Friday, May 30, 2008

Bronx Stardust;Family Metaphors

Bronx Stardust


This part of my story is about my parent’s families being from two different origins and cultures including our friends and relatives with their multiple ethnic and national diversity.

Mid-twentieth century Bronx Stardust was a family-centered metaphor. We saw our context through the eyes of our family. The metaphor of Bronx Stardust was connected to each person by family and family traditions, culture and distinctives. Families realized they were unique but that they were amongst other unique and peculiar families. We believed that it was our differences which itself was our common view of what made the Bronx special. The Bronx was special because so many families were different that resided on the same floor of a building, a building block and/or neighborhood . It was our own family sameness and our differences to others which made Bronx Stardust. We celebrated and boasted about our differences. Yet we defended our rights to be unique and blast the others who opposed our cultural differences. Furthermore. we rejoiced over the contrasts and relished foreign tastes and desires. Bronx Stardust often resulted in gang violence, feuds ,shootings and abusive behavior. All of this churned the environment making our families huddle together to find ways to relate and connect with other clans. As we churned ,fought and defended we gained tolerance while strengthening our own unique identity amongst other unique and special personas. It was sometimes a potters wheel while other times a fiery furnace.

My parents emphasized their respective families and our family made "family" a basic part of my metaphorical and human vocabulary. As they did, I memorized each and every member's name. relation and their relative rank and age in each family. I knew my aunts and uncles and their children and each child and relation they had and could connect them and tell you about them in detail. Our family tree was etched in my mind. I have described them in detail as the context of my childhood. Later my dad would give me daily reports of my cousin’s whereabouts, marriage births and condition of children. It was the legacy and imprints my parents passed onto me and now able to pass on to others. It also gave me a great sense of being part of a context much greater than our clan and myself. It was a sense of familiarity and, vocabulary and recognizable traits that confirmed my identity and rightness with thin the world order. I had it and I assumed others had it as well. What I soon discovered is what I had in a great quantity most had in a very small amount. I also learned that some had “wealth in the family” and assumed stature while others a meager and paltry family. Others, I was surprised never would talk about here families or would speak with disdain of their family.

However my family was a noteworthy family having one street named after one of its members; another ran for president of the United States; another was a well known political journalist; and another assisted a supreme court justice and authored a law text book that is used in many law schools.Families are what we remember about how we became who we are.It is the collective memory of our formation and the formation that preceded us. Family is the mnemonic recalling who I was with any one or anther person from the very beginning. By mentioning any one of them I remember my own feelings and relationships.

Family bonding

The bond to my parents by my brother and I was good and strong enduring my father’s infidelity and mother’s anguish. That bond may have explained the tolerance Saul and I had to this dysfunctional separation. The bond between my brother and I only strengthened as children where I’d care for him at night when both our parents were out and in the morning when I’d dress him and take him to school.

Blood that is thicker than water. The members are themselves the experiences that shaped our vocabulary, behavior, emotions, and knowledge. At some point they were the world and every thing revolved around what they said and did. What they thought we thought; and, our interpretation of what they said were the building blocks for our future. They provided the voices, landmarks, visions, and lessons for future non-family interactions. It is our family in whose image we are framed and often judged by society. If you can tell a person by his friends, it is even more so with the family. It is said: “The apple doesn't’ fall far from the tree" ; yes, society definitely makes intuitive judgments about us from their impressions of the family. So I that way it is important that we know and understand the family against whom we are measured and the model and mould in which we are cast.

For me, the extended family overcame the daily training at low self-esteem. I still did not do well at school but I did strive to develop a persona and self-character modeled after the best members of my family. They would challenge and lovingly encourages me to go beyond the limitations of where I was. My Mom was the best at this! She would listen and react to every word I spoke and knew the motive behind. She was quick and insightful.The urban family is selective vs. rural family where everyone is with you; there is no where to hide. Urban cities are vast and families can easily find themselves in different neighborhoods and paths that will never cross.

Family is any group decipled under one leader. I was very fortunate to spend the time and know my father’s parents very well. Unlike most of my cousins I have a sense of being decipled by them and referencing my identity and the culture of all the off spring back to their identity and culture.I cloned their expressions, manners, inflections and appearance. I also got to visit with their offspring and their clans for the first twenty years of my life and therefore knew the details of each clan. I could liken their diverse beliefs and differences between our family’s clans to a country like Iraq, Lebanon, Yugoslavia, etc. who seek to surrender there individual differences to a single identity. It was a metaphoric process where the family had its own identity at the highest level, which consisted of sub identities at the clan level. We were a family under God spiritually and in the flesh under nations and parents; and, their parent's ancestors and heirs. We had one vocabulary; one history; one covenant and one Bible.

This experience was the foundation of all the links I made to all other ethnic, national, linguistic cultures throughout the world. I could relate to any family by the memory and lessons from my family. I could see my uncles, aunts and cousins in the Saudis, Lebanese, Syrians, Greeks, Puerto Rican, Spanish, French, German, etc. I could hear my Grandmother's music and see her dance in every nation's folk dance and music. The strange became familiar. My family was my metaphor for everything that would follow. They were the people who were there for you when every one else departed. They were the ideas of what was valuable and precious and for whom every was measured. They are the profit from all our toils and efforts and the amorphic context with which we gauge our identity and location in the cosmos and the measure of our physical vessel. In a family is where you learn consequences, values and behavioral patterns. Members criticize, encourage, judge, gossip, accept and reject. Families have characteristic appearances, behavioral patterns and traditions.

In my family I learned that there were consequences for the behavior or misbehavior of my self, parents or relatives. My parents would inevitably review the activities of their brothers and sisters. My father gave me a detailed account of each aunt, uncle and cousin. My mother’s account was less tedious because her family was smaller and when either loved and enjoyed their company; or, ignored and would not discuss them. There were consequences to our actions with each clan. My mother would report that she had heard gossip from others about any visit or event we had with one from another. Often complaints and judgments were not overt and direct but reported to one as gossip and then passed back to my mother. My father was reticent about any of these kinds of conversations and I would not hear form him about this. Such complaints had to do with my misbehavior and my mother’s notorious passion for cleaning her house.

There was a definite love that my mother had for her sister Clara that rebounded back to my brother and me from that family. She also was very close to Sylvia and Julie. Values mean what is important. No doubt our family valued their homes but less to the extent of its location and status. Its furniture and furnishings, maintenance and order were greatly noticed and discussed. The depression, unemployment, lack of education, and street savvy was our family’s common denominators so no one was able to show off. However, there were still those who managed to find themes to vent their pride and snob one another. The manner of speaking either talking too much or abut others, overly caring about one’s new acquisitions, touting the accomplishments of one’s children and slandering others for there idiosyncrasies of which each family has many. My Uncle jack laughed to loud and harshly, Uncle Irving search your house when visiting, Aunt Pauline was a recluse, to some all my father's brothers seemed vulgar and not to be trusted, and one of my aunts was too good for every one else, etc.

The cultural aspects of our family were embodied in the distinctive look of all my father's family's children and their siblings. I was thought to be a look-a-like for my father. I was called "little Joe". The behavior of my Father's clan was all predicated on their jovial life growing up amongst friendly blacks in Harlem. This culture of Jazz, Zoot suits, cursing, vulgarities, sexual innuendos, etc. plagued all of them. It was the only thing all their European wife’s could agree. After a while it drove them apart hoping that by disassociation they could eck out some unique improvements for them and their clan. But while it lasted it was a cultural ideal focusing on my Grandparents dining table and weddings for the first ten years of my life. The culture oozed and manifest in dance, songs and language. There was expressions and words used only in the presence of each other. The love and passion between my father’s families was thematic, powerful and exciting.

My mother’s side was much more restrained and clouded by her sisters and sister-in-laws sympathy for my Mother’s plight with her unfaithful husband. My Mother was not an inherently good cook and learned from her sisters. She read the “Redbook” and prepared recipes she’d learned. Indeed, we were a distinctive family with peculiar characteristics. One the tests all of my Grandmother's daughter-in-laws had to pass was the cooking red rice. Fortunately, my Mom got an "A".

Our characteristics were not always compatible with others and as a consequence when involved with others we tended to keep our mouth shut to surprises of family nuances. Nuances which included many nonsense expressions, prejudicial opinions, and silly expressions. Since cursing was absolutely forbidden we were never criticized for our bad language. Our differences included celebrating Christmas; working mother; father living with another women; being richer than many; me working; my tenacity; our mixed friends; our huge family; many automobiles; and finally my dating a wide variety of foreign nationals and finally marrying a German citizen.

My mother would say:” you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your relatives” It was a fatalistic view of the inevitable reality of whom and what we were. Friends, she would say would not be there when the going gets tough, but you can count on family. The years of evil and dark realities wore away my dear Mother’s perspective. Finally, she was alone while I was traveling to so many places and died while I was in Saudi Arabia. Which is, I guess, the final lesson of family; the one that is with me these days, family needs work and commitment. It is not automatic nor to be taken for granted. Family is precious and full of change and crisis requiring a mature and hearty spirit. I have always savored the spirit and blessing of my family’s peculiarities and wished for a kinder world, which would accept my family with their peculiarities and specialness. My mother was very open and culturally neutral. My Dad’s business required him to be receptive to a variety of types. But our family had its own peculiarities and culture.

Evidence; I look and hear myself

When I am with members of my family and I look and hear them. My mind tells me we, they and myself, are of the same flesh, religion, culture, context, genes ancestry, etc. So, when I perceive their facial expressions, speech, demeanor, attitude, passions, intuitions, reactions, etc. I see my own values, attitudes and style. It is not a mirror nor is it a twin or a clone; it is rather a fulfillment of an imaginary sense of the other person’s likeness and potential genetic similarity to make the connection seem likely. Every thing that is the best and worst incarnates in those conversations and interactions. Longings to be accepted for being one’s natural self are fulfilled. We two are a like and match. We have many similarities and significant differences. But there are important natural similarities. Some of the similarities may be favorable,others dissonant and one’s worth overcoming and burying. But they exist in a unique reality distinct from other realities I have experienced in the real world. I can see distinctions about them, as I must appear to them and to others. I see my unique characteristics and because of what I see I come to better know who and what I am. It is a revaluing and intimate experience.

Family as metaphor/Origin

The family metaphor provides the identity of my origin, because the metaphor contains the origin. It is not the origin but contains the remnants, characteristics and information about the origin. By metaphor it is the link to the origin without being the origin. It prevails over time and space, but links me to a past and potential future containing the seeds and essence of the genetic, generic and DNA birth. It is a valid worldly model..

The metaphor tests and confirms physical, psychological, inherited and environmental effects of the same blood, similar environment, common parents, grandparents, and ancestors while environmental contexts tells us something about ourselves and reflects our persona. Family gives us clues to our own genetic, blood and behavior code.

It is a metaphor about which we are innately curious; seduced to assimilate and know the metaphor in a way we cannot know other metaphors. It defines the way we will know other metaphors because it so primary an experience. It by this experience, the experience of knowing our family that we authenticate our experience of not only who we are by our first name but what we are; so, that we can become who we are by overwhelming our short comings and developing our strengths with both new and learned behaviors and spiritual rebirth.

Family; culture; relationship seeking nature. Cataclysmic change

Vincent Scully, one of my former Yale professors, once described the American cultural distinctive, regarding its treatment of artistic movements, neighborhoods, landmarks and institutions as “cataclysmic”; by which he meant a violent upheaval that causes great destruction that brings about a fundamental change. In any case it is this which triggers anomie and alienation and the end for most of the displaced persons of this world.

I liken his descriptive label to the way my father and mother shrugged off their cultural heritage for that of the context in which they were raised. My father, adopting Harlem, and my mother the Brooklyn Navy Yard neighborhood. While Christina adopted America as her home of preference she never lost her love and view of all things through a German perspective.

In a like manner I did the same by changing my given name and my prenatally given cultural identity. I did the same as my parents insofar as they took on their environmental context, but kept some of their family cultural vocabulary and trimmings. The distinctive characteristic they wore on their sleeve was not Rhodes or Austria but the USA. Their personality was American.

Christina is remarkably different. Christina carries her Germanic language and culture. However, she too has adapted to America's normative with joy. However, convenient and functional, she still maintains her German national identity. She is in every way a European. In this way, she and I have a great deal in common. It is the basis of my love of radio and music. It is that neither of us really believed our parents did not love us very deeply nor we had to do something to relate. In my case I learned my Fathers and Mwereother s love of music, special words and dress. In reflection I believe that I memorized the music and words in order to win favor and contact with them. Later, I just extended this modus-operendi to others. It became a relationship tool, a way to meet and converse.

Christina believes that for whatever reason, European composers, writers, actors and movie producers were so prolific in my childhood that they shaped my personality. It was to them I escaped, learned and found advantage and benefit. When I visit, recall and perceive metaphors about my origin I see past the metaphor and link to what the metaphor recalls. Photographs, smells, sounds, words, persons, and references bring the origin to the present and the present to the origin. My identity, which was isolated and connected spatially, is grounded and linked to its mortal and physical beginnings. Likewise, too when I recall my spiritual origin my physical context vanishes and is replaced with an unseen and real holy context. A context made real by the bible’s words to my mind reasoning the reality of my spiritual being.

However there was a rift between my Father's family and the others. My mother would discuss this between Rose, Helen, Silvia and even Pauline. They complained that Dad's family was rude, laughed too much, and were uneducated, frequented night clubs and flaunted their raucous living. I believe they were “spooked” by the authenticity of my Grandparent's language, illiteracy, cuisine, nationality, culture, dress code, national peculiarities and friends. It was very intimidating to people trying to be American and fit in with Americas emerging cardboard modernism. Later I was to see this between westerners who married Arabs, Persians, Koreans, Japanese, Chinese,etc. . Their metaphors were inherently incompatible and as they tolerated and made due so does Christina with me via her European German culture to my different ways.

Family as metaphor: Where?

In the case of my father's family and the many others that married their children these metaphors had to be resolved. As any metaphor the family metaphor exists outside our selves as an objective reality witnessed and known by others as both an idea and reality. They hear the name and associate it with others having the same name. If unique, they presume there is a family and others sharing the name and family body. The family name conjures a tribal body of persons great in number and having a history, legacy and context in the world. However, in the case of the family, we are ourselves part of the idea as well as the reality.

What the family is and represents is both separate and independent of its members while at the same time dependent and shaped by each of the personas of the family. Both sides of all the families constantly struggled to understand their own feelings and relationship to their common American culture. It is in this dual consciousness that we enjoy, participate, perceive and contribute to the shape and form of the compound metaphor. We enjoy the whole while being one of its parts. In this way, our family is both a vision of what metaphors we may be, as known by others, as well as whom we could manifest as an aspect of our own identity. We are not all of the family but the part that is the family becomes apparent and prevails. My father's family were both individuals, couples with differences and included in each other's metaphors. It was a way to authenticate the metaphor of which we were. The very process of confronting the differences, and seeking commonalities made the strange familiar and kept the family idea alive. We were constantly comparing and jostling between our first and last name (as it were) in what niche describe as the dialectic process. By this we authenticate the metaphor of which we are. It is a constant state of tension and conflict. It is rarely symmetric where the individual only gains equipoise by affection, kindness and love. While the family metaphor is not who we are it is the context of what we are. It is the second battlefield of where our identity is fought out. It is where we are nurtured and fed vocabulary and antecedents that will measure all other realities.

Who? In myself I am not remarkable

The demise of the role and importance of the family was rooted in the mobility of the family and its replacement by institutions and large corporate employers. Affluence amongst the young and the increase of access to information from other sources than parents had made the parents seem redundant and obsolete. Only the few and fortunate cherish and benefit from loving parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, grandparents. The inevitable and last earthly connection we have is to our family. It is they with whom we share standards and values that compose our identity and with whom we can still share them in the face of anomie of times, ages, contexts, venues, governments, and threats. It is also the demise of family as a metaphor and family metaphors in our time. The Bronx family metaphor dominated the period with the Bronx metaphor on par with the family metaphor. Neighborhood and ethnic metaphors were a close second.

Conformity vs. Anarchy

Additional differences came about when family clans determined to prosper and succeed in post war America heard the call to conformity and repression and signed on to the programs well offered in education, clubs, neighborhoods and society. They relocated, got new jobs and sent their children to schools, which would train them, to conform and be trained to fit in to the new commercial and political society emerging. Some became politically active while others emerged themselves into the activities heretofore foreign to our family such as golf and tennis. They adapted to what ever would work to bring them to the pace where they and their children could succeed and develop. Others took a different path and like wise succeeded but in a different were. They became professors of Universities, teacher, school Principles, agency heads, Scholl district superintendents, architects, photographers, artists, etc. there neighborhoods, homes and friends with whom they associated were unique and different. There was always a condescending and polite not for one to the other whose choices and outcomes were in different worlds. It was not the money, but the ideals and ideologies which caused the rifts. They were all delightful and interesting. And, the rifts were not a separation from as much as an attachment by necessity to a way of thinking and living which, at the moment, seemed right and proper.

Bronx Social Handicap:

How I’ve been handicapped by alienation is well portrayed in the film Wild Strawberries made in 1957 which captured the thoughtful and compassionate side of Ingmar Bergman. Having become alienated from his family he was therefore denied his skills, life and legacy. Lost in Translation is another film which portrays how people relate when alienated by a common phenomenon. Alienated in the city led me to have relationships with both men and women likewise alienated. Alienation was all we had in common. I had such relationships with Eileen, Selma, and many in my travels and life abroad. Metaphoric thoughts were eclipsed by momentary feelings. Most of the relationships I had with women were fantasies where they imagined me to be someone whom I’m not and vice versa. Often it led to rude awakenings or mysterious endings. Alienated as child I would stare and daydream in class being somewhere else. Most of the schools alienated me by type casting and cliques in new neighborhoods in which I had no connections. My parents were not connected to the neighborhood and lent me no connections and trusts. It was rather hostile. My mother was somewhat hostile to family and most in the neighborhoods. I had no sense of familiarity and “inclusiveness”. I never sensed our rightness and belonging.

Worse than originating from the Bronx was enough of a handicap declaring ones origins was worse. It symbolized a lifestyle, people and class well below and outside of respectable society. It was an inferior identity to any other borough or place in the United states and carried with every story of unsocial behavior norms and ideals. Could any good come out of Nazareth they asked about Jesus?; was the same about the Bronx and its citizens.

Societal Ignorance

Aside from the abuse, the lack of information limited my options and chances. My parents had an evolutionary view of their own and the life of there children. What ever I discovered or came to do was uncovered and discovered circumstantially and accidentally. I cannot blame my parents because neither of them was educated nor appreciated the value of education. My father simply wanted to give me all the things he never had and my mother wanted to discipline me. The bills were always paid and we were never poor. I never had the fear of abject poverty and what comes with poverty, yet I knew frugality and living with bare necessities. The bills were always paid and I never can recall any arguments about the lack of money. My mother just nagged about saving for the future and not spending anything on recreation, etc. My father totally disagreed.

She knew that I needed more than she did and her husband could give but was very nonchalant about education. My father could only witness what a few of his brothers were doing with their children but he was not so inclined. This lack of motivation and vision was at the heart of the limited information and scope of the possibilities open and available to me.

At school there were few discussions, which I understood or related; most of my fellow students in high school, I later learned were very career and education oriented. I was too concerned with overcoming my handicaps, parents relationship and a low self esteem that education and career was not an important part of my life. I recall meeting with the high school guidance counselor who tried matching my lack of scholarship and interest with real life careers and opportunities. Since I was employed by a decorating store she recommended I pursue interior decorating. She then solicited the assistance of Dr. Kurzband who helped me put a portfolio together to apply for NYSofID. What more could have been done I do not know. I do know I had a natural love of music; I later turned out to have an aptitude for medicine. I remember not even knowing what interior decorators and designers do. I did not know what it meant to design. I did not know the difference between and architect or engineer. I did not know what either and architect or engineer actually did. My cousin was studying to become a lawyer and was a scholar. But, I could have been exposed to lawyers and perhaps I too could have chosen law. I even taught quasi law as part of professional practice courses. But I had not idea, nor did any one explain the law or its profession to me.

I was terrible at math and arithmetic so I could not do anything involving math; so I am grateful the profession of accounting was never offered. It was not just the information but the interest and enthusiasm of my parents and their friends about any profession or career. It was just chauffeuring, hanging drapes, sewing, etc. mostly labor related. Even construction trades were not offered nor did I know any one who could guide me. I was limited by the information that I had and the information I did not have. Had I more information and adults to walk me through I believe things would have been somewhat different? It is neither with regret nor with malice but I do know that information played a part in the decisions I made and the opportunities I grasped. Had we been able to earn more I could have drawn more drawings, played in bands, sang, acted and done more in the arts. Because I could not I therefore had to earn an income so I let my self be employed by others to work at jobs utilizing architectural, management and business skills.

In brief I believed that a person could not only be any thing he wanted but also could be that thing at the highest standard in our society because the society would reward accomplishment in skill, knowledge and accomplishment by placing such a person above the rest or at the very least accepting such persons into the highest realms of society. I often voiced this with employers, teachers, friends and family. They all thought that these things were preposterous. I felt alienated from them. They had a vision of a reality which I did not share. They were supposedly grown up and mature while I was merely unrealistic and impractical and a childish dreamer, I also saw the world on a global scale believing that what ever I could learn and do I could carry out anywhere on the planet and if something I was doing did not bring success in one place it would in another. I had all the makings of a globalized affluent brat!

The more I think about postwar America in this period, the less I am convinced that the clash between conformity and rebellion understood as culturally distinct attitudes is sufficient to explain its peculiarities."Conformity" shouldn't be a dirty word—it's just "belonging”, They're people who want to belong. Yes, all of us, all of America, conformist, beatnik, etc. were suffering from alienation, anomie and change where European writers who were "specialists in alienation and virtuosos of moral anguish.

The comedy, drama, and theater of the time tried to explain the rifts and tears and help us through the choices. It was biblical! Righteousness and being amongst the “right “ and “Its” of our society seemed to make us choose sides and compete when in fact that was all a diversion from the life we were living despite our circumstances. This period looks very different if we take "belonging" and not "conforming" as the imperative. "Alienation," such a hip word among critics of the 1950s and 1960s. The Bronx seemed to be the center of alienation, co- dependence and angst. One only had to go on the streets to meet anyone and they would share there hostility, anger and depression.

It is why I could befriend and circulate because I knew we were all feeling the same need and missed the boat. Belonging is not the monopoly of ethnic minorities. It is the “rightness “that Paul explains in his epistles. I came to understand that all people in all walks of life whatever there status were overwhelmed by the same underlying need. The need to be a citizen of the “right” inner circle of security, common protection and shared values.

“It not what you know but who you know” is a colloquial that has dominated my relations in work, ministry and social life. It is biblical and helpful in achieving success and viability in most contexts. I could see it repeating itself in school, on the street, and at work. There was segregation, discrimination, and minority identification on Faile and Simpson streets.

Communications and other maladies (5,714 words)

I believe that many of the bullies and there beatings I received was because I’d say something in anger to “kids” I should not. The first really good lessons I received were from Mr. and Mrs. Silverman who taught me what to say to customers and workroom people. It worked and I was able to perform the duties of sales in the store. Later, Mr. Silverman taught me what to say when we visited customers about the problems and the remedies. My best teacher was Stanley Sommers who taught me exactly what to say from when I entered till I left the house. Keep in mind I visited on the average of about eight apartments daily, six days a week for about three years. At the beginning it was very rough but as time went on with Stanley’s and Herman’s patience I really became quite polished engaging customers and dealing with the worst problems in a polite, friendly and graceful manner. People asked for me, gave me huge tips and complemented Stanley on sending me to do the work.

Later my father gave me lessons in chauffeuring people to the mountains and Asbury Park. Eventually I learned and again the customers were so happy. I learned to care and keep my “cool” under stress and handle their questions and criticisms with grace and charm. You will notice the reticence of dialog running throughout this autobiography because most of the human contact did not include a great deal of dialog. My earliest metaphoric works was a miniature stage of silence of sets and lighting with two-dimensional figures going from side to side on the stage with out speaking only gesturing with one facial expression. I could speak to dysfunctional personality.

I rationalized all of life that God led me and directed me with my handicapped to where he wanted me to be. It is all part of my persona and contributes to my peculiarity and significant difference, it has contributed to the changes and readjustments as well as the way in which we returned and departed contexts. It has kept us apart from many and involved with some. I also, realized that for my family I had become an irritant too caustic to be tolerated and better known at a distance. I believed that this was eventually true for both my parents and brother. It was probable true for many of my aunts and uncles and most of my cousins. It wasn’t my humor; it was my reactions to their comments and concerns. I always knew they loved me in there own way but found my beliefs and manner of expressing myself foreign and difficult.


My knowledge differs from others because of the different combination my teachers, experiences and interest. Furthermore, I did not accept things as they were and I had trouble adjusting to the status quo. By my trying to find a way to adjust I discovered things that others missed. My piers were in the same place but experiencing things differently. This was true in the South Bronx as it was in Brooklyn or New Haven. It was certainly true in Saudi Arabia.

My curiosity differed from others. I was also motivated differently than others to learn things at different times and about different things than others. For example in Saudi Arabia and India I really did not care much about the culture and historical artifacts. I cared about winning souls, trade and commerce.

Unlike others I was brave and had the courage to learn and experience the unknown. I could not learn things what others found interesting and was left with what others avoided. The crumbs and leftovers of mainstream interest struck my curiosity. Why wasn’t any one interested in this or that? I have always found my self delving and exploring unpopular themes. I just couldn’t imagine that my questions hadn’t already been asked and already answered. Why did I first have to be the one to open the subject and expose the truth. Where were the others and those that came before me? Man of my contemporaries found me daft. Being of low esteem and a vague and ubiquitous identity it was easy for me to engage those bigoted persons who bust with pride and intolerance at there own, family and tribal identity.

I was inherently inquisitive. All the signs of an intellect, prophet, teacher and scholar. I am not saying I had more or less intelligence than the next, nor that I was superior in any way; as a matter of fact I have never believed, thought or nearly imagined my self to be above or superior to any one’s class; nor above reproach. I Have early in life learned the difference between discussion, debate, argument or encircling, rebuking, rejecting and shutting off communications with an adversary and one who is totally and completely wrong; one whose primary beliefs are evil, destructive, anarchical, irresponsible, capricious and maliciously harmful.

God equipped me to have the capacity to care and prey for the souls of others so that when I see someone or I am asked to preach I ask God what is needed by these people or by the one person.

I was free to choose my subjects and learned early that freedom is real and not something imagined. Free from the fear and obedience to sin, Satan and evil. Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” My vague, complex and contradictory identity became an asset at a very early age both exacerbating my piers as well as engaging there occasional acceptance into there bigoted world. . It too was ambient in the Bronx Stardust and something I had to reckon with regularly. The numbers of persons and ideas that ruled and reigned in my life over time and beyond have been innumerable. They are, in fact timeless, and many not even in this time, but long dead. They are the many intellects, prophets, writers, playwrights, artists, and thinkers that have left remnants of there life to impact my life.

However on a more personal and intimate note relative to those who lived amongst us during my life time I wish to acknowledge the following for their significant contribution to the building of the metaphor of my life: These are some of the people God provided to enable and encourage me in His will. These are the special people who affected my life and made a significant difference. They were unique and made my life special. Many other these persons shared there intolerance and prejudice while others silently discriminated by not openly joining us in out of context activities.


Truth and Hypocrisy

It was somewhere during this “stardust ” period that I wanted the truth. I wanted the truth and wanted to know the truth about someone and they should know the truth about me. Hide nothing and keep nothing back. It was only with a few that this was possible and particularly before sin entered into my life or before I was aware that I was sinning. It seemed that sin prevented such total candor . However, before this I was able to be open with several and they were my friends. Friends for a life time. It is hypocrisy that changed this attitude and my relations with most people.

In My Parents Home

What did I do ? Sociological Handicap (4,683 words)

How I dealt with my shortcomings and My parents Role in Shaping my persona

I carried boxes, bolts of fabric, curtain rods and cornices and drilled up into ceilings for several years which caused me to have painful bercitus in both of my shoulders. I carried these things in ice and snow and some times for several New York City blocks. To tell the story of the Bronx without examples of the affects of the context would be two dimensional. Like many other communities of the time the Bronx had its share of dysfunctionals and grief. It is a grief normalized in the twenty first century but in the mid twentieth century infidelity was unacceptable and male chauvinism was very acceptable. Our context, family and especially allegiance must be focused and not divided. My family had to become those that shared what God was dispensing. I urged my family to join me on this journey, but they refused. I missed them and longed for them to come with me. I’d write, when I did not see them and cajole when we were together. However my father later converted, I always suspected that my mother did as well.

Math12: 30 He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

So I too believed I must be consequent and clear with “them”. People in my context considered me Pollyanna, impractical and out of touch as I was going through the eye of the needle. I was the epitome of stardust and its affects. I considered them irrelevant, uncommitted, drifting, victims of flesh, world, and circumstance. I was preparing to be a knight. I needed a King and a Kingdom. Recently Barbara-Anne, the Klee’s daughter, asked my advice to encourage her son in his commitment to anything, including his studies and life itself. I suggested she not press in on him for any one thing except to support him to become a “knight”. If he does, he will some how find his King and kingdom. In this way I am very grateful to God for leading me so that I could become a Knight and find Him my King.

Perhaps they were caught up in the moment of an American fantasy, ideal and dream. I surely did not seem to last very long. I can not recollect bright moments. Only flashes of being together, but no affection, and happy lives. Some time in the early years, there are some recollections of laughter. These were the years before my brother Saul was born, while we lived on Hoe and the early days of Home. I was less than four years old; I hardly remember, but it was very mixed. I clearly remember arguments and harsh words as I lie in bed in the living room on Home Street. Then very early-on some thing went wrong.

My mother was about fifteen years my father’s senior, from a Europeans/German work-ethic culture while my father a Mediterranean and romantic culture. Both were distracted away from raising me by a both a failing economy and no business between them to earn. It was a dysfunctional family where there was neither intention, motivation, discipline nor will to behave. What they did was stay together hating, fighting, and avoiding each other.

My Father would escape my Mother's rants. My mother would take out her hostilities on the “weakest link”, me. Otherwise she was loving and caring. One could not have a Mother who was always there; cooking, cleaning, shopping, and taking me to doctors, school, beach, park, etc.Her European work ethic and strong sense of duty and learned obedience made her the best caretaker that a child could ever have. The house was immaculate; I was totally clean, over dressed, and fed the most nutritious foods that God produced. She changed the sheets and towels daily. Our cloths were washed and cleaned; we never wore dirty and/or unwashed cloths. Her reaction to anomic stress was to hold on to the status quo of the concept and fact of her marriage and work as hard as she could to create the form if not the substance of a marriage. She did! At what a cost to her life’s happiness and well being. She gave her life for her children.Her sense of responsibility overwhelmed her to the point of nagging and venting her frustrations. She was trying to do the right thing and for that I loved and worshiped her.

She loved us and let us knows that she loved us by telling us that she loved us and making sure our underwear was washed and ironed, fresh sheets and towels nearly daily, and all the cloths we wore were in perfect condition. When I was old enough and before I met Christina my mother was my best friend. She was intelligent and quick; we liked the same things; Chinese food, classical music, radio programs, etc. She was such fun, but not in these early years! Yet, there must have been a closeness and warm relationship between us because I can only recall a kind and loving presence, I can recall being nurtured and cared and surely I was dressed, weened and bathed. My mother was there attentive and caring.

In my mother’s anomie, my father was immature, irresponsible, innocent, and "other"-directed. I assume she based her values on the standards and values of her parents and the norms of the day. It was an unwholesome combination which left us all separated and relieved to be separated. My father was the most loving, kind and gentleman I have ever known. Very diplomatic and wanted the best for his children. My brother seemed to know that he was amongst the wrong combination and soon found a way out in his early marriage to Francine.

My father and mother told me the story of how they met and his proposal of marriage: “two can live as cheaply as one”She was living in the Brooklyn shipyard district of Brooklyn, adjacent to Bedford Stuyvesant where Pratt institute was located (in the building of an abandoned shoe factory); and, my father lived in Harlem. They met and dated in a very popular dance hall called the “Palladium” (near Roseland and Birdland).At twelve I learned at school that I needed to prepare myself. My parents were temporary; so I started to prepare myself.

I needed discipline and I thought my parents did not realize this; I believed they only knew I misbehaved. My mother said I talked too much; I did. I asked too many questions, I did. I delved. I did. She predicted this would give me the most trouble in my life.After I stopped smoking in 1977 (at age forty) and would enter a restaurant before smoking was banned in restaurants and the Maitre’d would ask:” do you smoke?” (implying, would you like to sit in the smoking or non-smoking section of the restaurant) to which I would answer:” I only smoke when I’m on fire.” I know, neither did anyone else laugh; however, I always thought it was very funny.

I started smoking in 1951 (at age fourteen) the first year I started attending high school when I me Leon Goldstein on the bus commuting from our apartment on Simpson Street. He taught me how to smoke sitting on the black iron rail at the bus stop at Pelham Parkway at our destination before walking to school. After a long while of choking, coughing, etc I learned. Then I began what was years of taking a few cigarettes form my Mothers red pack of Pall Mall until I graduated and with the money I earned could buy my own. As much as I smoked I never exceeded one pack per day. When my Mother found out that I smoked I urged her not to tell my Dad because I did not want to grow up. To me smoking was growing up and I enjoyed being my Father’s son. I thought that would all end once he knew I smoked. After a while I would do the usual smoke after every meal, while driving, after sex and especially with coffee. My mother never missed the few cigarettes I took and in this way I felt my mother and I bonded in a way I can never explain. We shared and she did keep a secret. In after smoking regularly for several years Stanley Sommers bet me on one New Years Eve that I could not stop smoking and that who ever of us started first would pay the other one hundred dollars. I won and Stanley paid me one hundred dollars.

I am cosmopolitan and not rural or suburban. I don’t have any interest in baseball, football, soccer or popular rock stars, political candidates, fishing, etc. Man can say that I’m not from around here. Even as a child we moved often.. I am overly traveled and am articulate, glib and conversant. I delve and invade subjects or withdraw and keep silent concerned that I may overwhelm and offend.

Medical Experiences:

The earliest experiences I had with doctors and dentists were with a doctor in the Bronx who did make house calls. I also visited his office and he was very nice. He prescribed that I take "all B plus C" which I still take to this day. My family dentist was Dr. Golumba whose office was on Fox Street but he lived on the Grand Concourse. He was a charming man with a nurse on the ground floor of the corner building on fox at East 163 street. He kept the radio on and explained such important things to me as the real meaning of the “F” word going back to the Greeks “facio” to make, at least so he said. He always had lovely stories and cared for our family as thought it was his own. We had an eye doctor Mr. Flowerman who was tall with a mustache just like my dad. His office was on 163 Street near the corner drug store with the gigantic scale where you could weigh yourself for a penny and get a paper ticket with your weight written on it. The store had a special smell, which also lingers with me till this day.

Dr. Flowerman told me that I would always need glasses and that I should not try to see with out them that it would hurt my eyes. And I believed and follow his advice until today. All of these doctors where our family doctors before 1952 when we lived on Fox, Home, Faile and Simpson Streets. My Dad had a variety of chiropractors that I got to know more than I’d like along with information about my father’s dislocated discs on the third vertebra and back pain. My mother had a bad gum disease and Dr. Golumba had to finally extract all her teeth and fit her with false teeth. The cost was astronomical. All of us except Saul wore glasses. These were our family doctors but slowly I was introduced to others such as the dentist whose office I decimated. One morning I was brought to his office and sat in the waiting room. A little boy my age came out of his office crying and bleeding and I headed for the door. My mother pulled me back and the nurse and my mother dragged me in and they strapped me down to the chair. I did not stop yelling and screaming and insisting I did not want to be in this place. They began to strap my arms and legs when I began kicking and thrashing that I smashed his light, glass with all his instruments and with Herculean strength know only to wild jungle animals pushed them all aside, open the door, charged through the waiting room, then the office to the street and ran for blocks vowing to never step foot in any dentist office ever again!

When I broke my legs and needed casts it was our Bronx family doctor and the Lincoln hospital that did the work. Later I had an operation to correct my deviated septum by another nose surgeon and had to stay overnight in a hospital. My mother did visit me. I did well. When I had my automobile accident my lawyer sent me to a compensation doctor who examined and documented my neck whiplash injury. Aside for school nurses whom I saw regularly to get excused form every public school I ever attended those were my regular doctors. Of course in public school we regularly got our inoculations for small pox and chicken pox regularly. It seems they were always shooting something into our arms.. Later after relocating back to New York we continued seeing Dr. Pellicane and found some great dentist who lo and behold used gas to anesthetize patients making going to the dentist a very fine experience. I had all my teeth filled and few pulled with some of the dentist including one on Fifth ave. on an n upper floor high-rise who pulled one of my wisdom teeth. It was treated as major surgery where I was put to sleep by and anesthesiologist. I was well behaved.

Bronx Sickness and Dying

Sickness and dying in the Bronx is not distinctive, peculiar or special in the Bronx. However the names of hospitals, medical colleges and universities are still today important such as the, Lincoln Hospital, Montefiore Medical Center Henry Lucy Moses Division ;N Y City of: North Central Bronx Hospital ;US Veterans Hospital; North Central Bronx Hospital; Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center: Fulton Pavilion: Concourse Pavilion.; Jacobi Medical Center; Albert Einstein-Jack D Weiler Hospital-Division of Montefiore .However the period was different from today in that doctors made house calls; they were personal and caring.

I myself suffered sickness since a baby and somehow appreciated the possible potential of life ending and not being since a very young person. As a child I experienced my Mother’s parents both dying within a very short time of each other. My grandfather from complications due to diabetes. I did not know how my grandmother died. My mother kept this from me but she did take me to visit grandpa in the hospital and I recall sadly how I was kept with my aunt Clare of the outside of the building while my Grandpa waived his last farewell to me. I must have been less than four. Grandpa was sick for a long time with prostrate problems and my grandma would serve him his bedpan b y his bed so he could do his toilet without getting out of bed. I would sleep in the spare room and keep her company while she attended to Grandpa I his last days.

Of course my brother and I both would get sick with measles, tonsils and colds. I would take care of my brother, making sure he slept well and was covered. I was a good care giver. My Mother also got colds and sometime she would stay in bed and I’d cook and bring her food, coffee, tea, etc. What was different from today was the access every one had to all of these hospitals. Furthermore doctors always came to the house. It was a time of the most personalized family medical treatment.

My father was constantly in pain, and often hunched over. He had slipped his lumbar discs which became weaker as he aged. Either chiropractors were in the house or we visited them. I learned how to massage and help him and use the ligament oils. My mother had a miscarriage and it was I who was there when it occurred. I ran to the neighbors as she screamed for help and insisted I take action. I even went to Evelyn Mednick who immediately came and cared for Mom. I even recall my brother’s birth at the Lincoln Hospital when I watched as her sister and sister-in- laws visited to care for her.

I recall my very sickly Aunt Bertha and visiting her so often and then the last visit before she died. My dear Grandmother died slowly in a home because she had fallen and broke her hip. I went and sat with her as often as I could. I was there with her just before she finally died. She was gaunt and quit. I took a picture to keep. Few came and visited.

Torn apart

Before we can build and rebuild we must first face our families past malady, which has prevented it from reaching its powerhouse potential. Though each of its members has had the talent, resources and potential each coveted and limited its generosity and sharing. We are suffering from a family -wide anomi. The practical problem manifested by the men of my father's family Mediterranean and married European women. While all of these women were from different European countries and cultures they did all agree on that the values of Mediterranean culture was not compatible with the values from which they emerged. Additionally, many did not really appreciate the Harlem influence on the family’s persona. They discounted the importance of common standards and values and instead opted to choose the common themes of the day, which were advertised and played out in the current culture. Yet the anomie affected the family’s links and ties on its standards and values. They were discarded for a new construction.

Additionally, they were all from different cultures, which had the further effect of separating and dividing the family by incompatibilities between brother’s nuclear family units. The two effects resulted in separation of my father's family’s son’s and daughters relating to each other, consistently supporting, and encouraging one another. They were not in “one accord”. The result has been friendly but incompatible relations.

The Mediterranean character combined with the persona of Harlem made my father's clan difficult to tolerate as a group. Economics, jobs, employment and economic financial needs compounded an already difficult situation. In those days working women was not acceptable. In our family there were few exceptions such as Aunt Jenny, Rose, Shirley, and Mina. All the others had to survive and grow families on a single income or a single person working often holding more that one job.


The trust of family members in each other provides the encouragement and faith to face the enemy. The enemy which is without and not within. Such faith and trust lets the love of God bless and build the person and his heart to become the person god wants each of us to be. My father's family has been such a family and can be again such a family. This is the legacy of the history of our ancestors and there progeny.

Children as Legacy

As is the case of many poor families the only enduring legacy is the family’s progeny. In the case of my parents I believe this is the case. It also is the reason why such families tend to be irresponsible about their lives and what may follow. They invest themselves in the birth and sustenance of there children. They then protect and keep them from harm and evil. In the case of my parents my father was so preoccupied with his second family, his business, and finally his very ill health that he had little time to consider what he’d leave his children. I’d often consider this and conclude there was nothing, zip, and zero. They led me to believe that all they had was debt and unpaid loans. I never knew why his common law adopted son Jackie committed suicide except for his addiction to drugs.

The Bronx formed our physical, metaphoric, economic ,social ,spiritual, and tribal context. It was rooted in mortal, worldly, physical reality well covered by structures, programs, structures, systems, utilities and politics. Everything we did or said was Bronxish. We could be identified by the way we spoke, ate, behaved and by the thoughts and opinions we had. We were all Democrats, liberal and socially independent of any government handout programs. Our motto was “the was you make your bed is the way you will lie in it” and "God helps those who help them selves.” We would never think of volunteering for anything and expected that everything that was done was done for a “buck”.

My mother was terrified of being stranded in rural wilderness away from commodities and services, shops and vendors, urban transportation, trolleys, bus, and trains. Her contexts had to do with the needs and necessities of housing, feeding and maintaining the health of her two children. Her context had nothing to do with fashionable addresses, locations, nor the status of this or that building type, color, or style. My mother’s context, as was mine as a growing boy was prompted by what we heard on the radio, red in the news papers, or heard on 78 rpm records we played on the Victrola.

Yes there was a world out there, which was at quite some distance orbiting around us in which we were the center. But to say that my parents decided about one or another thing based on its context would be wrong. There were glimpses into context motivated decisions when we joined Shore Haven club, bought drapes and slip covers to decorate our living room. Or when I can just remember dressing my mother would buy us navy pinafores or knickers and high stocking outfits for school.

There are photos of my parents taken before they married in furs and hats; and i remember my mother dressing in crinolines, satin and high heels. The typical look of the forties and fifties. The depression left little time and energy to conjure but lots to remind about immediate needs and necessities. It was a long and sustained period.

Not only did God call me, he also prepared me for each next context by experience and suffering and bearing.

But, why change locations, contexts and jobs. Was it for the lack of discipline or ability to be steadfast and abiding? Was there a “wander lust” or just a wish to go into “harms way”? Was I seeking some reality, which I could not find? Did I enjoy adapting and learning?


The sociological analysis, pronouncements, and prophecy were plentiful and available. I was particularly fortunate to have studied with scholars who seemed acutely aware and articulate about the phenomenon, which was mushrooming before everyone’s eyes.

Most of my childhood was spent in a non-prescriptive context. My friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and family were subscribing but we did not. Later some of them rebelled and got off the prescription. The prescription included college, house in suburbs, 2 cars, children, credit, dope (unspoken), divorce (this became a norm later on).

I was born and raised before oil, TV, Technicolor, Rock and Roll, dope, mini-skirts, and computers. Yet, all of these would be the world in which I was to mature and develop.

My city’s streets had cobblestones, nightclubs, small corner grocery stores, and five and tens. Men and women wore hats and gloves. My mother dressed me in knickers and high socks. The trolleys clanged, screeched, and took their time. At night the streets were dark and so were the skies. You could see the Milky Way and falling stars. The streets of New York City were lined with low-lit lampposts and the sidewalks glittered with clear crushed aggregate containing quartzfelspathetic or fractured k-feldspar with mica content. I remember cars with mica windshields

Oil became the “big deal” of my life and changed my cities and my career. In Jackson in 1973 I was a victim of the OPEC oil embargo as all our customers from up north could not drive to Tennessee to see or buy our lots and houses. I listened to songs like Midnight in the Oasis and made pen and ink sketches of the Arabian Desert. I dreamed of dinosaurs and visualized how their carcasses changed to oil under the compression of earth. In Reston, I learned what the prices of a barrel of oil should cost form a company full of oilmen. In Houston, all any body talked about was the price of oil and its affect on War and Peace; and in Saudi, with oil the only factor in the economy, the price and quantity of oil sales directly affected my contract’s fee, benefits, etc.

The family, village and neighborhood manifests in compounds, developments, offices, companies, sports, entertainment, Brigadoon, plays, parties, movies, and theaters. You can see families and relationships and for the hour enjoys the visit to the past “family model” where you experienced acceptance, nurturing and encouragement.

What I have learned from my family and the context in which we were a well-knit family was the meaning of relationships and love for the urban city. In most all instances I can relate each to a venue, place, apartment, house, neighborhood where some drama played out. I also learned how precious and special they, there context and the times were for all of these things and events to happen. There was never any thing remarkably special about any of it except that I loved it all. That love was sewn into my love of cities, urbanity and communities.There are four children of my father's parents who died when they were very young. That makes a total of 15 Uncles and aunts.

Now, here is what really happened!

A bunch of strangers, over a period of time in random acts of greed, legitimate business and investment discovered, platted, deeded, marketed, sold and eventually planned, designed and built the utilities, support services and then the buildings. These were rented out to tenants of facilities and individuals. These buildings were bought and sold and other investors and other families occupied the buildings. Our family was one of those and I was one of those whose curiosity was peeked about the significance and meaning of the decisions that were made and the process that led to the context in which I found myself. It is all part the zeal and passion I had for all and every part of life that I could grasp.

In any case cities, boroughs, and neighborhoods were always mysterious and interesting subjects to wander and explore. I inspected and discovered every element of the environment and the social structures. I noted signs, pavement, rails, pipes, columns, materials, shapes, forms shadows, textures and the variation of aesthetics and styles. I learned fist hand the aesthetics of the street and the deference between the whole, integrated and cohesive context to the details and detached elements one may typically find repeated elsewhere. I experienced the insides and outsides and the way the tow jarred, blended, or were coordinated or vulgarly pasted together. These all were e the contexts in which I lived and could enter with freedom and tenacity. My friends, relative s and customers homes were my palate. Later my academic, abstract and metaphoric observations and conclusions are made from these simple beginnings. Later in Europe and Arabia I was able to extrapolate and expand these ideas to compare intentions, circumstances and systems by which contexts are formed.

Bronx Tribes and Families: Relationships: Family Identity: “You can’t go home.”

One of the most basic questions anyone asks is “who am I” and, “what am I doing here”? “Why was I born”? “What is my purpose?” and “Where am I headed”? We do not see ourselves but we sure do see, feel and totally sense others. We perceive and try to organize their physical, social, political, emotional and intellectual presence and influence; it is DNA, generic and hereditary. It is biological, anatomical and mental. I thank God that I had a family, and, one that provided some access and experience which helped me form some personality and character.

My family provided many answers but not all. I don’t think any ones family does that. But my family certainly provided an imaginary contextual representation of itself. As much as I tried to learn specifics of language, place, vocation, relationships, I was unable. In my early childhood my family was reluctant and reticent about their roots, antecedents and origins. As time went on, I needed more answers and interactions so as to develop and further my identity but there was nothing. My grandmother exuded her personality but only spoke Ladino so she could not answer my many questions and participates in the further development my identity. In my case, our family name never developed its identity to the point where I understood its origin and meaning.

In this regard the lack of identity to the name and the family that accompanied the name was further frustrated when all that I had become and achieved by graduating Pratt and working as a designer was not only marginalized, but also actually ignored by my family. I continued to have physical contact, but the family name, identity and relationships had deteriorated to the point where neither my family’s name, religion, possible location, nor customs contributed to the identity and explanations I needed to proceed with my life and career.

It seemed better to start from scratch with a new identity. A new identity that had no baggage and could easily be used to navigate uncharted waters that lie ahead. They made it clear they were not going to participate in this adventure. It seemed beneficial to keep my background and family relationships out of the picture and my family identity innocuous and unimportant, as, indeed, it had become. It was unfortunate but the reality of what my family had become. Thus saying, it was very important and more important because it was missing. So, while they provided lots of personality and physical identity they provided little else of the identity I sought with answers to the universal purposes and relationships needed.

On the other hand, my family members were the evidence of being and the testimony of my presence! They were the ones who can testify as witness of who you are out side of the name, trophies, possessions and titles I may bear. By knowing them and they knowing me, we say we exist, and, are who we say we are. In a world where we have drivers license, social security numbers, before, draft card number, credit cards titles to property and professional licenses it seems family would not serve that same purpose. In fact, it is because of these modern means of identity that we need family identity to remind us of our first and early stages of our identity. Answers to our questions, that our flesh and blood (not only societies systems provided) answered. Who we are and where we are going.

It is the family that remembers and provides value to life. They judge and build esteem. Society is an extension of our identity and but it is not specific. It has been a convenient identity and context. It has given me answers, which my family could not. I have been able, through non flesh and blood, blood, blood, blood, blood, blood, blood, and blood relationships, to build identity and understand the wider issues of my presence and purpose.These days when I rejoin the remnants of my family I do so with a societal identity returning to the origin and the roots of the physical.

Blood is thicker than water.

I am the being, which God made, He placed me into my family, and after that I made choices. It honors God when we honor God’s choice and we learn His will when we understand our family and its challenges and opportunities I learned that family relationship structures are not only made of blood and contracts of marriage but of institutions, commerce and government. Both my parents were adept in there use of the city. Like most marriages they were fulfilling a kind of urban fantasy. Brooklyn and Bronx merged in Manhattan to form urban family ideal. This ideal contained economy, housing and a portrait life-style. Each dressed in urban uniforms, assuming there urban dinettes. All was sell until their emotions and misbehaviors led them out of the law and normative molds. Their misbehaviors were unrelated to there fantasy. They were unprepared by urban models to work their problems. At the time, there were no movies, songs, radio programs that provided any scenarios or roles to solve their problems. It is in this perspective that can discuss my immediate and overall family relationships.

My father’s proposal to my mother was for them to marry in 1936, the early years of the recovery of the great depression, so that instead of paying two rents they would pay one. They had nothing in common, their backgrounds were totally different and my mother was over ten years my father’s senior. Hence, they lived out the years of their marriage together for the sake of the children, a loveless and unhappy marriage. This to the disdain of the both sides of the family who found my father’s lack of fidelity to my mother and her stubbornness to not grant him a divorce totally unacceptable and to be avoided. Hence, both sides of the family found it difficult to associate with the other and rifts in communication and associations developed.They were both Taurus sign born in May and both were second generation immigrants. They were both innately hard workers and loyal. Both from large families and both families oriented. Neither of them really understood their culture. My father and his family would speak Spanish in a funny way and my mother German in a funny way. They both agreed that English and America were there language and country with little regard for the ancestral past.They had so much in common and yet they could not make their marriage work.

The leader of the whole family, my grandparents were very much in love and cared very well for each other and on many occasions i would stay with my grandma . They were able to lead their 9 sons and two daughters very well, but they could not control the vast differences of the spouses between each other. Many of the other sons and daughters on either wide were mostly marries either before or after the brunt of the depression; and those few married in the midst of the depression certainly made no pact as my The family something bigger than my parents and me. It was large in scope and scale. There was always someone.

Chapter 3 Family Members

All of the sons of my father's parents married Europeans whose disdain of the Mediterraneans led them to divide and separate from the family; and, their nationalities of Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, German, Austrian, etc. led them to dislike one another. Sam Grazian was Cuban and Victor Abolofia was Turkish Their USA context, as best as I can patch it together is that they lived in Harlem in a very large apartment where they raise 12 children and then relocated to a smaller apartment in Brooklyn where they had a small restaurant, greasy spoon breakfast place. I was born in the Brooklyn Hospital and my aunt Molly recalls Leo living in Brooklyn when they met. Finally, after all but two of the boys were out of the house they relocated to a house on the Bronx River for a very short while and then to Simpson Street. Here is where the two remaining boys, Julie and Murray resided before going to war. I attended both their weddings.

Dad's parents were married and had several children in Rhodes in the Mediterranean before immigrating to the USA in about 1900+-. I can only assume they were born in Rhodes between 1980 and 1985 and after several miscarriages and poverty they left to the USA. Though I now have no specific evidence I can only surmise that they could have come from a specific section near the north east cruise ship pier of Rhodes (isle of roses). Keep in mind that while there was no major upheaval impacting the Mediterranean at that time from 1523 to 1912 under the Ottoman Empire (Turks) Rhodes was a place of exile where count of sultans would send principles, sovereign defected, Uzi in misfortune and untrustworthy pascia. The island was influenced by France but ruled by the Turks. I t was predominantly Muslim (probable Shiites as in Persia) with a great many Christian and some Greeks. The Arabs had conquered Rhodes in the 7 th century and even Paul had visited Rhodes in 57 ad. In Persian hands 340 BC, then the Greek under Alexander the great in 322bc.after 395 ad it was under Byzantine supervision after they had left 1n 1912 the Italians invaded Rhodes.

During the medieval times there were sovereign knights of Rhodes .it was the place where a sculptor built 160 tall representation the Greek God Helios, the patron god of Rhodes in from 304 to 288bc and after 50 years destroyed by an earthquake. It was standing long enough to be become one of the great wonders of the world and the model for the famed statue of liberty.

It is no wonder then why my grandfather, then a baggage and cargo carrier living and working at the port would get the idea to take what little they could save and escape the isolation and dim hope for the future they would have in a Muslim and Turkish dominated colony. Grandma described to me their home in Rhodes as a room with a wall to wall bench, on which they sat and slept. A window and a door. It had shelves and cooking was done on a counter to kerosene burner. The toilet was out side. She would describe all of this so many times when I would visit her alone and we would sit by the front window of their apartment on the ground floor of 1012 Simpson Street; apartment 1a, the first apartment after you came into the building. We’d sit on wooden armed chairs separated by a wooden card table. She loved to play cards with me, especially gin rummy. We’d play for hours. The hand wound Victrola stood by and each day we’d put on a record and she’d dance to what sounded like Greek/Egyptian/Lebanese/ Syrian music. Of course she would first dance then I’d join in and so it would go till it was time to rest and then make dinner.

Dinner always included red rice, spinach, and boiled meat or chicken. My grandma was the best cook in the whole world. There was absolutely no other who could even come close. So many of the daughter-in-laws tried but failed. Some grand-ma-would privately tutor as part of their pre-nuptial vows. It was awesome! And I was privileged to be the queen’s favorite. I was always with her. Being with grandma was all I wanted. All the time, any time. We go shopping together, visit her friend Mrs. Palumbo in the park. Granpa always wore a suit even when working in his shoe shine parlor build as a hut on the empty lot against the wall of a building on Simpson Street and 163 street. He would often take me to worship clinging to my tiny hand with grate big strong hand. His hand was made so strong from the daily labor of making shoes, blocking hats and shinning shoes for the past thirty years he and grandma were in the USA. While he was an elder of the temple he did not speak any language. He did not speak Spanish, Turkish or Greek. The closest language where there was some communication was Spanish and hence the comfort factor of living in a semi Spanish neighborhood.

At Uncle Leo’s funeral I learned from the announcement and Aunt Mollie that Uncle Leo was born and raised on Havermeyer Street in Brooklyn in 1913. El Puente Havermeyer Street is in the Williamsberg section of Brooklyn in the area of Greenmarket and Broadway having the church of the Annunciation. I surmise that as did my mother’s parents this was there second stop after immigrating to Ellis and then lower Manhattan where they were assigned to the nearest place over the east river to near by Brooklyn to find housing and a job. The ramp of the Williamsburg Bridge passes over Havermeyer Street. I further surmise that as they got settled they finally find a better job and housing and moved to Harlem.

Before moving to Simpson Street they had lived in Harlem on 101 street and Lenox and then in a house for a short while on the Bronx Canal. I can remember them being so very kind to me as all there children were in the army and as they returned home got married to ladies whose family had European background. In the room which my brother would later occupy and i was grandma’s pantry and room for borders and the master bedroom was used as it would be by my parents. I the middle of the living room was a giant wooden muti-leaved trestle table which would often be extended by adding all the leaves for lavish dinners where all the children and there girl friends, fiancées, and wives and children would gather for pot blessing meals extraordinary. I would always take the pot especially prepared for me by grandma and go under the table. Wow!

Grand parents: My mother’s mother and father lived on Steuben Street in Brooklyn My mother had three brothers and two sisters. Somehow, the only sibling that she got along with was my Aunt Claire. I only mention that here to let you know that our relationship with my Uncle Charlie was only made possible by his wife gene. Charlie was older than my mother by several years was. I actually knew them from the time I was born until we move to Holland Ave. in 1952 and I always remember them living in the same place on Home street. I really liked Charlie; he was always so nice to me. I remember when my Aunt Gene became pregnant and gave birth to their daughter Carol. I recall at first visiting them by bus or sometime walking up Southern Boulevard to Westchester Ave and then to where they lived on the corner in a big apartment building. Just downstairs from them on the corner was a candy store. I would buy egg creams and candy. Their apartment was a very stoic one-bedroom apartment with a big living room and dining room. Charlie would talk so nicely about the affairs of the country and my mother would always complain later that Charles believed that he was “gods gift” and should be getting paid a lot more than he was. And, if only things were different how much better he could be doing. She resented his bragging, complaining and general bloating his self-importance. His wife, Gene, on the other hand was a very unattractive thin and frail woman with a tremendously kind and gentile humor. My mother and Gene never stopped being good friends. They were both wonderful and our many visits were warm and good.

In 1941 they found a vacancy in an apartment across the street from them and we moved in. So we were close and neighbors. We saw them a lot. Later Carol got married to a man from Puerto Rico and no one in the family ever saw her again. She was to us our dear baby cousin with whom we played and cuddled. It was an unfortunate loss. I assume she is still alive and living with a big family somewhere in New York. Both Charlie and Jean died many years ago.

Of all the family relatives, this clan was the closest and dearest. Claire was my mother’s closest sibling; and, although they both regarded Claire’s husband Harry as a rogue he was loved and well tolerated. They had two children; both daughters just about the identical ages to my brother and I, we being about a year older. We all loved and saw them a lot. They lived in two places in Brighton Beach Brooklyn New York all their lives. Harry was a state licensed meats inspector for the food and drug administrator, responsible primarily for the weights and measures of the scales at all the butcher and delicatessens throughout Brooklyn. They would visit us or we them every weekend and they would share there plentiful supply of salami, bologna, pastrami, corned beef, specials and frankfurters with Jewish rye bread, rolls and mustard. If weren’t eating that stuff we’d be either on the boardwalk, under the boardwalk, at the movies, or at Coney Island and Nathan’s. As you can tell from all of the above we were not bored and we all were very overweight.

Harry had affairs with women but would come back full of repentance and remorse. Claire and the children did not go with him. He had a sister; also named Clara who was a divinely happy woman. She loved me and spoiled me silly. When I was very young she had a paralytic stroke and suffered with this until she died. They lived on the lower floor of a two story house in a one room apartment until the mid fifties. This small brick corner house was part of a development of houses gated with walkways and no cars. Their house fronted on a big field where children would play ball, etc. There ware no stores or shops but trees on the out side and walkways leading on a grid to the neighboring streets. Their address was on 4th street. Later they moved to a six-story apartment building with more room nearer to the boardwalk. Harry played handball every day and Claire did her housework. She was feisty and tenacious always being the brunt of Harry’s kind humor. We was like a Bob Hope, a one liner comedian.

Eventually, both Judy and Barbara got married and moved to Staten island where Judy’s husband Gerald was a lawyer and county commissioner and Barbara’s husband, Gerald an electrical building inspector. Two events stand out: one when my aunt Mina returned from one of her overseas flights with presents for all dressed very glamorously and another when dispute the threat of a blizzard Claire, Judy and Barbara visited us on Simpson Street then left only to be stranded in subway platform along with hundreds of others. They would not sleep over at our house, but we did sleep at their house on the one and only pull out bed in the living room. They both slept in a sun parlor on beds just the depth the alcove.

The last time Christina and I saw Harry and Claire alive was Claire wheeling uncle Harry in a wheel chair on the boardwalk after he had one of his feet amputated. We visited him one last time in the Brooklyn hospital where I had been born. We saw Aunt Claire after she had another stroke at Judy’s house. Then several years later, between 1970-1972 we visited Judy and Barbara where they both tried to convince me to take a stand to force my father and mother to reconcile and if not disown and never see my father again. They said that if I did not do this they would a longer see me. This was a very unfortunate end to a part of our family. We, indeed, had not heard from them since then. They both had children who by now are grown and married. Recently we found them and we have corresponded and talked on the telephone remembering, at least just a little of the good feelings between us. There children are grown and they get to see very little of them. Barbara lost one son in an accident.

Irving and Shirley

Irving comprises the first vivid memory I have of my childhood on Home Street when he came homes from the war in Spain where he fought against Franco. He had his violin and played and I was supposed to sing, when I didn’t sing right he got upset with me and expressed himself which ended our little musical event. As we began we ended a few years ago when we visited my uncle and out of the blue he began screaming at me for being an active minister of the gospel. His daughter Carol called us some later time and, she decided, for Irving’s sake that we should stop seeing him. And have not seen him since. I still dream and remember them very well.

Eventually, his wife Shirley suffered from Alzheimer’s and dear Uncle Irving cared for her daily. They had one daughter, Sharon who was a disciple of a yoga guru and was for many years heading up his work in Nova Scotia and they relocated to Denver. Shirley was born in Biscayne, Florida and came to New York to design. In the forties and early fifties she was the designer of the Schmo doll and the Goodyear blimp inflatable toys for children. Their first apartment was on Columbus Ave with the bathroom outside and the tub in the kitchen. Their building, floor ,door and apartment layout were so unique and full of fantasy and discovery. The building had a musty odor and I knew their floor and door. The door was painted black and after climbing so many floors up the carpeted wooden stairs the door opened into the kitchen where my blond haired and cheerful aunt would shower me with kisses and smiles. She made me feel special as though I was the most important person on the planet. She was in love with me and life. She loved my visit ,my pranks, my humor, my keen interest and overwhelmed me with one after the other surprise and mysterious things. All of which she shared with love and pleasure. She and I could not get enough. She’d play records and give me puppets and taught me songs such as “the Zulu warrior”, tent for rent” etc.

My uncle loved to utter Romanian clichés which Shirley would repeat or say with an apparent foreign accent. It was always charming. She played the accordion and he played the violin. She’d taught me to play and would never stop me from fiddling noisily in the bedroom. They had no doors but curtains between rooms and their furniture was totally created with blankets, fabrics, lights, etc. Just like I did in my room and later apartments.

Their apartment was a child fantasy and I was absolutely crazy about her and my uncle. I’d beg my mother to visit them as often as possible. Aunt Shirley had an accordion and she would let me play it for hours. She also had marionettes and records of songs and we’d play with the marionettes to the music. “ We are Siamese if you please…and we are Siamese if you don’t please” and I come a zonga ziyo, I come a zonga zey”. They also had a typewriter, which they let me piddle with, and other stuff, which was so interesting. They were interesting people with interesting things. In those days she cooked and it was terrible but so wonderful and fun. Later Irving took over the kitchen. It was so much fun to go to use the shared outside toilet.

They would take me for walks on Columbus Ave and it was wonderful to hear her talk and show me the stores. She formed my ideal for what creative thinking was all about. What excitement and delight there was in conversation about color, light, and people. About peace and all humanity is one. No bigotry. Later I discovered that Irving was a famous writer on Long Island. He was well known for his liberal views covering a wide range of topics from labor to civil rights. It was Magda and Harold who told me. They both knew my Uncle’s many article and reputation in the Long Island community around Levitt town. Manhassett, New York where Levitt formed Levittown, New York in Nassau county.

In those years, the American housing industry was not so much an industry as a loose affiliation of local builders, any one of whom completed an average of four houses a year. What Levitt had in mind was 30 to 40 a day. Before the war, Levitt and his brother Alfred had built a few houses on land their father owned in Manhasset, N.Y. And in 1941 the Levitts' won a government contract to provide 2,350 housing units for defense workers in Norfolk, Va. Once the fighting ended, they brought the lessons of that experience to 1,000 acres of potato farms on New York's Long Island 25 miles east of Manhattan. On July 1, 1947, Levitt, then 40, broke ground on the first of what would be 17,000 homes. Uncle Irving and Aunt Shirley moved from their converted cold water flat on Columbus Ave. in Manhattan to Levittown where Shirley gave birth and raised their daughterSahron.

Irving told me often about his early years around the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the social movement for worker’s rights. At first he was part of the crowd and with his friends would hang out and hear about the events and issues. Eventually he went to meetings and later participated. He was never a socialist nor a communist but a free thing liberal believing in the American constitution a s the freedom from tyranny and the right to equal and fair treatment of all in jobs, housing education, etc. He attended the Martin Luther Jr.'s rally in Washington, Dc and wrote about civil and human rights.

David and Rose ( 1,815 words)

David the oldest living child of my grandparents, was my uncle and for over 50 years, husband to my very dear aunt Rose and father to his daughter Beebe and son Maurice. He was born in Rhodes about 1900 and lived till the early 90’s. I reckon they were married just before the depression and lived in the west Bronx off 167 street for many years. He, as the other brothers served in the military and was a very unsuccessful salesman. He was the best uncle any young boy could ever hope for.

He would visit us regularly and take me for train rides to the zoo, and park. When I was of age he offered to sell me his old 49 blue ford with a rumble seat in back for $10. We were so close; the concept of me buying any thing from him went right over my head. And, he was so loving to explain to me how business and commerce works and that I should learn to value such things even from a close blood relative. In the end, the expense and upkeep prevented me from buying and owning my own car.

My dear Aunt Rose, is the super woman of our family. During the war, to earn money, out of her home she did odd jobs. One of them was bending wire into lampshades for a lampshade company. She was so good and got so many orders she hired several ladies to help her and one day she took me to a vacant store in her neighborhood on 167 street near to Webster Ave where she had the glass painted black and moved in with old tables and began making lamp shades. I remember her taking me by the hand and showing me the store before she rented it. It was a nice time being with her.

This business prospered and got a bit interesting when Dave got out of the army and the war ended and he could not find any work except selling box springs and mattress. He failed in this and then started selling the springs that went in the mattresses. Somehow he did well in this and gave my genius aunt the idea of combining the two businesses and making the wire for both the lampshades and the mattress. They rented space in a factory on 138 street and prospered. They then extended the business to making incredible beautiful lampshades for decorators and then metal bases for lamps. They prospered even more and built a beautiful home in New Rochelle, Westchester county. Uncle Dave became silent partner in a Chrysler dealer on Jerome Ave with his neighbor.

My cousin Murray all the while often took turns caring for me with my cousin Rosalind and I remember one of the first weddings i ever attended was the marriage of Beebe. Beebe had attended Vassar College and was our oldest cousin. Murray meanwhile attended Manhattan Business College where he studied business administration with a major in marketing in preparation to manage aunt Rose’s business. My dad introduced Murray to a very attractive and personable salesgirl at Weiss bridal gown and after a reasonably long courtship they were married. Dorothy and I were always good friends and she was so nice to me as I was growing up. Mr. and Mrs. Kalena, and her sister lived two blocks from us on Intervale Avenue and would visit us often.

I owe my current life to my aunt Rose. She changed every thing for me. When I was seventeen, graduating high school, my loving girlfriend Arlene demanded that we get married and move to spring valley where we would proceed to have 6 children and i would manage her father’s liqueur distribution business.

My Aunt Rose would not hear of this and packed Dave and herself into our Packard limousine with my dad and my brother and we went for two weeks to Miami Beach. We lodged at the Lido hotel on Collins and 4th street. And for two weeks she introduced me to every attractive girl and lectured me on being responsible for my own destiny and career. To take time to find my self and get a proper education.

Well it worked, when I got back I met with Arlene and in a terrible tearful hour we ended our three-year romance.My aunt Rose and uncle Dave always made their home in New Rochelle available to us, especially for the years when grandma lived with them. They gave grandma a lovely room and cared for her so well. We still were the ones to pick her up and take her to the doctor on Moshula parkway.

The business prospered more and soon "Stylecraft", were in LA and Chicago and every trade fair throughout the USA with show rooms in every major us city. But dear aunt Rose never stopped working, even though her company now run by her son, and several of our uncles and cousins was doing more than fine.

Rose, Dave and grandma moved to an apartment building in Westchester and Murray and Dorothy moved into the big house. They also had a house by the sea in Long Beach. Aunt rose loved to garden. Finally, after years of suffering with leukemia she passed away. She left behind two very successful children, grandchildren and great grandchildren; and, me, a very grateful nephew who will always remember the love and care of an aunt and special person.

When I think of the fifties at its best with all its goodness and charm I think of this clan. They epitomized and went as far as one could go with the fifties, its conformity, oppression, and repetitions. Aunt rose was desperate so she started a business in a store front based ON repetition at a time when adopting military and mass production methods was coming of age. To the lamp business. Coupled with her passion to provide her son and daughter she wanted them to have the best so she entered the world of the conformist and the suburb at its best. She built a house costing forty thousand dollars in New Rochelle and hob nobbed with decorators and manufactures of repetitions products of lamps , lampshades and gifts. Determined to win and succeed she went my cousin Beebe to the epitome women training center of the northeast: Wellesley . Her son Maurice she sent to Manhattan College of business. They were not for education but training for succeeding in a competition of the hearts and minds of the USA consumer. To manufacture and distribute decorative its that were the metaphors of rightness and protocol for the top of the middle calls line. After encouraging me to drop Arlene and go to college they found that I had become creative and very talented designer and design professional. This was neither who they were nor whom they associated with. So I did not fit nor could be considered as a friend and part of their world. I was shunned and kept at a distance. A distance which I soon adopted and developed to lead me to further creativity and adventure in anarchy, free expression, invention and creativity.

Other full name streets honor business founders. George Farcus Square at the northwest corner of Fordham Road and the Concourse is named for the founder of the Alexander's Department Store, while Rose Boulevard honors the woman who began a business whose factory anchored Walnut Avenue. Bruce Farcus was one of my father’s passengers and I sometime visited him and his home in Westchester county. Of all the clans this clan had a sense of itself as a potential “Dynasty”. The only problem with any dynasty is that it makes every thing else especially its members under the banner that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Outsiders are part of the: French ”milieu” which in translates as “the rest of us”. So there is the dynasty and the rest of us. Unfortunately it seems that this has kept this clan so separate form the other members of the family.

Pauline and Victor Abolofia: ( 1301 words)

Pauline (1907-recently ) was one of the oldest of the daughters.She married Victor Abolofia whose name in Aramaic means Arab . They lived just west of Amsterdam Ave on 99 street in a 6-story walk up. Their building was attached to several others in which some of victor’s relatives lived. I have recently received emails from some of these people who now live in New Jersey. Victor was a florist who sold his flowers out of a pushcart throughout the neighborhood. They had 4 beautiful children all of who were our friends. My mother and Pauline were very god friends and we visited them often. Pauline had a view of her family, which was unique and humorous. Rebecca, her oldest daughter was a beauty with long black hair, high check bones, and a slender figure. She was a very proper lady with a vivacious and charismatic personality. Oscar, her oldest son, now a famous paparazzi, was a tall, dark and very handsome boy… very quiet and kept him self-private. In the early seventies he married a Swedish lady and moved to 98 street (where they still live).

Irving was less involved with the family, but he later opened his own florist shop on east 96 street and later moved to New Jersey to run a flower distribution business. Last, but not least was dear Louis. He and I became roommates in 1964. Meaning, he lived with me in my apartment. He finally found out that he was supposed to share the expenses and for that matter he preferred to find his own place on Broadway around 98 street in a former dance club. There he blossomed as an artist and soon decided to become a super star. All of these thoughts and ideas we shared and developed together and, he just dared to do them. Later, Christina, Louis and John Jackson and I would gallivant around New York.

Later, when we moved to New Haven Louis’ career as “superstar” had reached network TV and national proportions. Whenever we wanted to connect with the mid sixties happening /psychedelic/ whatever we merely called and went with Lou (or Max Waldman) to whatever event he was going to that day. Aunt Pauline, his sister (Reba) and Oscar were sort of out of it throughout this period. Uncle Victor died, somehow dear Reba lived with some guy and aunt Pauline began to do hospital volunteer work; she did this till she died. Louis relocated to San Francisco and several years later we heard that he had committed suicide. The Louis I knew could not have done this! He was always optimistic and tenacious without the ability to be beat. He would always attack and find his way out building bridges and making connections.

The winding stair up to their apartment on 99 street was made of wood forming an open well in the center. You could see up to the ceiling above or the floor below. You entered their apartment to the kitchen on the right and on the left a very dark few rooms. Then through a corridor to the living room on the right. Partitioned with curtain into severla rooms. The walls were draped in rugs and madras tapestries and paintings. It was always dark and moody. I never really knew how many rooms were in the whole place; even though we explored it constantly it somehow was well masked to and curtained. So mystical and wonderful. It was to Pauline that my mom and I came the days they had announced that Russia had the atom bomb. I was terrified, and, my mother was oblivious. So was aunt Pauline, but she listened and hugged me and assured me that all would be well. I believed her and it was. I never knew why Pauline and Grandma did not see each other until I realized that Victor was a Turk and grandma had a negative opinion of them. When she got angry at me and wanted to say I was bad she called me ”tuerqa”(Turk) My mother thought is was a women to women disagreement; that Pauline was too out spoken and would not be told one thing when another was true. She spoke her mind. I beleive this outward ness was what attracted these two, but what also kept them separate from the others in the family. So I remember it. And, I remember the family with much joy and affection.

This family taught me to identify with the values and history of our family. Lou was so proud of his roots and always told the names of famous people who were our distant cousins, such as Steve and Edie Gormet. Moreover, they were a part of the family who did not leave the original neighborhood where grandma and grandpa raised the family. Oscar and Reba are still there. They are so very special and worthy of our love and attention. Oscar’s work has been recently published in a retrospect of his work in a very famous photography journal. Louie’s paintings are enjoying a comeback at a famous art gallery.

Louis Abolofia was born in New York City, and showed early talents for art. He excelled in art classes in public school, and was given a scholarship to the Museum of Modern Art. His work brought him the early titles of "child prodigy" and "artistic genius". He became a 'regular' down in Greenwich Village of NYC. Mingling with such notable inhabitants as Bob Dylan, who stated "Louis...demystifies...shining like a light". Comments such as these were the stimulus to get Louis to begin his interest in the political world. He ran for Mayor, Governor, and in 1968 began his candidacy to run for the office of The President of the United States on the 'Love ticket'. He appeared in his political posters and in real life in the nude, proclaiming "What have I got to hide?” He became quite a celebrity and received his '15 minutes of fame' on TV shows like Johnny Carson and Merv Griffin. He ultimately received 300,000 write-ins votes!

He continued painting all the while and formed the first 'runaway shelter' in the United States. He gained additional notoriety when he walked into the Metropolitan Museum of Art and freely hung an unframed 7-foot painting of his own on the wall next to "The Thinker" by Rodin. He began a relationship with Salvador Dali after that event. Abolofia’s works were exhibited for a show in the Crespi Gallery in New York, as well as the John J. Myers Gallery and the East River Savings Bank.

His art style was described by an art magazine as a painter of "swirling cosmic abstractions, best at painting the inhabitants of a fantasy world somewhere between the humorous and the macabre". He felt that he could see through people as if 'an x-ray machine'. Louis used color to tell us about people he painted. Many of his paintings were introspective and were morose in style and colors, and perhaps gave us a clue into Abolofia's inner conflict. The bright colors and broad-brush strokes are quite distinctive.

He moved to San Francisco in 1974, where he painted and became involved in promotional activities that led to creation of the "Exotic-Erotic Ball", the largest Halloween Ball, and an attempt to relive the exuberance of the 60's. Much of his artworks have the feel of a costume party, and is very stimulating, exciting to the senses, with all the colors that partygoer’s display. He produced thousands of artworks and we bring just a few to you in this retrospective. We hope that this show gives you an understanding for this artist, philosopher, politician, musician, and kind soul.

Regina and Sam: ( 261 words)

Regina (aunt Gene) was the oldest sister of the family. Her first husband had died and she had a daughter Margaret from that marriage. My father, brother and i attended that wedding in Cincinnati around 1948. Sam and gene had a daughter named Rosalind. A real beauty and registered nurse. She would care for me as child. I have pictures of her pushing me around in my carriage. Sam loved to fish and in the early fifties they left Cincinnati and moved to Coral Gables, Florida. He bought a boat and fished d every day. We would visit them and Sam would take me fishing with him. Who showed me how to hook bait and catch and remove hook from fish’s mouth? I remember my father getting very drunk one night in Cincinnati and my aunt gene cured him with a concoction of lemon juice. Rosalind used her nursing skills on me the day i got blisters from sitting in the Miami sun talking to a bathing beauty.Gene love to play cards and in both Cincinnati and Coral Gables had a card table set up in the front porch for entertaining.She planted tomatoes and was boisterous and hardy. Her passing brought my father to sadness and grief. Christina and I visited Rosalind in a manufactured home in Coral Gables in the seventies. At that time she and her daughter were living alone separated from her husband. The place was a mess and she was not very friendly; we left and never heard from them again.

Jack (1902-) and Leah : (281 words)

I did not get to know neither Jack nor Leah well. Jack was blind and Leah was always sick. I do not believe she spoke English. She like Betty was very well able to communicate with my grandma. I can remember the harsh high tones of Jack’s voice as he spoke, laughed and explained his suffering to grandma. He would visit grandma when I was there and they would talk. I remember where they lived. It was on a cross street where now the cross-bronx expressway is. I remember the street and when we’d visit Eli, Abe and I playing in the street. Jack and Leah had three children: Jennifer (Jenny); Eli and Abe.

Jenny would visit with my mom and spend time helping her with household chores. Jenny was not retarded but had the mind of a child. She was the oldest of all the cousins. When she was at our house she and I would talk for hours. We got along well. She was very nice ;a big lady and very gentle. I recall her getting rattled and upset; I remember her crying.; I remember her laughing; she did all of these openly because we were together as a family. I remember when grandma died, Jack and went tot the gravesite and I held his hand and escorted him.Christina and I saw Eli at a family function and met his daughter. Eli has been working for Murray for many years. Abe was a buyer for Barnes and Noble living in the Bronx.

Frank and Helen ( 400 words)

I can vaguely remember Frank coming home from the army, but remember him in uniform. My dad and his brother got along very well. Early on in my father’s business my dad employed Frank so we saw a lot of him. He was always a very serious man, but had a god nature. He and his wife eventually moved to a very beautiful split-level 30’s style apartment in Washington Heights. The floors were all parquet wood with steps leading up to the living room. Whenever I saw a Joan Crawford movie with big living rooms I’d think of my glamorous Aunt Helen. When I was 12, Frank referred me to work during the summer as a delivery boy in a grocery on his block. So once a week I got to deliver their groceries. They had a daughter, Linda. She recently died of cancer. She was the prettiest little brunette girl and, with such cute ways.

Anyway, several summers later my dad was awarded the transportation contract for “camp Cricklewood” and, at the age of sixteen, i became a camp counselor for the summer only; and, Linda was one our campers. So we got to know each other even more. I was nearly ten years her senior. I hardly noticed her but made sure she was well cared for by my colleagues. She was not in my group. They had a son, his name is Benjamin. He is now a dentist with an office on Wacker Drive in Chicago, Ill. Years later in the late sixties Linda had married a relative of Jack Lalane and called us on the phone from Arizona inviting my wife an i to some event involving wife swapping. We politely declined and did never hear from dear Linda again. We sometimes saw Frank when we visited my aunt Roses’s lamp business in the Bronx. Frank worked there in the production area. He had sold vegetables but this seemed to be the job that best suited him.

Jamie (Hy) and Bertha

My father’s older brother, Jamie and his wife Bertha lived on the upper floor of a about a fifteen story building in the middle of southern boulevard with their daughter Harriet, Bertha sister Evelyn and her husband, Morris (Mo). Their niece Myrna was there more often than with her parents. The apartment was huge opening into a very long single loaded corridor opening onto several bedrooms and bathrooms and ending with the living room through which you entered the kitchen which faced and had the best view of the boulevard. I can only remember my dear aunt Bertha being sick and finally in her deathbed. And I remember those last days when she finally died giving birth to my cousin Steve. But it was not the birth of the child, which caused her death but her illness, which I recall, as being diabetes.

Mo (Morris) sold vegetables, Myrna’s father, Irving, was a house painter and Hy still worked in the same shoe shop in Harlem my grandfather worked near 101 street and Lenox Ave in Harlem. Occasionally my dad would stop by and visit Hy at his work blocking hats. . Hy was then a very jovial man whose his wife’s illness and his helplessness characterized his personality. He was a good and moral man. All the members of this family were the first and last to care for my mother when in 1947, soon after we had moved to Simpson Street, suffered a major hemorrhage due to a miscarriage of what would have been another child in our family. I remember the day it happened and my mother called to me from the bathroom to call and get help from the neighbors. I just ran from door to door on our floor till finally someone came. I ran around the corner and to Evelyn, Mo and Bertha and they came immediately to help my mother recover. Needless to say our families remained very close.

As we grew and visited we kept up with each other and when we moved from Simpson Street Harriet introduced me to one of her friends and later when she Harriet married we danced at her wedding. It was a splendid wedding. Harriet was so beautiful in her white gown. The tables were so filled with food. Harriet is very much as I left her a very large heavyset woman with a gentle and loving manner. Very witty and a great memory for detail .She has a very responsible job with the government where she lives supervising an entire department reviewing applications for welfare programs to help the poor and needy.

Alissa, Harriet’s daughter, is a teacher and settling back in the USA after having spent 2 years in the VISTA program teaching in the Ukraine. She now attends teachers college for her master’s degree in teaching. And teaches full time in Brooklyn. This way she earns a hefty salary and applies what she learns. Alissa is tall with olive skin and long black curly hare. She is very beautiful and full of life and enthusiasm. She has a great mind and gentle spirit. It is difficult for her to find a male partner who she can respect and be compatible. They want either too much or too little. She has a lot to give and needs someone with a big capacity to receive. Harriet and Alissa are so very kind and thoughtful caring for Mo and Evelyn visiting and attending to there needs at every holiday and free time. They visit us as they can. Harriet’s husband died several years ago.

Evelyn Mednick died March 14, 2005 due to complications of Pneumonia but not before she and Christina could become good friends and enjoy the joy of life and the glamor of conversation about her art and her home. She was the Mother Steve never knew and Harriet needed. Her passing was a great loss to family and friends. The rabbi at the grave site spoke about the meaning of the Jews covering mirrors so as to remember the deceased and recall that, as she cannot be seen as the covered looking glass so she must be remembered in our mind to be imagined. It quickens us about our life’s short and illusory quality. He was charismatic and Pentecostal in his manner and candor. We read from Psalm 23 and Steve and Harriet read the proverb about the loving mother and wife. They both gave there separate last words about how loving and caring a surrogate mother Evelyn was to them. The Star of David Cemetery in Tamarack is burial site for Jamie and Irving as well. At home I sat with Mo and his brother Hy as they had a shot of whiskey and remembered things that had passed.

Irving and Betty : ( 544 words)

As with many of those whom Dad’s brothers married I know very little.. This was so true in Betty's case. She was a quiet person with a patronizing and polite manner who referred to the societal “they” as a determining force to be reckoned with. She had two daughters and one son and her husband was a most successful salesman for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. Estelle was older that Owen and me by four years and she attended Christopher Columbus high school. It was she and my uncle Irving who permitted me to use there address so that I would qualify to attend her high school rather than Morris High which was in the worst part of our area know for shootings and stabbing as regular daily events.

Irving was probably born in Harlem around 1916 and matured in the midst of the depression. I cannot remember any other place they lived aside from Burr Ave in Pelham Bay, Bronx. He was known for his joviality and incisive wit. When entering anyone’s home he would go into every room and check all the drawers and closets. He would then sit down and talk. He chided and prompted me as a child and we would visit his home weekly to see Grandma. During those hundreds of visits we got to know Estelle, Honey and Owen very well. Owen always got very high marks in school and when he graduated High School Science he got a full scholarship to Dartmouth, Harvard and Oxford including all expense for his future bride. As it turned out when Owen graduated Oxford he was appointed clerk to supreme court justice Thurgood Marshall, and, when the riots broke out in the sixties was flown in to he middle of Watts representing Marshall. Owen is now Sterling Professor of law at Yale where he served as vice dean of law and writes numerable case analysis for the court and books on the law. Owen never got a driver’s license nor passed the bar but he is an international authority on the law.

Estelle married Joseph and moved to Long Island. They have children. Honey married a doctor and has had children. She divorced her first husband and is now married again working as a speech therapist. After Irving’s death Betty went to work as a sales lady in department store before passing away. She was always as fine hostess and every time I came into her home she welcomed me with a gracious smile. All of her children greatly take after her and not Irving. She was a great cook preparing old world specialties. She and grandma made a good cooking team. I always remember visiting there building, first seeing them at the side window which led into there living room and bedrooms; parking in front, and walking under the canvas canopy and into the huge medieval decorated lobby, with throne chairs and intercom. Later when Stella married she move to across the hall so we’d see her before. I visited Owen and His wife in the sixties in Chicago. They were both actively working on a campaign for the Democratic Party. Owens library was filed with law books and his writings.

Murray and Jeanette: ( 271 words)

Of all my Dad’s brothers Murray is the one whose life' choices mostly paralleled my own and yet of all the brothers I know him least. Part of the reason is he relocated early out of New York to Maine. After the army, he went to university of Illinois to study architecture. When he graduated he met his wife Jeanette and they got married. I remember this wedding so well. She was a psychology major and later wrote and taught. I can remember for Christmas we always received a lovely hand painted artwork card. I spoke to him several times as I confronted career and educational choices and he introduced me to a fellow classmate of his Alex Goldfine. Alex, Christina and his office mate Bob Hagenhoffer were to be come great friends. Their office was in the Picasso building where we lived when we came back from Puerto Rico. Alex was on the LME board and we had a wonderful birthday party in a special room for Christina at the Yale clubs together.

Murray and Jeanette had children, whom we never met, but have begun communicating with us on the Internet; and, Murray managed a school for special students in Maine for many years. Jeanette taught at a Jesuit college. His art works are collected by museums. They now live in California as atheists. One of there children is the planner for Vancouver (he is an architect), another a biochemist and a third a computer graphics professor and practitioner.

My parents met at the famous Palladium dance hall in Manhattan and dated for only a few months before my father proposed to my mother. The Palladium was named after, Andrea Palladio, (1508–80,) an Italian architect of the Renaissance. Palladio's first important work (begun 1549) was to rebuild the medieval town hall, the basilica at Vicenza. He designed arches supported on minor columns and framed between larger engaged columns. Each of these arch-and-column compositions formed what is termed a “Palladian motif” and was much imitated

I can assure you that my parents or any one of the attendees of any o f even vaguely knew none of this the palladium, even today. The Palladium is now in its third location on Fourteenth Street. After being closed for many years, it was reopened in 1951 on Broadway and 53 street as a Latin dance hall and then closed. The original where my parents met was on east 126 street closer to where my father lived in Harlem. This part of Harlem was called Spanish Harlem because from 1917, it was where the Puerto Ricans settled after having been granted citizenship. Parenthetically the Broadway location became the home of the “mambo” and the now famous Salsa then led by the Cubans, especially Tito Puente. We later saw his son perform in Fort Myers. I can easily see why the first twenty years of my life was dominated and fixated on music, big bands and the sound of dance music.

Yet it was these time, these metaphors and these media events that sidetracked most away form their tumults, precious anomie’s and faulty education. It kept most humming and whistling agreement to the solutions the society and government presented and led most to endure the work, social displacement and shelving of there dreams for the actual hard work it would take to rebuild America’s industry, economy and values. They would not be what they had been. Women worked and fought the war; Indians died defending America’s freedoms. There would be neither place for discrimination nor intolerance for equality. Indeed, Americans met at places as if the Palladium to be overwhelmed and succumb to someone else’s dream and be carried through these times.

As the story goes my parents had been dating and traveling on the train between Manhatten and Brooklyn when they both concluded that it would be more economical and expeditious to marry and save the carfare and two rentals The dance hall was not Roseland but its nearby competitor. I do not remember its name. It is mentioned in songs by Sarah Vaughn and count Basie and could be a name like “Concordia...”There meeting and honeymoon seem to be the most romantic thing that ever happened to them There is practically nothing I can remember about there early years that smacks of love, affection, romance or happiness. I’m sure it must have been there, except I can’t recall.

The most devastating and insidious damage to there individual lives and the lives of my brother and I was my parents marriage. They were married May 14, 1936, the same month as both their births. I know the date, because, aside from all major Holidays and our birthdays, we, too, celebrated their wedding Anniversary.

There are photographs, which my mother would show us of them in Lake Placid on their honeymoon. They were models of the times, well-dressed fashionable and very beautiful! Wearing furs, hats, gloves, suits, dresses, stockings, etc. Looking very slims and fit.They had so much in common and yet were such opposites. They were unable to reconcile their differences and my father was determined eventually to make another life and develop his business at the same time. Never the less they both, in there own way, honored there marriage vows. My father never disserted his children, and supported her till the end. Knowing that my father had another family he was living with and supporting, she let him spend several nights a week in her bed and our home. This lasted even till Holland Ave until 1959 when my brother finished high school. Then he and Lea officially opened their apartment in Riverdale. I cannot begin to know the misery, pain and anguish my mother suffered. I could only hold her and try to be her best friend. I always knew it was insufficient, but I could only do all that I could do. I loved my mother so much and wanted to make her life right. I did all that I could. It was not enough!

The burden it placed on my brother and I; on both their families. It was a shame on them and our clan to heir brothers and sisters were enormous. The blemish of that condition still endures with my cousins because their parents never really got to know my parents and us very well. It was a shame and the source of low personal esteem in our outlook. At that time marriage separations and as today divorce was a sin and a bad thing. It wasn’t done nor even discussed. It was not the source of movies, books and music. My friends and relatives limited their exposure. My mother rarely would welcome visitors from my father’s family and her family never really adjusted to it all. For example, my very dear cousins Judy and Barbara would not see Christina and I any more until I would take sides with my mother and bring my father back. My cousin meant well and was expressing my greatest hope. My other cousins really did not want to associate with us fearing that somehow this would affect their marriage. The facts of the relationship were just not conducive for the kind of open and loving communications, which are normal to families. It is also why today many of my cousins and their children know very little about my brother and myself.

As a child I never stopped loving each of my parents. I believe it would have been best if they worked out their differences. My father did not do him self, or, the family he joined any good. My mother did not do any thing good for us by being so stubborn and angry toward my father. They both would have greatly profited by an early relationship with Jesus. I do believe they both learned that without forgiveness there is only destruction and devastation. Marriage is a calling by God and not honored leaves God’s will disconnect and incompatible with basic life’s needs and necessities. I believe they both would have lived twenty years longer and prospered ways beyond their imagination. They would have bought and owned property and the business would have continued to be successful, perhaps run by Saul or myself. Our family connections would have blossomed and developed. I suppose it was from carrying this secret and social duality that Saul and I learned to keep other cultural and social secrets. We became guarded and defensive with our mind filled with our status and its social disgrace amongst both strangers and friends.

In order to keep secret there respective financial and business value and worth from my mother my father and Lea was very secretive. In order to keep her financial status and value secret from my father and Lea my mother was reticent as well. Both sides believe I was spying on them for the other. My parents never told me about their accounts, debts and assets for fear I’d tell the other. Consequently, the last ten years our visits and communications were always shouded by covering up and not talking openly about many other things as well. Additionally, I also believed that Dad and Lea intended Jackie to take over their business.

Lea’s son Jackie eventually committing suicide in Arizona exemplifies what instead happened. Jackie and Patricia married, had children, separated and divorced. I later came to find out that for many years Jackie was on drugs and my father was addicted to morphine to kill his pain. My parents made a great team; my father was generous, kind, friendly and yielding. He was a great strategist and wise in his business dealings. My mother was Teutonic and principled. She knew right from wrong. With God’s love. Patience, tolerance and faith together God’s blessings would have bought them the love and peace which only comes from a loving relationship with God. My parents both found God and his will separately.

My mother, may she rest in peace, always wanted my father to be there more for me; there was not, in her eyes, enough of my father for me; and, I was too much for her. She needed help and did not get it! All those early years she was crying out. I thank God that in my late teens, I did realize this for her sake and mine. I could comfort her and make up for what we did not get and I could seek the help she knew I needed. My parents wanted their children to have what they did not have and to be different and better than they were. They did not want for us to follow them or be like them. In my judgement my mother was called to be a parent. My father was not. My father had many other positive attributes and he supported my mother and us. He even cared about us feeling good. My mother was very upset because she realized that her children needed two parents. She was not called to be both mother and father. She was frustrated that my father was not the kind of parent I needed. My mother had three brothers and two sisters and my father had two sisters and nine brothers. My dad just wanted to provide what he did not have, while my mother wanted to parent us. She realized we need nurturing, education, and care. To deal to learn how to be a man. She felt that all my father wanted to do is to have a good time. My father did not listen and no one cared nor credited her for her struggle. I did. I recognized this was what I needed and what upset her. All I could do is love and care for her and try to calm her by demonstrating I found what was needed elsewhere. Thanks to God!

I was blessed by God to have such love in my life! I regret not being able to share our very modest security and peace with my parents. It would be a wonderful time for us after all they and I have been through to enjoy something really nice. I often think of them at dinnertime or when we swim with many of our very elderly friends of how it could have been with my parents living here with us. Most of this life contains its many challenges and in the end we live to be at peace with ourselves and those anomie’s and events, peoples that happened so long ago.

Marriage :

To answer my Mother’s complaints about the nationality of the women I dated I challenged her to arrange meetings for me which she rejected. However I was serious. For the effort and struggle I had to endure to get my self into a position to become acquainted with any female was difficult. Where as I knew in other cultures these things are done in many ways including kidnapping. The custom of bride kidnapping is an ancient marriage tradition in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet Republic in Central Asia. When a Kyrgyz man decides to marry, he often abducts the woman he has chosen. Typically, he and several friends hire a car, stake out his bride-to-be's movements, snatch her off the street, and take her to the groom's family home. A delegation is then sent to her family. The abducted woman is held until someone from her family arrives to determine whether they will accept the "proposal" and she will agree to marry her kidnapper. In Pakistan and India young girls are bought and sold and Saudi deals are struck within tribes between blood relatives for sibling, cousin and sister marriages. The argument is that it is dangerous and causes death and the ones who survive are strong.

On the other hand my attitude toward marriage was a more ideal version of finding a soul whose spirit was ordained by God to share life including its hopes, dreams, fantasy in a bond of loyally and integrity where truth and honor reign. Where home and heart are shadows only match by heaven and our eternal bond with God. To me this is marriage and all else is an ironic nightmare. Marriage is the songs of Lehar, Romberg, Gershwin, Porter, and Jerome Kern’s: “All the things you are”. But I was sure I still could find that mate if my mother and her friends simply paraded them before me. Right! They did no such thing.

1 peter 3
7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Genesis 2:24
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

A Not-so-typical Bronx Mother

The little I know about Anne before I was born (and knew her as my ever present and attentive mother), I gleaned from her answers to my questions, old photos, her Brother Irving’s stories, visits, speculation and my vivid imagination. The rest I have had to piece and patch together from research and investigation. She was not very helpful and stubbornly resisted revealing herself and her past. However, ordinary and “unspecial” she viewed herself, she cared and slaved to keep her children well. However, she conveyed this attitude to us as being a part of the milieu and Great Sea of the poor and disenfranchised. We were not the Rockefellers, Astor’s, Melons, etc. She would say: “Who do you think you are? Rockefeller?”

What my mother didn’t tell me about her past she well made up for in her behavior in the present so that if behavior is any sign of a person’s upbringing perhaps her behavior spoke volumes. By this and the fact that we saw very little of her parents I could imagine that she had been possibly abused and treated severely as a child. She definitely had a sense of who she was and her identity. She told me her parents were strict with her not letting her date unless chaperoned and they measured her time out and return very carefully. It was a Victorian and strict home. I sensed it was very different from my Father’s parents. I later realized what I had been observing about her, my father and most of my family that they had been alienated from there nationality, heritage, ancestry and context of origin. They both passed this sense of alienation on to me and alienation became my persona. She read books and magazines (Red Book, in particular); enjoyed movies and listened to the radio and later watched television. She had hazel green eyes and a lovely Brooklyn Bronx New York accent. She’d say “yeahh”; ”Sawel” ; ”wauta” ; and loved to make up songs about things that came up: She’d say such things as its better to be safe than sorry; “and keep yow yap shut”. She loved housework and keeping busy.

Because she was one of six children and part of an overall immigrant population, and because she lived next to the Brooklyn Nay Yard and because who worked for large and much wealthier employers my mother never developed a sense of her self as being special. She had a neither low nor high self-esteem but saw herself as usual, averages and part of the working and disenfranchised class. A point of view she and my father shared. They were one of many.

She had two sisters and three brothers: from the oldest to the youngest, the oldest, Martin became an accountant; her sister, Mina a business woman, who worked in the theater production and film distribution business and married several times; Charles, who worked in sales in the Bronx, Clara who was a faithful wife to her husband Harry, and the youngest, Irving, who was a writer and active advocate of liberal causes. My mother and others during the fifties misunderstood him as being a communist. He volunteered and fought on the side of the Spaniards against Franco. While my mother was tolerant she met her limit with Irving whose controversial borderline views was not acceptable. So here my mother was a bigot against a man who thought he was an advocate against bigotry. In the end she was right as the last time I saw him he became enraged at my faith and call to ministry. This from an atheists and man advocating tolerance and acceptance. It was disappointing and a shame.

During the second world war I remember her enjoying the block parties on Faile Street and dressing up to go out with my father to friends and neighbors. She looked and smelled beautiful. Julie and Sylvia would baby sit. I got to know her neighborhood well as I dated Barbara Allen who lived on the other side of Myrtle Ave in converted cold water flat and when I worked part-time as a glass etcher on Myrtle Ave.

Cecilia, her childhood friend would often visit and call, occasionally we’d visit and other friend in Brooklyn. In our family scrapbook were pictures of my mother with Cecelia dressed so pretty and smiling. Mom was at ease on the trains, trolleys, and buses; especially in her home borough of Brooklyn. We lived in the Bronx where my father worked, but my mother was a born Brooklynite. From the photos in her album, I could see that she loved fashion and dressing well. Even, during the forties, fifties and sixties my mother always dressed well, in taffeta, with the under crenalyns an before that with the fashionable and required girdles, etc.

She had another childhood friend named Tess. We’d visit her and family somewhere near Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn, She lived in the lower floor of a brownstone owned by her parents who lived above. It always smelled from urine due to unwashed sheets, cats and babies. It was a mess. Finally my mother agreed not to see her again unless she could clean her house. That was the last time we saw Tess. But the neighborhood and travel to Tess took us through classic vintage parts of Brooklyn, by train, trolley, factories and long streets of brownstones. I was later to see such similar streets selling ice cream for Good Humor.

I could tell little about the years before she met my father except by her excellent penmanship and ability to spell and do arithmetic. She was well equipped to live in foreign borough and adapted well to finding the places to shop and carry out life’s routines. I gathered that she worked for most of her years as a seamstress and receptionist. I could only surmise that place of employment was the garment center. He knew Manhattan very well, and would love to take us to the lobby of the Astor Hotel to sit and have a cup of coffee. She would take us to a Tafenetii’s restaurant, which is now on the same site as Nathan’s.

She loved to get out of the house and the immediate neighborhood. Often, with pots and bags of food she would take us on the train and or bus to the beach, Shore Haven Beach Club (with barbecue chicken from the Westchester Ave. Delicatessen), Broadway and Forty Second Street to the Arcades, Movies, and restaurants; to the Kaye’s in Brighten, Abolofia’s, Julie and Silvia’s, Charles and Jean, Blooms, Tess in Brooklyn Shirley and Irving on Columbus Avenue. And, shopping to Alexander’s on Third Ave., Mace’s and Gimbals, and thousands of nightly walks on Southern Boulevard and the Park. In the park she would make sure we used the equipment such as the swings and monkey bars and sliding ponds. She bought us a bike and helped us learn to ride. She made sure we knew the park attendant so I could play indoors and perform with my puppets. She would take us to the movies followed by Chinese lunch. I always ate the same thing: egg drop soup, chicken chow Mein, tea and ice cream. The waiter knew our favorites and us by heart. She always said we should eat to live and not live to eat. I tended to do the ladder.

She laughed and brought herself to have joy with her little children. She had a great sense of humor, which she applied to bodily functions. She had words and expressions for each and used them with laughter and acceptance. Everything including scratch when itching and she did and we would scratch each other’s itches. She would tickle us and we’d tickle her. There was the pains and hurts she happily mends and cares. Her New York City accent was undeniable Brooklyn with a bit of learned Bronx:” Oh, yehhh” she’d say, and gemme dat; comein, She sang: “Happy Birthday” and we made a recording of a song she made up"” had a lot of fun today, what do you think daddy will say that, we had a good time! She was so candid commenting on people’s dress and behavior. There was also mystery and adventure as she would take us shopping for girdles at a specialty woman’s girdle shop at the intersection of East 163 /rd Street and Westchester Ave. I would beg her to let me stay outside but because of the neighborhood brought us in. It was incredibly embarrassing but interesting the way the proprietor behaved and then my Mom modeled to see if it fit, etc. Yes, it fit and everything in this store was very nice. With deep respect and speaking of girdles , when we’d go out she would have to wear all of this parfianlia and when we’d come home she’d rush into her bedroom and remove all of this and lay down to relax and was so happy, almost giddy at the relief, it was good to be home. She put on her house dress and begin her chores.

I was a little spoiled about these things already from my experiences with my Dad at Weiss’s bridal and gown shop watching the ladies try on and model the wedding gowns. It was all very feminine, dressy and pretty. She loved Wednesday night because she grew with the custom of “beau night”, where her parents would let her be taken out by someone on a date to a movie, dance, etc. So she always mentioned ‘beau night. ’Tragically all of this innocence and lovely nice things were buried in the anguish and strife of intolerance, disdain, anger, and Scapegoat. My mother would occasionally cry and sometimes let me hold her hand while other times she’d say: just go away and leave me alone”. Other times she’d sit alone and stair out the window or read. She could be very silent and still. My mother and my father’s brothers got along very well. They visited her often. She did Julie’s nails and later gave my electric train and outgrown cloths to Julie and Sylvia for their son, Mike. Including my electric trains and black leather jacket. I recall Julie’s many visits, Frank, Dave and the other visited. This neighborhood was one that I usually traversed with my father in the car as he went to Prospect Ave. to work at Weiss.

I recall her amusement when we bought her presents: for example, she would always ruin steak, so we bought her a big and beautiful state of the art chrome electric broiler (the steaks got a little better). I bought her a music box ballerina, which she kept always in her window and looked and played it.Her view of politicians was consistent and without distinctions from one to another: “they are all crooks and liars” She never liked the public life, preferring her privacy. My mother had a great sense of humor, laughed hard and hearty in a lady like fashion. She bathed me as a child and later told me to get into the tub and she’d be there in a moment and soon did not come. So, I started bathing myself. She commanded my brother and me to stop fighting; or, would ask who started it. She would often get our names mixed up; calling me Saul and my brother, Barie. We found this to be very amusing. On Simpson Street we had Chiffarobe and no built in closets for our cloths. She was challenged as to storing our cloths.My mother was “the” Urbanite and the Ultimate cosmopolitan Lady.

She never left the city. I can count on one hand the number of times she traveled out of the city for any reason. My father traveled a little. My mother and father were born, lived and died in the city. My mother did not drive nor was she so motivated. She depended on public transportation for all her social, commercial and personal needs. My father was mobile and in the transportation business. Both had urban minds; navigating, adopting, and communicating.

Twenty years before she died she moved out of our home on Holland Ave. leaving every thing to my brother to dispose. He called me while we were living in the loft and just about to go broke. I could only ask my brother to salvage the depression ware dishes and photographs. There were so many other things I wanted but could not think of. Any way, she settled on Holland Ave in an apartment on the same block where she lived till she died. She was always cold and told me that God had given her a natural relief from the cold, which was to shiver. She shivered a lot.However, she prided herself on being an American and welcomed knowing people of all faiths, colors and creeds. She had as many Christian, Catholic, and protestant friends as she had colored oriental and other nationalities. She resented her new sister-in-law's bigotry and was impatient with gossip as a recreational form. Consequently, her friends and the relatives she would be able to relate were few and far between: amongst them were: Sylvia, Clara, Jean, Bertha, and Pauline.

She had new friends she met at Shore Haven Beach Club: Lola Tangredi who finally married Joe, and Mabel Waingrow, who, with her husband, Dave, owned and operated the “S&W Sweet Shop”, just opposite the Loews “Paradise” movie theater, on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. She went to work for them as a waitress at night. I would often visit her at work to escort her home or just be with her. It just so happened that this shop was next to Weiss formal wear, where my father worked as well. I often, took Mabel’s dogs for a walk: a giant Chow-dog and a Pomeranian. Of course, I got free hamburgers, egg creams and malteds. Mabel was big and fat and had a “big mouth”; but was always kind and gentle to my Mom; but not to her husband and to those who crossed her in business.

My Mother had little fear of New York’s crime rate. She would work till two or three am in the morning and return home by bus by herself. She absolutely never complained nor was concerned; thank God, in all those years there was never an incident.When I was eight, she taught me how to dance so that when we went to Shore Haven I could dance with her. She also had clichés she would repeat in English:

  • “Every dog has his day” was amongst her favorite.
  • “If you can’t say any thing nice don’t say anything at all”
  • “Live and let live”

For both of our Birthdays she bought musical birthday card, which chimed the melody of “Happy Birthday.” The first year we got it we played it so much that somehow one of the notes broke. No matter, she preserved the card and every year at our birthdays; she’d bring it out and go around the house all day long playing it. I can hear the broken note now as I remember her playing her birthday song of love. Of course there would be a cake with candles and presents. I remember when she bought her first pair of slacks. They were pleated slate blue and she had a nice taffeta blouse to match.

The early years where my father and mother went out and talked and joked with each other are memorable and peculiar. My mother smoked long cigarettes and when she washed dishes and cooked she often did so with a cigarette dangling from her mouth. Her hands were either wet or holding something. My father likened her habit and appearance to a famous female comedic movie actress who did this. She took this with affection and in the humorous sense it was given. I was grateful for these times because they were talking and there was peace. They were very nice times. . My Mother was the kind of person that always reminded you of all the things she did for her children all the time and at every occasion. So, much so that it hard sometimes for to know what it is that I recall from the event or her stories describing the events. She made our baby food by hand crushing vegetables and fruits as well as hand grinding them in a silvery led grinder she showed me often. She still used it till she died. She did not have a clothes washing machine and hand washed and hung our cloths out to dry on the line outside our window in the alley until we moved to Holland Ave.

She never had an electric dishwasher and hand washed all our dishes every day of her life and her hands were always chapped from the dishwater. She always used Ivory soap which I could never get near because it made my skin crawl; but it sponsored so many of her favorite programs. She read “True Confessions” and ”Redbook” magazines and listened to the “Soaps” and on TV, Liberace and Lawrence Welk. She loved Joan Crawford movies and sitting in the lobby of the Hotel Astor on there Blue velvet chairs. She showed me the restaurants she and her friends visited such as “Tafenetti’s where later “Nathan’s” opened a branch.In any case, despite what ever else may have happened, my mother was a dedicated and very loyal Mom. She had a round metal Dori Sherry box in which she forever kept pedicure instruments and would not let nay one touch or me or use the instruments or open this box. She would cut the nails of my relatives and of course ours.

She loved to take us to Chinese restaurants, buy hot dogs at Nathan’s in Coney Island, go to Carvel for ice cream, drive to a place a Yonkers for hamburgers; She introduced us to Romeo’s of 42 street to have spaghetti and meatballs. Jan’s for ice cream sundaes and Krum’s for ice cream and special cakes. She loved to develop our urban culture and appreciation for the wide and wonderful world that was outside of our apartment and its confines. She was the epitome of faith and fidelity. She was Satan’s worst enemy!She was the personification of integrity. She was not pragmatic. That was all left to my father. This was one of their differences. She was “Teutonic”; and, he was “Mediterranean”. She taught me how to vacuum and clean the house. Before I started working, she even paid me a quarter for a complete job. Boy, did I ever learn.

My mother’s real nemesis was our cat “Stinky” because she called it “Schtonk”, meaning stink, because it sometime did not use its litter box. It was a sight to behold, as she would chase the cat around the living room with her broom to see the cat fly from chair to chair and slide across the floor and under the bed was truly incredible! About the cat, finally I made a deal with my mother that I would surrender the cat if she would consent to move from Simpson Street to Holland Ave. I did do this and she did move. My brother was both heartbroken and angry with me for doing this. I believe from that moment on he saw my mother and me in a very different light.

It is with pride that I’d announce her as my Mom, and, when I look back on my childhood I only can recall her care and attentiveness. We were good friends and someone who could talk on a variety of subjects. She appreciated being taken out for movies, theater, and eating. I can remember taking her to Nathan’s in Coney Island, Jan’s in the Bronx for ice cream, walks up to Boston Post Road for Caravel for soft ice cream, etc. She was great company! She had a real hard time giving birth to me but it was easy with my brother. Marriage to my father, the depression, and life seemed to frighten her. To the time I turned 12 (1949) I can remember her being very emotional; crying, and nagging at us. One day her emotional rampages stopped and I asked her why. She said that now I had grown, and such means of discipline was no longer appropriate. She always had said that the reason she kept up the pressure was because she believed she must, since my father did not. She complained that he neither was with us nor spent the time with his children as he should; and, suspected him on cheating on her; she was right, he was, and he did. This was very upsetting to her! She had no one else to talk to about this except her children, and my brother was too young, so it was me; and, she would pour her heart out with anger and emotion; often, directing her emotion at me. I learned how to carry big emotional loads.

The fact is that my mother’s trust had been betrayed by my father and she suffered anomic shock and a lifetime of anomie stress. She was married and would never change that. This was the way she had her values and standards shaped. Would she have discarded my father at an early time and remarried this anomie would have disappeared. However, she kept it alive all her life, and with it alive in my father’s life as well. The bible gives infidelity as a cause for divorce and because of sin and sin’s anomic stress it should have been my mother’s course.My mother had been betrayed! She manifested and explained her outrage every single day. I knew my mother’s betrayal because it was mine as well as hers, but she expressed it for us all. I just did not realize it until I got older. I loved my mother as her son, big brother and knight in shinning armor. I tried to do what I could. It took me a lifetime to realize what was needed and how to love her the way it would ease her pain and rebuild her self-esteem.

It seems that later in years my mother and father wanted their privacy and did not want me around. Paul says in chapter eight of his letter to the Romans 28-313;”we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. I only assumed that it would all work out over time.Everything about my mother was emotional, intuitive and challenging. From her birth pangs, which got me out of her womb as a breach birth to her, beating me into submission and temperance? It was all seemingly chaos, unreasonable and traumatic.

As a young teen I saved my mother’s life in a small lake in the Catskills by the bridge when she waded into a hole and could not hold here self. She could not swim. I immediately put my lifeguard training to work and treated her like any victim. I stilled and turned and held across her chest and neck and side applied her to shore and safety. She of course was out of breath and grateful. Our relationship and her view of me changed somewhat after that event; after all I had saved her life.Any girlfriend I ever had loved my mother. Somehow they became best friends.

Arlene often visited my mother when I would be at school or work. It seems they would try to unravel me somehow. On Simpson Street attending PS 20 one of my teachers recommended our class buy and read Norman Vincent Peal’s “How to win Friends and Influence People”. I bought a copy and brought it home for my mother to read as a gift. She received it and so far an I can remember did read it. Knowing what I do now about the background of the book I wonder why God put that particular vehicle before us both. But it seemed to have an effect.

Peale's message was the power of the mind.... Your unconscious mind... [Has a] power that turns wishes into realities when the wishes are strong enough.' Of course, my mother nor I; nor, probably my teacher knew anything about all of this. We were the people at the bottom of the barrel who knew very little and had to trust people in authority for their guidance and suggestions, and then say thank you. Much the ways medical providers treat their patients today. Peale's view of the universe as God as an "energy," and of "prayer" as the scientific technique for releasing God-energy according to definite "laws." All of this is hearsay and blasphemes Gods sovereignty. Besides it is utter nonsense and any one with “sachel” and experience would know that. Or, by then, should have known that. But by the way such books and movements become popular in the market place this is not the case. My teacher’s reason for recommending the book to the whole class was for its call to vision and to learn the importance of having good relations with our fellow students and neighbors.Yet, I believe my mother and I considered this as well. I was also hoping she would try applying this approach in our home with both her husband and us kids. It took a little time but then things started to change for the better. For us it was simply trying to see the glass as half full than half-empty. However, it was from this exercise that I learned how the power of an idea could intercede and affect one’s life. If even we consider and pondered it, it had an impact. It was something I associated with books and ideas and they way they could influence the lives of people who read and considered their teachings.

Her sister, Clara, got involved with Christian Scientist in Brooklyn and she and my mother went to their meetings. My mother believed in God and she read the bible. I do not know if she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and savior. I can only hope she did.On the lighter side, my Mom and I became each other’s best friend. We’d always banter at each other in the morning when we’d wake up. She was great company to do anything, dancing, concerts, shows, drives, snacks, and walks. She was innately liberal and freewheeled. She was not very demanding on me always guiding me in my decisions thusly:” be a good boy and keep yourself clean”; that was it! I do not regret any thing in my past with my Mom, I know I wanted it all for her, and I believe her deeds and prayers were always for my best.


From when I was fourteen till twenty one and then later whenever I visited my Mother and I would start our mornings bickering. It would include challenges by each of us to every comment until we kissed and made up. I would encircle my arms around her and hug her real tight. Every one who witnessed us commented on the way we sounded and how awful it all was. My mother and I thought it was quite normal and enjoyed the freedom to speak our mind. “Good morning” might receive a “so what’s so good about it”; “how are you,” “with my hands”;”it’s cold” with “so what can I do about that”. We were argumentative and irate. Actually we were venting and just enjoying carrying on. Anything to get each other to speak. My mother always loved that she and I could speak openly and candidly about anything at any time. We could agree but most of the time she’d question the veracity of anything I’d say or do and I’d always have a comeback which she would simply end in silence and then I’d say:” what?” knowing that she still had something to say and I wanted to hear it.

Till today Christina comments on how Mom and I carried on and when ever I start talking about something in those terms she reminds me that she is not my mother.My mother and I could sit and talk for hours disagreeing and agreeing about any subject. She was an ardent listener and blessed with wisdom. Her caustic remarks would challenge the best of my intentions and worthiness of undertakings. “So what difference will it make”;”why bother” “will you be any different?” Most of the time she thought that “talk was cheap”, she’d heard a lot of it and was not about to fall for any of my “crap” without a fight. My surviving aunt Molly sometimes will challenge my gestures of courtesy in the same way my Mother did.

Mother’s complaints were about my father’s disloyalty, promiscuity, and general carousing about. To her he was flirtatious and not a “good” person. She therefore saw herself called to be both Mother and Father. I always reckoned that it was her compelling belief to be both that she chose to react to my many childhood wilds to beat me up and give me the discipline that my father should have. I also believe that since I was born over 9 lbs. she had great difficulty bearing that and me she had a Cicerone section and lots of bleeding. I seem to have transformed her biological setup. It was terrible for her. She had sores on her arms and terrible pain from varicose veins on her legs. She suffered PMS and because of her early years of bad gums she finally had to have all her teeth pulled (a year or two of agony and pain) to then have false teeth. Like me she also, suffered with allergies and stuffed nose constantly using Vick's, Vaseline and Ivory soap. When I hugged her, her bones cracked. We’d always kiss goodnight on the cheek. She shivered when she was cold and she had thin blood so she shivered a lot. She was always cold. She could not swim and one day she was drowning and I saved her. She had a hemorrhage having a mis- carriage and I ran all over the building to get help, and a doctor. I tended her every need and did the shopping and cleaning as she recovered.

My Mother was very different from my Father: she confronted and challenged; was skeptical, questioning, stubborn and loyal. My Father was generous, friendly, kind and cooperative. He was flexible, cunning and strategic. Both knew how to endure grief, great pain and suffering, and mundane thankless work tasks. To both of them, work was a miserable thing, a curse which we al have to bear. No job could be too miserable or demanding, no boss could be too stupid or wrong. While you were employed you were to be good and do your job.

I recall her hitting me the afternoon I broke my foot by stopping my self-sledding on the hill next to our house on Faile Street. She yelled at the man who was one of our neighbor’s who was supposedly supervising and watching out for the safety of the children. She was so upset. She also hit me the day the boys broke my foot with an iron rod on that same hill. I put my foot out to stop them from banging on some thing and breaking it, they would not stop. My mother was so upset. In the fifties on Holland Ave she enjoyed watching television on her living room easy chair. Her favorites were Liberace, Lawrence Welk, Ed Sullivan, etc.She would sit, and watch, and dose -off sleeping. I would never disturb her. As a child I bit my nails and did awful things, which anguished my mother. I was very compulsive and driven. She had her hands full.I remember her letters and cards to me always in her best and beautiful penmanship; always, signed with Love and “xxxxxxxxxx” for her kisses. My mother never liked going to museums because they did not have windows; she felt closed in and claustrophobic. And yet, she took us many times to all the museums. I would go with my class and friends when I got older. I discovered that the precious gems exhibited in the Museum of Natural History were public property and as such I had owner ship and rights to them. Therefore, I reasoned why we should own such things when God and the State provide them for us.

Hayden Planetarium

Museum of Art

I believe it was my mother who encouraged me in this attitude toward ownership, possession, and culture. To appreciate beauty and God’s creations without being driven to destroy, covet and disrespect what God created. My mother lived the American life. Making unafraid choices and doing simple but interesting things. One of them was a job she took as a waitress in an Ice Cream parlor called “S&W sweet Shop” directly across from the Bronx’s biggest and best movie theater: ”The Loews Paradise”. Her friend, Mabel Waingrow, owned the store with her husband Dave.

She still managed to put clean sheets of our beds and fresh towels in the bathroom every night. Our cloths were always clean and pressed and the house sparkled. I was a very rebellious child: I recall telling my mother that the bad behavior she reprimanded me for was her fault. I also, reminded both of them of there duty to support me. They birthed me and now they had to support me. Most of my mother’s dissertations were about the history of the difficulties and hardships she had to birth and raise us. She would repeat the stories and explain the details with a fervor I could not understand. Having heard the stories so many times I found it boring and bragging. As I look back I think of these many retelling as her pride and love of the work god had given to her to do and her desire to share her accomplishments with the world; who ever would listen. Since her world consisted of few of us the story got retold only to us. She really did not want this part of history and what she had done to be lost and trivialized. The details of her story were heroic and difficult. I thought at the time: ”well you asked for it, why you are complaining”. I look back at that time and my attitude as my low point in love and being a human being. I was a jerk! I needed to be much more loving and caring and listen with sympathy and gratitude that I did then. Later I would ask her to retell and explain things to me again and again. I could not get enough.

No, she was not complaining but proclaiming the virtues and zeal she had in doing this very difficult work. When I finally grew up, and I could clear the cobwebs out of my head I really learned to cherish and appreciate her stories and great accomplishments. I could not thank her enough and did as much fro her as I could which included desiring to spend time with her. I learned to convert dependency and taking her duties of house work for granted to wanting to celebrate our love and friendship by taking her out to theater, movies, dinner, lunch, and later for her to live with us. She refused to live with us. It was difficult to get her to visit. I especially wanted her to enjoy our Jackson, Reston, Houston and college station homes. She would not. She preferred to spend this time and commitment with Saul and Fran. That transformed and dulled our relationship. What did she do?

  • My birth was cesarean and I came out headfirst.I was constantly sick
  • She prepared the baby food by hand using fresh vegetables and fruits which she bought raw and carried home in shopping bags from the store and prepared them by hand mixers not electric.
  • She heated and tested them to make sure they were good and at the right temperatures.
  • She fed them to us with songs, colloquies and rhymes she made up and did with laughter and love.
  • She worried that we ate and nourished and lived
  • She was pound and measured our growth. She bought us presents and rewarded us for eating, and behaving.
  • She sang songs and read to us songs and stories that today I don’t remember.

Her voice was so deep and had so much verve and accent of Brooklyn and the Bronx. It was a joy to hear when she spoke nicely. I could not get enough. She often complained that I demanded too much by asking and her too much because I wanted to hear her talk. In fact I was passionately in love with my mother, and I preferred her to any friend, lover and relative on the planet. She just wanted her space and opportunity to escape the doldrums of perpetual mother hood all the time. Later I did what I could. I even tried to introduce her to Gerald Popiel; and encourage her to go out on her own to dress and be attractive. She really knew how to dress and look great. My mother was a beautiful woman with handsome and stately features. She was stately, royal and engaging. Not an immature flirts and sex kitten but the kind of woman a man with a brain and intellect could enjoy and converse. Her interests and ability to understand ideas and listen was incredible. She enjoyed reading and talking about what she saw on television, heard on the radio or read in the newspapers. She had a much greeter vocabulary than my father and did what she could to encourage me to have my “own mind”

I love to watch her eat, sleep and watch television. She would often chastise me in humor and friendly expression for staring at her; “gowan, what are you staring at” she’d say. My mother’s biggest complaint about my father is that he did not teach me to defend myself against neighborhood bullies and gangs to fight back. I learned to take beatings, talk, rationalize, and some times plead to avoid trouble and continued harassment and terror.

Culturally my mother was the most American melting pot adherent I have ever known. Audacious and defiant against being pigeon holed and labeled. Having innate disdain for public life and public figures she labeled all politicians as “liars” inherently doomed to lie before elections and cheat after elected by not fulfilling any thing they said. She would never picket or make a public out cry, but privately her comments and criticisms were sharp, critical, reasoned and to the point. She was very diplomatic to never engage in political or religious talks knowing that these talks would result in the strife and misery the rest of the world was already embroiled. I loved her mind and its point of view. It was innately reserved and conservative, skeptical and untrusting. Her mental and emotional stamina was powerful tools against Satan and the world of demons he controlled. She often pointed them out to me and taught me to know how to say:”No” and recognize deception and dishonesty. She would react very quickly and sharply against such words and people.

She always answer to any question about her background that I’m an American, period, fullstop, end of sentence; objecting to questions about her religion, national origin, neighborhood, past and privacy. She guarded her right to privacy and her pursuit of what ever she called happiness. She did not buy into any one else’s definition of happiness for her. Live and let live was her anthem. An addige she often pointed out applied to her as well as others; it worked two ways.

according to Bertrand Russell if an anarchist follows an·ar·chism and anarchism is the theory or doctrine that all forms of government are oppressive and undesirable and should be abolished along with a Rejection of all forms of coercive control and authority: then according to Bertrand Russell my mother was a type of anarchist “who hated system and organization and uniformity” She was the ultimate sovereign. An anarchist ready to make the ultimate sacrifice and did. She went down to the end on her own terms, never flinching. My father and others complained of her “stubbornness”.

After my Mom, most other women were timid, tepid and bland. She was precocious, manifesting or characterized by unusually early development or maturity, especially in mental aptitude as one developed more than is natural or usual at a given age; exceeding what is to be expected of one's years; too forward; -- used especially of mental forwardness; as, a precocious child and precocious talents. My Uncle Irving often alluded to my Mom’s special nature and character. All who knew her recognized her as a specially gifted person.

My Mother’s legacy to me is:

  • Discipline, obey and love(not as the world)
  • Live with means
  • Keep clean
  • If you can’t say some thing nice don’t say anything at all.
  • Dress well
  • Be a private person
  • Being good is better than being rich
  • Politicians are all liars. I do not believe my mother ever voted.

In retrospect I believe my mother cast my schooling, diplomas and licenses as a charade of me being something I am not. More than pretentious. A person becoming something for all the wrong reasons. Going into things, which are not our business, and of no value. But, I do believe she realized that I was doing all of this because I did not have the love and care of my father. That I was trying to construct the shell of a home and family deprived me by my father.

In retrospect I believe that my mother was suffering anomic stress due to the relocation away from Brooklyn and her normal environment, coupled with the anomie inflicted upon her by my father’s infidelity. The combination of the two along with the disorientation and neglect accompanying this situation along with the burdens of the depression, war and poverty. Saul and I knew when all of this was happening that my mother was a very good and loving person. We knew she had a sense of humor and we knew she loved us; we never doubted that she loved us and that she was there for us every second of every day in every way.

She was very mature and wise! She had an overview of our strata in the world order and I believe knew that without a strong father and husband I could not really succeed. Eventually she resigned herself and when I met Gerald Popiel she told me that he was like the father I did not have. On the other hand I believe she viewed where he was leading me was a kind of fantasy land but it was at least something and I probably would find my way. It could have been much more still a strong father. So when I graduated Pratt and then Yale she really did not think much of either because of this view.

After all, she was my mother and she knew me and the world very well. I just did not know what else to do and neither did she. I believe she asked:”What could come of it all”? Mother, you were right! On the other hand, she was not against education; I don’t think she understood my potential not the potential of any one. She was not into potentials but things as they are. We were poor and of the labor class. We were not owners but laborers. My father became an owner and she did not understand this because of his infidelity. She would have needed his guidance and together they would have been a good couple. My father walked away for his wedding vows and God’s covenant.

Now, as then my mother is my hero. She set very high standards and taught me to choose to abstain, discern and discriminate; to keep my self-clean and choose the best. To choose God and His ways over man’s. To listen to God and not man. To cross the street from evil and navigate through a dangerous and silly people. It is because of what she did and the example she set that I choose my goals and achieve not the world’s but God’s goals. She showed me the way.

She did this humbly and well. The many other things that she said and did wax pale in comparison to this monumental and Godly value she delivered into my life. It is the difference and significance of my life and its value. God gave her answer to her prayers; the prayer of Hanna as her name was Anne. She never liked when I pronounced the “e” in her name. She was just Ann. She did not pray for God to give her a child but that the child He gave her would be fathered and nurtured. So God gave her this virtue and she did what she had prayed. Thank God!

My mother was the kind of person that always reminded you of all the things she did for her children all the time and at every occasion. So, much so that it hard sometimes for to know what it is that I recall from the event or her stories of the events. In any case, despite what ever else may have happened my mother was a dedicated and loyal Mom. It is with pride that I’d announce her as my Mom and when I look back on my childhood I only can recall her care and attentiveness. We were good friends and someone who could talk on a variety of subjects. She appreciated being taken out for movies, theater, and eating. I can remember taking her to Nathans in Coney Island, Jans for ice cream, walks up to Carvel for soft ice cream, etc. She was great company! She had a real hard time. He giving birth to me but it was easy with my brother. Marriage to my father, the depression, and life seemed to frighten her. To the time I turned 12 (1949) I can remember her being very emotional; crying, and nagging at us. One day she stopped and I asked her why. She said that now I had grown and such means of discipline was no longer appropriate. She always had said that the reason she kept up the pressure was because she believed she must, since my father did not. She complained that he was never with us nor spent the time with his children as he should and suspected him on cheating on her; she was right, he was, and he did. This was very upsetting to her! She had no one else to talk to about this except her children, and my brother was too young, so it was me, and she would pour her heart out with anger, and emotion often directing her emotion at me. Things mattered to her. Her life mattered.

My mother was a brilliant logistician, politician, and child psychologist by making me responsible for my brother from the time he was born. She knew that I was hurt by having to surrender my space and share her affection, attention, and things with him. So, she made me the one who needed to do this because Saul was under my care. I would have a share in parenting Saul .I took on this job with love and nobility. It taught me and built my character. It made me mind and heart soar but it was also very painful as he grew and as I developed other interest and so did he. Eventually I was to be shunned and ignored and made irrelevant by his relationship with Francine. My mother through all of this I am sure was sympathetic and confided in me about all her feelings and misgivings. She was always very candid with me and told me that while Saul was very kind and good it was I that she could talk to and share ideas and her heart. She could not do this with either my father or my brother. She could do this with me. I loved her so and welcomed this further responsibility.

My Mother and Christina have a very important thing in common and that is that they practice anarchy. They also have influenced me to be an anarchist and for that I my life has been more interesting. My mother would keep secrets and deny any one the benefit of intruding in her private life. Both were not politically active but would deny government the right to interfere in their life. They both rejected all forms of coercive control, especially Christina in her valiant departure from the East Zone. They both thrived on individuality objected to cohesive principles seeing the peculiar, distinctive and exceptional in many things that would warrant individuality and separation. Indeed they would not be ruled. The Latin for anarchy means without a ruler. Another of my mother’s favorite things was when my brother and I would come together and not fight. We did this as often as we could know it made her happy. Somehow all this stopped. It was tragic and unworthy ending to all her hard and painful efforts. It hurt me very much.

I was blessed with being able to live with my mother and enjoy her great company until I was 21 in 1951 and started Pratt. I would visit her often during our marriage and then live with her again. I tried as best I could to have her stay with me when I had my own apartment at Pratt, then in Manhattan. She was always resistive but once there she and I had a great time. My mother was a great companion, always fun and enjoyed the same things I did; after all she taught me most of them. She loved drives to Coney Island, Adventurers, and any place I wanted to go. She was a good company keeper. We’d hold hands and talk about what we saw and enjoyed discussions of any kind. We’d begin the mornings by intense bickering and then hug and afterwards really enjoy each other’s honesty and uncovering our feelings and perceptions. I was always feeling I had to replace my father and be better than a husband to her is. She was my best friend and I was hers. There was nothing we could not discuss, including her hurt by my father. She hated when I visited him and knew I was less than candid to save her feelings; she understood I must see him but knew I too was hurting about the whole mess. We comforted and encouraged one another. She loved my friends with exceptions. We would talk about each of them and she would tell me her opinions about them. She had the greatest sense of humor, not the one with jokes, but a wit and sarcasm. She’d smile often at my comments and listen intently when I spoke. I did fall in love with Christina. But I was living at home with my mother at the time and I was very happy with her. She’d always have my meals ready when I came home or we’d go out to eat. I loved taking her out because I knew she would never do that for herself.

My mother really did not like to speak very much except to go on and on about every detail and moment of birthing and raising the both of us. If ever my mother had a “story” it was about her role as our mother and her sacrifices. She had nothing much more to give than what she had given and at that it was all she had. She gave it and then did not want it forgotten. She could not forget and because it was so precious did not want us or anyone else to not know about what she had experienced. It was told with as much alarm, realism, and passion as a hero after a war telling his was story.

My Mother was very thrifty and saved her every penny and bought US war and then savings bonds. She never used a penny of the yield of any of the bonds. She instead gave them to Saul and Fran and some to me to help with our expenses. I do not recall receiving any the money. I know that Saul got the bulk of the money. She did not travel, dine out, or have any extravagances. I do not believe she even had what she needed for medical insurance coverage. It is tragic and sad. As a careless child I would retort to her complaints about my irresponsibility and me that since she and my father birthed me they had the responsibility to care and help me. I was their responsibility and not vice versa. I often felt she was trying to make me responsible for the deeds of my father or the own inability’s as a person. To her telling and retelling of what she had done for us as children I reminded her that that is what mothers and fathers should do and was not the subject of excessive pride and bragging. I regret having said these things to her. However, it was the nature of our relationship to confront, challenge, and go in each other’s face about areas we disagreed. This was one of them. We always kissed and made up. I never left her angry or slept with a good night kiss. She dedicated herself to always telling me she loved me and made sure that Arlene, Dorothy and Christina knew my need for love as she saw it. Her letters were abundant, began, and ended with her assurance of her love.

My mother taught me to listen to the suffering of women and appreciate there experience. I learned form her as she suffered and expressed herself I learned to understand and listen to her words and feel her pain. I was later able to listen to the pain and suffering of others. She also listened to me and the older we both became the more we listened and longed to listen to each other. She became my best friend.

Chapter 5 Bronx Father: ( 7,703 words)

My father was Henry Joseph and known as Joe ; but, they called him:” Joey”. And, I was known as “Joe’s son” My father always referred to me as “Son”, not Barie. Whatever little I know about my Father (before I met him) is from bits and pieces of his own stories about himself and what ever I could surmise from others. I have had now written information about either my Mother or Father. He was raised in Harlem, New York living on 101 Street and Lenox Ave. My father was raised in the midst of tremendous revolution of the peoples of Harlem called the Harlem Renaissance. I assume he was born about in 1916 (and therefore about 21 when I was born) when there were a lot of poor people living in Harlem then, most of them working people. Because my father greatly affected by this period in his life it is worth examining and comparing it with his resulting personality and life style.At the time my father lived in Harlem most black men worked in service jobs -- cooks, waiters, janitors, bootblacks. My grandfather became a bootblack.

Harlem already had the largest black population of any city in the country, but there weren’t a single black bus driver, subway worker, street sweeper or garbage collector; a black teacher; they were all white. You did see a few black policemen and firemen, but they were so uncommon that everybody knew who they were. Most black women worked as domestics -- not only in New York, but also all over the United States. Most of the time the women were more educated than the men. I think it's because the girls stayed at home longer, and listened to their mothers better. Boys often dropped out of school as low as the 4th or 5th grade and some didn't go at all. My father may have been one of those but he was never clear weather he completed school. He just would not say. His two sister, Regina and Pauline were pretty smart ladies.

Harlem then had a lot of poor Italian immigrants, who were still arriving in large numbers, along with others from Eastern Europe, and a smattering of people from the Caribbean islands. As these groups came in, the middle-class whites started getting out. Blacks lived primarily on the West Side of Harlem, between Lenox Avenue and 7th Avenue, and the Italians dominated the East Side of 5th Avenue, in East Harlem. Up above us, on Morningside Heights, was a large concentration of Irish. This gave my father a comfort zone with most any nationality.

I think most blacks realized they were segregated, because they were confined to living in that area. Not by any law, but because most property owners outside of that area would not rent or sell to them. For self-protection, you had to be a member of boys' gang in the block where you lived. It might be just for the kids on your side of the street, and right across the street might be a different gang. When you came out of the house, you generally stayed with your fellow gang members. As I experienced the gangs on Simpson Street my father best advice was either to join or avoid them. We choose avoidance. I was never sure what choice my father had made a kid.

There were two rivers where you could swim in the summertime, the Harlem River on the east and the Hudson River on the west. The Harlem River was the better place, but between the swimming hole and us were the Italians. It is why when we lived in Hunts Point and swam in the east river that it was perfectly acceptable.It is easy to see why my mother may have been attracted to some one from such a place as Harlem. And, in 1936 when he was 20 he met and married my mother.

My father’s love of black music and musicians rubbed off on me during the first ten years of my life. He loved the Ink Spots, jazz pianists such as Earl Hines and others. The first records he bought me was black jazz and the music we listened to on the radio was such greats as Bessy Smith, King Cole Trio, Ink Spots, etc. very little high brow; just great black street corner bopping. Dad dressed and acted the part, it was his style. He had a lot of style. He had the looks and the style. He had style, style that is embedded in slang and gestures with innuendo and accepted sounds, jibe, and colloquies found on the streets of Harlem and the Bronx. He was romantic and could smile and wink his eyes to assure you of his good looks and masculinity. He could dance but not ballroom dancing, just slow dancing and with lots of movements and expressiveness. If you hear the words of Fats Walla and Bessy smith music you can hear the expressions and jibe talk of my father.

Swing talk is a loose, vivid, living language. It does not and cannot stand still; it partakes of the dynamics of our time. New words are forever entering the fold, old words departing or changing. Thrown up out of this flux are the following meanings of the moment. Take them for what they are: words, twisting and turning, seeking to find fresh, unique modes of expression that will embody the nuance and spirit of a modern, tradition-smashing music. The below is a mere smattering of some of Dad’s vocabulary. He used these words in jest and knowing they were slang. Dad was a fine man and this vocabulary really did not suit him. He was not as brassy and forward as this vocabulary would imply.

Additionally Dad borrowed some words from his parents such as “loco”; crazy man crazy; venga, etc. These were Ladino words which he told us were “kind of” Spanish. So we said siente se, venga, etc. We knew there were other words but these were merely spoken as token symbols of our identity and culture which he was not very sure he wanted to present. He spoke the bop idioms with much more confidence and believability. These were more of him and who he believed he was.

He knew Sammy Davis Jr. and had ten brothers and sisters. He was raised by his immigrant parents during the great depression and was able to attend public school. He learned to read, write, and do arithmetic. He could drive and at a young age got odd jobs. The job he had at the time he met and married my mother was an as a cook in a dinner. It says so on my birth certificate. Being as how I was born in the Brooklyn Hospital and that my mother’s family lived on Steuben Street and that my Aunt Molly says that when she and Leo met the family clan they were living in Brooklyn, I assume this work place was in Brooklyn and that they lived near the work place. It was not something they ever talked very much about so I assume it was very transitory in nature. It also indicated on the Birth Certificate that Dad’s family in some way owned the Dinner. Christina recalls that they owned and operated a small store front breakfast greasy spoon. In any case it was short lived.

Dad who made the breakfast in the morning and showed me how to flip flap jacks and sunny side over light eggs; how to cook bacon and make great grilled cheese sandwiches; how to make sandwiches and how to cook on a grille and use very hot pans and not to wash the pans but dry wipe them for use the next time. He knew his way around in the kitchen, so for sure this was one of his jobs and probably just before they were married. I can only surmise they lived in Brooklyn for that short interval and then they all moved to the Bronx. Harriet also recalls the early days on Hoe Ave.

Dad had two older sisters, Regina (who married a Cuban) and Pauline (who married a Turk); and eight brothers of which he was the oldest of the youngest four; five sons being older. Both his sisters were older than he was. He was six feet and two inches and enjoyed dancing and meeting people. He liked to talk and have fun with his brothers and sisters. He always said that he wanted me to have all the things he wasn’t able to have. He learned to be a dedicated father and realized at a very young age that he did not have the opportunity for either education or business.

My earliest recollections of him are as a passenger in his car with him driving and us talking. He took me every where he went: to work at Weiss delivering tuxedos, laundry, and then when he started driving people to the mountains, to the Jersey Shore and to and from there houses in a project off of Jerome Ave. I was there. He was always kind and loving. I recall one of his very first cars being a big black Oldsmobile with a running board.

When he first came home from the army he’d take me visiting to a man he served with in the Army. This man and his family lived in Bayonne, New Jersey in an old wooden house in the middle of a cemetery. To get there we’d travel through the Bronx, down the East River drive to the port and drive the car onto the Staten Island Ferry.

After a great adventure crossing the east river and seeing the statue of liberty, Ellis island etc. we’d drive our car off the ship and onto an extraordinary parkway which was burrowed below the street level in a four lane highway, Al the street crossed over it so for a good deal of the ride the car was bellow some overpass.

I remember this because the radio would stop playing or make a lot of static. It was on these rides my dad would teach me what ever he knew about radio waves. I remember the road also had a many lights warning of lane closing and redirecting traffic. It was quite an adventure. We’d go through Staten Island, and over the gigantic bowed Bayonne Bridge and then drive a really long time into the most rural area and to the cemetery and his friend'’ house. I cannot recall what we did there but I do know that sometime we’d return late at night. We often made this trip and I enjoyed it very much.

When I was just fourteen he made sure I got my learners permit and in my Uncle franks wood paneled station wagon showed me how to drive a standard transmission. First we drove this very heavy and cumbersome vehicle in some streets than up a ramp leading onto the Interborough parkway (which at the time did not have concrete dividing each direction. I begged him to let me stop or get off but he kept encouraging me and we made it home. I was exhausted.

Both my mother and father enjoyed introducing me and opening my eyes to the excitement and nuances of life. They both recognized that it through them that I would see and understand what’s out there. It was what they both knew and could do, so they did that. This was the fun part of parenting. For my father it came much easier than for my mother, my father had the car, was mobile and affluent. He took us to Italian restaurants of all sizes and neighborhoods, Dominick’s and three brother’s steak house, which spoiled my taste forever; because it was the best!He took us to White Castle, Dairy restaurant, “Big Apple” on the highway to Adorondex. He took us to Howard Johnson’s restaurants of ice cream (28 flavors), etc.So my father was, he taught me how to drive and behave with people by his own example. He never said something twice, if he even said something once we were grateful. He listened and would answer simply. His vocabulary was limited and he’d get very emotional because he often could not find the words to properly express his heart.

I too learned to listen to him after asking him something he would pour himself out. He loved to talk about directions to destinations, repainting the car, the condition of the family and each member; He was never judgmental about anyone! He was always grateful for anything he had, was given or earned. He was honest and truthful about his business but not about his personal life.

He never owned a car that was not a used for work. Even his apartment was his office used to receive phone calls and do his book keeping. Our apartment on Simpson and then Holland was such a place until he opened an apartment for them on knolls crescent in Riverdale where they first started there car service. Lea and there apartment was even such a place. Even his apartment was bought for there use by my Cousin Murray. He was leading a double life.He wasn’t one for lecturing or explaining. The only things he knew to explain were directions of travel through the city. He had every street’s name and direction memorized. He could map out a trip and sequence of picks ups and deliveries in his sleep.

He knew little of anomie nor suffered the stress of change and removal of standards and values. He was too busy surviving and conquering He was making his way and it was rough but he was persistent and motivated to win.He took me personally to join the cub, and then the boy scouts.

He arranged for me to spend a summer period as a camp counselor in “Camp Cricklewood” where he had a contract to supply cars and drivers to transport the children and there parents. He arranged for me to go to camp for three weeks with the boy scouts. He got me tutors to help me in subjects I could not pass.

He would talk to my mother and his brothers about routes between one and other place. He had the streets of the Bronx and Manhattan with their one way streets committed to memory. Motorola installed two ways radio’s in all his vehicles and he’d guide his drivers and me when they were lost. He knew the detours and how to get around them. He could time trips between points with military accuracy. His alternative subject of conversation was about cars and how tot repair there various parts.

I vowed when I matured to never have such old cars that I’d have to worry so about maintaining them. Not just because of the difficulties my Dad endured but because it preoccupied our life, time and thought. It seemed he did not have much left over, and yet as I look back this was far from the truth. It just as much as I would have liked. I think most boys have that feeling.

It seemed Dad would go to the filling station only if we were all in the car, dressed and anticipating actually going to some really nice destination. Instead, and, predictably amongst the first of several errands he’d perform was filling the car with gas. The early days during the was included rationing including a system of coupons and the availability of those coupons. So it could be a long ways to the station and once there and unknown allowable we quantity. There were the times we’d have to change our plans to go to another borough because of the shortage. Getting the coupons was yet another one of his chores and it was often black market since we could not yet afford full price.

Gas in those days was filled by attendants whose personality and invasive familiarity paralleled that of good bartender. My Dad seemed to know them all by first name or even there nick names such as Sonny, Junior, Bull, Moose, Jocko, etc. Our car seemed to have no barrier between the tank and the car so as the tanks capacity was reached the smell became overwhelming and despite the seasonal cold weather temperature we’d keep the windows open until we got accustomed to the toxic odor and /or it subsided with the normal carbon dioxide already filling the urban air. Eating and driving under such conditions was obviously not very popular but smoking was. I was always afraid that one day my father or mother would blow up the car when lighting their cigarettes.

My Dad was not the parent my mother thought he should be, but he for sure was my father and did parent me, in his way.He liked popular music and always had music playing on his car radio.He had played with Sammy Davis Jr. in the streets of Harlem and so when ever Sammy was on we listened. He banked with Manufacturer’s Trust on Westchester near Classon Ave. It was one of the errands he would take me. I remember sitting in the car under the elevated train structure being diagonally parked facing the building waiting for him. Or, some times he took me in and I met the banker’s etc. I remembered with pride when the famous fifth avenue branch with its vault in the window opened and I could tell every one that my father banked at Manufacturer’s.

His favorite topics of conversation were about his brothers and sisters and there children. He kept very careful track of each of them; His very last conversation with me was about them. Routinely he would talk to He consoled me from my mother’s discipline assuring me that I was a good and smart boy. He was always proud of me and people always said that he and I looked and behaved alike. He was always amazed about how much of every detail about every thing I remembered and was able to describe and recount to him. I’d ask him as a we passed by one or another shop, filling station, garage and intersection if he ever sees such and such or goes to such and such. He had long since forgotten or moved on while I had stored the event and person in my memory. I believe it was his impression of my ability to recall why he tried to find ways to help me get a good education. He did not understand at all what was involved and went to his brothers and sisters, etc for there advice, intercession and assistance.

Unfortunately, at any early age of about 23 or so he hurt his back lifting heavy trunks on one of his deliveries and from then on had serious back pain. He would walk around for week’s bent over. He was constantly under the care of chiropractors from which I learned to give him massages. His third from the bottom disc had been ruptured. I was so honored when Livingston Bryant of Manhattan’s borough President’s office requested I do a community action plans for the very neighborhood where my father grew up. I met with the children, but because I was not black and had an education they would not listen to the fact that my father came from the very streets they were playing on.

Later on he finally had no choice but to have an operation on his back. The operation was a success but the Veteran’s Hospital had given him blood with a hepatitis infection. Because he could not exercise properly his condition only got worse. He had another operation to fuse the spine, which was then successful, and then he had an enormous amount of pain. A doctor finally came up with a gadget implanted in him who he could start to distract and ease the pain. It worked for a while until he got sick again. I got a call when we were in Tennessee that he was dying and loosing body fills of blood. It was his last body full. I got on the plane and ordered the mayor’s office to give the last body full of blood. The surgeons asked I what to do.

I visited my father and asked him where’d it hurt. He said here pointing to his stomach. I ordered the chief surgeon to cut him open and fix what was hurting. It turned out that he had a stomach ulcer; they did not at all look there because they were looking at his back. Dad lived for another 15 years and died from a bust angina on heart artery. In the waiting room of that operation was my Uncle Dave, Cousins Murray and Dorothy. Throughout his life Dad slept a lot. He kept odd hours.

He lived on and off with my mother until my brother finished High School. He started living with Lea, Jackie and Patricia and their dog “Gina” when I was very young. I was always put between my mother and father. I loved them both. My father, Lea and I were good friends. I would visit them on Christmas and wrote to him when I was in Europe. I brought the ladies in my life to visit them. Lea gave her very beautiful dresses to Barbara Allen; and, they were both very nice to Christina.As a child Dad took me to the Drake cemetery on weekends to play ball and clean the car. Every Tuesday we’d take Grandma to the doctor on Moshulu Parkways; and, then have a great steak at the steak house in the Bronx; or veal Milanese with ziti at a great Italian restaurant, etc.

Once per month we’d go in the evenings to some place and afterward go to the Luxor Steam Baths. That was really great. Dad would stop off on west 167 street where he bought Spinach Pancakes. Grandma loved these. She used to make them. I did not taste anything similar until I reached College Station and The Lebanese club; and, then the Lebanese bakery in AlKhobar.Because grandma lived with various relatives we visited them.We went by car to Ohio twice, once for my older cousin Margaret’s wedding. She was Sam’s daughter and my cousin by marriage. We visited severl time to Miami staying at such hotels as the Lido and others on Ocean Blvd below 15 street.

The last time I visited Dad I slept on the sofa in his living room when I came from Saudi. He hugged me and made some gesture of game and play. He was trying to keep his love for me alive. At the same visit in jest when we encountered each other in the hallway with a physical challenge. Standing in his hall way facing each other he raised his both arms and hands as if to gruffly grab and startle me. It seemed rude and confrontational and totally out of character. In retrospect it was Dad’s way of experiencing a relationship with his big son in the only way he knew how. It was instinctive, personal, and visible. It said:”I am your father and you are my son”. It was a very family thing to do! It was familiar and peculiar to my father.

He confessed his love for Jesus and prayed always to Jesus. A black sister last attended him to from a church in Brooklyn. He had phone buddies with whom he conversed and prayed daily. Marianne, Jackie's divorced wife, a German schoolteacher from Frankfurt, loved and cared for him to the end; she encouraged me to forgive my father. My cousin Murray paid for any medical and finical needs. They always were close ever since Dad had introduced Dorothy to Murray when she worked as a salesgirl/model at Weiss. She was a most attractive lady. She loved children and the last time I saw her encouraged me to have children of my own.

My Dad always had money. He was the envy of his family and friends. He employed my Uncle Frank and others as drivers. He started his own business: “Veteran’s Limousine Rental Service”: he was amongst the first in New York City to have CB radio in the car. Motorola installed an Antenna at no charge for my father and put in his car all the equipment. His service had the first transportation contract to the United Nations building when it was first built and opened in 1949. He transported all the diplomats for many years. He had the exclusive contract to transport the children of Riverdale’s “Fieldstone” school and operated the Riverdale car service with Lea Sikorski from the basement office in which they lived in Riverdale.

He and Lea practiced anger management and learned to listen to complaints made daily by there customers and parents of the children they transported to Fieldstone .The cars were usually late and sometimes missed pickups. Drivers would get lost and students could not locate vehicles. It was always something and they worked well together to deal with anger. He talked slow and listened. He was loved by his customers and known for his patience and kindness.

Amongst my father’s employee’s I was recognized as Joe’s son. I was cut tot the core visiting my Dad’s home with Lea and her children and seeing him with them knowing that this god made trust between us had been severed by this arrangement. It was something, which gnawed away and made me resent Jackie and Patricia; eventually I learned to get over it and accept things as they were. In a few years when they got married I visited them and brought them Christmas presents; I know that they were insincere and somehow jeered and scoffed at me for my behavior, beliefs, and vocabulary. Today I look back at them and realize that they were the white trash characters of fiction novels and movies. They were all on hard drugs, eventually divorced and even Jackie committed suicide. Of all of them I somehow had a soft spot for my step sister Patricia who I saw as a tragic heroine of disastrous circumstances; and for Marianne who had met Jackie in Hamburg and tried to better herself and the lot of her children. Marianne eventually got her teaching license and had an engineer for a boyfriend who worked as a building inspector. She would visit and care for Dad, encouraging me to forgive and give my father a break.

Lea asked me one day when we were guests of Ben Berger in New Rochelle “where did we go wrong”: why do they, the Berger's, have all this and we have nothing”? Her question was so tragic because she did not know; and, she was so pathetic because she indeed was a victim of sin that was way over both of their head to realize. Yes, I forgave my father long before any one, or he, even asked. He was my father. He wanted the best for me. He bailed me out, got me out, and encouraged me; and, it was he whose whistle I longed to hear when I lay in bed at night. I prayed a thousand nights that God would protect him as he drove through those mountains, marched in the boot camp, was operated on, and lived with an emergency beeper to beep the moment his angina would burst. Oh yes, I forgave him, Jesus forgave him; and I look forward to see him and my Mother in Heaven as a happy family. Better than we were. Renewed and without the burden of our sins and our flesh.

As Mom, Dad died when I was in Saudi Arabia. No one knows, except the one who lives through what we experienced. My cousins, friends and acquaintances did not understand that it would be God who would deliver and not us. God did!

I remember suffering from Nietzsche's famous rebellion of one’s creator: “The dialectical process”. For me it manifested in order to become a sovereign identity; Finding distasteful the nature and language used by my father and his associates, I mentioned this to him once, very casually, and, he ordered his men to watch their language around his son. They did!I do believe that it was more than Nietche, sin and language; it was God preparing both my Father and I for His greatest gift of Salvation. And, to use me as he had used his parents in Rhodes, to be a witness amongst the Arabs. I never knew if my Mother could relate what I was doing to her parent’s past or her husband’s parents past.

  • He joked with the English language mis- pronunciation of words, such as oil as “earl” and he had a lovely laugh.Every one called me “little Joe”. I was so proud to be addressed thusly and stood tall when so addressed. “Tall, dark and handsome” my mother would say about me in comparison to my brother and about my father. She referred to him as the strong silent type and “still waters run deep”.
  • My father was reticent.
  • My father’s parenting could be summed up in his deeds:
  • Taught me to drive.
  • Take me with him to work to pick up and deliver tuxedos;
  • chauffeur people to the mountains, seashore, weddings, and special occasions.
  • Visit his and my mother’s family frequently.
  • Take my Grandma to the doctor every week
  • Every Tuesday night we’d eat out at Dominick’s stake house, neighborhood Italian, Mama Leone’s, Special Italian for vela Milanese, ziti, etc.
  • Buy spinach pancakes
  • Pay for my visits to Alvin Goldfine for psychiatric analysis for four years at $10/visit.
  • Paid for my engagement party and wedding
  • He gave me an allowance.
  • Provided us with membership to Shore Haven beach club in the summers for many years
  • Taught me to “count my blessings”; don’t always see all the bad things, and when things are bad; see what many good things God has done.
  • Took my brother and I on trips to Florida and Ohio.
  • Provided me with car for dates and to see Arlene, work, and go to school. When car broke down in blizzard in Union City, New Jersey he came and picked us up. When car brook down on clover leaf on highway because I drove it off the road he came with rope, tied up broken axle and pulled the car home.

Comforted me when I was sad and feeling really down

  • He always spoke nicely, softly or not at all.
  • Whistled when he came home so I knew it was he.
  • Loved me and kept my picture with him
  • He was proud of my accomplishments and me.
  • He called me son
  • Made a record when he was in the army and sent it to us to play over and over.
  • It was because of all the above that I was shattered when it finally sank in, that Jackie and Patricia were living with him and Lea. It was a hurt and damage, which was insidious and depressing. It dominated my heart and mind for several years.

I was hurt over and over again. I tried to win him back but he would not leave them. It was a secret I had. It manifests dramatically when I was in Milan with VanClyburn and his father. I envied van because he had his father and I didn’t. I wrote my father about this and invited him to do things together, etc. He would not and soon these passions and emotional ties, tensions, and strivings subsided.

I became accustomed to the dualism, hypocrisy and living destruction of our love and family I was to endure. I did see Lea and my Dad a great deal. I’d go to them on Christmas, etc. Lea was very nice but I did keep a distance from Jackie and Patricia. I recall one of the last times I visited them in this context; they made fun between them at my way of speaking and attitudes which by now had grown different from theirs.

When I think back on ethnic roots and my father I can only combine an unlikely mixture of black spirituals and jazz with Greek type culture and from my mother a heavy dose of American swing, Lindy and hop. It’s really fascinating!

My father laughed a great deal. Dad bought us suits on Kingsbridge Road, just off of Fordham Road. I believe the name of the store was Bonds; the same store that advertises and has a billboard on Times Square in Manhattan. It came with two pair of pants. I was so proud and happy at the cut and smell of the fabric. I remember him saying that this was a very important occasion and that there would many others like this.

I have no idea of the work my father did before he met and married my mother. I know he lived at home with his parents and his family in Harlem and before that in Brooklyn. I do not know why that after they married did they decide to make their home in the Bronx rather than Brooklyn except that there were more of Dad's family than Mom's and that several of Moms already had relocated to the Bronx (Charles and Martin). Perhaps there was a better economic climate in the Bronx at the time.

Here are some of Dad’s jobs:

  • 1936-38 Short Order Cook on Grille at Diner
  • 1946; Jerome Ave Remote Development Shuttle Service
  • 1953; Asbury Car Service
  • 1951; Fieldstone School
  • 1945; Policeman in Lincoln Tunnel
  • 1953; Riverdale Limo
  • 1949; United Nations
  • 1948; Veteran Limousine Rental Service

  • 1943 Weiss: Chas. Weiss on Prospect Ave and Harold Weiss on the Grand Concourse: We had to go up to the shop on a gigantic freight elevator which also held or Chrysler Windsor limousine to load and unload many boxes of tuxedos for my father to deliver. Some times I had to stay with Harold. I would bang out rhythms on boxes and Harold finally told me that it was annoying and to stop.

The basement of Chas. Weiss was a shop with many beautiful ladies sewing. Ms Baron, from the Carolinas, cuddled and spoke nice to me and taught me how to make silk buttons for the gowns. Upstairs my future cousin, Dorothy modeled and fitted clients to gowns. I really enjoyed going to this place. I believe that most of my father’s contract work came from his affiliation with the knights of Pythian and finally with Dave Greenfield. I would go with my father on his visits. I me t Mr. Greenfield several times. He did for my father what Bob Vinton did for Prince Faisal Sudairy, and I did for Mr. Jizawi. He identified the potential contracts and assisted him prepare his estimate and bid proposal to carry out the work.

Dad’s other Family:

This is where my father and lea set up business and lived in Riverdale: Knoll’s Crescent. Theses are the people who my father chooses to complement his God given family. I found myself hating them, adjusting, liking them, and even being friendly. They were all uneducated and labor class mentality-types. This was there own choosing. We had nothing in common. I found Lea attractive and very easy to discuss social things I could not discuss with my mother. She turned out to be a very good friend. I was always happy for my father, that he had happiness and enjoyed these people. He never stopped caring nor supporting my mother and us. We always came first and that exacerbated Jackie and Patricia who knew in their hearts of hearts whenever I called or showed up that my father and Lea would drop every thing and pay attention. Because of Leas unending patience to listen to me talk about my friends, etc. I would call and visit with her. I believe my Dad and she knew how difficult I had with my mother and was trying to compensate me for the trouble I was having. On the other hand it could have a scheme Lea had to have me on her side against my mother to decide for divorce as to what a nice person she was. Tuesday evenings Dad would take Saul and I out to eat and they would pay for my weekly visits to my psychiatrist. They also always made a car available for me . On Christmas I would bring gifts I bought on Fifth Ave. to Queens. I believe they were insincere and jeered me behind my back but I wanted to enjoy a semblance of family. Later when we were married Christina and I visited from New Haven when there was a blizzard and our car sank in a snow drift. Knoll’s Crescent is one of several apartment that they had lived and conducted there business in Riverdale.

Chapter 6 Brother

My brother was born on Dec 4, 1941 just a few days before the attack on Pearl Harbor.He is my only brother and sibling. As a very young child, he looked liked a blond cherub (much like his son Steve and his grandsons) and behaved accordingly. He was good. He now has a grand son, named Seth who looks similar. His son Steve also resembled my brother as a child.

And, very good in school. He got good grades in both his academics and character. While I hid and was ashamed of my yellow report cards, Saul showed his like the morning paper, without blinking an eye. He was not proud but matter of fact and peaceful. He got along with other children and was able to navigate social and family life very well. He usually took a laise faire attitude to most things and stayed out of the fray. We were definitely opposites, but learned early on to love and care for each other. A loyalty and bond developed between each other so that while we chided and cajoled we were family and bonded by blood. You could leave him in the middle of the floor, with or with out toys and come back some times later and he would still be in the same spot. He was left-handed and when eating, we would bump against each other. He was favored by my mother and any fight between us she would usually call it “Barie’s fault”.

Of course, we’d both point at each other, saying: ”he did it!” there were the rare moments when one or the other of us would confess and simply takes what’s rightly coming. On Faile Street we played in the sun parlor in our two halves. He liked my half because I built a nice house and played in it. He would visit me and we played together in this house. He was a terrible and picky eater. For one of his birthdays I bought him the album “Doc the Clock”. We memorized so many nice songs from this album: especially “I am Goody from Playtime land and I’ve come to sing to You, I’ve got playmates far and near, so be my playmate too, won’t you”.

Between seven and twelve I would care for him when my mother went to work. I would make us grilled cheese sandwiches and we would watch television, listen to the radio and practice ventriloquism. On Saturday mornings we would listen to the radio and go to the Star movies to see three movies for 25 cents. Usually, Charlie Chan, Red Ryder (and Little Beaver), Gene Autry or Roy Rogers, and some other old film. I’d buy us "Juji fruit", "Raisenettes" and/or his favorite, "Non-parrells". In every house we lived in we had to separate our stuff and area. He was good at keeping the rules. We would fight a lot about every and any thing. And, we also would apologize and make up almost as quick and for no good reason. The reason was usually to get on with the day.For a period I took him with me to hang drapes and split my earning s with him. It helped him and me. I could do more.

In every way I tried to be the best “big brother”. I felt responsible and I did love and care for him. I guided him in his toilet, sleeping, and play. We were four years apart in age but I was much more agile and froward. My mother woke up after ten and she worked at S&W most evenings. My father was not home as he was either living with Lea and her children or working. So my brother and I were alone and I had to care for him. I entertained him with puppet shows, dolls, and puppets. I sang to him and played records. I told him stories and we played together. When we went out I held his hand and made sure that every knew he was my brother and I would protect him. He often came to me telling me that someone was bothering him so I could defend him. I took him to school every morning because for several years before I went on to another we went to the same school. One morning we arrived at school and it was dark. No one was there. It turned out we came too early. He was upset but it actually was very funny and the teachers consoled us. In the evenings I would make grilled cheese sandwiches and other snacks for us frying them on the fire or in the pan using gadgets to make pockets I bought in Woolworth’s. We shared a pint of ice cream and in the morning I made the breakfast consisting of eggs, toast and milk. This was all before I was fifteen and he eleven. We were so very close and depended on each other. He was my dear little brother and I cared for him. It was not pleasant for Saul when I started to have friends, girlfriends, and work and other schools so that he and I got separated and he had to find his own way. I tried to help his adjust and understand but while I believe his mind understood his heart was unhappy. I did try taking him with me but it wasn’t the same and eventually he preferred to remain at home.

With the zeal of a missionary, I cared for my younger brother with all my heart and soul until I discovered girls and got more serious about outside friends. I may have been heavy handed in leaving Saul in a lurch but discussed my interest and later even included him in early dates.One of the behaviors that was peculiar to us was not being the last to hang-up the phone. After saying goodbye we’d stay on the phone till the other would hang up not wanting to be the one that actually terminated the call. I am not sure if that started with Mom, Dad or who it just something we did as a family.

Before he started seriously seeing Fran, we went to Atlantic City to a bar and we really made a lot of mischief: I started a fight and we fought some drunken guys until the fight was broken up. We met girls and fooled around with them. It was a night, which was never to happen again. We did it because we could. It was an adventure! His first girlfriend’s name was Tamara Bernstein, with braces and his first best friend was Joe Stemp. As a child, Saul liked sports, bike riding, and bowling. As he grew older and, knowing my interest in music, he took up playing the saxophone; and, played in bands and professionally at nightclubs and for weddings. His group even recorded a record called “Satellite Baby”, which was distributed and played on the radio. Later he was accepted into the High School of Music and Art where one of his classmates was the famous Dianne Carroll, and, upon graduation, accepted in the Julliard School of music. He, instead, opted to join the Navy band; and, for four years sailed the USS Roosevelt only to disembark once. He played the Oboe in the Navy Band. I believe the reason he made that choice was because of both the money and the kind of involvement it would involve. I don’t believe Saul thought he was really that creative and committed, as it would require. Julliard has a reputation for demanding hard work and remaking and reshaping the personality and character of its students. In my case I welcomed this reshaping when I went to Pratt, I do not believe this is what Saul wanted or desired. I remember his saying that he was not ready to make the commitment Julliard required. So his decision was an honest and one of a person with integrity. He had already experienced Music and Art High School, so he could understand what might lie ahead for him at Julliard. I do believe Saul is a hard worker, so it was not the work ethic, but it was the reshaping and surrendering himself for something I do not believe he really wanted. There was something else. I am not sure he ever really found it. I know he loves his grandchildren I also believe he was a man a duty, loyalty and responsibility. I do not believe he had much the sense for creative imagination. At least, I had never seen this side of him.Soon after his return from the Navy he married the second girl he met, Francine Rusco from somewhere near Moshulo Parkway. Her parents had a fruit and vegetable business.

Chapter 7 Bronx People

There were people that did not try to harm but misled and directed me to evil.

  • Howard who beat and bullied me on Faile Street: He was older and much bigger than I was and I wanted to be his friend. I remember him telling me when he discovered my hiding place and threatening me.

  • The many gangs which cornered and beat me as I walked to and from PS 20 daily.Irwin who fought me until I invited him to my birthday party and gave him a nice gift.
  • The dishonest police man who threatened me after a dead drunk driver friend from there neighborhood crashed head-on in to my dad’s new Ford station wagon after my Mom and I had just picked it up brand new from the showroom. My mother was very upset and so was I; I did not know what to do because they threatened me that if I demanded a test for drunkenness of the driver and the test, which they assured me they would administer and rig in favor of the driver, turned out to be negativism, then I would be arrested and fined, etc.
  • The policeman who boxed in my car on Simpson Street one of late nights I visited Dorothy before we got married. The policeman followed me for nearly one year bating and waiting so that he could arrest me for some violation.

John McGiver was my High School English teacher who became famous actor and left School at the same time as I graduated. He invited me to see him act in his first Off Broadway play” The assent of F-6” and helped to learn to read Shakespeare.


Alexander Golumba was my fist and beloved dentist living on the Grand Concourse and 170 Street with his office on the next block on (680) Fox Street at the corner of east 163 Street. I remember every thing about his building, lobby, entrance, foyer, waiting room and office. He always had a nurse. I have dreamt of him often. He was probably a Greek/American: He had a great sense of humor, always told me stories, and was very comforting to my mother who eventually had all her teeth removed because of a chronic case of gingervitus. When he died we were invited to his funeral. From 1949 until he died he was our family Dentist till he died. He would teach me about words and things in life. Once he told me that the four letter word starting with “F___k” was derived from Latin and meant, “to make” and that all words have meanings and ideas. He was one of the first person to formally give me lessons in tolerance and appreciating the positive differences between people

Al and Rose Silverman: I met Mr. Silverman in about 1949 when I applied for a part time job. My first employers on Southern boulevard. They lived in Brooklyn and commuted every day by train and or auto. Mr. Silverman worked all his life in the textile industry and when he retired bought this store with all its inventory form Herbert Handler. It was called Handler’s. When I came looking for a job it was still called Handler’s but then they changed the name to Debrose after daughter Debby and wife Rose.


Bambi Lobkowicz: 1199 Park Ave.: Apt 19 E: My Mother was nanny to her child: her husband was a business broker.

Benjamin Silverstein One my three best friends living on Simpson Street. He was the younger of two children gifted with a cantor’s singing voice. He later turned out to be a Homo sexual and moved to Greenwich Village.

We would walk to and from school with each other and after dinner visit at each other s house. We were friends from 1946 when we first moved to Simpson Street and i started attending P.S. 20 till 1952 when we moved to Holland Ave and high school. Although all through high school I came back to Simpson Street because I worked for Mr. Silverman at Debrose Decorators. But the main time of our friendship was from 1946 when we were in second grade til 1949 when we finished sixth grade and p.s. 20. I went to p.s. 75 and since they lived down at the other end of Simpson Street they went to a different junior high school.

Ben Berger: New Rochelle, NY. And was one of Dad’s and Lea’s best friends from her old neighborhood and responsible for there meeting. Ben was married with a daughter and after beginning in an apartment on Tiffany street and store front fixing TVs after the war having been trained by the GI bill he sent on to work for severla very large electronic companies specializing in miniaturization and reproducing speakers made by the name brands at a fraction of the cost. He finally wound up in a multi story house on a lake in New Rochelle after having a great house near Gun Hull Road in the Bronx. If Dad and Lea were not in there apartment they were staying with the Bergers in a gust bedroom just made for them. His work took him to Belgium and then to Japan where he set up factories and produced miniature speakers. As I grew up ben would kid me that smaller and cheaper was better. He must have been deaf because his speaker’s sound lousy compared to the Bose and other speakers I bought to give me the sound I liked for my stereo. Today I look at the miniaturized headphones and computer a speaker and I know that it was Ben and his persistence in miniaturization that makes these things possible.

Not at home very much he enjoyed making his family and dad happy by having a nice home. I brought my girl friends to visit Ben which totally delight him. He was amused by Hyohee and of course was mesmerized by Barbara. Christina was also introduced to Ben and his family and we saw his little workroom. I remember standing at the dock of Ben’s boat dock and talking to Hyohee about her home in Seoul. It was also the last place I saw Lea’s daughter Jackie. It was there that Lea questioned me as to why good things to not go to everyone especially dad and her? Lea died some years later of colon cancer and Dad of a burst angina on an artery leading from his heart. They were both happiest when with the Bergers.

Berland was a presser who owned a laundry on Prospect Ave for Weiss Tuxedo. I spent hours on many days as a child keeping g him company while Dad made deliveries of pick ups. Berland lived on one of side streets off Pelham Parkways and was fat, bald and always sweating from the heat of his steam iron and hard work,

Billy Parks: was like my big brother and protecting me; and, bringing joy and adventure into my life. Besides my father Billy was my first hero and “good guy”. He was a typical urban Tom Sawyer whose non-reasoned use of the city kept him active and exploring. We were too young to relate as urban or rural but when ever I think of Billy rural comes to mind because other than the “Y” the places he took me were rural, even if they were the junk yards and factories of Hunts Point. We explored and discovered. It could have the Mississippi and Billy Tom Sawyer. When I later read and saw the Tom Sawyer movies I thought of time with Billy. Billy was my first male hero and best friend on Faile Street He was Catholic and had a pretty little blond haired sister named Carol. Mrs. Parks was a beautiful, kind and gentlewoman. Mr. Parks was a tombstone marble carver and quarried granite. He was even taller and more muscular than my father was. Billy, Ralph and i would go on adventures to the East River, war searchlights, army trucks, and sawdust mounds in lumberyards, cemeteries, and the YMCA. I knew bill for all the years we live on Faille Street from 1941 to 19469 from age 4 to 9) Billy was several years older than I but was so patient, kind and protective of me. He was like my older brother and when several years later i saw him when we were both older he said he did not want to see me because our lives were now so different. I surely did not understand this and really felt rejected. It was the first rejection i ever knew from someone i loved based on social factors. I still am trying to sort out this and I often pray for Billy, and his family. The parks and the Nuzzi have taught us how to exchange Christmas gifts on Christmas. It was Mrs. Parks i me the night of the hurricane; we were both lifted off the ground in from of my house and to her building.

They lived on the top floor of the six-story apartment building adjacent to the public school I attended and just across from the playground. I remember the day, little carol had her communion and Mrs. Parks explained it all to my mom and me. In a neighborhood of Italians, Germans, Armenians, etc. Billy was the best friend to have. He was my Tom Sawyer, Peter Pan and great American warrior spirit. He took my body, mind and heart to places that have been hallmarks models of every adventure I’d ever have.

Blind Girl in little village off city Island: She taught me how to tie my shoelaces. We listened to old-fashioned children’s records:

“Win wan waldo ho, pretty bo, over the plow”

Winkin blinkin and nod

We played together in her back yard on the sound.

She was so very kind.

Boomy, Sidney, Mr., and Mrs. Blum

In 1949 I met a boy named Boomy. However, a Nigerian lady’s website lists this name but I am sure it must have been from some other contraction. She says:”My real first name is Olubunmi, which means "God gave me as a gift", its short form is 'Bunmi', but the N'' is silent making it sounds like 'Boomie', and that has kind of caught on as a nickname. I am really surprised to find that some other 'Bunmi's spell misspell their name the same way, for pronunciation reasons.

This was one of the most enigmatic recollections I have from my childhood. Boomie was the name of the son who was my age and I must have been about 12. Since the Bloom family lived and ran there hardware store about ten blocks down Southern Boulevard I can only believe that my father met them as a result of his driving Jewish families from the Bronx to the hotels in the Adorondex mountains. My mother and father somehow got to really like this family and my mother would walk with us this very long were to visit. We’d stay in the hardware store and them boomy and I would play out side and in a school Yard nearby. I remember the front of their building off the Boulevard and the area across the boulevard and the wide crossing.

They must have been from the exact same place as my mother's family. Keep in mind that my mother’s background before marriage was commercial having worked in offices and business before marrying my father. I believe there were few business people with her background with whom she could speak nicely.

They had a son who was a captain in the military having an apartment in German town in Manhattan. My mother and father or my mother alone would take us to visit this couple and buy there favorite and mine “Specials” which German thick and short Knock worst hot dogs. They were short and fat about 11/2” x 5” and were so tasty. We’d sit and talk and see the neighborhood. They lived in a walk up townhouse. It was all so very exotic, foreign and deliciously homey. I recall Sidney being called back in service and we only seeing them on his furloughs.

The Blums were one of those names and families that formed the cornerstone of Ashknasy migration to the USA and with them the traditions, language and culture of the “old Country”. My parents welcomed in the Blums a friendly open window into the culture and past of their family and heritage. There were other such people they knew and visited but I did not know them as well.

Bruce Farcus, Fieldstone School, Owner of Alexander’s Department Store. Lived in a big 3 story Tudor house in Westchester County. The Farcus family was a customer of my Dad and I met him on several occasions. He invited me to see his room and house. It would be my mental image of rich and famous Single family residence needs to be.


Donald Jackson, one of my best friends when I attended Shore Haven. He lived off Westchester Ave and Classon Point where I changed buses for the Classon Point Bus. We’d meet there and he’d often invite me to visit his hose, older and very pretty sisters, and very nice parents in their very nice red brick two-story private house. We’d often walk through his neighborhood, have a meal and play in sister’s room. I took pictures of him and another friend making them seem very small with trick photography. One would hold out his hand in the fore ground while the other way in the background would be in the first palm looking at each other.

Frank Bozzo: We attended CCHS and Colden Ave. Bronx; then, Greenwich Village as Illustrator. We met without an appointment in Paris and toured Blois Valley together in 1963. . His father owned and operated an auto scrap metal yard in the Bronx.

Frank Fugazy: Was one of the companies for which my father worked and then subcontracted to start his own business. The Fugazy business was in Manhattan.

Gilbert Eisenberg lived above us on Simpson Street: He was older than I was and told me lots of strange things. I so wanted him to be my friend and he said he was except that he was older and did different things. He explained this to me and said that we could see each other and if I ever needed him he was there for me. Since he lived over our apartment I could hear his and his sisters foot steps.

Gerald Siegal was the son of Grace and Mr. Siegal who were our Holland Ave. neighbors and who my mother visited daily. She gave cookies to The Siegal's (husband's name Gerry) daughter’s (Sandra) son, Craig. And Gerald was always very private. He lost the lower part of his arm when a truck swiped it off as he had his arm out as a passenger in an automobile. I was at home when he came from the accident and saw him, his parents, and the doctor caring for him. We visited him.

In most weather, they would sit on their porch nightly, and, gossip, and, later watch TV. Every one was invited. Grace had shingles and was very fat. She and my mother saw each other every night.

Hoover the son of the world famous inventor and manufacturer. He was an alcoholic and a customer of my fathers. I was assigned to be his driver and companion. I went to his apartment and he was always drunk. He’d give me hundreds of dollars to pass out in the restaurants and he paid me royally for my services. We’d go to all kinds of fancy and sleezy restaurants including West Side tenth street dives, Stork club, Rubens, etc.

Harry: the Hanger and cutter from the Bronx: Debrose Decorators

Joe Fusco: Was one of the first Manhattan auto rental companies that employed my father and after whom he modeled his own business. He was one of the figures in my childhood behind my father’s business. The name Fusco dominated the car rental business as I grew up.

Joe Shenker: Drapery Installation Man from the Drapery Workshop (Classic) who taught me how to hang drapes professionally: I was his apprentice.

Joseph Targett: voice lessons near Columbia University: New York City

Lola Tangredi (Husband, Joseph Tangredi) For a time she was one of my Mother’s best friends.Her Father was a barber and both her mother and father spoke very little English. Their house was a big three-story town house on a side street in Classon Point. The Barbershop was downstairs and they lived above. They had a manual Player piano, which played from rolls. They had plenty of Rolls. The rolls were perforated so that the brass roller would pop out its keys and when popping lift the piano key and strike the chord. It was powered by wind and pedals, which you pushed to fill the bellows. I played it for hours and days at a time when we’d visit. Lola and my mom got along so very well. Lola finally me a man, Joe, and after many arguments and crying they finally got married.

Lofty Gurigious: (wife Eileen) an Egyptian: American and brother of deceased Alfy.

Larry Schneider whom I met at age 15+- at Shore Haven. He took my phone number and called me. Taught me how to aggressively network and enter country clubs, parties, and hotel family gatherings so as to meet the rich and famous. We did many things and it through his encouragement I met Arlene at a dance. Possibly it was he several years later she meant when she challenged me to get married or else. He lived in Parkchester. He had no car. He always dressed well. One may note that both Larry and my dear wife Christina shared a common name:”Schneider”; they both were Schneider and both had a common instinct, which they both taught me. To “NETWORK” outside you’re contextual envelope. To use a system to achieve social mobility. Larry did things that Christina would never herself do; he showed me how to go to country clubs in Westchester County; to restaurants and hotel family events and say your with one of the parties. Christina showed me how to market my self internationally by introducing me to a book, which detailed a system of creating resume, letters and interviews, etc. Both worked! There was an English movie which Christina and I enjoyed on this very theme:”Nothing, but the Best” with Alan Bates. He may have married Arlene and lived happily ever after in Up state New York. Any thing was possible with Larry.

Leonard Goldstein: Bronx: CCHS and Rockland County: He taught me how to smoke as we commuted together by bus to CCHS. He arranged for us to spend New Years Eve with his girl friend and her friend. I often walked to and from the bus to his house to get him on the bus to get to school. His imagination about the students and the world around us was so interesting. One day he visited me on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn to tell me the saddest news; his mother committed him to Rockland County Asylum so she could get the money his father left. He could come and go, as he liked. I told him I would stick up for him but he never asked further. After some time I never again heard from poor Leonard. His father was a projectionist, and knowing my work as audiovisual squad, he imagined the both of us someday as projectionist.

Lloyd from camp Cricklewood and Pelham: He and his friend Irving played chess. His father took me aside and encouraged me not to visit any more because Lloyd was different from the likes of me. The likes of me being not interested in schoolwork, career, etc. I later found out at my high school reunion that many of my female classmates did not associate with me for similar reasons. Natalie knew better.


Mabel And David Waingrow (Son Selwyn) S& W Ice Cream Parlor: Just across the street from the famous Paradise Movie theatre and in the same building where years earlier my Dad and I went up and down the freight elevator with his car and boxes filled with tuxedos to be delivered all over the Bronx. S for Selwyn there son; W for Waingrow. They had two dogs, which I often would walk, a Pomeranian and a big black Pyrenees. We met them at Shore Haven. They lived at the end of Jerome Avenue el. They drove a big black Cadillac. Mabel was big and fat with a big guttural mouth. Otherwise she was very nasty, especially to David, her husband. David, who was always tired repeated often to me that she does not under stand that just opening the store and being there from &: 7:00 am till after midnight was, in itself wearing and he just could not do much more. But she loved my Mom and helped her have a nice job waiting tables for many years’ form 1948 when we lived on Simpson Street till 191958 or so. I brought my girlfriends and friends there. Eileen and Arlene. I remember when Eileen was given a complement by the Negro janitor of the store she always remarked how that was the only person who ever said any thing nice to her. My mother also learned how to make sandwiches, malted and stuff at the store. It was very nice. I learned the hardship of having your own business from people like the Waingrow's, Silverman's, Teitelbaum's, Blum's, Weiss', Sender's, B&G, Wolf's, etc.

Morris and Lily: Lily took me to see my first movie:”The Mummy”: I ran out screaming: Morris returned in 1944 missing a leg and an n arm. I questioned his loss. He explained and showed me. Lily cared and was very affectionate toward me. I remember be cuddled in bed by her. She was like a second affectionate mother.

Mrs. Pinto (Grandma’s best friend) Probably from Rhodes. She spoke Rhodes language

Mrs. Palmer (Grandma’s friend)


Ralph Nuzzi: My best friend on Faile Street: He built model airplanes; later he became an air force captain

Ralph Schneider:

Co-Founder of the Diners club, attorney, and resident of Central Park South at Broadway where I hung the drapes and fit the slipcovers in his apartment. I had to visit several times because the cushion s to the dining room did not fit correctly and Mrs. Schneider wanted me to do extra jobs. I visited her several times for which I and was paid very well.

In 1949, Ralph Schneider’s partner, Frank X. McNamara changed his suit before attending a business dinner at a Manhattan restaurant, Major’s Cabin Grill at 35 West 33rd Street. When the waiter presented him with the bill, he realized he’d left his wallet in his other suit. He waited while his wife rushed to the restaurant with cash. The embarrassing experience inspired McNamara to launch the Diners Club with his business partner, Ralph Schneider, in 1950. While gasoline and store charge cards already existed, the Diners Club card was the first multi-purpose charge card. In February 1950, McNamara and Schneider returned to major’s Cabin Grill and made the first Diners Club card transaction. Today, more than 6.5 million establishments in 201 countries accept the card. McNamara is shown here dining at Manhattan’s 21 Club in 1951. How nice to have yet a third Schneider pay a role in my life: Larry and Christina.

In 1949, Frank X. McNamara head of the Hamilton Credit Corporation went out to eat with Alfred Bloomingdale, McNamara's long-time friend and grandson of the founder of the Bloomingdale's store, and Ralph Snider, McNamara's attorney. The three men were eating at Major's Cabin Grill, a famous New York restaurant located next to the Empire State Building, to discuss a problem customer of the Hamilton Credit Corporation.

I did the work in the Schneider’s apartment in about 1956.

McNamara discussed the idea with Bloomingdale and Sneider and the three pooled some money and started a new company in 1950 which they called the Diners Club. The Diners Club was going to be a middleman. Instead of individual companies offering credit to their own customers (whom they would bill later), the Diners Club was going to offer credit to individuals for many companies (then bill the customers and pay the companies).

In 1962 I designed the interior for a factoring company called James Talcott which pretty much did the same thing for the garment industry’s hundreds of very small business that needed to trade ON credit with each at an instant over the course of a day and then pay afterwards.

Previously, stores would make money with their credit cards by keeping customers loyal to their particular store, thus maintaining a high level of sales. However, the Diners Club needed a different way to make money since they weren't actually selling anything. To make a profit without charging interest (interest bearing credit cards came much later), the companies who accepted the Diners Club credit card were charged 7 percent for each transaction while the subscribers to the credit card were charged a $3 annual fee (begun in 1951).

The first Diners Club credit cards were given out in 1950 to 200 people (most were friends and acquaintances of McNamara) and accepted by 14 restaurants in New York. The cards were not made of plastic (those came later); instead, the first Diners Club credit cards (pictured below) were made of a paper stock with the accepting locations printed on the back. My boss Stanley Sommers had one of these cards.To this day I can never pass the apartment building without remembering Mr. and Mrs. Schneider, Stanley Sommers and the Diner’s club. It was our first credit card.

Ted Brown and the Redhead: 1952; Harrison, New York

In 1996 Ted suffered a stroke and is now incapacitated. He and the redhead broadcasted for years form there home in Harrison and then divorced. Before then I hung there drapes and got to know there son Ted and Mr. Brown encouraged me to become a broadcaster. He gave me very nice records which were not used on the show any longer. He gave me his commercials to read and helped me find a speech tutor.

Rhoda Brown was the former wife of Ted Brown and mother of one son. Our friendship began when she called upon me to manufacture and hang the drapes in her whole house. Through her separation, divorce and resettlement we saw a lot of each other and then when she found a fellow actor on the TV soaps we all dated. She introduced me to her best girlfriend’s daughter, Alice and we dated. Our times were dramatic, lavish, playful and surreal including them being my fan club in my one and only play performance at Pratt, our going to the movie: ”Never, on Sunday”; including dancing and singing in the theater. She made me self conscious of my Bronx accent in loving and constructive was. She encouraged and taught me the correct pronunciations of words. It was by her loving urge that I took voice lessons and made her proud. When she divorced and was between boyfriends I was her chaperone and companion. She was very glamorous and alluring. While we never quite had a “Mrs. Robinson” (The 1967 movie The Graduate) relationship she and I were personally close.

Before 1958 I hung drapes in her house while she was still married to Ted Brown. From 1961 to 1962 last year at Pratt there was Never on Sunday was shown on 1960 and she and her friends visited me while I was in a play in 1961.

1960 while I was a student at Pratt.. Previously between 1955 and 1968 I hung the drapes in the Brown’s whole house working for Classic while they were still married and known as Ted Brown and the redhead. But now they were separated and she needed help in getting our of the big house and into a smaller condominium, etc. at the time I was in a play at Pratt where she and all her friends came. The next month we all went to see Quinn and Mercuri in Zorba and se danced in the isles. It was like a Felini movie and we were like Felini characters. It was at this time that Rhoda Brown introduced me to her sister’s daughter, Alice. Wow! We all were living the life of the Greek Islands and what was so nice they made me the star; I was from Rhodes; Bingo!

Zorba the Greek is story about Basil (Alan Bates), a reticent British writer, who comes to the Mediterranean Island of Crete to revive a mine his father owned. On the way, he meets a Greek roustabout named Zorba (Anthony Quinn) and hires him to help, little suspecting that Zorba's exuberance will lead him to some dark and troubling places--frankly, if the last 30 minutes of Zorba the Greek are what it means to embrace life, some viewers will want to shut the door in life's face. But there's no denying the movie's ambitious scope and implacable force, even as it paints an alien and disturbing portrait of life in a Greek village. On top of that, gorgeous cinematography and one of the greatest film scores ever give this movie almost demonic energy. This is the part where we danced in the isles. We bought the album and danced to the music at every party. I taught them steps my grandmother had taught me. Alice Bernhard was part of that scene?

Sam Sender was Dad’s business associate in Bronx near Faile Street on Barretto a street that had a steep sloap with a tall hill. We would enter his rear driveway on the lower end and go up the hill to landings which occurred at each house rear garage and drive way . Mr. Senders was midway. When I designed an apartment building at Yale as an alternate to Carlton towers I used this model, had to, and bottom entrees and one midway.

Stanley Sommers owned Classic Interiors for whom I worked. His son wrote me to tell me of his father’s murder. I include this in its entirety to further the metaphor of Bronx Stardust.

Hi, Barry -

Thanks so much for the reply. It was good to hear about your connection to my father.

My mother does remember you, indeed. I guess she just needed a small jog, and she began to tell me all about the old days, as well. Sometimes it is Difficult to stay in touch with all of that - so many people who were around.

Are no longer with us.

My father's parents are both gone. His mother died in an accident back in 1974, and his father lasted until 1990 (about 87 years old). My father's Death was quite a tragedy. These days, I think it's easier for me to tell

The story than for people to hear it.

Here goes: Stanley had a factory on 144th Street in the Bronx, a huge place that did large contract and hotel jobs as well as services the custom workroom

Clients. He had a retail outlet in Englewood, NJ, and opened the workroom one day a week to the public to sell discounted services. He did this for many years, and was well-known for it; he was written up in New York Magazine.

Almost every year, and consumer advocates like Joan Hamburg and Bernard Meltzer would extol the company's virtues on the radio. A couple of key employees were always on hand, and the Saturdays were like a party, with Bagels and lox and a very relaxed attitude.

In 1989, the Saturday before Christmas fell on the 23rd, so many of the other Outlets in his area (there were quite a few) closed, since it was so close to the holiday. He decided to be open for half a day, so people could come in for last-minute items and pick-ups. Anyway, the crew was short because of Christmas, and my parents were the only ones in the building. Two guys came in to browse, and then left, but later I was told that both my mother and father were pretty leery of them. Later, just before closing, one guy came back, and my father escorted him downstairs to let him out and lock up.

Unfortunately, my father ended up being killed. My mother checked on him saw that he was lying downstairs and called 911 and me, in that order. The cops and medical personnel were there in minutes - it took me about 25 minutes from across the bridge in Jersey. But he was already gone, and there was a crime scene rather than frantic activity. My mother nobly pushed past the police to get to me as I arrived, so I wouldn't walk into the situation unaware.

To make a long story short, they never caught the guys. It was probably a robbery, since he had no cash in his shirt pocket, where he usually kept it.

My mother has done very well - she continued to teach school through about 1996, when she officially retired from the Yonkers school system. She still lives in Fort Lee, and has a very vibrant, active life with plenty of friends. She absolutely adores my two kids, both girls, and dotes on them incessantly live on Martha's Vineyard with my family. Actually, I'm 42, and my brother

Hal in NJ is 44. I help run a professional theater, which I also did in New Jersey. We moved up here for the second time three years ago to raise our family (at least for now), as we had vacationed here for 20 years and knew it was our desired location. It is a relatively genteel lifestyle compared to the hubbub of New York - really great for little kids. I'm happy to say that we created a professional theatre in New Jersey that had its first season in 1988, and my father was truly instrumental in helping that project come to fruition. He was very proud of our achievements and very generous with his time and money. One of the great regrets I have is that he doesn't know my children (my girls are 6 and 2), as I'm sure that he would have been a great grandpa.

Sorry for all the difficult news. It always sounds so terrible, and telling it is like reliving it to a certain extent. We certainly have had our share of grief, however, and the sorrow does not dim the wonderful memories. You

Mentioned my father's sister - she actually died seven or eight years ago from Lou Gehrig's disease. She had a very good life, with three kids, and she went much too early. She certainly struggled with my father's passing, as well.

For the most part, life is actually pretty great. It seems very important to hold onto the special qualities of the people we love, even when they are gone. It was very good to hear from you, and I'd love to hear some of those stories of the old days sometime soon. Just what was my father's favorite sandwich????

I hope life has treated you well, and that you are happy and healthy. Perhaps we can meet sometime - we are in New York/New Jersey fairly regularly throughout the year for different reasons. Also - I have made tentative steps toward creating a video project about my father, primarily so that my daughters will have some substantial information with which to keep him as a part of their lives. Maybe you would be willing to tell a story or two while I run some videotape, that eventually I can cut together with other folks' anecdotes and remembrances to form a documentary of sorts. (That's the film school/theatre professional coming out in me.)

In any case, I look forward to hearing from you. Take care for now.

Josh Sommers

Managing Director

The Vineyard Playhouse

Pre Alfred Kinsey period which basically ushered in recreational sex. I was a head of the times. My relation to females has been broad and wide-ranging in scope, type and location. The females in my life have demanded attention and respect. They have shown me a side of my self and encouraged me to do and say things. On the other hand I have been called to serve, edify and lift up since I was just a child. Even as a professor at Pratt and other schools I found myself caring and helping young women overcome drugs, low self esteem, excel and succeed. Many of my female students have gone on to become professionals, business women and teachers. Others are married with children.

Man was the source of woman at creation; woman is the source of man in birth. As Noel Paul Stookey so beautifully put it in his song, "There is Love” As it was in the beginning, is now until the end, woman draws her life from man and gives it back again." Love is a circle. Law is a line, Love is a circle based Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians.

I have spent more time with women than with men. Each of them answered all the needs of my body and soul and we were able to share urban myths and mores. I enjoy looking, drawing and smelling the body of women. I enjoy there behavior and the reactions, sounds of there voice in speech and song. I enjoy there smiles and expressions of affections and joyfulness. Particularly there innocence and contrasting take charge maturity. I enjoy women’s way of perceiving and seeing the world and circumstances. The women’s point of view appeals to me. No doubt I enjoy and relish the beauty, affection and gentleness of women. I have delight holding and feeling the caress of a women’s affection and particularly one whom God has called to be my wife. I have made many still life paintings and drawings of women. No doubt I have spent hours thinking and fantasizing about women but the best times have been dancing, playing and conversing. I find I can converse with women about matters of personal soul nurturing subjects more so that I have been able with men. The exceptions were far and few between. My choices in the flesh have often been led by what a women would desire or deem acceptable. Indeed I have both a metaphoric, iconic and personal experience with women. On one hand I love knowing them personally but can refer to the icons of women as well. I have realized that the metaphors of women are often icons and masks of some thing fleshly, distracting and inherently not of God. On the other hand every thing about God’s creation of women is perfect and very pleasing. I prefer the elegance, kindness and nurturing women to the vulgar and aggressive. I have experience with both. I have sinned and committed adultery but I prefer to be married and faithful to one women. And certainly extramarital affairs are out of the question, sin, not biblical and always more trouble than they are worth. It is always a bad idea. I have no regrets for loving and the affections I have shared with the lovely women I have known. I can face every one of them today because our relationships were truthful open and honest. Because I had a long bachelor hood and even from the beginning I prided my self on not deceiving nor luring a women a way from he innocence. I have always respected a women’s gift of attraction and role as a potential mother. Furthermore I have known so many professional, gifted and talented women in the arts, sciences, educators, law, medicine, etc. When my male piers were drowning in frustration, failure and loneliness I was always on playful adventures and in depth experiences with women. We were partners, either play mates, soul mates or fellow explorers. I enjoyed there cloths, tastes, and nuances of thought and differences. I would never do or know about so many things were it not for the women in and around my life.

The periods of my life can be subdivide by my relations with females as well:

  • Before 1953 when I was 16 there were dates and flings with girls from Shore Haven, school, and the neighborhood including Natalie who lived in Parkchester , Evelyn who lived on East 178 street off of Westchester Ave, and Joyce who lived on the west side on Walton \Ave. at 180 Street. , etc. They each were very precious . Natalie was such a close friend. She was very skinny with flaky white skin. She had long red hair and was very shy but talkative to me. She told me every thing and could not wait to meet me after school. She took me home to met her parents and her father who was a school teacher diagnosed ms being destined to be a university professor. When I grew up. Such a prophesy at that time seemed to me to me and exaggerated complement form a father desperately trying to match her daughter up with someone other than a member of the mafia.
  • Natalie and I did many things and one day she took me on surprise train ride to visit some of her best friends but she would not tell me who they were just that they meant a lot to her and she k new them all her life. We arrived at our stop on the Jerome Ave. line near Castle Hill and found the tenement and walked up the many flights to find the door. The door opened and there they were a family of midgets. Husband ,wife, children and in-laws living all together. We spent the day including a very good meal and left. I remember the conversations with them as being warm, humorous and friendly . She had an Italian boy friend was very friendly with many little girls’ from the time I was a child. I enjoyed flirting, playing, conversing, and sharing stories and commiserating about our relationship with our parents and family. Most of the talk had to do with adapting to the world and it’s many unknowns. In those early years I could distinguish between girls who were friends only to those that could be potentially romantic. The conversations and behaviors differed and so did the way we touch, speak, and converse. I enjoyed a good reputation of being a good friend and confidant. One such girl was Carol, another Theresa, and many others whose names I do not recall. Some had pimples; Myrna had a facial scar she was born with on half her face. I made it my business to be one the same bus with her every day so I can talk and coming home walk her part of way up the very long stir to her neighborhood. To me she was beautiful and charming. But to her I was a threat and she knew that because I was so good looking and she disfigured we were wasting our time. I really never understood this logic. But this was all part of my introduction to relationships with females. I listened and learned. I also had lots of emotions such as sadness and grief because I felt rejected and could not get enough companionship. Several had polio and walked with crutches. Others were blind or deaf. Puerto Rican girls kept their distance and though I tried could not get close. I’d go to Puerto Rican dance halls but only one would let me take her home.
  • 1953 I met Arlene and we went steady for 3 years till 1956
  • Between 1956 till 1958 when I began Pratt I dated a number of girls who I met at dances at Roseland, the 93 street “Y”, Bronx and Long Island. Synagogues. Larry was back in my life and prompting me to go to Westchester county, Long Island and meet girls. I met Marcia and others. I saw a lot of Milty and we went to Dude Ranches and other adventures.

There is no doubt that the “Sexual Revolution “ somewhat prompted by Alfred Kinsey’s reports impacted my life letting loose female’s expression and recreational sex in New York .the concept never existed before and did not exist for Christina.

Kinsey, who in 1948 irrevocably changed American culture and created a media sensation with his, book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Asking thousands of people about the most intimate aspects of their lives, Kinsey lifted the weight of doubt and shame from a society in which sex was hidden, and knowledge was dangerous. His work sparked one of the most intense cultural debates of the past century - a debate that rages on today."

Women were where the bigotry stopped. At least for the ones that accepted me. Many did. I am sure that I have shunned by many a female for more reasons than my personality. For example the Toni twin girl and Alice told me outright that it was matter of social and economic status that we had to part. Luther strove to free people with access to the bible and the truth of God so Kinsey was a fanatic about documenting sin as biological and not being socially stigmatized. This all led to socially acceptable recreational sex and promiscuity. He was a scientist using science to make individual human scientific fact that should be openly and discussed and not ammunition for degrading and social chastisement. He cried out to stop the clashes and openly appreciate the human urge and appreciation for attraction the opposite sex.

The females of this period included Rosalie Alpert, Carol of Simpson , Evelyn Stutman. Joyce Gelbart; Gloria and Shore Haven girls, Arlene, Vikki ,Carol of Harriet

Vikki: a blond tall thin girl who lived in the Bronx who worked as a secretary and I dated for several months going horse back riding, movies, dancing etc. Extremely cooperative and very kind. The other very special female I saw an and dated briefly was one of the “Toni Twins” who I followed and picked up on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. “Which one has the Toni?” The girl I knew was very pretty.

Arlene Goldberg

1953 to 1956; the love of my life: at least at that time. I me her at a community dance in a basement of a temple on the concourse. She attended Walton High School for girls only, which partially explains her saying yes to my first request to dance. I was so surprised. And it was yes ever after. I believe I had just turned 16 and it was 1953. The song “earth angel” was just released for the first time and she was my earth angel in person. Long black hair, big brown eyes and a beautiful figure. She was not very tall. Maybe 5’ 3”. We saw each other every day there after until in about 1956/57 (I believe it was 1956, a year after I graduated and was 18.5 years of age) she announced to me that we could not see each other unless I would commit to marry her, and begin to have six children in the immediate future. Arlene cared for my body and soul and our urban mind. We did and enjoyed all the urban things. She was a thrilling companion. Arlene for her caring.

After due deliberation and the trip to Miami with my aunt rose that i declined and we broke apart. It was a tear filled and emotional ending to one of the most joyful, happy and agreeable relations of my life. This was a person whose wit did her beauty only match and whose compassion good sense and fidelity balanced. Though we never had sex we certainly had very steamy affectionate times. And, we enjoyed hours of conversation and discovery. She lived on the grand concourse at 183 street just south of Moshulu Parkway. I could get to her by car in about 8 minutes through a shortcut through the Moshulu botanical park. We’d talk for an hour on the phone (every day she had a joke to tell me) and then I’d drive to her when it was dark after my father came home with the car. My mother worked at night at her friend Mabel’s ice cream parlor (S&W Sweet Shoppe”) just across from the paradise movie.

Theatre, so we’d walk there every night, past Poe park, where we’d some time sit on a bench a smooch; or we’d go to the Paradise movie to see an Elvis movie which we totally disregarded. Since I was working i had money for all this.Life was good!Arlene was the perfect first love!Loosing her broke my heart.

The deal would have been that I marry her, move with them to Spring Valley where her father, then the proprietor and owner of liquor store, would make me a key executive in his liquor distribution business. He would buy and furnish our house and provide us with what ever we would need. Her two brothers were much younger and they would eventually come on board as well. Since Arlene and I were the same age, her idea was that by 1977 when we were about forty we would start having our first grandchildren and by 1983 or so the last batch would be begun so that by the time we were fifty or so between children and grandchildren we would have a huge brew.

I too thought this would be great, but I first needed to complete my education and this is where our timing was off. She could not wait for the four years it would take for me to get my degree. She wanted to begin this process now. Finally, when we parted she informed me that if i did not agree, she already had a young man lined up who she would begin seeing who was already prequalified for this wish of hers.

Leaving her was one of life’s great lessons and the beginning of the discipline that would characterizes most of my life: to surrender willingly something, someone, and someplace for a greater good. Wow“You’ll never look at me the way you look at him” a line spoken by Robert Redford in “Indecent Proposal” to Demi Moore about the way Redford saw her looking at her husband Woody Haroldson. This explains one of the important attractions I have had for most of below mentioned females. Not only did most of them look good, were attractive and very appealing but they looked at me in a certain way. Also, I looked at them in a certain way and this way of looking and openly revealing our selves to each other has always been the hallmark of what I considered a relationship. My mother would get upset when I looked at her too much, but I knew she loved it.


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