By Gordon Hughes

The other morning I was enjoying a cup of coffee at Cafe Panino Mucho Gusto, when of all things, I ran into a pal and neighbor—not from the Village, but from Chester County (where I have a horse farm).

I was so surprised to see him in this foreign location, but what a treat. So, we shared a table and he told me why he was at this out-of-the-way coffee haunt.

He was visiting Manhattan on a book tour and wanted to visit his old neighborhood and see how it had changed. Turns out, he had rented a studio on 11th Street between Hudson and Greenwich in the early ‘60s. He told me after graduating college and mustering out of the Marines he had moved to New York City and gone to work at a major advertising agency.

In the late ‘60s, fortune smiled upon him and he met a high-powered magazine executive. They got married and she loved the Village, but they needed a larger apartment. That led to a move on 5th Avenue near Washington Square.

Well, as can happen, two children later they decided to move out of New York to Chester County, where my pal could fox hunt and shoot and the kids could grow up in the country. All of them missed New York and the Village, but life has a way of changing you. My pal opened his own ad agency in Philadelphia and life was good.

Some 16 years later, the family decided to visit New York, take in a Broadway show (not one of mine) and take a look at their old apartment building. They explained to the kids the bohemian lifestyle they had lived, with crazy “mad men” ad executives and the downtown literary crowd. The four of them were looking at the building, and as luck would have it, someone emerged, leaving the door open and a chance to head inside.

After looking around, they decided to take the elevator up to the 12th floor and look at their old homestead. Now, just as the four of them were talking about what it had been like, the door next to theirs opened and a woman came out, looked at them and said “So, ya been away!?” After picking themselves off the floor from laughing, they all went out to what had been the Coach House and had a drink.

Well, this is a true story—names have been omitted to protect the innocent. Now I’m not sure this could only happen in the Village, but I know for sure it does happen in the Village, and that’s one of the many things I love about this neighborhood.

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