment on Ninth St to downtown Brooklyn.  It was about a 15 minute subway ride.    In 1967 the subway fare was 0.20¢ There were two mammoth movie theaters in the area; the Brooklyn Paramount and RKO Fox.   These theaters hosted “rock and roll” shows in the heyday of “rock and roll” in the 1950’s.  I had seen shows hosted by Allen Freed starring Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Lloyd Price in the 1950’s. The theaters  were now infrequently used for live shows but they were giant movie theaters.  We saw “Guess Who’s  Coming To Dinner”, “To Sir With Love” and “Wait Until Dark” during the end of 1967.  After the movie we might go to Junior’s on Flatbush Avenue for some of their famous cheesecake. 

On New Years Eve 1967  we decided to go to Times Square to see the ball drop.  It was snowing very hard.  We got off of the subway in Manhattan at 11:55pm at 44th St.  Times Square was two short blocks away, at 42nd Street.  Because of the heavy snow we turned in the wrong direction when we exited the subway and we missed seeing the ball drop.  Thus, we started the year off  poorly, but 1968 would, nevertheless, be one of the two best years of our lives.  We took the subway back to Kat’s apartment in Brooklyn.

It was snowing even more heavily when we got back to Kat’s apartment and we decided I would sleep over.  The Transit Workers Union (TWU) who ran the subways had called for a strike vote that was to be announced at 3am on January 1, 1968.  I asked Kat to listen to the radio so when I got up in the morning I would know if a subway strike would be called.  A subway strike would mean  I would have to walk home for three miles in the heavy snow.  When I got up Kat had a big smile on her face and told me there was no subway strike.  She also told me that she had been up all night listening to her radio in the bathroom to see if a strike was called.  Was it really necessary for her to stay up all night listening to her radio?  No, but ping went the strings of my heart when she told me what she had done.  Another apparently minor but seminal event that made me love her.  Kat was totally and completely original and she had unique ways of showing me she cared for me and that I was important in her life.  She would always be that way.

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