From Getting Hoofty Fixed (Up)

By the time Hoofty came back to the table with the basket of pretzels, the basic plan was in place. The next day, Billy, Mike, Harry, and Frankie went to the Gable House after they finished their day shift jobs at Bethlehem Steel. They explained their need to Grace. They would pay – more than usual if they had to – to be sure that Hoofty had an experience they believed was long overdue. Grace understood instantly what they had in mind and she smiled at their awkwardness in asking for the service.

Grace, who had come to Bethlehem from Budapest, had owned the Gable House for many years, taking over its management after her husband died in the early 1930s. For decades it had been a popular restaurant and bar, and also a place where some of the girls who provided company at the bar could provide a more intimate kind of companionship in their rooms upstairs. Under Grace's guidance, all of this was done quietly, discreetly, and even elegantly. Few, if any, of the individuals and families in the dining rooms ever knew about the other services available at Gable House. Grace herself was the image of propriety, refinement, and quiet good taste. A tall, statuesque woman with a porcelain complexion and dark blue eyes, Grace always dressed stylishly in expensive clothing bought in New York or Philadelphia. She invariably wore her signature pearl necklace from Tiffany's as well as diamond earrings and rings. Her blue-gray hair was beautifully styled at all times, with never a hair out of place, courtesy of three visits per week to the hairdresser. Grace was a shrewd and successful business woman, but she also had a sense of humor and an innate thoughtfulness. "I think it is nice for you to do this for him," she said to the men. "And I will ask the girls if one of them might want to do this, you know, as a kindness. You will pay, of course, but the kindness should be part of it anyway."


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