#25 Mugged by a Nun

In the early 70’s, I in my mid-twenties, worked at WNBC in New York, commuting from New Jersey. Friends from Ohio came to visit. We were meeting other former colleagues at a touristy steak joint in Manhattan. We didn’t have much money so someone suggested we pool our cash in advance. I was to pay the check.

At the restaurant we all sat at a big round table for drinks. When some of the group left, my guests and I got up to move to the dining room. But my purse on the floor by the chair was gone. We told the management and then we remembered that a nun had come around our table, begging. No one paid attention, but she stopped, looked me in the eyes and said, “God bless you my child.” When we got up and my purse with all our money was gone I knew what she meant. I had been mugged, by New York definition.

The restaurant paid for our dinner. Seems the “little nun” was well-known and they felt responsible. But then we had to try to talk the garage into giving me my car. The ticket for the car was gone. My driver’s license was gone. Everything was gone. They did trust me with my car. If only I had understood the power of young attractive women back then.

I drove downtown because the out-of-towners had never been in the Village, Greenwich Village. I grabbed a parking spot smack in front of a brand new Mexican restaurant. A waiter standing outside talked us into coming in. We explained our plight and they couldn’t have been nicer. They wanted bodies at their tables so they brought us platters of nachos. They didn’t have a liquor license yet, so served pitcher after pitcher of punch to go with the nachos.

Our depression about losing the money turned into belly laughs. That was no punch they were pouring, it was our first experience with Sangria: lots and lots of Sangria. I should never have driven us home that night, but it wouldn’t be the last time my car was a little crooked in its parking spot the next morning.

I told the story at the radio station the next day. That afternoon one of the salesmen spotted the “little nun” on 42nd street so he chased her. She pulled up her dress or whatever it’s called, where she had hidden my purse, revealing high top sneakers. She slalomed through the crowded sidewalks and outran my stocky friend in his three-piece suit.

I got a call from another restaurant. My purse had been thrown into their doorway. I got it back sans anything of value including my tiny treasured perfume. So there was a dark-haired “little nun” somewhere in Manhattan with my wallet, our money and smelling of Givenchy.

That wasn’t my first mugging. When I lived in Greenwich Village, I came home one night to the apartment building. There was no doorman, but there was a security door. When I put my key in the 2nd door, two very tall young men came in behind me. They held a knife at my wrist and wanted my money. My biggest fear was that they’d stab me because I was broke. Then they wanted my watch. Stalling, I told them that it didn’t work, hoping someone would come through the lobby. I think they were just as new at robbing as I was at being robbed. They left.

Police arrived and had me ride around in the back of their patrol car to spot the two guys. I was more afraid that they would see me. No way I would recognize guys in stocking caps.

A few weeks later my brother and his wife were staying with me. His car was parked out front and we were leaving but forgot something inside. We all went back in for just a moment. When we came out there was a coat hanger on the ground and his radio was gone. I saw a police car at the corner and waved. It was the same two officers who had driven me around the Village weeks before. There was nothing they could do.

Months later, living in New Jersey, I left WNBC to go to Port Authority to catch my bus. But a man there held a knife to me. I gave him the scraps of money I had and he disappeared, probably laughing. I walked back to the station to borrow a few dollars from the D.J. on the air so I could get home. Why did they think I had money? I had to empty my coin collection to get to work the next day.

Soon after that I had another purse stolen from the floor of a restaurant. I never got that one back.

Then one day, walking down 6th Avenue over lunch, with crowds of people, I felt a tug on my shoulder bag. I had my pay check in that bag. But now I was a New Yorker. I whirled around, saw the young guy and said, “You’ve got to be kidding!” He ran. And it was the last time I was mugged.

It’s been decades since I had a drink and then drove.

But I do still put my purse on the floor in restaurants.

One Comment on “#25 Mugged by a Nun”

  1. Sylvia says:

    I just love reading these memoirs of yours -once is not enough!

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