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Greatest Spectacle

Life Story Club Contributor

August 28, 2020

One was the horror and one was happy. The first horror part was hearing about the camps in Germany and seeing pictures. I couldn’t think of anything as horrible. Then to watch 9/11, I was sitting eating my breakfast and listening to the news, when that came out on, and you just sat there the whole day and my daughter wasn’t far from there. Also the Kennedy assassination. And those are the three I experienced, but I used to see pictures of the Hindenburg when it blew up, and every anniversary they would talk about it.

So those were the most four horrible spectaculars that I felt that I experienced so far. I guess I can say this is number five, the virus. Now the happy ones were at the end of Coney Island where they had the amusement park. In 1944 or 1945, they actually had Mardi Gras there. So I thought that was … because that was my first year in that area and I loved the Mamas band, and I love the Mardi Gras. To me, it sounds like I was in New Orleans. Going to my first world’s fair during the 30s and seeing all those marvelous things, and General Electric’s “The World of Tomorrow.”

I love the bands and the parades, the spirit of the bands and the parades in Brighton Beach. I remember going to the movie, I used to go to the Oceana, but we use to go to that little Lakeland movie. So the last time I went there, I was always very short. So I went in and I was over 12 or so but I could look like 10 … and I went in on children’s price. Then they always used to have a matron walking down the aisle. Now this is for those 90s and 80s – I just want to know if anybody has this nostalgia. Did your mother go to the movies and pay a little extra and get dishes?

My mother would take me so she would pay an extra 10 cents of my entrance fee. And I still have some of those dishes that I use. I take them out and they’re beautiful, the color, everything is as if they were manufactured in the past few years.

They had a set of dishes and every week you would pay a few cents extra and you would get a dinner plate, you would get a coffee cup, you would get a saucer. This went on for months. Until my mother had a complete set. I think we used to use it for Passover. Like a set of eight or so. And I still have a few of them. They looked like you would go into a store and you would buy a beautiful dish. It wasn’t the English dishes or what equals, but it had a very nice pattern. The one that we had was the blue-green trim and then they have beautiful flowers in the center. Homer McLaughlin, that was the name of the manufacturer. But they lasted…and the color. Now, this is from the 1930s the color has not faded in those dishes at all.

Memory About Love

Life Story Club Contributor

August 28, 2020

There are two ways to show your love. Some people are huggy-feely and love is their second word, and other people don’t say it that often, but they show it through their actions. In my family we have an assortment of both types of love. Unfortunately, I’m one that if someone says it to me I can’t say it to them. I show more, I can write it down when I write a letter, and I show it by my actions more.

My mother was like that and I don’t know, but I have the love inside of me and I wish I can express it more than always in my actions. I have a sister who her actions and her words, those are the second words. So it’s very funny and very odd but we all love. We all love each other, but we express it differently. It’s very easy to write the word love, but some people – it’s much easier to say it where I find it hard to say it. And I don’t like it, I would like to be the other way but by my actions, I would show them my love.

Memories of the Library

Life Story Club Contributor

August 21, 2020

When I was a teenager from 14 on till about 19, I’ve lived in this little area. I won’t take time to describe it because it’s too much to describe. But it wasn’t a cul-de-sac. But it was almost like a cul-de-sac because most of the people didn’t know it existed. And it was at the end of Coney Island. You think Coney Island is just amusement. Most of Coney Island is residential, but this was near the amusement area. So I lived a few blocks from there. And it was a little area.

So it was Westchester Street. And there was a grocery store there, and a produce, and meat, and a candy store. So one of the places that we all congregated was in front of this candy store basically spring and summer, and early fall but … that was during those years. But the main place … now, this is all places but the library. From the time I was in school, let’s say first grade when we read we had library class on Fridays. And we took home books. I was always interested in going to libraries.

So later on, from about 13 there was a …I mentioned the Stone Avenue Library near where my father had a little business. And that Stone Avenue Library was the first library in the country to have a children’s section. And wherever I moved, the first thing I did after I got settled in was to find where the library was. In 1970, I moved to New Jersey. And again across the way from where my husband works there was a two-story building. I can’t remember what was downstairs but on top was the library. So I would always go there.

Then we moved. We found a regular apartment. So we were able to move. And this was in Sussex County. It’s called Sussex Borough, fairly rural but not rural, rural. So their library was located in the basement of a bank and I would always go there. I remember there. And then they were able to move into a house and I established myself there. I would take my girls on Saturday. We would go to the main library and sit … take out books from the main library before our smaller library.

Now about 2002 this library that had been in a small house, the community was able to build a nice size library. Well I managed to be the last patron of the library from the little house to leave besides the employees. And then, I was the first one to take out a book in the other library. So it was a standing joke with us. And I would take my girls, as I was saying, to the main library. Now…but one of the libraries that I attended, the main library had pictures you can take out.

So, I was working at a credit union. And I had a little area near the tellers with a wall in back of me. So every two or three weeks I would take out a picture from the library, hang it on that wall. And if people who walked by had to walk by my area to go to the teller station, so it was a conversation piece. And every two weeks or so, I would go back to the library and I would get a different picture. And then I moved to Warren County. And I was very involved with the library there. I joined a knitting club and we knitted.

And then, let’s see. In November, we would have an auction. And the money that came from that was given to the friends to the library. Also I was instrumental in setting up mahjong there. There was a house in Strasburg, Pennsylvania which was about 20 miles west of where I lived in Warren County, and they were having mahjong classes. I had basic knowledge of mahjong from going to the Borscht Belt where I didn’t play. I was too young but I watched them. But the three other women did. So we took classes there and then, we were playing.

And in this library, they had an upstairs office and a table where if someone wanted to be away and wanted to do some work and away from the main library, they could go and sit. So I asked the librarian if we can play mahjong there. And she said, “Yes.” After a while she says, “Why don’t you teach mahjong to other people? We’ll advertise.” So that was set up. And now before this pandemic came, we would get at least 20 to 30 people to play mahjong once a week on Mondays. So the library was a very essential…the library still is a very essential part in my life.

Childhood Goal

Life Story Club Contributor

August 14, 2020

As a child, I never really thought about it. But as an adult many times I thought about it. And when we were in high school we had grade advisors, but they never really advise you. The only thing at that time that we thought of is going to the office and being a secretary. But looking back, I realize that they never actually asked me what my true interest was. In my family we were all readers. I always read. From the first grade or so every Friday would be library day. And we were allowed to pick out books and take them home for the weekend. And my greatest joy is if I can get a book that had a beautiful cover and showed a little girl and a boy, I was so happy to take it home. And we read a lot on Saturdays. And I did attend one year at Brooklyn College, and also if the grade advisor went into it a little more and said, “Well what are you really interested in?”

Naturally when I went to work, I never knew they had library sciences. And when I graduated my mother was a young widow at 40, three girls at home, a son in the Navy. I went to work in an office, whatever I could get. But later on I realized I would have been very good as a librarian. And also in my 50s, I could have been a consumer advocate. I’ve always been very good with shopping, very good with comparison, and I could have also delved more into that. But at that time I had to work. I was living in New Jersey now and I wasn’t near a college that I might take other courses. So I feel I missed my calling. Unfortunately that’s one sorrow I always think about, of what I could have been. As to what I did do, I did okay but they weren’t the things that would have given me the joy that I see with people who work in something that they truly enjoy.

Some interesting places I did work … when I moved to New Jersey the Playboy Club had a hotel, so I worked at that job and I met some people. I met Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Joe Namath. There were a lot of women that had sons and they asked him for an autograph and he gave every single one, thanking them and all that. I stood next to Cary Grant, I came up to 5 feet … there he was, I looked up to him and I say, “I saw one of your movies last night.” He says, “Well, thank you.” So we had experiences there, but my interest is still…I’m a library freak. I go from library to library, as many libraries as I can join. I’m still with the library, and I advise people with their shopping.

A Reason to Smile

Life Story Club Contributor

August 21, 2020

What makes me happy is music. Now this is a very old CD. I don’t know if any of you have heard of Irving Fields, he was a piano player, and he loved to play music with a Latin beat. Now I can get out of bed hardly walking, put that CD in and listen to that music and I’m a spring chicken again. Now he plays basically Jewish melodies and as I’m saying, with a Latin beat. So he plays piano and then your hear the bongos. So the name of it is “Bagels and Bongos.”

Irving Fields… so he played the piano. And I don’t have it [the CD] since 1940, but I believe the original was recorded in 1940 or so. But that just brings joy to me and I move. Bagels and Bongos. The bagels are the Jewish songs and the bongos are the Latin beat.

Childhood Games

Life Story Club Contributor

August 14, 2020

So … I was the tomboy, I liked running things. I used to play Jacks and marbles and Ringolevio. We roller skated and all the games that the guys, running games, racing games, and one thing always puzzled me. That hopscotch, and I said, “How come I never played hopscotch?” So one day I saw a picture of hopscotch and I said, “Oh my god in Brooklyn we called that Potsie,” P-O-T-S-I or P-O-T-Z-I. I was curious why I never…why I never played hopscotch, so I looked it up and I thought, “Oh my god that’s the same game that we called Potsie.”

Even in New York, maybe Manhattan they called it hopscotch, and in Brooklyn it was Potsie. And then there was always the park with the sliding pond, we went up the steps and slid down. They called it the sliding pond. Now, in the house we didn’t have the games that the kids play now. We were playing Monopoly, or Checkers, or Chinese Checkers and those we usually played mostly on the weekend. But it’s funny with the marbles, when Passover time came we improvised. We would take hazelnuts and we’d use them as marbles, and we would roll them and … like you do with marbles, winner take all. So we did a lot of improvising. And one thing I really loved, if I wasn’t feeling well, my mother always bought me cut-outs and I loved cut-outs. I looked forward to having my tonsils out because she would buy me a new book of cut-outs. But we had a lot of fun. There was always something to do, and I had my Pensy Pinky Ball, that was that beautiful pink ball that you were always playing stoop ball and all that. So there was always something to do, all you had to do is go out your door, sit on the steps, and your friend is across the street or a few others walked by and a game started.

Cut-outs – I loved them. I just loved them. I never played with dolls, although an aunt of mine gave me a beautiful doll and a carriage. So on Saturday, we got dressed up and I didn’t play these games so occasionally, usually once a month, I’d take the doll with the carriage and walk up and down the street. But I wasn’t a doll person.

Sometimes you got one with a family so you had a mother and father, maybe a brother or sister. So then you had…you would cut them out and they had a little tag on the top … the figures were usually out of cardboard, you know a little…a cardboard type and then the outfits were from the regular paper. And then you…just little…they had tabs on the top and on the side and you would press the tabs and they all wore their different outfits. And if you didn’t like the color, you could color the dress a different color or something. And then one time there was international dolls, and they had all these beautiful international Russian and Polish … these beautiful dresses. Oh, I loved them. This was one of my favorites for inside the house.

My favorite cut-out as a child … No, it’s so long ago but they were always…with either family or like I said, one time international different dolls. So I guess it might be…that might have been a favorite. Sometimes they had an animal, you know it was something around the house or so that you were able to make a little house. So they were all interesting, and there were so many different ones and I just…I don’t remember all individuals but I do remember loving to do that. And actually … the fancy – sometimes you got one where they had older people so you have fancy ball gowns. So, whichever my mother bought us.

The Definition of “Beauty”

Life Story Club Contributor

August 7, 2020

They always say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Nature… I live in a mountainous country right now – a mountainous area. I used to live near the seashore and I loved walking on the beach and seeing the water roll in and the sunset and all that. Up here in the mountains there’s a beautiful river nearby – and although I live in a town – I have to go out. My previous apartment I was able to see ski slopes and mountains. Where I am here, I just have to drive a few miles and see different mountains… When I used to work, one of the highways that I would go home on, the view was that I would see the mountains and trees. They were beautiful.

And when it snowed it was like you’re walking…you’re driving through a diamond field because the trees were dripping with water and icicles. And then during the fall they were…it was gorgeous, the orange, and gold, and green. So to me, that is the beauty. And then at home when the first flowers begin to bloom I just get a thrill. I just love it. So nature, anything with nature and the mountains and the water is a beauty for me. And in fact, on my computer when I open it up, every day there is a gorgeous…I don’t know who selects the scenery, but they don’t tell you where it is, and they don’t tell you who it is, but … beautiful. So that to me is more beautiful. I see beautiful people, but the nature, the beauty of nature impresses and there’s something that goes through me, the spirit.

I haven’t always been in touch with nature when I was young. I always loved colorful things and all that but the apartments I lived in Brooklyn and all of that. I saw the trees – but no, I didn’t see the snow glistening on them the way we used to. I mean I liked it when the snow came and we would run in the snow and it was beautiful the first few times. But it was not that impressive to me until I got older and went to certain spots and saw mountains or sometimes the water. But the mountains impressed me more than the water. You know, it’s where I moved to … that made me aware of that. In the city you see the beauty in the stores and all that but unless you go to Central Park or Prospect Park, or then the Bronx, also the Bronx Garden. So, if you went to those three places, that was beautiful. But the mountains during the winter and in the fall are magnificent.

There is one little one that’s local that has a river. We have this river, it’s called the Musconetcong, and I believe it’s up somewhere in Pennsylvania and I believe it goes all the way Upstate New York. And when I go there it’s just to sit and just watch it flowing. It’s very vibrant. And after a rain, and I would sit there. There’s a little area that you sit…one little bench. It juts out, this little piece of land juts out like you’re almost on an island, and there’s one bench and you sit on that bench, and you just watch the river flowing. It goes in two directions and then they meet, so I find that very soothing and many times on a Saturday afternoon I’ll just drive there … my daughter and I, and we’ll sit and just sit there and watch it.

The park is in Hackettstown New Jersey. So this is northwest, near the borderline of Pennsylvania. Now they do have walking paths. I really haven’t explored most of the walking paths and there’s picnic grounds people come to go on picnics. But this park is five minutes from my house in New Jersey.

My Neighborhood

Life Story Club Contributor

July 24, 2020

I grew up in Brooklyn, in East New York, Brownsville, which at that time was a very peaceful area. Unfortunately now, that’s one of the worst places in Brooklyn. But when I lived there, it was very, very peaceful. There was an Avenue address I remember so I believe I lived there until about five. From 5 to 11, I lived on a street that was called Malta Street, which reminded me of my chocolate malted.

And as I was saying, we didn’t live far from New Lots Avenue, which was a tremendous shopping area. You can get everything there. It stretched for miles and miles. And actually the first fortune was found on New Lots Avenue where they had three stores, a linen store, a furniture store and, what do you call it, tableware and tablecloths. And it was a very busy, a very hectic area. But the street I was on was a very peaceful street, and we did the same thing, sitting on the stoop and playing all those games. But one of our summer activities was, I don’t know if you ever made it, it was called a rubber band ball.

You would buy packs of rubber band maybe for two or three cents, and you would just take a little piece of paper and just do the rubber band and twist and twist and turn until you have a little knob and then you just kept on twisting and turning until you had the shape of a ball. And that bounced to the side. God forbid it hit you on the head, you would be out for three days. It was very, very hard. Now, I don’t know… I was born in 1930. So I’m 90 years old, so I have history. So we would buy, during the summer, at the candy store, we would buy these song sheets.

Every week, they came in a different color, one week was yellow, and one was green. They weren’t these bright yellow and greens. They were these faded yellow, faded green, faded blue.

Song sheets. So it was a few sheets and they had the current songs of that time. And my friends and I would sit on the porch, sit on the stoop and sing all the songs. And you know, so that’s, you know, our summer, that’s the way the summer went and we were outside, running around, skating, playing all those games. And you mentioned what you did that, at the beginning, the other thing about what you did that caused a problem or so. I love to run.

I was a skinny little kid, and I loved to run. And I was always running across the streets to my friends’ house somewhere. And you would hear the car screeching because I never looked and the neighbors would always call my mother and complain, “Bernice is running around the street again.” So that was a major complaint about me as a child. The street, as I’m saying, all the streets, we weren’t far. I didn’t realize until later on, there was an area called Rockaway and where the water was so during the holidays, Rosh Hashanah, where you went to the water. I would walk with my father there and all the people from the synagogue. So there was a whole parade of people walking down the street to throw away your sins. So it was idyllic. And then, between 10 and 11, we moved to another part of Brooklyn that’s called Sea Gate. And that was a lovely area too. But I’ve been in New Jersey more years than I’ve ever lived in Brooklyn, but I still love the times that I lived in Brooklyn. They were very interesting and just free from worry.

Several times. When I was younger, I used to go into the city quite often. I’d take the light rail or bus, go to a show, and go, and in fact, I came down to Crown Heights because I had some relatives living in Crown Heights. So I did go but recently, I Googled the street that I lived on, and I could remember this was a brick house. There were about two brick houses, and the other houses were different types. And I couldn’t believe, the houses I recognized, but the rest of the street I couldn’t recognize. It was completely different. But I brought up the house that I lived on Malta Street, and it was interesting to see. But another thing is that we didn’t live far from what was called Stone Avenue. And they had a library. It was called the Stone Avenue Library. And our family loved to read, so I got a library card the earliest age you could get. And we were googling the Stone Avenue Library recently, and I found out that this was the first library in the country to have a children’s section. And I felt honored because I was one of the first children to use that library, that library area.

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