Archive | September, 2018

Woodstock Revisited in August 1998

17 Sep
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Photo #4: Monument at West Shore Road and Hurd Road, looking to Woodstock site.

Before the Bethel Woods Museum opened, a concert was held at the Woodstock site in mid-August 1998.  Alan Gerry, who had purchased about 2000 acres of land around the Woodstock site, and eventually started the museum and the Bethel Woods Music series, sponsored the three-day concert as a pilot program for his eventual summer series.  Now the Bethel Words Center for the Arts and the Museum, opened in 2008, are known throughout the Catskills community. Then it was just a dream.

My parents took a ride up to Hurd Road from our home on West Shore Road to check it out.  They eventually became season ticket subscribers to the music series and visitors to the museum.

When we cleaned out their home, I bundled up a bunch of photos and papers to take home, and I slowly have been going through them.  Today’s find was 20 photos from the 1998 concert site, before Bethel Woods was built.  I share a three of those photos here.

The monument area is very different now, with shrubs and landscaping.   Just over the hill and ridge is the site of the museum and the music festival.  The actual site of Woodstock has not been used for a concert for years.  It is kept as an historic site.

But it still rains in August.

How the Parker Imperial Cause My Most Embarrassing Moment

16 Sep

Growing up I lived on a quiet street in North Bergen, NJ.  We lived one block from a wonderful park, now known as James J. Braddock North Hudson County Park.  Just three houses away from Boulevard East and its wonderful views of Manhattan and the Hudson River.

I especially loved our backyard!  We had three levels. Level one was the garage.  We never parked there as the driveway was too small. But it was a great place to play ball games.  I loved to play 7-up ball, where you throw the ball against the side of the house or the garage and do different activities.

I also loved the bottom level because my neighbor Rose often sat outside with her cat, Snowball.  I loved both of them.  I think I own cats because of Rose and her love of Snowball.  I can still hear her calling in my mind, “A coo A coo A coo…kitty, kitty, kitty,” to call Snowball back into the house.

There were five steps up to the next level: the garden.  There were roses and Lily of the Valleys, shrubs and a tree growing in the gardens.  My bedroom window opened to the garden, and I loved the smell of the Lilly of the Valley.  I have planted them at my house as well.

If you walked through the garden, you would see another set of stairs that led to the top of the garage. There was a railing around the roof, so it was a safe area.

When I was a teen it became my not so secret, secret place because it was a great place to sun bathe!   No one could see me from the street.  No one could see me from the other houses.  The trees and garden shielded me.  I would put on my bathing suit, get a towel and go to the top of the garage with a book and a drink and hang out.

It was great until I was a junior or senior in high school.  That spring my quiet place was destroyed by the building of the Parker Imperial apartment complex.

It was bad enough that the houses across the street were knocked down.  It was bad enough that my friend Regina’s house and yard was completely enclosed by a high retaining wall.  It was horrible that wood and bricks and tools would sometimes fall off the building on the street, and cars. Thank goodness no was ever hit.

But the absolute worse for me occurred to me that spring.  After school, on the days when I had no activities, or no work,  I would change into my swim suit.  I had many choices because my Dad was in the textile industry and one of his clients was Gottex, the swimsuit company.  Each season they would make up samples of the suits from different fabrics.  Since I was the model size, occasionally Dad would bring home the samples for me to wear.

One really pleasant day, I came home from school and decided to sun bathe.  Totally not thinking about the Parker Imperial.  Just going to my safe place on the roof of the garage.  It was the last time I ever did that.  I think it was the last time I ever sunbathed in my life. Just to sunbathe.

I climbed the steps, put down my towel and drink and book.  Took off my coverup and set about sunbathing in my not very revealing bikini.  I even remember the bathing suit, it was white with red hearts embroidered on it, a Gottex reject.

Within minutes, my relaxing read turned into a nightmare.  I heard catcalls.  I heard whistled. I kept reading, not realizing what was happening. Then I heard yelling.  I looked up. At least 50 construction workers on the Parker Imperial were staring down at me.  I was so angry and embarrassed. They had destroyed my private, relaxing time.

I quickly wrapped myself in the towel and left the roof.  All the time hearing them yell, “Don’t go!”  Really, they had to be kidding. They had wrecked my day.  Not uncommon in the 1970s for this type of behavior.  But to have it right in my own backyard made it worse!

I hated the Parker Imperial after that.  I still hate it.  For a while my parents considered moving to this horrendous building. They went over when it was completed and had a tour of some of the apartments.  But I insisted that they could never live in that building!

To this day, even though I live so far from North Bergen, and even though over 40 years have passed, I cannot think of the Parker Imperial without thinking about that horrible afternoon and one of my most embarrassing moments.

A Trolley Car Stops, Too!

12 Sep

Holidays always make me think about my grandparents.  We spent all of our holidays, when I was growing up, at one of my grandparents’ homes.  My paternal grandparents in the Bronx were in charge of Passover and Hanukkah.  We went there every year and celebrated with all my cousins.  One year, at Hanukkah, I had to have a tooth pulled and could not eat all the treats. But Grandma made me my very own potato kugel!  I still can taste it!

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My store bought rugelach and honey cake, and candies. Still wrapped in plastic like Grandma would before the holidays.

Every so often something happens that sparks a memory and bring me back in time to the apartment in the Bronx.  During Rosh Hashannah, such a moment occurred.  As I was preparing my dessert plates and covering them with clear plastic wrap, my mind flashed to my paternal Grandmother. She was a great home baker.  One of the high lights of going to her home for the holidays was her magnificent dessert table covered in her treats!

Before dinner, the dessert platters were covered with plastic and put high on a cabinet in the spare bedroom.  We, all the grandchildren and children, knew the desserts were there. But also knew the penalty if we took snuck in and took some.  My Dad and Uncle, known noshers, often snuck in.  But the grandchildren were more careful.

Several of my boy cousins and my brother were eventually tall enough… and sneaky enough… to climb up and reach the sealed plates to get a few treats before dessert.  But we were very careful.  There was always a cousin on guard duty.  We were never greedy, we never took too much in fear of being caught by the sight of an empty plate.

The best part of the holiday was when the dishes were cleared from dinner and food was put away.  Then out came the desserts.  My Mom and Aunts and Grandma could bring all the home baked treats out and put them on a long table against a wall.  Among my favorites were the rugelach sticks and the thimble cookies.  But my all time favorite were the apricot candy.  So thick and gooey.

There were cookies and cakes and even homemade candies.  During Passover there were also Barton’s candies.

Thanks to one of my cousins, I have the recipes for three desserts.  I was bemoaning that I miss them years ago. I found out that my cousin had the recipes.  So smart.  His wife emailed three recipes to me…in 2006!  At the time she told me that they had high calorie count.  And she was right.  Each recipe is chuck full of sugar.

To be honest most of my desserts are store bought.  But for you bakers, here is one of Grandma’s recipes:  Apricot Candy:  Wash ½ pound of apricots.  Boil in 1 cup of cold water. When water is boiled away, mash the apricots.  Add 1 ½ cups sugar, ¼ pound almonds.  Cook for 1 hour, stirring constantly.  When thick, pour out into a pan, and when cold, cut into squares and dip in sugar to prevent sticking.

If you have crowns on your teeth, do NOT eat this!!. It is delicious.  I love apricots and dried apricots and this apricot candy.

One dessert they did not have the recipe for was Taiglach, a mixture of nuts and honey mixed together and baked into a gooey hard mess of deliciousness.  You had to be careful biting into this dessert.  I remember one year my Dad actually broke his tooth biting into this!  He was not so happy that holiday.

My grandfather had a role at all these family events.  He would sit at one end of the table and guard it.  Seriously!  If any of the grandchildren (or his children) took too much dessert or came back too often, he would intone, “A Trolley Car Stops Too.”

When I was little, I had no idea what he was talking about.  But when I got older, and found out what a trolley car was, I realized he meant we were eating too much.  That even a trolley car, which ran constantly, would stop occasionally.

My brother, and my boy cousins were often the recipient of this advice. I heard it as well, but not as often.  It really did not matter.  We all would conquer our fear of Grandpa, in order to have a sweet delectable dessert.

As for his saying, we use it often, especially when something is happening that we think needs to end.  I still can see my Grandpa nodding at me and saying in a deep voice:  A Trolley Stops Too!

 

 

One More Family Destroyed

6 Sep

It has been over a month since I last wrote about the testimonies of Shalom Hollander, my grandfather’s cousin who wrote the Yad VaShem testimonies for about 40 members of my family including my great grandparents and a great uncle.  I needed time away from the visions of horrors that his testimonies put into my mind as I thought of all these relatives who were lost. (See links to blogs below.)

But there was one last family that I was determined to write about because they all perished.

A family of five died in 1941-42.  They were Hirsh Tzvi Feuer, the son of Eliezer and Leah Feuer, and his wife, Dvora Amsterdam, the daughter of Tzvi and Chava Amsterdam.  As I have written in earlier blogs, the names Amsterdam and Feuer are common in my grandfather’s family.  My great grandmother was an Amsterdam, also named Chava, and my great grandfather was a Feuer. They, my great grandparents were first cousins.  There was so much intermarriage between these two families!

I have the names of all my great great grandparents and their siblings.  And, although I have the names of my three times great grandparents, I do not know the names of their siblings.  I am sure, however, that Hirsh Tzvi Feuer and Dvora Amsterdam’s parents are among those names.  Shalom identifies himself as a relative in these testimonies. Also he indicates that Hirsh was a farmer, and my great grandparents and their families were farmers in Trzciana.

Tzvi was born in 1895 and his wife, Dvora, in 1908, which make them contemporaries of my grandparents who were born in 1900 and 1906.  I would assume that my grandfather knew them when he was a child.  They lived before the war in Wola Mielecka, Poland, but they lived during the war in Trzciana, Poland, my grandfather’s home town. Wola Mielecka was close by, all the surrounding areas to the town of Mielec, Poland.

Tzvi and Hava had three children who perished.  Lea Feuer who was 4. Obviously named for her grandmother.  Chava Feuer, age 6, named for the other grandmother.  Then the third child, Eliezer, an infant, named for his grandfather.

I hope there are other children who survived. Who were older.  Hirsh Tzvi was 47 when he was murdered.  Dvora was 34.  I hope there could have been several children in their early teens?  Perhaps I am doing wishful thinking.  But in my heart, I want them to have been survived by someone besides Shalom Hollander. I do not want this entire family to have perished.

But like the family of Shalom Hollander, there is a possibility that they were all murdered along with thousands of others when the Nazi’s made the Mielec area Judenfrie.  Of the almost 4000 Jewish residents of the Mielec area, only a few hundred survived.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet.

https://zicharonot.com/2018/06/07/the-sorrow-of-shalom-hollander/

https://zicharonot.com/2018/06/05/murdered-in-belzec/

https://zicharonot.com/2018/07/11/the-yad-vashem-shoah-database-each-name-becomes-a-memory/