I just got back from SE Florida, the second segment of my Elderly Relative Tour.
These relatives can be traced back to pre-Communist Czar-led Russia. If you’ve seen Fiddler on the Roof you’re familiar with our story—minus the musical talent and religious observation. Like Tevye and his family, their destination upon escaping Russia was Chicago to live amongst previously escaped relatives.
Cousin Tommy, who I visited in Chicago in September of 2012, is 86. David, who retired about 30 years ago, moved from Chicago to Florida. Both were born without a pot to pee in.
Tommy told me that between eight and eleven of my relatives lived in a one bedroom one bath apartment on Chicago’s west side. He usually ended up sleeping on the floor. When my cousin Annette got married to Cousin Joe, they were awarded the bedroom. The nine other adults had to fend for whatever couch, chair or floor space they could find. My father lived there as well, until he met and married my mother. They left to forge their way into the land of the free and the home of the brave, America, or as we knew it then, the South Side of Chicago.
Tommy went on to achieve a good living as a promotional entrepreneur, something his son Jimmy has taken up. I learned to argue at my dining room table where Tommy and my father, Mel had frequent battles. As a child I had no idea what the debate was about—I just sensed the ferocity of the battle. After one particularly harsh dispute, they didn’t talk to one another for three years. Fast forward a half century later and Tommy refused to talk to me for two years for something I said. He obviously mistook me for Melvin who had passed years before.
David was born in 1917, his father was already in his 50’s and his mother became terminally ill soon after his birth. On her deathbed in 1923, she told six-year-old David, “I don’t know what will become of you.”
Apparently, that left an impression in this young boy’s mind. David began working right after. He cleaned offices for several years starting at age six. Then, around age ten he began working as a delivery boy in the streets of Chicago—running packages with a gaggle of other boys to businesses in Downtown Chicago. When that business went under, David started his own company—at age 12. He was the one dispatching employees with packages and paying them out of his own checkbook. He stayed with that concept to be one of the largest independent truck delivery services in the country. He made a fortune, enough to pay off several ex-wives and retired to Florida where—(did I mention he’s 96?) he parties, goes out to dinner every night, dances, goes on cruises and walks a mile (cane-aided) every day and accompanied by his girlfriend, Patsy.
Never go with the flow until you know where the gas chambers are
What both of these relatives have in common is an amazing will to make it big, and a bad memory. They both lean left—except when it comes to Israel’s survival. Surprise, surprise! Although you might be amazed at the amount of American Jews who are willing to throw Israel under the bus by showing what righteous peeps they are by voting for Obama and the other anti-Israel Cretans AKA Progressives. Dave and Tommy think I’m a right-wing nut and I think they are forgetting the past that got them to America in the first place.
Their parents were awake enough to haul themselves out of Russia in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many of those who stayed did so because they thought their escaping relatives were overreacting. Staying got them executed in pogroms, or they became a part of the Communist Revolution, or survived in the shadows only to be starved, sent to the Gulags by Stalin or murdered by the marauding Nazis as they approached Moscow in their failed attempt to conquer their former ally, the Soviets.
While it may be too late to change the minds of my beloved cousins, David and Tommy, maybe, just maybe I can get a few other Jews concerned enough to open up their mouths. I’m begging them to protest the anti-Semitic actions of this President and Congress, the UN, Europe and the leaders of 1.5 billion Muslims who are inciting the death of every Jewish man woman and child.
If we don’t speak up now, there’ll be no one left to speak for us.