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Classical Notes

Lola Wasserstein, Kugel Smuggler!

Posted at 8:18 AM on June 19, 2007 by John Birge

A remarkable New Yorker died Saturday. Lola Wasserstein was 89, and provided the inspiration for many of the larger-than-life maternal characters in the plays of her daughter, the late Wendy Wasserstein.

I never met Lola, but when Wendy Wasserstein shared her Thanksgiving memories for my annual Giving Thanks special, I learned that Lola's habit of "smuggling cranberry sauce and potato kugel over inter-borough lines" was a beloved holiday tradition. As Wendy put it:

"Every Thanksgiving when my sister from Vermont and her family would arrive, my mother would already have unpacked all the catering, hidden away the foil and the Tupperware, and be busy boiling garlic to create that real down-home Lexington Avenue atmosphere. On entry, every year, my brother-in-law the doctor would say, 'Lola, it smells delicious!' And she would so graciously reply, 'Of course it does. I've been cooking for hours!'"

Of course, you really need to hear Wendy tell the whole story. And you can, when you click here, and scroll down to the bottom of the page.