Rediscovering My Master’s Thesis On The Jewish Press

22 Jun

As journalists and media outlets are facing some of their most difficult times with the loss of large newspapers and 24 hour entertainment/news, and the attack on the journalists in the USA, I found my latest move-related discovery: a box filled with papers included a red folder containing the survey responses from a 78 Jewish publications in the late 1970s, who responded to my master’s thesis request.

I worked on and wrote, “The Jewish Press: Journalism Versus Religion,” in 1979. Starting in the fall semester of 1978, I f finished with my defense and publication in December 1979.   I remember my advisor being happily surprised that so many responded to my survey.  I took the information and diligently typed this information on to computer punch cards.  Then reserved my time on the University of Missouri’s mainframe computer where, my cards zapped through the machine and presented me with the results. 

I have to laugh.  It took three tries. The first I dropped the cards, and I did not have them all numbered. This was a disaster in those days, because certain cards told the computer what to do.  You do that once, and never again!  The second time, a one card had a typo.  Finally, on the third try, it went perfectly.  Of course, four responses came after the computer work, so I had to mentally add them to the statistics.  The computer took up an entire room. You do have to laugh when you think about computers today and then 41 years ago. Sigh.

Back to my surveys. I sent my survey to magazines, newspapers, English and Yiddish publications. Any publications that identified as part of the Jewish press. Some of the editors/publishers just answered the questions with as few words as possible, others sent me paragraph upon paragraph of information about their publications and their thoughts. 

One person’s help stood out.  He wrote me a letter along with returning the survey.  In his letter, Bernard Postal offered as much help as possible in my project. My most vivid memory of working on my thesis was his wonderful help and advice! 

Mr. Postal had been an associate editor of The Jewish Week from 1971 until his death in 1981.  In the 1920s and 30s he worked at many publications including the New York Globe, the New York Times, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the Jersey City Jewish Standard.  He was the editor of the monthly magazine, The Jewish Digest from 1955 till he passed away. He wrote books and he was honored by the JWB’s Jewish Book Council for his contributions to American Jewish History.

For me he was a godsend.  He had written an unpublished article in 1976 entitled, The American Jewish Press after 150 Years. He was interested in my master’s thesis and wanted to help. He wrote to me about my research. He spoke to me on the phone.  Finally, when I was in New Jersey during a break, I took the train to Long Island, where he met me at the train station and took me back to his home. We spent hours going through his personal archives.  He sent me away with a load of articles, information and a wonderful interview which took place on March 29, 1979. This interview is footnoted in my thesis.

We kept in touch.  I even invited him to my wedding, which took place a year after our day together.  He did not come.  And then, less than two years after my thesis was published by the university, he died.  I was devastated.   He was my mentor.  I was 26 and he was 75. I felt terrible that I had not gone to see him with the bound copy of my thesis.  However, his name and  memory has stayed with me throughout the years. 

Finding these papers, brought me back to the memory of my day in his home. Because of my thesis and my time with Bernard Postal, I always had a positive imagine of the Jewish press. I have had articles published in three different national Jewish publications, of which only one is still published today.

For many years, I have freelanced for the local Kansas City Jewish newspaper.  I will admit, that one of the people who responded to my thesis survey was the then editor of the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, Milton Firestone.   He was one that answered with just a few words. I never worked for Milton.   I started freelancing for the Chronicle in 1985, when I was pregnant with my daughter, 35 years ago.  He had died suddenly two years before, when he was quite young, 55.  I never had the chance to discuss my thesis with him.  However, I still write an occasional article or commentary for the paper. 

When Milton Firestoen responded to my survey, he mentioned concern to the question about “the possible demise of your publication.”  His answer: there is “little new talent interested in producing a publication. Also, young people may not want to read it.”  I think he would be happy to know that it just celebrated its 100th anniversary.  Although, I am sure there is still concern about the future of the publication, just as there is for all newspapers throughout the world.

Rereading some of the survey questionnaires has brought me back to a different time. So many of these publications are no longer published, or if they are, in a much smaller format.  I think everyone who responded is no longer alive.  I am actually feeling so glad that I held on to this tiny bit of Jewish history.

I am still looking to see if I saved the letters and the notes from my interview with Mr. Postal.  So far, I have not found them.  But what I did find has given me a bit of joy.

Rediscovering My Husband’s Parent’s Wedding Album

15 Jun

As we have been unpacking since our recent move, we found items we did not even know we had.   Among them was my husband’s parent’s wedding album.  It makes sense we had them.  At the time his mother died and their father moved, one brother was living in Europe and the other brother was busy with four little children.   That meant that my husband and I did a lot of the sorting and cleaning.   Especially since his father was moving to live with his new wife.  A wedding album with his deceased wife would not have been a good idea.

I should also say my husband’s mother died when she was just 59 years old from lung cancer.  It was a painful time for her and for her family.  She was way too young. Smoking three packs of cigarettes a day was not the best for her health.   (See blog below.)

I digress.  We found the wedding album as we were packing boxes in the old house. The album was in an old box of items important to my husband.  We were sorting through the box to see what we needed to move with us.  Of course, the photo album made the move! We did not have time to really look through it when we were getting ready for the move. But now that we are here and unpacking, we took a break to look through a bundle of old photos.

Lee, his mother, was one of ten children in the Matassarin family. I knew eight of them. One died before she was born. And one passed before I joined the family. In this photo, most of her siblings and their spouses are in the picture. I am assuming the one that is not in were still serving in the military. It was soon after WW2.

Her parents died long before she married.  Her mother died when she was only five or six years old; her father died when she was a senior in high school.  (See blogs belos.)

Her oldest brother walked her down the aisle.  Her youngest sister was her maid of honor.  In some of the photos, she looks pensive.  I wonder if she is missing her father?  Her mother?  Even though she had so many siblings with her, I have to think she missed not having either parent.

My husband’s first cousins planned to have a family reunion next week. They planned a trip to Leavenworth, Kansas, to see the family home and to visit the Jewish cemetery where their grandparents were buried. It has all been cancelled due to the virus. I had planned to share the wedding album then. Instead, I share it here. Not all the photos, but at least this one that shows all the family together on a very happy day.

https://zicharonot.com/2015/05/06/remembering-my-mother-in-law-with-a-manicure-and-pedicure/

https://zicharonot.com/2019/04/06/more-family-legends-confirmed/https://zicharonot.com/2019/01/11/cemetery-records-impacts-family-stories/

Pademic Move: One Month Update

13 May

We made it to a month in the new home.  Finally, no more workers, all wearing masks, some wearing gloves and booties, are coming in to fix one of the many issues that we had to correct in the new hone.   Practically everything is completed.  

We actually can use our master bathroom, stovetop and trash compactor. Many pictures are hung on the walls.  And upstairs in the main living area, we only have only one box to unpack!! 

Runner by the kitchen sink.

I could not go shopping for some rugs we needed. But I did find a few things I needed on RugsUSA. So that helped. Now our hardwood kitchen floor is a bit more protected. I never had a hardwood floor in the kitchen. I am learning.

Downstairs is another story.  Each day I try to do one or more boxes.  We did one already this morning.  And I planned to do the others today as well.  But I am writing a blog instead.  Procrastination is okay during a pandemic.

I can honestly say that this house is beginning to feel like home.  Yes, there are some blips.  Like my husband asking me where something is, like shoelaces.  “Just tell me! You don’t have to get up and show me!  I guess you are getting up,” he says with a note of exasperation in his voice.

“I wish I could tell you!”  Is my response.  “But I am not exactly sure where it is.  I know the shoelaces are in a drawer in the kitchen, but I don’t know which drawer.  In our old house I would just tell you. But here I have to look.”  And even when I look, the item I am searching for is not exactly where I remember or thought I put it.

Now don’t think this conversation would not have happened in our home of 35 years.  It would have.  Even though the shoelaces were always kept in the same place, my husband never remembered where they were.  My brain carried an internal map of almost every item.  Now that map has been distorted and corrupted.  

When we open boxes now, I realize that I should have labeled things much better.  We finally, after a month, found my mouse pad, computer mouse and back up hard drive.  Finally.

But we put the wrong one on my computer.  There is another hard drive that I needed to find!  It took two days, but we found it!

The new house is feeling like home.  We both agree, it is a great place to spend the next stage of our lives.  With all of our everyday living on one level, it makes sense.  An added bonus is the maintenance provided for lawn mower, hedge trimming, leaf and snow removal.  No more weekly outdoor chores to get done.  Now we can just focus on weeding and planting.

There is the one glaring problem, however: our old home.   We had planned to move and then put it on the market, so that we could take our time.  Not disrupt the cats as much.  And do a peaceful move.  We did not plan for a pandemic financial crash.   We might not be selling our house.  The market is not going our way at all.

But then we realize, we actually put the house on the market 10 days earlier than planned. We had no plans to buy a house in March.  We were to be in Europe for two weeks celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary.  In fact, according to our schedule, we were only coming home in time for Mother’s Day.  But instead we spent those two weeks unpacking and having the house issues dealt with on almost a daily basis.

I guess for us the silver lining of the pandemic is the joy of being at home and getting settled, without having to worry about a trip out of town.  And for me, having to go between the two homes, packing at one and unpacking at another, gave me the opportunity to keep busy and not focus on the isolation!  Another silver lining.

I decided to focus on the good of the move and not dwell on the issues that arose because of when we moved.  We are not the only ones who had a move planned in the month of March, April or May.  We are all navigating this strange time.  I hope everyone can find a silver lining and adjust happily into a new environment.

Most of all, I hope those who are having financial struggles are able to keep their home and find employment and survive. My struggles as silly when I compare myself to others. Sending prayers for all who are going through changes during this unexpected time.

Settling In: At Home and In Reality

28 Apr

As I continue my pandemic impacted move, I must admit I finally see a resolution and feel a sense of peace.

Last week my home of 35 years was emptied out.  Forget an estate sale: I had it set up with a non-profit that donates the money to a nursing scholarship fund at a local community college.  But due to the pandemic, we could not have it.  Forget donating the over 1000 books that I did not give away to the local library for its annual book sale.  (See blog below.) They were not taking any books at this time due to the pandemic.  Forget donating to anyone for anything.  I was disappointed and dismayed.

I wanted to have my good friend, who owns a thrift store, and gives some money to a charity we both support, take my stuff. But she was stuck at her second home in Florida.  So I could not even do that.  My realtor came through. She heard of a gentleman, a veteran, who has a thrift store about an hour from where I live. He takes everything and he donates to four charities.  Yes, some redeeming solution to my pile of no longer needed items, that were definitely not junk…along with some junk.  He actually took everything, including the trash!!!

I also felt good because three of the charities he gives items and donations to are ones that I also support.

Being there when everything was hauled away was more emotional than I thought it would be.  We had already put all that we did not want into two rooms and the garage. Most of the house was already empty.  But watching those piles diminish and parts of my life leave the house was at times awful.  I did rescue a few items in the last minutes.  A book!  My tennis rachet, I have not played in 20 years, but my Dad and I used to play together in the summers when I worked for him.  I had to keep that.

Our lower level is empty as well.

However, there is one wonderful bright spot: with everything gone from the house, there are no more boxes entering the new house.  We are done. Now when a box is emptied, it stays empty.  I find that liberating!!! 

I was worried about leaving all my wonderful plantings behind.   The Japanese maple my son and his girlfriend got my husband for Father’s Day.  Plants that reminded me of my Dad, who loved to garden, and all my special plants.  But my friend, and gardener, came through and moved many of my favorites to the new house, taking some similar plants from the new house and replanting them at the old.  Yes, it made a difference.

The Japanese maple moved with us.

Inside the house is beginning to feel more like home as the furniture I kept is rearranged to fit into the new space. At times I am frustrated as things do not fit quite right. My husband’s calm response is always, “We downsized.  So things are smaller.”  Things like closets and storage.  But I am getting the hang of it.  And as I put things away, I also find more things to give away.  Boxes of craft and school supplies go to the school I work at.  Bags of clothing are going to the one thrift store that has a dumpster outside for donations.  And lots of Star Trek items to a young couple I know who loves Star Trek.

I have also repurposed items from my old home into my new. My favorite Roman shades, that the realtor took out of my old home, are now hanging in the new one. Rugs I had thought I had no use for here, are now on the hardwood floors. Each little item actually gives me comfort.

Roman shades moved from old house to new!

Our biggest need is more bookshelves. The home we left had many built -in bookshelves. The new home has none. We did bring several with us, but not enough to hold all the books that survived the culling.  I still have some room and am still unpacking. But there will be books in boxes for a while.

Empty family room with almost empty bookcases. Some of my books we used to stage.

Due to the social distancing and closures, some of the remodeling that was supposed to be completed before we moved in, is still a work in progress.  But I think within a week or so, almost everything will be completed.

On Friday our home goes on the market.  I have no idea what will happen, as the pandemic and its economic strangle on the community will probably impact the sale.  But who knows? Our home is two blocks from an elementary school, a playground, a park that includes tennis courts, a hockey rink, a soccer field, two softball/baseball fields and a track.  It is really one of the best neighborhoods for children.  And more than that, every Fourth of July we can just walk to the school and watch the city’s fireworks display.  

I look forward to the days of owning one home, and no longer worrying about what will happen next.  That has been the major stress of buying and selling a home during this unsettled Covid-19 time. Each day has been a new adventure. Each day a new challenge. 

On the other hand, I know I am fortunate. My husband and I are still employed.  We are among the lucky ones.  My problems pale to those facing eviction, lack of food and no income.

I am looking forward to settling into our new home.  But I am also looking forward to settling into a new reality where we no longer shake hands, stay six feet apart, and hope to an economy that bounces back.  Wishing everyone good health and economic security.

https://zicharonot.com/2020/03/23/joyful-moments-as-i-give-away-our-books/

Pandemic Packing And Moving

7 Apr

Pandemic moving is more than mildly stressful. As I wrote in two earlier blogs (see below), my husband and I purchased a new home on March 2. Although it was new to us, it is almost 30 years old. So it needed some love and attention.

I decided that we should get all the major changes completed before we moved. So I met with people, signed contracts and prepared for the closing, when everything would start. And it did…right on time.

Old carpeting was ripped out, hardwood floors went in. Three old alarm systems and intercom system were removed. Nails and holes in the walls were patched. And the faded gold, brown and green/brown walls became Misty grey, Atmospheric blue, and Rain teal.

Three unsteady ceiling fans were replaced with more modern versions. The one good one went into the guest bedroom with a new light attached. A dining room became a piano room, so the chandelier that was placed at table level came out, and a more suitable one for our plans went in.

Repairs from the list found during the mechanical inspection were made. Electrician, plumber, roofer, gardener, all came to fix more major issues. Since our new laundry was internally located and had a dryer vent that went for 12 feet under the kitchen, I decided to have it checked. Good thing. It had not been cleaned for years and had disconnected in the basement ceiling spreading inches of lint in the space. Luckily it was a drop ceiling below so it could all be fixed.

Some of the lint from the dryer vent

The master bathroom was getting an overhaul. The shower stall head was placed at 5’6”. Great for me, but not for my over six-foot husband. There were broken tiles and mold. So a remodeled was called for. It was supposed to be done before we moved in. As was the remodel of the island in the kitchen.

But about 12 days into the remodel life changed. We went to social distancing as the pandemic force of Covid 19 drove people indoors. In the Kansas City area, the mayors from cities in both states closed things down! Then our wonderful Kansas governor closed schools and put out new regulations for social distancing. So far they seem to be helping.

But what does that do for a move? Well the remodeling continues. Usually one person at a time. If more than one is here, they work in different rooms. I stay away while they are there, and go back in the late afternoon to check progress. I have a big container of Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer throughout. I have a mask. Everyone is aware of the issues. I no longer have to touch an I pad to sign. Bills are emailed to me then I pay. If I do have to give a credit card I immediately clean it with a wipe.

Home buying, remodeling and moving are deemed essential jobs, so work can continue. The house is almost done. However some is at a slower pace. The master bath has a holdup as some of the tile is in lockdown at a store that is closed. The kitchen island will also be completed after we move.

Then there is the move itself. It is supposed to be this week. But with this virus surrounding us, my husband and I are more vigilant. We have moved hundreds of boxes by ourselves. Our personal items, books, dishes, linens have only been touched by us. I have packed everything for the last month, as we did not want to exposed ourselves to more risks than necessary.

Luckily our new abode is just two miles from our current home. So taking several trips a day has been somewhat easy. Ok I lie, we are exhausted. If it was any other time I would have had friends helping me. But instead I am often on my own, as my husband is busy at work. I am working from home as my school is closed. So I do have more time to pack.

This week is stressful for so many reasons but also because if the holidays. For us there will be no Seder. My friend, whose house we were going to, is dropping off food for us. Most of my dishes are at the new house. For the second night we are doing a Zoom Seder with my family. People will be joining us from Canada, Israel, New Jersey, New York and DC. I can’t wait. Easter will also be different as many churches are closed or having outdoor services. I will not comment about Those that are staying open.

After this week and the move, we have to then sell our home of 35 years. But who knows how long this isolation will continue? Homes are still selling in our area. But as people continue to lose their jobs and the economy slows, we just don’t know. It causes some anxiety! The main concern, however, is loss of life. Already the death toll is over 10,000. New York is being ravaged. Globally 75,000 have died. Here it is not as bad. We might have flatten the pandemic’s curve. I am praying that is so.


With all that is happening I have some advice, DO NOT purchase a new home on the precipice of a pandemic. The stress and anxiety as we see what is happening all around us makes celebrating this change in our lives almost impossible.

https://zicharonot.com/2020/03/14/buying-a-home-in-the-midst-of-a-pandemic/

https://zicharonot.com/2020/03/05/downsizing-after-35-years/

Rediscovering A Talk With My Husband’s Aunt (Part 1)

1 Apr

Cleaning out my house as we prepare to move has brought me several treasures.  One I have been looking for over the last few months, as my husband’s family had planned a family reunion in June, which has since been cancelled.  But what I was looking for finally turned up in a file cabinet drawer.

Over 30 years ago, I sat down with my husband’s Aunt Matt, who was his mother’s sister.  My husband’s Mom died of lung cancer when she was only 59.  After my daughter was born, I felt truly sad that she would never hear stories about her grandmother’s family.  So I asked Aunt Matt if she would be the substitute. She was delighted!

We used to spend a long weekend each March at the Lake of the Ozarks with Aunt Matt and her husband, Uncle Stan, in a time share they had.  This was the perfect opportunity.  My husband and his uncle took my daughter fishing, while Aunt Matt and I talked about her life in Leavenworth and Wichita, Kansas, and I recorded her words.

Aunt Matt, whose real name was Marie, was filled with love for her parents and her nine siblings.  Her father, Leon, was from Romania.  He had both a law degree and a medical degree.  After college, at Sorbonne, he went to England where he met his wife, Esther. She was just 15 when they married.  (See blogs below about their marriage) Leon spoke 7 languages!

Esther and Leon

They first lived in London where the first three children were born: Molly, Joe and Jean.  They came to North America in 1912.   I understand that they came through Canada.   They first settled in New Orleans, where Leon taught at Tulane University.   (I had never heard this before!)

During the First World War, Leon entered the United States Army, where he became a colonel.  He stayed an extra year in Europe as he was put in charge of the exchange of prisoners.  (There is actually a photo of him with prisoners that one of my husband’s cousins owns.) 

Colonel Leon M.

While he was in Europe, his young family lived in Brooklyn with family. Aunt Matt said with their grandparents.  (I do know that Esther’s had family in NY. But I thought it was her brother.).  When he finally got back to the USA, the family moved to Pennsylvania, where Colonel Leon was in charge of a military hospital.  They lived in a home belonging to a family that gave it to the Army to use.  It was just 100 steps from the hospital.

Somewhere along the way, from Tulane, to Wichita for a bit, to Pennsylvania, four more children were born: Marie, Fred, Florence (Toots) and Ben (Bubsy).  When Leon was finally discharged and left active duty, he moved his family to Wichita, Kansas. Aunt Matt had no idea why they moved. (The names in parenthesis are family nicknames.)

The next baby, Leona ”Lee”  (Bubbles) was born in Wichita.  Her birth in 1925 was almost exactly one year after the oldest daughter, Molly, died while attending college in New York.  Bubble’s middle name, May, was for her sister.  This baby was important in my family, as she was my husband’s mother.  Aunt Matt said, “Lee was a born one year and two days after Molly died of pneumonia in 1924 while at Columbia University, where she was studying art.”

Lee was the only child born in Wichita.   While there, Leon had a private practice. But he was also part of a group that founded the first free clinic.  The St. Francis Free Dispensary was founding in 1922.

Aunt Matt did not know why the family moved once again to Leavenworth, Kansas. But they did sometime before 1927, because the last two children, Barbara and Richard were born when they lived in Leavenworth.  Leon had a private practice their specializing in OB/BYN and Surgery.  

Life changed for them after just a few years after moving to Leavenworth. When the youngest, Richard, was just two years old, their mother, Esther, died.  Aunt Matt was in college then.  She was told that her mother died of pneumonia.  But we know she died in childbirth.  (See blog below.)

This blog covers the first three pages of 17 pages of notes. The next ones will discuss the time in Leavenworth, Kansas.

https://zicharonot.com/2019/01/11/cemetery-records-impacts-family-stories/

https://zicharonot.com/2019/04/06/more-family-legends-confirmed/

https://zicharonot.com/2019/04/04/the-great-alie-street-synagogue-my-husbands-family-london-ties/

https://zicharonot.com/2019/04/09/more-on-esther-and-leons-london-wedding/

If you read these other blogs, you will find slightly different stories. We all have the stories our parent’s told us. With ten siblings ranging about 25 years apart in age, different grandchildren of Leon and Esther, were told slightly different stories. OR had slightly different memories. These are Aunt Matt’s memories.

Joyful Moments As I Give Away Our Books!

23 Mar

I already wrote about my plan to help others when the libraries and schools closed.  I meant just to help those in my circle of friends find a book to read.  But it did not quite work that way. (See blogs below.)

A friend of mine, who has media contacts, told one of them about my plan to give away my books to help others survive the closing of the libraries.  A local television station is doing a series about people helping others, “We See You KSHB.”.  Next thing I know, I was called and asked to participate.

On Friday morning, March 20, I was interviewed. During the 5 o’clock news, MacKenzie Nelson featured my segment.  Within the next 48 hours I had almost 120 requests for books.  I was able to help 104 people.  Twelve I could not help, mainly because they asked for a specific book that I did not have, and that was all they wanted.  Or they wanted books for infants. I have no board books. Several never told me what type of books they wanted.

Bundles of books in my house

Four people wanted large quantities of children’s books. One for a preschool, one for a first grade class, one for the Johnson County Christmas Bureau, and finally for Reach Out and Read KC.  I could not help them.  But another woman I know, a retired teacher, wanted to give me all her books to give away.  I suggested since she had children’s books to be in contact with these four people.  And she agreed.  

Another woman, who worked at Scholastic, had tons of children’s books but no adult books. She also offered to give me children’s books.  Instead I gave her the email addresses for these four people.  I hope that these two people are able to help, magnifying the book giving I am doing. She wrote me this, after picking up her books: “Thank you so much for the books! I have to be honest. I have never read anything written by these authors, but they look very intriguing. I’m so excited. Also, thank you for the list of email addresses. I will go through my collection and see what I have to offer them. Stay safe! See you on the other side. Lots of love.”

Actually, I think I have found my calling. When I was in college, we all had to do a vocational test during our first few days.  Mine came back definite, become a librarian.  I did not do that. I became and English major and then got a master’s in journalism.  But I will admit, I have had great joy as I selected over 300 books for strangers. 

I was nervous about people coming to my front door to pick up the books.   But it worked wonderfully.   I bagged and labeled every bundle of books. Most people got between 2 and 6 books.  One person usually got 2 or 3, but if I was giving to a family, I usually gave 4-6 books.  I went through all the little plastic bags I had in my house. You can see the colors change below!

I sent everyone the following letter after I bundled the books:

“Dear Reader.

     I have received over 100 requests for books.  So obviously, I am not driving all over town to deliver them. And I am practicing Social distancing as I am over 60. So here is how this will work.

     I have selected books for you based on what you asked for. Your books are wrapped in a plastic bag with your name or identifying number on it; however, you identified yourself to me.  Please take your bag.

     You should come pick them up at my home. And I gave the address.

     I am putting them out on my porch now. I will not answer the door as I do not want to have any contact as requested by the doctors.

I do have a security system with a video doorbell.  If you want to wave at me, wave at the camera. 

    I hope you enjoy the books. Stay healthy!”

I was worried that some might take extra books or be upset that they had only a couple. But book lovers are the best people ever.   They came, they searched, they found their books and they waved to me on my video door bell.  Sometimes, a book lover came as I was putting out books. They waited till after I went back inside to approach my porch. 

A few spoke to me through my door.  Emily made me so happy.  She told me looking for her books through the bundles of books made it more fun.  She wanted Star Wars books.  I gave her four.  She left smiling and hugging her books.  I was smiling as well.

Some people left me gifts of cards and art work.  One person left me money.  I will donate it to disaster relief.  I got so many delightful emails.  Here are a few:

“I just got home and wanted to let you know first off that I got my books. I didn’t have Sassinak or Death of Sleep, so new additions to my McCaffrey library! … I hope you saw with your ring-cam how happy I was.”

“Thank you so very much.  It will probably be early evening when I get out that way.  You’re so kind to offer this to people!”

“Sounds like you are doing a good job getting books into the hands of those who need them.”

“It’s a wonderful gift you’re giving away. I wish you all the best, stay safe and healthy. “

“My son was excited about the American revolution book!”

“Thanks and prayers for your safety and health!”

“Omg thank you so much!”

“Thank you for your response and all that you are doing to help and bless others!”

“Wow! You are awesome. Stay safe and healthy. And thank you!”

“I think what you’re doing is so wonderfully generous. You’re right, doing things like this not only makes others feel good, it multiplies back to the giver. Even if you don’t have any books by my favorites, bless you for your kindness and thoughtfulness.”

One woman sent me photos of her husband picking up the books and her with the books along with this note: “I look forward to reading what you picked out for me. I am currently reading “Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate”.  That put a smile on my face!

I got to watch them on my Ring videos.  To see the joy on their faces when they found their bundle of books made me happy.  It got my mind off of all the stress the world Is in right now.  I could just relax and enjoy their moment. In reality my giving them books was also a gift to me!

One offered to go to the grocery store for me or help me in any way I needed.  Which was so nice. But so far my husband and I have been doing fine. And we have stocked our house for this time to stay shut in. 

The most amazing request came from one woman.  On the news segment it mentioned that I was giving away the books because I am moving.  Which is true. We were supposed to move into our new, downsized home in early April.  Don’t know what is happening now.   I will say that my current home is a book lover’s dream house.  I have six giant, built-in bookcases, with deep shelves that can be double booked!  Any real book lover would tell you that is most important!

In any case, one woman emailed me after picking up her books:

“Thank you!  Got them.

Love your neighborhood.  Can you let me know when you want to sell!  We have been looking forever….We will hopefully begin our search again in May or June!”

I sent the information to my realtor.  But I have been laughing ever since.  Wouldn’t it be ironic and special  if I sold our house to someone who found it through my book giveaway!  That would be so apropos, as book lovers must stick together.

I should add that my husband finds this entire experience unreal.  Not the virus, rather  the people driving here to get books.  But with the libraries closed and the schools closed, and the stress level high, people need to read.  That is why I decided it was more important to give my books away than save them for a giant estate sale.

So far 323 books left my home to 106 different people. To be honest I probably have a thousand more. I spent 48 hours choosing, sorting, packing, labeling and emailing. It was worth every second because of the looks of joy on the people’s faces as they got their books.

One man came with his son.  He looked at the 30 bundles on my porch.  I could hear him say, “This is just amazing.”  And it was.  For three days, I had a constant flow of book lovers coming to my house.  It gave us all a moment of joy in a time of uncertainty, anxiety and a bit of fear.

I love book lovers! It was a joyful, delightful way to spend the weekend. 

https://zicharonot.com/2020/03/15/libraries-closed-well-i-have-books-to-share/

https://zicharonot.com/2020/03/18/my-pandemic-mitzvot-keep-me-optimistic/

PS: I have to admit to one downside. As I search books for others, I discovered 30 books that I just cannot part with. They are moving with us!

My Pandemic Mitzvot Keep Me Optimistic

18 Mar

I already wrote about the libraries closing and my decision to giveaway some of the thousands of books I am not taking to our new, downsized home. But in the few days since I wrote that blog so much more has happened. Yesterday all schools were asked to stay closed until April 6. Then today, the governor ordered that schools shut their doors for the rest of the school year.

That is unbelievable and truly an unexpected event.

I work at a school. A small, private school for students who do not do well in a traditional setting. This order to close school leaves us all gobstruck and flabbergasted. But with all the schools and libraries closed, books are not only an important release from stress, but also an important learning tool. Where will the children get books to read if the libraries, schools and stores are closed? So I believe my decision to share books is more important than ever.

The requests are coming in. Mystery, romance, funny novels, memoirs, thrillers, fantasy, children’s books for all ages. But I find myself not just saying yes and just handing them a book, I find myself searching through my books to find something that fits the person who requested a book.

Books to give away on my front porch.

I give each person between two and five books. If I have a series, I give them all the books I own in that series. I also offer options to some people, as I have several books I think they might like. I let each person make the final decision. No feelings hurt. But so far, everyone seems to like the books they took from my front porch.

My pandemic mitzvah (good deed) decision is bringing me joy! I think I am, or should have been, a librarian. Trying to match books to people elicits a smile in my brain. A little click occurs and I think, ‘Eureka, perfect fit!’

Eight people have requested books so far. I hope that many more do so. I would be glad to give everyone I know a bit of joy through the gift of a book. But I can only help out those who live within my community.

I think getting the books make them happy as well. I leave them in bags on my front porch. People come by and take the bag labeled for them. Since we are keeping socially distant, I don’t go outside to greet them. But a couple have knocked on the door and given me a smile and a wave and a thank you through the glass.

Some friends who have not requested books have noted what a great idea this is. And a kindness. Kindness goes two ways. People need books. It brings them relief from stress and escape from situations. I get joy by finding good homes for my books. It is so nice to know that another reader will open the pages and be transferred from the somewhat harsh reality of a Coronavirus pandemic, into someone’s words and imagination.

But books are not my only pandemic mitzvot. I am calling house bound people. I am sending notes to the people I usually visit in an elder care facility. I am trying to be upbeat and positive. Sometimes I fail at that, but I am trying. And most of all, I am trying to take care of my husband and myself. We are continuing our exercise, we are eating healthy and I hope we are maintaining our spirits.

I think that by doing something positive I can take a bit of stress out of my life and the lives of those around me. So remember, even if you cannot see your friends, you can call. Even if you cannot go to movies or libraries or concerts, there are many ways to listen to music or read. Take a walk outside. Call someone at home to brighten their day. Doing a mitzvah during the pandemic is my choice to keep optimistic.

Libraries Closed? Well I Have Books to Share!!

15 Mar

Along with the move is the need to downsize.  Which for us means getting rid of books!  We have hundreds, no thousands of books that we are not taking to the new home. Over our almost 40 years of marriage, my husband and I have collected an extensive library on many topics! I plan to sell some and donate others.  But now another plan has come to mind.  I can be a giveaway library!

Yesterday the libraries closed in my community due to the coronavirus.  They will be closed for two weeks.  What can a book girl do, but offer her friends and neighbors books to read.  The idea came to me when I read another friend’s post about the library.  I wrote on her wall:  I have a ton of books I am giving away in the move. If anyone needs something to read. Tell me what you like. I am sure I have something you can read!

But then I thought I really need to put something on my Facebook wall so that all my friends could see. Yesterday I posted the following on Facebook: 

“So with the Library closed, I have an offer. I have hundreds of books I am not taking to my new home. Tell me a topic or a genre you like. I am sure I have a book to give you to get through this enforced peaceful existence. 🙂 PM me. Of course only KC area people. Sorry.  I have children’s books as well!”

The pictures below show my still filled bookcases in my family room and bedroom. At one time most of these shelves were double stacked. We also have more books on a downstairs bookshelf. OF course this does not include the almost 50 boxes of books that have been packed and taken to our new home. Those are the ones we are keeping. But every decision to discard a book came with an emotional quiver. It is difficult to say goodbye to books. Perhaps giving them to someone on edge due to the virus, will make the parting easier and more carthodic.

Books to give away in my family room.
Books to give away in my bedroom.

My husband and I are doing our best to make sure our now unneeded items find good homes and help others.  So sharing books seems to be ideal!  But other items are making their way into the reuse, recycle life!

I packed up five boxes of Lego to donate to the Giving Brick, which recycles Lego back into building sets.  The fixtures and fans we had removed from our new home are now at ReStore which is run by Habitat for Humanity. We have more items to go to them. We are waiting to combine as much as we can in one trip over to the store.  Right now, we have a shoe holder, five air vent covers and am waiting for the old towel racks to come down in the bathroom.

We have bags upon bags of clothes and linens to give to National Council of Jewish Women for a fund raiser. They collect these used items and give them to a store called Savors, who then pays them by the pound for the items. An easy way to earn money.  I think I have seven bags already with more to go.

I have already donated 300 books to my synagogue’s library.  And about 10 more to the Jewish Federation to take on a mission to Bulgaria and Romania that I was supposed to be on.  That trip was cancelled for now, but I hope they can bring the books later, even though I probably will not be able to go.

My offer got immediate responses!  Some of my Facebook buddies took me up on my offer.   My first taker came about 15 minutes after I posted. She wanted a funny novel. 

Another came back with telling me I made a kind offer, and she knew of an organization that takes books for seniors.  Well that is good for me as well.  She had put me in contact with Phoenix Family.  Not sure if it will work out as most senior centers are closed to visitors and probably don’t want books. But there is the future.

A third person with two young boys wanted a puzzle. She knows us. We have tons of jigsaw puzzles.  But most were packed up.  I did have Springbok 2000 piece that needed a new home. It was picked up early this morning from my front door.  

One of our puzzles finds a new home.

Two others requested novels of different genres.  Those I had as well. So two other  books sit on my on my front stoop for pick up. 

It might not be much, but perhaps my books can bring a bit of joy to those feeling isolated and alone. I have many more to share. In fact the photos I put up do not show the bookcase filled with children’s books. Oy being a bookaholic is exhausting when you have to move.

Let me know if you  live in the KC Metro and are interested!

http://thegivingbrick.org/index.html

https://www.phoenixfamily.org/

Buying a Home In The Midst of A Pandemic

14 Mar

For our aging days, I decided we needed one-level living.  I searched and searched and found the perfect home.  We put an offer in on February 1 and closed on March 2.

Wait, who said there would be a global pandemic now!!!  We are among the many who just purchased a new home and are saying, “Hey What is going on?”  Yes, my anxiety level is high.  Why? Because we actually own our old home as well.  We are real estate rich.  Perhaps that is a good thing.  It might go down for a bit, but real estate usually goes up eventually.

With the markets crashing a little…. Well a lot.  (Although I guess Friday, things were a bit better).  With the world’s countries shutting their doors to tourism to contain the spread of corona virus, and our country finally banning all flights from Europe, perhaps I can see a few good points.  I always try to do that when I am worried.  I try to put the upset away in a little box in my mind and focus on the good.  So here we go!

First, I was supposed to be on a plane to Europe right now.   I am obviously not there.  I am sitting in my own home writing a blog.  But with the move, I think I am happy to be home.  I wonder if I will get any of my money back.  Even with travel insurance, I am not sure if global pandemic is covered.  I guess we will wait and see.

But also, I am not stranded in Europe.  I am in my own home/s cleaning one and bringing stuff to the other.  Which is unreal enough without the pandemic.

Colleges are going into remote learning.  I worry.  I hope they don’t stay that way.  High school graduates need to get away from home and learn about living in a college dorm where it is somewhat safe and they socialize away from home.  I would hate for that to end forever.  Please let this last just for a short while.  But at least the students can still learn.  Think about time before computers and live streaming.  School and learning would just end!

But at the same time, I am glad that Friday was the last day of school where I work.  We now have a ten-day break.  Perhaps that will help stop the spread of the disease.  Our entire area is starting spring break.  No one is traveling anywhere, or almost no one.  Since all flights to Europe are ending tomorrow for a month.  I think it is safe to say this will be a stay at home vacation.  We have been informed that there is a possibility that Spring Break will be prolonged.  An extra week at home.  I brought my work computer with me, just in case. 

However, what about all the stores and shops and theatres?  We are supposed to avoid large crowds.  I can do that.  Already several concerts, programs and shows we were supposed to attend in March and early April have been cancelled or postponed.  I. told my husband I have to renew our Symphony tickets now, so that they know we are not giving up on them!  I also plan to get take out food from some of our favorite restaurants.  I do not want those to close for lack of income.

With entertainment shutting down, we will have lots of time to pack and clean!  But more important, I will still have time to read the  six kindle books I downloaded for my trip!

My husband is a hospital-based physician.   As a pediatrician he sees lots of sick children. And though they will get corona virus, most will be just fine as their immune systems are developing and learning about new disease.  It’s us older folks who are in trouble.  Even though I am not ill, I made the decision to stop my volunteer work at an elder care facility.  Just don’t want to hurt these people who I have come to love. 

I plan to practice safe social distancing with everyone I know.  I will go to stores at off hours.  I am carrying a baggie filled chlorox wipes to clean everything I touch. Hugging and kissing even my son and his girl friend is out for now.  Elbow bumps and words of love will be enough.

My husband was supposed to be gone this weekend as well, at a medical meeting.  It was cancelled. Most hospital have told their staff not to go to any meetings right now.  They need their staff to be healthy.  The impact on the corona virus could be devasting to our already stressed health care system.  So I am spending much of my quiet time sending out prayers.

We will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary this month. Our plans included a trip to Europe and a cruise in late April. Although it has yet to be cancelled, we are already thinking that our 40th anniversary will be spent quietly at home.  We already purchased a new home!  What else could we possibly need?

I guess we won’t be spending too much money overseas, which is good because I had signed contracts previously to remodel much of the new home using some savings.  My husband says don’t worry, he has a job and he will be needed for a while.  Which is true.  But I had not counted on a major market downturn.

Here is my rant.  If you do not want to read anything political, please skip the next two paragraphs:

I do worry.  I worry about everyone who might suffer.  I worry about our government who seems to have no idea what to do.  I worry that the CDC has been slashed by politicians who have no idea what they are doing.  I am angry that the elected officials seem to care more about their own power and glory then about the health and well-being residents of our USA.

Buying a home and having a pandemic at the same time has made me rethink even more what I believe about our government and what politician really care about.  In Kansas we have a Senate leader who cares more about banning abortion then about the people of the state and refuses to expand Medicare even though the people want it and the senate has come to bipartisan agreement.  Her ignorance and self-righteous attitude will kill many more people than any abortion bill.  I hope she is voted out of office or is forced to resign.  In my mind she is an evil lady, sort of a Cruella DeVille, who wanted the Dalmatian puppies for her own nefarious plans.  So this senate leader is holding Kansans medical care hostage for her nefarious plan.

End of rant.

I believe we will get through this pandemic.  I know we will persevere.  We lived through 9/11 and the stress and anxiety that seemed overwhelming.  Perhaps this virus is a sign from the Divine that we need to work together. The world was getting too hostile.  Groups were not working together. Lots of nasty behavior.  To survive the corona virus, countries need to help each other and the world.  I hope this adds to a world more dedicated to peace as the leaders realize even more deeply how we are really one world.  Just one.  And we have to act as one.