You know you're getting older when friends from the past are no longer with us. On August 8th I celebrated, joyfully, my 46th. Today, on my Fiancee's birthday, I received news of the passing of an old friend on my birthday, Bob Koch of Koch's Deli.
It has probably been two or so years since I last was in THE deli in Philadelphia, and had the pleasure of Bobby's wit, sarcasm and insight. Since the late 70's when I first started going to Koch's it was always a joyful place. Bobby and his late brother Louis, who passed 10 years ago made the place what it was. Bobby though was a buddy. We talked cars, girls and sports. Back in the 80's when I was working for the Philadelphia Flyers I used to hit Koch's at least once a week, sometimes more on my way home on a non game night or on weekends. I was one of the few who was allowed to eat on the window sill or even fewer who was asked some times at closing just to hang out with Bobby in his private dining room, the tiny back office.
I was just thinking about him on Monday and had made a note to visit with him in September the next time I'm in Philadelphia. Sadly, that opportunity has passed.
Bobby survived the Vietnam war. He had heart. I also know he had a heart ailment many years ago. He had a zest for life and a perfect understanding of what it took to be a deli-man. Today I will find a good deli and think a kind thought for Bobby and his family.