Ring Seller Makes A Living Out Of Love

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Bill Schifrin and his son-in-law, Herman Rotenberg. i

Bill Schifrin (left) and his son-in-law, Herman Rotenberg. Rotenberg started working at Schifrin's shop, 1,873 Unusual Wedding Rings, nearly 30 years ago. He now runs the business, though Schifrin still spends as much time at the booth as possible. StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps
Bill Schifrin and his son-in-law, Herman Rotenberg.

Bill Schifrin (left) and his son-in-law, Herman Rotenberg. Rotenberg started working at Schifrin's shop, 1,873 Unusual Wedding Rings, nearly 30 years ago. He now runs the business, though Schifrin still spends as much time at the booth as possible.

StoryCorps

Ninety-year-old Bill Schifrin has been selling wedding rings in New York City's diamond district since 1947.

"I have such a good time doing it," he says. "I'm always working 24 hours a day."

When Schifrin sees a couple kissing on the streets, he likes to tap the man on the shoulder and hand him his card. "You know why?" he asks mischievously. "Because married couples don't kiss on the street."

One Friday afternoon years ago, a couple came into his shop. She picked out the ring, and the man gave Schifrin a check for the deposit. A while later, the man came back in. "Tear up the check. We changed our minds," the man said. "But thank you for a beautiful weekend."

Once, a woman came in to buy a ring for her fiance. "She says, 'Tell me — if he doesn't like it, could I give it back to you?' " Schifrin recalls. "I said, 'No, this is a custom job. I'm making the ring special for your fiance.' She gave me the order, gave me the deposit and says, 'This is what I want engraved in there: No refunds, no returns.' " Schifrin laughs and says, "I couldn't get over that."

Schifrin himself has been married 66 years and proudly claims to still get along with his wife. He met her at a dance just before going into the Army — they were married on furlough. When he went to the jewelry store, he got the plainest wedding ring.

"Seven dollars," Schifrin says, "My lucky day!"

Produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo with Katie Simon. Special thanks to Eve Claxton.

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