The next will be more relevant to today. I found myself reliving a memory and wanted to write it without including my father’s POV. Frankly his views befuddle me though I understand more than most people. I suppose I will be going back and forth from memory posts to what’s wrong with the world today?
Do you remember when you told me that if I went with you to a meeting of the Mir Young Men’s Club, I would meet a bootlegger?
I knew that the club consisted of people from your parents generation and you were the youngest active member. I was eleven and in lust with the lure of both gangsters and FBI agents You had told Elka and me, many times, how when you were a boy during the depression you would go to Montauk with the bootlegger and ride shotgun–which makes no sense considering your youth and your fear of guns.
You probably went once or twice but in your stories you went often and while you didn’t explicitly say you were central to the operation a daughter can dream. And you knew that. After you died mommy told me that half your stories were made up and she was so surprised that I of all people fell for them Of course she wouldn’t tell me which half nor would she tell me how much you embellished. My parents. What jokesters.
Off we went from the garden apartments in Queens to some stuffy over furnished dark dingy, smoky but with doilies apartment somewhere in the Bronx. Everybody but you and I had white hair if they had hair at all and that did include the few women. Before the solemn reading of the minutes they made a big fuss over me.
“What a shana maidela.” “You look just like you looked at two.” I heard that one until my 30’s when the last of them died out and never considered looking like Shirley Temple a compliment. Or even looking like me at two. Note for you if you ever comeback to life: a girl wants to be known for her age appropriate beauty not her toddlerhood.
Then they told me how much I looked like you. And I did. We had the same deep set eyes and smaller than I would have liked mouth. I liked that one because it meant people forgot that I was adopted. Fortunately neither you nor mommy would mention that fact but thank whoever for that meant you too were good looking.
I have never forgotten that apartment or the meeting. There was rugelach (a pastry) during the reading of the minutes and new business. New business basically consisted of discussing who died and was buried in one of the cemeteries The Mir Young Man’s Society had sections in. In the cemetery you and mommy are buried in, The Mir Young Men’s Society is next to The Jewish Actors and even I know some of the names. Once Elka and I were wondering around as you had taught us to and we found Barbra Streisand’s father, between our society and the Jewish Actors.
I don’t remember what else was discussed People sat in folding chairs. The room became hotter and hotter and I could smell jars of schmaltz herring (in a an onion and white sauce, I think) being opened. I still think herring except for kippers a vile and gross food. The smell and smells of tuna and egg salad beginning prepared made me sick and I wanted to leave but didn’t dare say anything. I knew you wouldn’t make me eat anything as you thought the same of tuna and egg salad as I did You were worse as you thought if mommy didn’t make chopped foods you would immediately die.
So we sat in the stuffy stinky room and I wondered where my bootlegger was. I wondered if he looked like a gangster on TV or more like an FBI agent. You let me watch an hour of TV a day and most of my TV time then was consumed by “hip” shows catering to teenagers which I would be in a year and half–77 Sunset Strip Hawaiian Eye and Surfside 6 which took place in Miami Beach and whenever we went I would take Elka and make a pilgrimage to the house boat.
I didn’t know that the houseboat wasn’t part of the show until right now when I Wiki’d it. I’m assuming that you learn about Wikipedia and other things where ever you are. Since you’re not on this earth I can make assumptions or not that I couldn’t normally. I do stick to truth in stories. It’s just the world’s changed so much in the past almost eighteen years and I don’t want to waste time explaining unless I do. (Uh, I sound just like you.)
I don’t know how I was able to watch TV in peace as we only had one set and you insisted on watching with us. Maybe “my shows” took place on your poker, pinochle, civic associations or classes at The New School nights. I think poker and classes were on the same night–more about your life outside work, and your work in other letters.
But I think I also watched FBI type shows and was confused as to whether I wanted to be an FBI agent, not that girls could be, or a gangster. I can’t explain how excited I was about meeting the bootlegger. You had told me so many great stories.
When you introduced me to an old frail man on crutches I wanted to kill you. Somehow I hadn’t accounted for the decades gone by since the depression. Your eyes were smiling. You looked as if you wanted to laugh loudly. I remember thinking “he’s trying to teach me some important life lesson,” but I still can’t think of what it could be. That I hadn’t factored in the passage of time? Daddy we all learn that one when we’re ready. That I shouldn’t expect one thing, when the possibilities are infinite?
I got my revenge quicker than I would have imagined. We went to the Botanical Gardens or The Bronx Zoo. When you looked for parking, on the street, so you wouldn’t have to pay, you the world’s most careful driver, drove the wrong way down a street and you got a ticket.