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How a Shoe Store became a Jewlery Store

8 Sep

Growing up in the New York City metro area, one thing I will say, we had connections.  The majority of my extended family lived in New York and New Jersey.  Family get togethers were important.  Besides that, our summers in the Catskills with my cousins made us extremely close.

So of course engagements, weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs and the arrival of babies were always celebrated.   This continues today as well into the next generations.  But when I was a teen and young adult growing up, everyone lived within a short distance of each other.

When we needed new shoes, we did not go to just any shoe store.  No, we drove from North Bergen or West New York, New Jersey, to Yonkers, New York, to get our shoes.  Why?  There were lots of shoe stores near by.  But my Uncle Jack was the manager of a shoe store in Yonkers.  So, of course, that is where we went for our new school shoes each year.   If ever we had a shoe problem, or issue, we knew to stand up and see where our toes ended in relationship to the edge of the shoe.  I have written about my Dad’s fixation on healthy feet. And wearing good shoes was part of this. (See blog below.)

My Uncle Jack had other connections.  One of his best friends, also named Jack, was a jeweler.  I asked my cousin if he was related to them.  But No, Uncle Jack and Jack A. met at the Sephardic synagogue they went to in NYC.   Uncle Jack lived in Israel as a child and teen.  ( I wrote about his mother, my grandma Rose, and her experiences during the siege of Jerusalem in 1948, see the blog below.)  

So why a shoe store and a jeweler and family gatherings all in one story?  Because in 1979 I got engaged to a nice Midwest boy who wanted to buy me a diamond engagement ring. I was shocked.  He wanted to go to a store and buy it retail?  Who heard of such a thing?  Not when my family was involved.

To be honest, I do not remember exactly what happened.  All I know is that we were in town for my brother’s wedding.  It was nine months after we got engaged, but I still did not have my engagement ring.  We were waiting until we went to see my family.  Finally, a meeting was set up.  My husband, then fiancé, thought we were going to go to a wholesale jewelry store in Manhattan.  But that is not what happened.  He was a bit shocked.

My parents drove my husband and I to the shoe store in Yonkers. My then 24-year-old fiancé asked, “We are getting your ring in a shoe store?” I just nodded my head yes. My father said something like, “Don’t worry, it’s fine.”

When we got to the store, my Uncle was waiting for us, and led us to the back of the store.  Mom stayed in front to shop!  Next thing I know is that Dad, my fiancé and I are in the shoe storage racks in the back of the store.  Jay was a bit shy about entering the back stacks, but as we were all going, he went along. It was here that we met with Jack, the jeweler!

When we were situated where no one was coming, way in the back, Jack, the jeweler, opens the shoe box he was carrying.  Inside were five or six diamond rings, all about one karat, all different shape diamonds.  I tried several on and finally decided on the ring I wanted.  A check was written.  We were given an appraisal, but Jack was firm about us getting an appraisal from another jeweler as well.     If there was any problem, we were to let him know.

We left the stacks.  I was now wearing my engagement ring.    Jack the jeweler stayed behind.  My Uncle went in to say goodbye to his friend, who left through the back entrance.  Quite the covert mission.  You did not want anyone to know you were carrying a shoe box filled with diamonds!

I wore my engagement ring for years.  But about five years ago, I had a ring I inherited from my grandmother that I used to make a new ring.   I put my engagement ring away with the idea that one day my son would use it.  That time is now.  He and his girlfriend got engaged.

https://zicharonot.com/2020/01/20/beautiful-feet-a-shoe-store-and-my-dads-sage-advice/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/07/24/movie-night-in-the-catskills-was-a-wonderful-magical-night/

The Catskills House Delivers A Father’s Day Surprise

21 Jun

I really thought we had found all the treasures there were to be found in our grandparent’s home.  But I guess not.  Our home in the Catskills keeps pushing out surprises.  This time it was my Dad’s high school diploma and his sixth-grade graduation photo. My brother found it on Saturday, June 18. What a great surprise for Father’s Day!

My brother, sister and I share this house which has been in our family since 1962. First belonging to our grandparents, then our parents and now the three of us.  Every once in a while, my brother, who is lead ‘administrator,’ decides we have to clean out some more of the decades of stuff squirreled away in the house.  Several years ago, we all went up and worked on the attic and the garage for several days.  We filled a dumpster and were physically and emotionally exhausted.  (See blogs below.)

Due to the pandemic, my nephew, my brother’s son, has been living in our house.  I guess my brother decided to take advantage of his son’s presence.  It was time, in his mind, to finally tackle the basement.  I was glad I did not have to be part of that cleaning as it is a dusty, damp mess down there. He ordered a ten-cubic-foot dumpster to be delivered to the house.  This past week, the two of them focused on filling it up. And they did!

I must say, my brother is not sentimental and is quite decisive in his cleaning and tossing of what he considers useless items.  I know because the two of us cleaned out our parent’s apartment over eight years ago.  While I had a hard time letting things go, my brother would say, “Do you really need that.  Just put it in the to go pile.”  We had piles for each of us, for trash and for donating.  I will admit that perhaps sometimes when he left the room, I moved things from trash to donate, and perhaps from donate to one of the to keep piles.

So I was really happy that when my brother and nephew did clean the basement, they did a little searching before just throwing.  As it was in a box of old broken picture frames that they found these two treasures.  The high school diploma is not that much of a surprise, as we knew when Dad graduated from DeWitt Clinton high. (See blog below.). But the class photo was the treasure!

The class photo is from PS 70 in the Bronx, June 1940, just over 81 years ago!  Behind the students is an American flag with only 48 stars. Hawaii and Alaska did not become states until 1959. The photo is not in great shape.  It looks like it has moisture damage.  But the part with my Dad is a bit better.

The boys are wearing white shirts and ties. The girls are in dresses with many of them wearing scarf like a tie.  The teacher is a man in a full suit.  Our Dad is the boy in the second row, standing behind a sitting girl at the far right of the photo.  His abundant hair is obvious.

This photo makes me happy.  I love seeing my Dad with his classmates.  I sent it to my Dad’s best friend to see if he was also in the picture. But he was not.  However, it gave me a chance to be updated on what was happening in his life.  My Dad’s friend said: “I think of him almost every day. He was my best friend.”  To be honest I cannot imagine one of the them without the other. They met when they were 12 years old. And were best buddies till my Dad died in 2011.

Since the basement is not yet totally cleaned out, I have hope that a few more treasures might come to light.  In a way I will be sad when all the alcoves and crannies are clean because I know I will not have any more happy surprises. But in the meantime, I am happy for this Father’s Day surprise.

The Murder of Chava Feuer 1942

22 Apr

It is not every day that you find out exactly how your great grandmother was murdered in the Shoah.  But it just happened to me and I am in shock.

I was taking a webinar called “The Case of. The Missing Ancestors: Genealogy Tips from Nancy Drew, that I signed up for from the Erie Community Library.  The speaker was Ellen Shindelman Kowitt. I am still searching for my grandfather’s three siblings.  After hitting dead end after dead end, I thought maybe this workshop would help. 

The speaker mentioned looking up the name of the town instead of the name of the person.  So while I was listening on one device, I entered the name of my grandfather’s birthplace, Trzciana, Poland, on another device.

At first I just found a short Wikipedia entry telling me that Trzciana was a small village in Buchnia County, the seat of the administration office, and so was called Gmina Trzciana.  It was just outside Mielec, which I knew.  It currently has a population of 1462.  No mention of the Shoah.

Then I entered “Trzciana and the Holocaust.”  A book popped up:
The Holocaust and European Socieities: Social Processes and Social Dynamics edited by Frank Bajohr and Andrea Low.  There was also some sample pages that I could read, including a section on an event that happened in Trzciana.

I knew my great grandmother, Chava, was murdered in her town.  I knew she had been hidden. And that saved her when the rest of her family was taken. I thought she was murdered at the end, after the war was over. But that is not the case.  She was murdered in 1942. There is an entire paragraph about the murder of my great grandmother Chava, the wife of Gimple.  MY Great Grandmother.

I can imagine the fear she had when she knew the Nazis were searching for all the Jewish people in the area. When she knew that the Polish people were afraid and turning the Jews in.  How in fear she must have been when she went to a family that had hid her before. But I am sure she knew there was no hope.  No hope, no help. Just death. And did it really matter when everyone else was already gone? Her husband, her four children. Her extended family.

Yes, I am crying.  Yes, I think I am in shock.  This I never expected.  I did not find my great aunts and great uncle.  But I found this. 

I have ordered the book.  I need to see it and touch it.  To really believe it.

But read for yourself the murder of Chava Feuer, my great grandmother, for whom I carry her name.  May her name and memory always be a blessing. (Yes, I know it says Chana, but believe me it is Chava.)

(She says’ “Do with me as you please.” This touches my heart. I was an obstinate child. I would often say to my parents and grandparents, “Do what you want, I am not moving.” My grandfather would shake his head and laugh, while my grandmother would say, “You are just like her”. The her being Chava, whose name I carry. )

What Happened to Grandpa’s Twin Sisters?

16 Apr
My great aunt Tova, my great Grandparents Gimple and Chava. The man driving is an Uncle. And the horses and cart they bought with the money my grandparents sent. They all perished.

Would it be horrible to say that I am disappointed to find that my grandfather’s two sisters were not the victims of Josef Mengele?  It sounds horrible even to me.  But I have been searching to find out what happened to them for over a decade.  And I thought I finally found a glimmer of hope.  I remembered that they were twins.  Perhaps they made it to the right concentration camp and were separated out. I could at least have some closure.

But no.  Another dead end, I write without a pun.  I had already searched through Yad V Shem, where I found my grandfather’s parents and one brother.  I have found my great grandparents, Gimple/Mordechai who died in Auschwitz and Chava who died in the town.  My great uncle, Shimon died in Belzec.   All three testimonies were put in Yad VShem by a cousin, Shalom Hollander.  Although he entered many other testimonies, there are none for the other three siblings.

I have searched through the Jewish Gen files.  I have found many, many, well hundreds of family members who perished in the Shoah.  But I cannot find my grandfather’s two sisters and their families and his other brother.  It is what I have been searching for since I started my genealogy searches. 

I tried the place that usually helps, Tracing the Tribe Facebook Group.  From one member, I found out about the the Arolsen Archives, International Center on Nazi Persecution, in Bad Arolsen in Germany.  And I had great hope.  I filled out three forms with all the information I had on my great aunts, Tova and Tzelia, and great uncle Nachum.  I admit it was not much.  Just their names and town of birth, parents and approximate date of birth. 

I was sure to add that Tova and Tzelia were twins.  I have a photo of Tova.  I knew she was married.  She probably had children. But by the time I spoke to my grandfather about her and his other siblings in the 1970s, he had forgotten the names of her husband and children.  So my search was based on somewhat limited information.

Unfortunately, the Arolsen Archives could not help.  For each of my requests, I received the same message. “We can inform you today that we – based on the data you provided – have made an extensive check of the documentation available to us.
To our regret, it has not proved possible for us to ascertain any information.”

Another dead end.  But I was not totally surprised.  I know that Mielec and Grandpa’s home town of Trzciana, were among the first cities that the Nazis chose to kill all the Jews.  Only 100 Jewish residents from the area survived the war.  Some were killed at the Denbica/Dembitz Murder site.  Others went to the Lodz Ghetto and then Belzec  Some died in Auschwitz.  But some died in their community, like my great grandmother.  Some were burned in the synagogue.  Some were burned in the mikve.  Some were shot. 

I have discovered many people with similar names, but not these three.

I assume they died nameless, not a number in the Nazi machine.

So perhaps not finding them is a good thing.  Perhaps they died quickly.  They did not have to suffer the indignity of being a victim of Mengele.  They did not make it to the Concentration Camps.  But what is so sad is that no family member was able to write their testimonies.  No one could enter their names in to Yad VShem data base.  And I cannot either, because I do not know what happened.

Perhaps my quest to find out the names of their children will never be achieved.  I will never find out what happened.   Each time I have found out what happened to a family member. I have had another little stab in my heart.  Perhaps it is time to let this search end.

Update About My Grandfather’s Mysterious Brother Jacob

1 Mar

I had a wonderful surprise on my blog last week.  A blog I wrote about my grandfather’s mysterious family focusing on his brother ( see blog below) had a message from my great uncle Jacob’s granddaughter.  There has been NO contact as far as I can tell since 1957.

The comment: “Rupert John Rosenberg was my father; Jacob was my grandfather.
Jacob did not come to England (but died in New York c 1957) but (Rupert) John did . I never met Jacob and I know little about my American family but I know Delilah had two children…” (I do not want to go into too much personal detail to keep the anonymity of my cousin.)

I was startled, but immediately answered her sending my work email address.   Since that first contact, she and I have been emailing, sending photos and information.  And finally, we had a face-to-face conversation through Facetime.  Later this month, she will meet more of the family, as we have a family Zoom with her.

In my original blog, I mentioned that my great uncle disappeared in 1957.  I searched for him everywhere. But no mention.  I thought he went to England to live with his son.  No mention.  Now I know that he died in 1957, when he was only 62, from cancer.  This would also impact his son, who also died in his late 50s from cancer as well.

But what I did not know is that the father and son had been estranged.  I am not too surprised, as Jacob also distanced himself from his own family.  His siblings basically had little contact with him after his mother passed away.  But it is a mystery.  My cousin thinks it is because her father did not want to serve in the Korean War, so left the country after he completed college. And that was the cause of the estrangement.   After his father passed away, her father did continue to have contact with his mother.

In the meantime, his son started using his middle name, John, as he progressed in his career as a writer of novels and working in the British film industry. One of the movies he worked on is one that I remember.

For me part of the excitement, besides finding my second cousin and her family, was learning that I was correct in my research.  I had found my father’s first cousins Rupert and Delilah.  Rupert was married exactly as I thought.  And, although I did not write about his sister’s marriage, the Delilah I found was correct.  She married the man I thought, Leonard Raphael, and was a concert pianist.  She had two children. (Since they are living, and I have no contact with them, I will not name them.)

When pieces of the puzzle come together, it is joyful!

My second cousin told me she had an older sister who lived in a Mediterranean country and she wanted to save the cats.  That made me laugh, as my daughter, who has name very similar to this yet unmet second cousin, also lives in a Mediterranean country and has saved many cats and volunteered at a shelter.  Another coincidence is that the cousin who contacted me, has the same name as my niece.  I find that so serendipitous.  My daughter and the sister have virtually the same name, with just one letter change.  And my niece and this cousin have the same name with just one letter change.

To continue the similarities, my newly found cousin has four children.  Her oldest son and my son have the same name. 

Finally, we had a long discussion about our family’s thick and wavy hair.  When she saw a photo of my brother, my found cousin commented that her Dad and sister have the same hair.  The men in my family are known for not having the male baldness gene!  Even the women are known for their thick and wavy dark hair.

I must admit I write my blogs for my family, but also to find out what happened to the people who disappeared.  In my mother’s family that pertains to those who were murdered in the Shoah.  In my father’s family, it is the mystery of his father’s siblings.  There are still two missing, Samuel and Minnie/Muriel.  I hope one day to find them as well.

https://zicharonot.com/2019/12/10/back-to-my-grandfathers-mysterious-brothers-first-jacob/

Getting My COVID Vaccine Takes Me to 1960s

5 Feb

This week I received my first COVID vaccine. I traveled through a snow blast to get to my 10:30 am appointment. My walking buddy took me. I don’t like to drive, so she volunteered to get me there. While we went, I thought of my Mom. I called her the snow witch because she attracted snowstorms. She died during the December 27, 2010, snowstorm that blanketed the New York City area over two feet of snow. For me, the snow seemed apropos. Mom was telling me she was looking out for me. Getting the vaccine was important.

When we arrived at the vaccination site, we lucked out finding a parking space in the crowded area.  The parking lot was full, but we were able to find a street parking space not too far away.  In fact, when we left, I told another woman who arrived that we were leaving and had a great spot.  She followed us and parked there as we drove away.

But the main point is that I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.  Yes, I stood in a line for a while.  Actually, there were four parallel lines waiting to be checked in after our temperatures were taken and our paperwork reviewed.  Then it was to the computer check in, and finally the shot line, then I sat in a chair while a nursing student gave me that wonderful little jab.  I honestly felt the edges of my lips curl into a smile as the needle went in.  I never wanted a vaccine more than I wanted this one.

I then joined my friend and sat there for the required 15 minutes.  It was well worth it.  My friend, a dentist, already had both her doses. But she was happy to go back with me to make sure I got my vaccine.

While I was waiting in line, and then waiting for my 15 minutes to pass, my memory went back to my first pandemic vaccine.  Yes, I did have another one.  Just like many of my peers born in the 1950s and 1960s. I was one of the millions of children vaccinated for the polio vaccine.  Then for children, it was the taste of a sugar cube that saved our mobility and lives.

Every summer we went to the Catskills, to the mountains, to get away from the New York City area where parents were afraid that we would get polio in the summers.  People forget that polio was one reason why families wanted to escape the metropolitan area.  But I remember.

I also remember the long line that we stood in to get our vaccine. It was 1962 or 1963. I don’t remember the exact date. But I know I was 7 or 8 years old. My parents, my brother, my sister and I, stood outside in a slowly moving line that snaked into the North Bergen High School building. We never actually stood still. We just kept moving, and others kept joining the long line. Just like I did for the Covid vaccine: in one door and out another.

When we finally reached our goal, there was hundreds of little paper cups. In each one was a sugar cube. But not any sugar, these were doused in the live polio virus. To add to my enjoyment, each sugar cube that had the vaccine was a lovely shade of pink! We joyfully ate our sugar as we walked away. To be honest, I wanted a second sugar cube.

There was a worry that a few of the children might actually get polio from the live virus. But because it was the BEST way to keep the virus at bay, parents were willing to take a risk.  Due to these sugar cubes and the other vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin, in the 1950s and 60s, polio basically disappeared.

So now when I stood in another line to receive another vaccine to help stop the spread of a different pandemic, a little part of me stood in that other line, remembering another vaccine in a time when lies and anti-vaxxers were not trying to destroy faith in vaccines.  When we did not have people protesting and trying to stop people from getting their vaccines, as some protestors did at Dodger Stadium in California. When people understood the need for all to come together to stop a pandemic.  When kindness to others and true altruistic love for your neighbor took precedence over the lies found on social media that seem to be corrupting kindness.

I was so thankful to get my vaccine this week. I look forward to getting my second dose in three weeks, which also reminds me of my polio vaccine sugar cube. We had to have three in all for the vaccine to work.

I am still smiling, even though my arm is a bit sore. As each of my friends and relatives get their vaccine, I feel relief. Life will get back to some semblance of normal. And this vaccine will help us get there. I just wish that kindness to others really meant something. That this kindness included keeping everyone safe and the COVID pandemic at bay.

https://www.cdc.gov/polio/what-is-polio/polio-us.html

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-02-04/anti-vaccine-activists-dodger-stadium-have-more-plans

Pippi Longstocking and It’s A Small World Always Have A Place in My Heart

17 Jan

Over time my sister and I have been amazed that her daughter’s personality is more like mine, while my daughter is more like my sister. I am known to call them by each other’s names because they do something that is so much like the other.

But recently, on a family Zoom, I realized that my reaction to my daughter is often the same as my mother’s reaction to my sister.

In the early 1960s my family went to the World’s Fair in New York City. (See blog below.). We had a great time.  Our favorite ride was the Disney, “It’s a Small World,” which premier at the World’s Fair.  My sister, who was just 4 or 5 at the time, fell in love with the song. 

She was in love with the song and used the $5.00 gifted to her from our grandmother to buy a special booklet about the ride that included the 45 record. My mother asked her to be sure that is what she wanted, as she used her entire $5 for it.  (I used my money to buy a Cinderella watch.)

The song became the bane of our existence.  My sister played that record endlessly.  “I did play it multiple times a day on the small record player that we were allowed to use unsupervised,” she said.  To be honest it drove us all crazy.

One day she came home from school to the horrible news from my mother that the record was broken.  My mom was cleaning and accidentally broke it.  My sister was devasted, but what could she do. It was gone. My Mom was such an honest, good person.  We all believed her.  And I think we all, except my sister, were relieved.

Fast forward about 10 years.  Our house was robbed.  The thieves came in through the back door. The police believe my brother surprised when he got home from school as he came in the front door.  (I have written about this before in the blog below.). It was traumatic for all of us!!!

But in the aftermath, on the floor of my parent’s bedroom, where the thieves had dropped all the stuff they did not want, was the 45 record of “It’s A Small World”.  It was not broken.  It was intact.   My sister was shocked.

“Mom,” she said.  “It’s not broken.”  She says it was the biggest betrayal in her life!  My parents were both speechless and laughing.  My Mom admitted the truth, she just could not stand to hear that record again.  So they hid it. 

My sister says, “Mom did not have the heart to actually break and throw it out.” She thinks it is because she purchased with the money from grandma.   Now, 55 years later, my sister still has the record.  She admits she was obsessed by it and had to keep listening.  (Unfortunately,  while my sister found her record, my watch was stolen during the robbery.)

The doll and towel I purchased in Sweden.

Fast forward to the late 1980/early 1990s and my daughter’s favorite book, “Pippi Longstocking!”  She had to hear that one book every single day.  My husband or I read it to her.  It was my husband who broke first.  He finally had enough of her obsession.  He told me that he refused to read it again.  He took the book and put it at the very top of the floor to ceiling bookcase in our bedroom, knowing she would never find it.  I have to admit, I was right there with him.  I could have taken it down, but I never did.

We were so relieved.  We just never wanted to hear that book again.   Little did we realize that the book was in her soul.  When she wrote her college applications, she wrote about how she identified with Pippi Longstocking in her essays.

While she was in college, she came home for a break and was helping me sort through books.  I had totally forgotten that Pippi Longstocking was still up there in the bookcase, on its side where it could not be seen.  She was up on a step stool, when she yelled in excitement.  “Mom, I found Pippi Longstocking.  It’s not lost!”

I was startled and started laughing until tears came.  She says, it never occurred to her that we hid it.  She felt no sense of betrayal, only excitement because she found her favorite book. Both my Mom and I could not get rid of the evidence of our ‘lie’ which in the end was our undoing. 

Like my Mom, I explained to my daughter how tired we were of hearing and reading the book. So we hid it.  I think we still have the book.  But in August 2019, my husband and I went to the Baltics.  I made amends. The only thing I purchased for my daughter was in Sweden: a small Pippi Longstocking doll and tea towel that was adorned with Pippi’s picture.

I must also say, that “It’s A Small World” is also my daughter’s favorite Disney ride.  I have ridden on that ride multiple times with her. One time, on a rainy day, when no one else was there, she and I did it over and over again.  She is so much like my sister!!!

When thinking about it, I realize that both my sister and daughter were interested in entertainment that explored the world and had a positive view of life. It’s a Small World shows the people of the world singing in harmony and joy.  Pippi is a free and independent girl who is kind and helpful and works against bullies! Pippi Longstocking and It’s a Small World will always have a place in my heart.

These two blogs talk in more detail about the robbery and It’s a Small World Ride.

https://zicharonot.com/2014/03/14/it-was-a-small-world-at-the-new-york-citys-worlds-fair-196465/

https://zicharonot.com/2019/03/02/locking-up-candy-saves-the-day/

Blue M&Ms Welcome A Healthy New Year

1 Jan

I cannot think of one person I know who does not like M&Ms.  My personal favorites are peanut butter or peanut.   I remember as a child my mother doling out regular, plain chocolate M&Ms to my siblings and me.  It was a process.  We each had to have the same number of each color: Tan, Red, Brown, Green and Orange.  If there was a variation, there was trouble. Which is strange because they did not taste any different, but we all had favorite colors so having an equal amount was important, especially at Hanukkah when we used M&Ms to play the dreidel game! 

My Blue M&M swag.

However, notice the colors!  There were no Blue ones when I was a child.  They did not join the mix until 1995.  I remember the election that Mars held that year.  We could vote on blue, pink or purple.  I had two young children, ages 9 and 4, with whom I had discussions on the vote as my daughter loved purple.  At the time, I was busy: teaching in a high school, taking care of my children, free-lancing for a local newspaper where I wrote a commentary column.  But the vote on M&Ms was so important for me, I took time out to vote: BLUE! Blue won hand downs with over 50 percent of the vote. (Perhaps a precognition for November 2020?)

My loving blue M&Ms from the time they were available, became a reason for family laughter  since from that point on, I only wanted to eat the blue ones.  I remember going to family life cycle events, and just picking out the blue M&Ms from the bowls.  One year, at my niece’s bat mitzvah, one of my cousins brought me over a little of tub of all colors, since he knew I loved M&Ms.  But I remarked, “Now I only eat the blue ones.”  He came back a bit later with a bowl of blue ones that he had collected from all the bowls. He is an excellent cousin!

When I play mah Joong with my friends, or go to a party,  I still only eat the blue M&Ms.  It has become so well accepted, that as others reach into the bowl, they often pass the blue ones on to me. They don’t even think about.  I get the blue ones. 

 It is a bit difficult when the holiday ones come out.  Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, NO BLUES.  But Easter is fine as there are light blue ones!

I have three reasons for my obsession with blue ones.  First of all, blues and teals are my favorite colors.  Why not eat what I like?  I also love blueberries!  But I have another more important reason.  I am actually allergic to dairy.  I get really ill if I eat too much.  So limiting my intake of M&Ms by only eating blue ones, contains my addiction. The final reason is weight control, by only eating the blue ones, I am able to reject other colors and not overeat.

When my children were younger, I fabricated a bit.  I might have told them I ate the blue ones because they were better for me, healthier.  It was, at the time, wishful thinking.  Eventually my children figured out my ruse, and they would laugh whenever I gave that explanation.  But then in 2009 I found out that all these years, I was actually correct! 

My daughter was in graduate school, when I sent her an email telling her to laugh no more!  Scientists had found out that the blue dye used in blue M&Ms and blue Gatorade, known as Brilliant Blue G (BBG), was good for you.  They found that it stopped the inflammation that increased damage when someone had a spinal cord injury.  (See link below.)  I was being proactive, eating only blue ones!

A few years later, imagine my delight when I found the M&M World store in Las Vegas.  I had never been in such a store before, and the sights within filled me with glee.  There were bins with many colors of M&Ms you don’t usually see.  And several of different colored blue and teal pure chocolate ones. Although not my favorites, I still had to fill a bag. There was all sorts of M&M items to admire.  I had to purchase some blue M&M swag that now lives in my kitchen.

Blue, teal, dark teal, light teal and some green M&Ms

But why is my first blog of 2021 about Blue M&Ms? 

Last night, since we could not go out for the holiday, we participated in two Zoom events. On our family New Year’s Eve Zoom with my sister, brother and sister-in-law, and nieces and nephews, my daughter and us, the topic of M&Ms came up.  My lust for blue M&Ms was once again publicly announced and I must admit some ridiculed!

My sister-in-law admitted to a peanut M&M addiction.  I said I had it as well, but only the blue ones.  They all laughed, except my daughter, who knew what was coming! Yes, I told them all about the medical properties of blue ones. They did not seem to believe me, so I sent them the link listed below.

That led several of us on the Zoom, to leave the room,  return with our M&M bags and locate a blue M&M to eat. As we displayed the blue M&M, as we expressed wishes for a healthy year and vaccines for all as we enter 2021.

Wishing you all a very happy 2021 and the joy of finding something you enjoy as much as I enjoy blue peanut and peanut butter M&Ms.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%26M%27s#:~:text=In%20early%201995%2C%20Mars%20ran,replaced%20tan%20in%20late%201995.

https://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-07/good-news-animal-lovers-and-folks-spinal-injuries/

A Pay Phone, Then a Party Line: Using the Phone in The Catskills

17 Dec

Recently I wrote a blog about doing the laundry in the Catskills. (See blog below.) Several of my friends who spent their summers with me in Kauneonga Lake, and my brother, felt I left out one important aspect of the laundry shed: the pay telephone.

In our small colony, owned by my maternal grandparents, the pay phone was also located in the laundry shed. The only way of communication for almost all the residents of the colony to the outside world.  If they needed to call their husbands, doctors, restaurants, anything, this was the only place to make a call or to get a call. Our colony was small, so when someone did get a call, the person standing closest to the phone would answer it and send a child to go get the call recipient!  Of course all the children loved to answer the phone. At larger colonies there was an loudspeaker system to call people to the phones. (See blog below.)

I think, but since I was a child, I am not sure, that the Moms had set times and days when they spoke to their husbands during the week. 

The phone my friend has from the bungalow colony.

The telephone has long disappeared.  However, when reading my blog, one of my friends told me that she had the phone, and sent a picture.  I do not know how she got the wall phone she had.  But though I thought the number was correct, the phone was wrong.  There was no place for the money.  And our pay phone definitely was a commercial one with coin slots.

Now I did say that the pay phone was the only way to communicate. But that is not totally true. My grandparents had their own separate line because they owned the colony and would need to call local people like the plumber or electrician. So if my Dad wanted to call my Mom, they had this private line to speak. Also if there was a true emergency, my grandparents would call for help.  You did not need to use the pay phone.  Hmmmmm. I wonder if the phone my friend has is the one from my grandparent’s bungalow?  Could be.

In 1963 our phone life and summer life changed. My grandparents purchased a winter/all year house about 1/3 mile up Lake Shore Road from the bungalows.  Behind the house was a bungalow that became our summer home.  This was both fun and sad.  We had a bigger bungalow, we had our grandparents, and my parents had some peace and quiet, but we were no longer at the colony at night for fun activities or on rainy days with the other children.  However, there was an apartment at the house, where one of my friends stayed.  (See blog below.). But we were no longer part of the rhythm of the colony on a daily basis. 

Communications changed as well.  People started getting phone lines. They were not completely private. People would get Party Lines.  That is what we had at the bungalow up the hill. My grandparents and my parents shared a party line.  We were so excited to have our own phone.  But it had its now side as well.

The phone lines had slightly different rings, so you knew when you were being called. And we had a special way to call down to my grandparents so they knew we wanted to speak to them.  If you picked up the line when the other people were using it, you would hear them speaking.  In fact, if you were quiet then you could listen to the entire conversation.

That was a bit crazy, cause my grandmother sometimes would listen in!!! My MOM would get furious.  And they would have a big argument!

Here is my brother’s memory:

“Yes. She (Grandma)never said anything just listened. She was really good at it,
and I think many times we did not even know she was listening. Mom
would know when Grandma knew things that she had not been told! It was
one of the things that I remember Mom arguing with Grandma about!”

Since my grandparents lived in the Catskills throughout the year after 1969 when my Grandfather retired, their phone line would be on all year long, while our phone line would be turned off after Labor Day.

But eventually, everyone got their own private phone lines.  It was amazing.  I could call my aunt at the bungalows and find out what was going on with my cousins.  Were they going to the movies? What were the plans for the rainy day or the evening? That was what we were missing when we first moved to the bungalow by the house.  

When we were teenagers, those phones were even more important for when we made plans with our friends and cousins.

The days of the payphone and party lines ended in our colony, but the memory of the times when two people needed to make a call.  Or watching when a teenager was on the phone trying to find a private spot….there was an extremely long cord. Or wondering if my Grandma was listening on the line….I have to admit, every once in a while I listened in on my Grandma’s call. Mainly because I needed to make a call and she was already on the line.

https://zicharonot.com/2020/12/12/the-summer-the-laundry-never-dried/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/09/17/sometimes-rainy-days-were-the-best-days-in-the-catskills/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/12/30/loudspeakers-often-interrupted-life-and-the-quiet-of-the-catskills/

The Summer the Laundry Never Dried

12 Dec

The rain started slowly this time.  Giving my Mom enough time to call for us.  But she really did not have to, all the children in our little colony were running to the same place: the clothes lines.  It had rained for weeks.  Finally, there had been a break in the weather. For days, everyone lined up at the two washing machines to get their clothes and linens done. People were running out of clothes to wear.  Everything was a muddy mess.  No one could afford for the newly cleaned clothes to get wet.

We all hustled and ran for the clothes.  Each group of children around their Moms pulling the clothes off.  The littlest ones were grabbing the clothespins and putting them into the cloth bags.  We were successful.  None of our clothes got really wet.  While Mom went back to our bungalow to hang our clothes up on the porch, I remember helping my Grandma take off some of her clothes off the lines.

At least we did not have to go to a laundromat to clean our clothes! This was important as most of the moms up for the summer did not have car with them in the 1960s.  Having to go to the laundromat was a major ordeal especially with all the little children. I guess sometimes someone did go. There was always one husband/father up there for the week who could run this errand as needed.

For us there was a little shed that held two washing machines.  Our moms would put their laundry basket in a line so everyone knew who went next.  They left their laundry soap and change in the basket as well. The person before them would empty out their laundry from the machine and put the next wash in.  I think it cost 50 cents to do a laundry.  Then they would tell the next person that their wash was up, so they knew when to go get it and start the next load.  How they knew, I don’t know.  Perhaps everyone had different colored baskets or different laundry soap, but they knew.  It is a mystery to me.

Laundry days were usually Wednesday and Thursday. Everyone wanted the laundry done before the weekend when the Dads would be up. But during this time of endless rain, occasionally the Dads would have to take the laundry to the laundry mat. I got to go with my Dad once. It was quite the adventure. Long lines, as everyone needed clean and dry clothes. I remember where the laundromat was, just outside of Kauneonga Lake on the road to White Lake and to ice cream, Candy Cone. Of course, I remember, because once our washes were in the machines, Dad and I went for ice cream while we waiting to go put them into the dryer. Then we stayed close to the laundromat, to get our clothes as soon as they were done.

So many laundry memories came rushing back to me due to a painting. A distant cousin of mine, {her grandmother and my maternal grandmother were first cousins. (See blog below.)} did a series of paintings that she then gave to people who made a donation to her chosen charity, an animal shelter. One painting touched my heart. I made my donation.

In my mind this painting was like a calm and practical Chagall painting, but instead of animals or couples flying above a town, it was a zaftig woman walking across the laundry lines with a laundry basket on her head. The colors, the story of the painting, the atmosphere just yelled Catskills in my mind. Laundry Day! Joy! I had to have it.

When it arrived, the memories started crowding into my mind of the year when the laundry never dried.  How when the sun finally came out and stayed out, all the Moms and grandmas were so filled with joy that they could get their clothes clean. How they rushed to do laundry.  I think they agreed that everyone could do one laundry and then go through again.  Everyone had to get at least some laundry done before it rained again.

 I think they felt like the woman in the painting, just tripping above the clotheslines in happiness.  Finally, finally we all had clean and dry clothes!

Of course, I had to hang the painting in my laundry room. Every time I look at it, I remember how lucky I am to have a washer and dryer of my own. That I do not need to hang my clothes outside to dry depending on the weather. That the joy of laundry should be with me all the time!

https://zicharonot.com/2015/06/13/finding-katie/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/10/07/oh-how-i-dream-about-ice-cream-in-the-catskills-in-the-summer/

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