I read in the paper today that Murray Lender died this week at the age of 81. Having grown up in a small (and I mean small) town in Northern New York, his bagels were the bagels of my youth. Sure, there were the occasional trips that my family made to New York City—where my parents were from and where I spent the first several years of my life—to visit family and to eat. It was our chance to have the Jewish comfort foods that we were unable to find in Canton, NY back in those days: Chinese food, a good pastrami on rye, knishes, potato pancakes, matzo ball soup, and of course, bagels. I remember my mother bringing bags of bagels back north with us—some we kept and some she gave away to her friends. One dear friend, Janet, thanked her and then, perplexed, asked, “What do I do with them?” My mother’s reply: “You hang them on your nose.” The culture shock was big. A few years later, a bagel shop opened in the next town over by a woman we met at the synagogue there. The bagels were good and we’d go when we had the chance. But, in between our visits to NYC or our trips just ten miles away, we had Lenders. By the time I was in college, the mystique of the bagel in Smalltown, USA was still prevalent, I could tell. Back home for spring break, I went into a local supermarket and found my way to the frozen food aisle. There it was, right before my eyes—a handwritten poster on neon cardstock taped to the freezer and announcing “Lenders Bagels: A Favorite Lenten Treat”. I laughed all the way home. Thank you, Murray Lender. I think you'd find that funny too.