All this week, in the grand tradition of Victorian periodicals, Lilith will be serializing an excerpt of Sadie in Love, the debut novel from 96-year-old former magazine editor Rochelle Distelheim. Look out for new installments every day this week.
Sadie Schuster sold love knots, hope wrapped in a schmattah, fifty cents. A lot of money in 1913, but hope never came cheap, especially when it came from Sadie Schuster. “You think this business makes me rich?” she asked her customers. “I do it to make people happy. The material alone costs me forty cents.”
She learned her magic tricks in Poland, where she and Fivel lived before coming to New York, two greenhorns, just married, and talked about love knots as though there really was magic in this world, and only she, of all the Jews in New York who came from Minsk, from Riga and Lublin, Budapest and Warsaw, knew how to put them together.
It was a secret, she said, passed from mother to daughter. Her own daughter, Yivvy, who ran a second-hand shop, and worked the cash register nights at the Second Street Cafeteria, didn’t believe in love or magic. Take it or leave it, Sadie Schuster was the only love knot person in New York City.