- Hide menu

Deep history – Brooklyn, 1953

I never knew my great-grandfather, Morris Rabinowitz (Rabinovich in the old country). He died a few years before I was born, but his son, my Uncle Gus, told me that his father had written stories in Yiddish in those old composition books with the black-speckled covers (you can still buy them at King Sooper’s, now in a choice of colors). This sparked an intense interest in Yiddish for me in the early 1990’s, when I joined the Boulder Yiddish Vinkl, but never seemed to master the language…or find out where those composition books are…

In 1953, and for many many years thereafter, I thought Yiddish was pretty disgusting. A real Americanized kid, second generation. I was born in ’48, the start of the Cold War. In 1952-53, when I was in kindergarten and first grade in Brooklyn, we wore dogtags to school. I was very proud of them. Just like my father’s Army dogtags. Had my father’s name, our address on Richmond Street, and the phone number. Theoretically the Russians would bomb New York, and the bodies of the kids at PS 65 could be identified. Amazing plan, eh? I’ve since heard that kids on Long Island, the Bronx, even Flagstaff, AZ, wore dogtags to school.

Other memories of Brooklyn:

-Curtsying to our teacher at the end of the schoolday (boys would bow)
-My grandfather’s collection of blue seltzer bottles in the cellar, along with the surplus wire he was unable to sell during the war
-The hucksters and knife sharpeners who would come down our street with their horses
-Sparkling anthracite coal we burned for heat
-Church bells late in the afternoon on Crescent Street
-The TV set with the round screen
-Sitting on my grandmother’s lap while she read paperbacks
-My mother’s Merle Norman rouge
-The photo chemicals from my father’s darkroom
-Fighting with my sister
-The Mickey Mouse chair (now in Baltimore)
-Taking out the trains (Lionel) on Sundays (trains now in Baltimore)
-My mother playing “Orche Chornye” [Dark Eyes] on the accordion
-Being burned by a curling iron at Macy’s
-Lifebuoy soap, and the finecomb
-Wondering why you couldn’t just eat dirt off the street if you were hungry
-Wondering what it meant to be Jewish and starting to divide up the world into Jewish and not-Jewish
-Learning from my mother about Buchenwald
-Fighting with my friend Eleanor Miller in the middle of the street over a book (yes, a book)
-Playing “Tubby the Tuba” on our Victrola
-Watching “City Beneath the Sea” at the Embassy
-Encountering a mouse in the attic, and screaming, “It’s a ghost!”
-The smell of the baby carriage
-Breakstone’s whipped butter in a ceramic container
-Somersaulting with Michael
-My grandfather smoking Camels
-Dr. Duckman’s green Studebaker (he made housecalls)
-Visiting Aunt Mary, Aunt Lily, Aunt Sylvie and all our cousins
-The fighting about who was better, the Dodgers or the Yankees
-My grandfather’s Pinochle games and the men drinking shnaps
-Pippy, Wee-Wee and Shnoz [beloved stuffed animals and still have Pippy]
-Afraid Nazis were going to come and get us
-Going to “New York” [what Brooklynites called Manhattan] on the train
-Eating cherry pie at the Automat
-Reading the funnies with my father
-Preferring vanilla ice cream to chocolate
-Dixie cups, malteds, Drake’s cupcakes (predecssor to Devil Dogs)
-Mashed potatoes mixed with sour cream and spinach (very Eastern European and still a comfort food)

-Not wanting to leave Brooklyn for Rochester, leave my grandparents behind, leave Michael behind, leave my New York accent behind, and move to a cold, cold, dark place…

Comments are closed.

izmit evden eve nakliyat