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Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Comments from a thread at LGF

"there are those of us out here that . . . can be counted upon to do the right thing"
I don’t know if this is the correct thread to post these comments on, but I’ll risk it on this thread and do it anyhow. I grew up in Elizabeth, NJ. During the late ‘40’s and through the 50’s I lived in the Elmora neighborhood. By the name you’d think it was a Latino area. But no, the locals called Elmora Ave. “New Jerusalem Ave.” because of the great influence of Jewish people. And this post is dedicated to those Jewish people that made up my neighborhood and my childhood.

This is for you, Abigail and Naomi. Thank you and your grandfather, who frightened me with his great white beard, yarmulke and huge girth for letting me sit in your parlor to watch the 12” black and white TV cartoons every afternoon for 15 minutes. We didn’t have a TV until 1956, but you included me in, and I loved it.

Thanks to you, Norm Gerson, who owned the butcher shop/grocery store. You clued my parents in to the rooms above your store that were for rent, and we moved in. You carried my mother on the grocery bill, and even treated me to slices of corned-beef and cheese when I went to pick up her order.

This is also for Gertrude Young, a German ex-pat lady who ran the bakery next to the movie theatre. I worked there for two years and still have a taste for her Hammentashen, Rugullah and Challah (spelling ???). She knew her customers, and treated them well. I have yet to taste a bagel like those she imported from Brooklyn!

I remember Goodman’s deli. I have never eaten a better sandwich; you could hardly get your mouth around it. And Stu Goodman would always let you pull a kosher pickle out of the barrel, if you insisted. He complained, but always got over it and forgot to charge.

And my friend Susan, who at 13 years old invited me to the YMHA for a “social” and a sleepover later at her house. I got my first kiss from David, a gorgeous Jewish boy, that night, and I’ll never forget it. The next morning her mother soaked Matzos and mixed them with eggs to make a great breakfast for us. She hung a name on that dish, but I just don’t remember. Anyone know?

And then my mother. As a small child, I was not allowed to touch some of my parents’ things. Off-limits were some books that today would be called “coffee-table” books. They were “Best Photographs of 194…whatever”. I recall being disobedient and looking through those books. They were filled with black-and-white photos of the horrors of the Holocaust and W.W.II. The pictures of the Jewish people in the European ghettos and the concentration camps really disturbed me. My mother realized that something was troubling me, and it didn’t take much on her part to get my confession. She understood that I was worried about my Jewish friends, and concerned that maybe the “bad people” would come and take my friends away. She never reprimanded me for my offense, but instead just reassured me that the war was over and that those things weren’t ever going to happen again. My mother passed away this past year. We never spoke about that time again. I wish that she was still here to reassure me, however, today I have no illusions. That which I thought could not happen again seems to be possible today. And like then, I don’t understand it. But I do know, that over my dead body, will I allow anyone to harm anyone just because of a group they belong to.

Sorry to use up so much of your bandwidth, Charles. But I thought I’d confirm my support for you and so many of your posters, who may not know that there are those of us out here that might seem silent, but can be counted upon to do the right thing, when and if necessary, for the Jewish people who we learned to love so many years ago.