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.]