Share full page

Introduction

Morris S. Kaplan

This is 2020. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and it’s very lonely, and I’m going to give my life story. 

This is 2020. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and it’s very lonely, and I’m going to give my life story. 

...

0:00
/

CHILDHOOD

Morris S. Kaplan

When I was in grammar school and living at 363 North 12th Street in Newark, New Jersey, I was going to First Avenue School. And going to the First Avenue School at the age of 10, my mother had another child. The child was born with a broken arm and they brought him home, and we had a little brother. 

I continued to go to school at First Avenue. When I was at school, the teacher switched me from lefty to righty and every time I’d try to switch back to lefty, the teacher’s name was Mrs. Redcosson, and she would hit me on the hand and say, “No, you have to use your right hand.” Consequently, it hurt me very much because I became very slow in reading. My parents sent me for remedial reading in Rectors, in Newark, and even until this day, I have a problem. I can read very well and comprehend what I’m reading, but when I try to read out loud, it sounds like a two-year-old child reading. But I do very well on my own reading and comprehending what I’m reading. 

I went to grammar school and when I was in fourth or fifth grade, the guys started to abuse me because I lived in a Catholic neighborhood and I was a Jew. They used to beat me up all the time and my father said, “Well if they beat you up or take advantage of you go home and get a baseball bat and hit them.” So one winter we were sleigh riding and Joe Anjurio took my sled and he wouldn’t give it back to me and he said, “Jew tell your rich parents to buy you another one, this sled is mine.” So I went home, got a baseball bat, went back and hit him in the leg and broke his leg. 

Consequently his father came to my house and wanted my father to pay for the hospitalization and my father said to me, “Tell his father the story.” So I began to tell him the story – that he took my sled, didn’t want to give it back, told me, “Jew you have a lot of money tell your parents to go buy you another one.” His father smacked him in the head, took him home and that was the end of that one. 

I also had to learn to fight because when I used to go to the candy store they always wanted to get the Jewish boy and take his candy away. So I learned how to fight and I also earned money myself. I started to deliver newspapers and my mother used to get up early in the morning, help me fold the newspapers and then I’d go out and deliver them, come home and eat breakfast. 

When I was in grammar school and living at 363 North 12th Street in Newark, New Jersey, I was going to First Avenue School. And going to the First Avenue School at the age of 10, my mother had another child. The child was born with a broken arm and they brought him home, and we had a little brother...

↓ View Full Story ↓ 查看完整故事 ↓ Ver Historia Completa
0:00
/

BAR MITZVAH

Morris S. Kaplan

My bar mitzvah was made, and at bar mitzvahs at that time, they used to throw hard candy at you. And all my friends passed out candy, and they really whacked me on the beamer with the hard candy. We also had a party in a temple in Irvington on Stuyvesant Avenue, on the second floor. And my grandmothers were there. My great grandmothers were there, and we had a wonderful time. And we do have eight millimeter movies, that are in this cellar, in a box, of my bar mitzvah. And there’s a lot of other movies of families, pictures that are down there. And I wish my family would see them, maybe at some other time. And I’m still here. We could see the movies.

My bar mitzvah was made, and at bar mitzvahs at that time, they used to throw hard candy at you. And all my friends passed out candy, and they really whacked me on the beamer with the hard candy...

↓ View Full Story ↓ 查看完整故事 ↓ Ver Historia Completa
0:00
/

Young Love

Morris S. Kaplan

When I was in the seventh or eighth grade I liked this girl named Marie Cavallo. I asked her if we could go to the movies. She said she’d have to talk to her parents. Well she talked to her parents and her parents said that we could go to the movies. Only thing is that we had to have a chaperone and that time people would normally have their daughter chaperone if you went out on a date. So we went out on a date and we had her brother tag along to the movies. We had gone out a few more times and we always had a chaperone. I got a little tired of that and we broke it off and a little after that I liked another young lady and her name was Doreen and I asked her out and we were going out without a chaperone and we did very well until I graduated. 

When I was in the seventh or eighth grade I liked this girl named Marie Cavallo. I asked her if we could go to the movies. She said she’d have to talk to her parents...

↓ View Full Story ↓ 查看完整故事 ↓ Ver Historia Completa
0:00
/

WAINWRIGHT STREET

Morris S. Kaplan

When I graduated grammar school my parents decided that this area was no good for me to grow up because they wanted me to meet girls in my own faith and there was no girls in my own faith in that area. So we moved to 147 Wainwright Street into my grandmother and grandfather’s house. My grandmother lived on the second floor and we lived on the first floor. 

I started high school and then decided that I was going to go to vocational school. I liked working on cars and I was going to take up automotive. I consequently went to Irvington Tech and was studying automotive. In the meantime, living at Wainwright Street and my grandmother lived upstairs. My grandmother came from Russia. My grandfather came from Germany. My grandmother used to drink tea and I always was amazed that she put hot tea in a glass and she had a spoon in the glass and I say, “Grandma why do you have the spoon in the glass?” She said, “Son, why I put the spoon in the glass is so the glass don’t crack when I put the hot water in.” I learned a lesson. Also my grandmother from the old country used to put cubed sugar in her mouth and then sip the tea through the sugar and she got the sweetness. 

My grandfather had cancer and they had him home and I can remember the day of his passing and me seeing him and I’ll never forget the sight of seeing my grandfather in his death bed. It was a lasting experience for me because I love my grandfather. When I was a young boy he used to put me on his shoulder and carry me around. I love him to this day. 

When I graduated grammar school my parents decided that this area was no good for me to grow up because they wanted me to meet girls in my own faith and there was no girls in my own faith in that area...

↓ View Full Story ↓ 查看完整故事 ↓ Ver Historia Completa
0:00
/

SELF-SUFFICIENT

Morris S. Kaplan

Also going back in my memory I would like to stop here and regress back to when I was living at home at 363 North 12th Street and then moving to Wainwright Street my parents wanted me to go to Hebrew school. There wasn’t any Hebrew school that would take me. So my aunt Essie who lived in Pleasantdale had a Rabbi named Mosesen who said that he would teach me privately so I could make a bar mitzvah up in his synagogue in West Orange. He taught me and I made my bar mitzvah up in West Orange. Also my aunt Essie and uncle Harry had a home in West Orange and all through the years that I was going to Hebrew school and going to West Orange I would cut their grass for extra money. When I cut their grass my uncle Harry had a brother, George Sausen, who lived directly in back of him and their lawns were connected to one another. I would cut his lawn and George’s lawn and I would have money that I could spend on anything that I wanted.

Also, I’d like to add that when I was cutting grass for my Uncle Harry and George Sawson, I met a fellow there, that we became lifelong friends. Tali Lipton was an orphan, and his aunt was running an orphanage up in West Orange. And she took care of him and his sister, and we became lifelong friends until he passed in California, which was a very sad day for me.

I always had a job, always doing something when I was younger. Also, at that age, after I made my bar mitzvah and we were living at 147 Wainwright Street I got a job with Good Humor. I used to pedal a bike from Springfield Avenue to the Weequahic section up and down hills, pumping that bike and selling ice cream. I made a pretty good dollar doing that job. But it also raised havoc with my knees.

The other thing I’d like to partake is that when I was a young boy, I used to go across the street to the shoemaker, Joe. And Joe had a little pinball machine that you’d put a penny in and you’d play. And I loved that pinball machine. I used to spend a lot of time playing the pinball machine in Joe Shoemaker’s shop. I made very good friends with Joe. And when Joe was closing up his shop, he knew I loved that machine, and he gave me that pinball machine, which was mechanical. And I had that for a long time in my cellar. And I gave it to my daughter, Donna, who in turn re-furbished the machine. And it’s now hanging on a wall in her home in Riverdale.

When I was a young man and I was living on Wainwright Street in Newark, I got a job at the RKO Proctor’s on Market Street. I did everything from being an usher to being a footman outside, immediate seating, all parts of the theater. Also, when you came in, I would take your tickets and say, “Take the elevator to the right, immediate seating in the balcony.” And also, we had a second theater and that would show the same picture at a different time. If the movie got crowded, which it did on the weekends, we opened up the second theater and I would say, “Take the elevator to the right and go to the second theater, to see the same picture.”

I stayed at the RKO Proctor’s for a few years. And by the way, everybody might think that there was a lot of money those days. When I worked those days, I was working for 50 cents an hour. That was a great pay. From there, I went to the burlesque show on Market Street and worked in the burlesque show for a good many years. Even after I met Bonnie, I was still working in the burlesque show. And Bonnie always said, “Do not tell my mother that you’re working in a burlesque show, because if you tell her you’re working in a burlesque show, I won’t be able to go out with you.” So my wonderful mother-in-law never knew that I was working in a burlesque show in Newark.

I had many jobs in different things. And I also worked, as a young man, in a grocery store, across the street from 147 Wainwright Street for Joe Pfeffer. I worked for him for a long time while I was going to school. After I got out of school, I went to work in Newark in an Exxon gas station as a mechanic. I worked there for a while. And then Joe said that his son, I used to see him when I went home on Wainwright Street, had Bigelow Motors in Belleville. So I went to work for Joe in Bigelow Motors in Belleville.

One of my jobs also, when I was living on Wainwright Street with my mother and father, they had a friend that had a clothing business in Newark on Prince Street. Prince Street was a predominantly black area, 99% black area. And he had this store there. And I went to work for him in that area.

I worked there for six months to a year and I could not tolerate the way he treated people. He would take advantage of black people. He would sell them a hat at one price one week and then they would go out and lose it. And they’d come back after working a week and sell them another hat, and he’d get more money. Kids come in for mother’s day, I can remember vividly, and want to buy handkerchiefs for their mother. And if it was handkerchiefs that, if people bought, say $10, he’d give them a handkerchief. And he would overcharge them. I said, “Enough is enough. And I have to leave this job. I have to, even if I do without a job, I’m leaving this job.” So I left the job. And also when I was at that job, there was a place across the street that had a speaker outside and they’d put How High the Moon. They played that so much that I can’t stand to hear that song ever, ever again. But I left the job. I’ll sign off for today and I’ll come back with a few more memories.

Also going back in my memory I would like to stop here and regress back to when I was living at home at 363 North 12th Street and then moving to Wainwright Street my parents wanted me to go to Hebrew school. There wasn’t any Hebrew school that would take me...

↓ View Full Story ↓ 查看完整故事 ↓ Ver Historia Completa
0:00
/

Irvington Tech

Morris S. Kaplan

I went all through Irvington Tech and I graduated from Irvington and my brother started to go to Irvington. Also when we were going there, there was a young boy named Irwin Brovski who was going there. But he was a little slow and the kids used to take advantage of him. So he rode the bus with myself and go to school and this fellow Jerry Snyderton and myself became very good friends at school and we would protect him. When we left high school he had to quit high school because the kids would never let him alone and it was a shame there was nothing I could do. My brother was also taken advantage at high school and Jerry and I had to make a trip over to Irvington High and corner all the hard guys and told them if they kept it up that we would beat them up. So they stopped bothering my brother and that was that for that part.

I went all through Irvington Tech and I graduated from Irvington and my brother started to go to Irvington. Also when we were going there, there was a young boy named Irwin Brovski who was going there. But he was a little slow and the kids used to take advantage of him...

↓ View Full Story ↓ 查看完整故事 ↓ Ver Historia Completa
0:00
/

BIGELOW MOTORS AND THE NATIONAL GUARD

Morris S. Kaplan

When I graduated from high school I got a job working for Bigelow Motors in Belleville as a mechanic. I went from Bigelow Motors in Belleville to County Auto Sales in Jersey City. I stayed there until I bought my own business. But I have to regress a little bit by what I was saying. During that period of time I joined the National Guard and I used to go away for two weeks and I had to go away for basic training. They put me in the medics after my basic training, but being a young fellow wanting to have fun, I went out with the boys. We got drunk, didn’t report back to duty and when we did get back to duty a couple days later the officers said, “No more for you in the medics. You’re going to be a cook.” So they sent me to be a cook. Now could you imagine a mechanic with dirty hands being a cook? Well one day I was cooking and a lieutenant came up for inspection. Mechanics get dirt implanted in their hands and you just don’t get them out by washing them. He said, “Let me see your hands.” He had a fit and said, “How could this man be cooking with hands like that?” But that didn’t go anywhere. He reprimanded me. He reprimanded the first sergeant who’s in charge of the cooks.

They decided that they were going to send me to cook and baker school. When I was in cook and baker school there was a cook and it was the first time I encountered a man with an earring in his ear and he said he was a first class chef, that he had cooked in the White House and all over the world. He was in the Army now and he was a teacher. I asked him, “Sergeant, how come every time we cook ham…” – and the way they cooked ham in those days, in the Army, was that they boiled the ham in vinegar and water to get the salt out. Well after boiling it we took it out and we put cloves, brown sugar. If we had pineapple we put pineapple, oranges on it and baked it. After baking it and then taking it out we had to slice it. When we’d go to slice it, it smelled and I didn’t like the smell from the ham. I said to the sergeant, “Why do we get the smell?” He said, “Do you de-bone it?” I said, “No.” He said, “Well you’re getting the smell from the marrow in the bone. Go back and tell your mess sergeant, to de-bone the ham and you won’t get the smell.”

I went back to the sergeant and he said, “I’m not de-boning the ham. You’ll slice it the way it is and you’ll put up with the smell.” The other thing I didn’t like in cooking was cleaning chickens. We used to pull the insides of the chicken out and I detested that and for a long time I didn’t eat chicken. For years I didn’t each chicken. Also, wherever I would carve a turkey because my father taught me how to carve a turkey, I wouldn’t eat turkey. Until this day, if I cut the turkey or carve a turkey whatever you want to call it, I do not eat the turkey. If I don’t cut the turkey, I will eat the turkey. 

When I graduated from high school I got a job working for Bigelow Motors in Belleville as a mechanic. I went from Bigelow Motors in Belleville to County Auto Sales in Jersey City...

↓ View Full Story ↓ 查看完整故事 ↓ Ver Historia Completa
0:00
/

BONNIE

Morris S. Kaplan

After being in the National Guard and working at Bigelow Motors, I met a fellow named Eddie Palansar. He also liked automotive and we talked about going into business. I said that would be a good idea. But I kept working at Bigelow Motors. Then one day a friend of mine said that they were going to go on a hayride and he knew this girl, a friend of his girlfriend Jerry, that would go on a hayride with me and I’d go on a blind date. I said that would be fine and I had bought a straw cowboy hat. Picked up this young lady named Bonnie Strouse and took her on a hayride. Well she made a lasting impression and after the hayride I asked her out. We start going together and she lives on Fabian Place in Newark and I lived on Wainwright Street. Then one day I said to my mother, “I really like this girl. I’d like to get engaged to her and ask her to marry me.” My mother said, “Okay I’ll take you to this jewelry store that we have friends in.” That friend had a store on Broadway in Bloomfield. And we went there and we bought a ring and I proposed to Bonnie. We consequently got married. 

When Bonnie and I were married in the Clinton Manor in Newark, the rabbi that bar mitzvah’d me, I had called upon to marry us. Well, we were all gathered at the Clinton Manor, and we were waiting for the rabbi to arrive. And as time passed, no rabbi. We called, and we couldn’t make contact. So, a cousin of mine who was invited to the wedding, Rabbi Klein, was there. And I told him all of our predicament, and he graciously said that he had a license to marry us in New Jersey. So, he went ahead and married us, and our rabbi never showed up. He had gone to a party, and forgot all about coming to our wedding. And for years, I always kid my wife, and told my children that we weren’t really legally married, because Rabbi Klein wasn’t licensed to marry in New Jersey. But that was just a big joke that I used to play on Bonnie to get her goat.

After being in the National Guard and working at Bigelow Motors, I met a fellow named Eddie Palansar. He also liked automotive and we talked about going into business. I said that would be a good idea. But I kept working at Bigelow Motors...

↓ View Full Story ↓ 查看完整故事 ↓ Ver Historia Completa
0:00
/

GOING INTO BUSINESS

Morris S. Kaplan

Eddie and I, we kept talking about going into business, and we went into business and bought a gas station on Frelinghuysen and Evergreen Avenue in Newark. We had to borrow money from Bonnie’s mother, and from my father. Bonnie worked and I worked, and we paid my mother and father and we paid her mother back for the amount of money that we borrowed. I stayed at that station for a good many years. And we were going to the national guard also, we were both in the guard, and we tried to get separated. One week, two weeks he would go, and two weeks I would go. But it didn’t work out and I had to leave the National Guard. So rather than me leave the National Guard I transferred into another unit up in West Mountain Reservation. I went there and I was in the National Guard for a long time. 

Eddie and I were in business for quite a few years and then we saw different things in different ways and we couldn’t get along anymore as partners sometimes too. I said, “Either you buy me out or I’ll buy you out.” So Eddie said, “I’ll buy you out.” I said, “Fine.” So Eddie bought me out. 

Eddie and I, we kept talking about going into business, and we went into business and bought a gas station on Frelinghuysen and Evergreen Avenue in Newark. We had to borrow money from Bonnie’s mother, and from my father...

↓ View Full Story ↓ 查看完整故事 ↓ Ver Historia Completa
0:00
/
SMS
Email
Copy
SMS Email
Copy

Download the Free Story Prompt Cards

Enter your information below for instant download

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for our monthly email newsletter to stay up to date with our work and upcoming events!