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Friday, 31 January 2014

An Old Man's Memories

By Clifford Rothband

Can I imagine myself at 69? Is that a joke or a pun, it seems that most don't even remember the embarrassment there anymore. I am about to burst at the brain level looking for an outlet for my tales of existence.

Life has been hard. The only redeeming factor has been love, of my wife of 48 years. (I shot her with a Red Rider BB gun at seven. No, our first experience as a pair is when at five. I pushed her into a mud puddle so I am 69 and we have been a couple for 64 years).

My children and grandchildren who I feel just don't appreciate me, or want to listen to my advice. Albeit advice that has formed by both formal education and tough experiences.

We grew up in Brooklyn New York. I recently read that it was the most densely populated area in the world at that time era, late 1940s and 50s.

Living in three-story tenement buildings. Helping the super shovel coal into the furnace at night. Watching the coal being loaded at the sidewalk and seeing barrels of ash trucked away.

The iceman came to those days without electric “Frigidaires.” The seltzer and Cott soda was delivered as bottled water might be now days. Asking my mother what those big blood stained "bandages" were that littered into the courtyard.

So many older women names like Agnes, Sally or Betty, Mary and Elizebeth. Men with Biblical names not often used in today's world. Max, Wolff, Lemuel, Shlepper or Heshy as examples.

Oh, the miracle of the Good Humor truck, the dime cup of ice cream with a strawberry syrup top or frozen chocolate syrup to be eaten with a wooden spoon.

Or the 10 cent rides like the "Merry Go Roundtruck.” Being careful not to be run over in my exuberance of having a dime for a treat.

The biggest treat was gramps Saul who took me to the pigeon coop to suck out raw eggs. Or squab once a week. Or Bubbie Becky buying a live fish for "Gefiltre” and we touched it in the bath tub next to the kitchen sink.

Oh, Gramps said he was a wrestler at one time, a piano mover, a pickle man and played a mandolin and sang with a shnaps- or kosher wine-induced humorous vocabulary of Yiddish and English. He died before age 60.

My grandmother lived to 88 in a nursing home. She left me a purse of dimes. What a inheritance.

Pitching pennies. Pink Spaulding stick ball or stoop ball. Or my favorite, "I made a Shimalecha” and who stuck the pinky in - really hide and seek before we could count to 10.

$29 a month rent. Chinese food upstairs over Kenny shoes off Pitkin and Saratoga Avenues. Chop suey and the Brooklyn Pitkin and Ambassador theatres.

In good taste, I can't even use the box name of the small chocolate babies in a box. Mission soda - real orange and sarsaparilla or cream.

What happened to Utopia Ave? Even President Eisenhower came at election time. Was he really Jewish?

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Dear, dear Clifford,
Sterling Place! That was me, 10 years older than you. Walking to Pitkin Avenue to look in the shops when nylon had just come out and the windows had, for me, 'exquisite' nylon nightgowns and stockings, while the knish man sold knishes, both potato and kasha and the street smelled of heaven.
Yes, dear Clifford, thank you so much. And here I am 2014, 79 years old, jazz musician, poet, yoga teacher living in Sweden, married to the kindest shagitz in the world. Isn't fate astonishing?

Isnt this a wonderful place, meeting after all these years through your combined memories.

Maybe memories are even better than the real happenings in the past. Keep on remembering.

Clifford, What vivid graphic memories you have from those days. I love the way your story is held together by the long relationship with your wife. You must have made quite the impression on her, especially when you accidentally shot her with your Red Rider BB gun.

Love this story. What a great share. I love this site and will be sharing it with others here at our website blog. We reach out to seniors in the community all the time. Thanks again for the share!

The tapestry of our lives are only beautiful because of the different experiences that color the threads. Thank you for sharing.

Everyone is so poetic when they comment. What a bunch of readers! Spectacular! Don'tcha just love it!

I forgot to add: You're not an old man!

On some ones back I drew a shimalecha ..."made the eyes, made the nose, made the mouth and some one stuck his finger in" I forgot why, until you explained that it was a game of hide and seek.
That was in the '40s and I, now just eighty, am happy you let, me know what it was I did so many years ago.

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