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Date Incident

Life Story Club Contributor

August 28, 2020

In 1944, more or less I was living with my mother and two sisters in Miami Beach. About eight hours away was a city or a town, or the Arcadia and all it was known for was their cows. It was a two or three-block town. I had a boyfriend who was at Carlstrom Field which was located in Arcadia and he had called me in Miami Beach and asked me to come here to the Carlstrom Fields, he had a weekend off. I was 17-years-old, I was really excited. The only thing is that the problem was I did not have the proper dress, I thought. Well my neighbor was very generous, Naomi, and she lent me a beautiful dress that fit me very well, and also some jewelry being a necklace with a Jewish star.

So I was all dressed up and I booked a trip on a bus, it was eight hours to get there. I had pajamas with me, and I had a reservation in the town of Arcadia, the only hotel. Anyway I made the trip for eight hours and when I got there, my boyfriend was not there to greet me, but there was a message that he was held up at the Carlstrom Field and he would be there in an hour or so. So that was fine with me. And I started to walk into the hotel and I saw all these young men staring at me and I thought they were admiring me. I was good looking at the time and I didn’t think much of it. And they checked me in and by the time I got up to the second floor, which was really only a two-story hotel, and as I opened the door I see there’s a window in there and the window has a fire escape.

And all these young men that were ogling me were coming up through the stairs and I started to scream, “What are you doing here?” He says, “What are you doing here, little Jew girl?” I said, “I’m going to show you what I’m going to do. I’m going to call downstairs and have them throw you out.” I called downstairs and I said, “There’s young men that are coming through the window and harassing me.” They said, “We’ll call somebody for you.” Well they didn’t have anybody from the hotel, because they were very happy to have been able to call me names. And what they did was they got the military police to come.

So they did come up and they did get rid of the guys and this is what they said to me. “Listen, we don’t want any trouble. You can’t check into this hotel.” I said, “Is there a bus back?” “No, not until tomorrow. It was one bus a day.” Well I said, “That’s a real good pickle and thank you for your hospitality, I think I’ll never forget it.” It appears my young friend whom I really loved, he was my first boyfriend, he came and I told him the story and we asked if there’s another hotel. And of course, the answer was no. And where could we go? Where can we eat? Where can we go to a restaurant? Well there was one restaurant and there were three park benches.

We went for a bite. This is was supposed to be the romance of my life and maybe I was not going to be a virgin anymore. So we had to sit on the bench all night overnight until the bus came in early about 8:00 in the morning. And that was the only time in my life that I ever had any anti-Semitic incidents. I grew up in Brooklyn. I was Miss Brighton Beach, best in Brooklyn. I grew up with all-Jewish guys and the three Italian guys that were in our classes they married Jewish girls. So I didn’t know what anti-Semitism was about, but it was part love and shock. When I went home, I was furious on the bus and that was the end of the love story and everything else. So it reminds me of today, maybe not so much anti-Semitism although there is certainly plenty of it, but I’m sure that black girls go through similar kinds of things.

This happened in 1943 or ’44. During World War II. I don’t even know how they knew and it wasn’t a big Jewish thing, a Jewish star, but, you know, I guess what they look for, first of all, I was dressed beautifully. It was a beautiful dress and I didn’t wear Gertie jeans or cut out or anything like that. Then I did look like I did not come from there. I certainly didn’t look typically Jewish at all.

The Jewish star was pertinent to the story and I was so excited to go there and really so excited. And I thought that we were going to upgrade our relationship, but I never married him anyway. But it was very scary. It really was an outstanding situation for me. But I thank God that I was a Brooklyn girl and sweet on the inside and tough on the outside.

Memories of Home in Montauk

Life Story Club Contributor

August 21, 2020

In 1973 I had a second marriage with somebody. I had grown up in Brooklyn, Brighton Beach. And we made a pact in our marriage that I would learn how to play golf, which I hated the idea. I was a fashion designer then, and I was much more of a businesswoman than somebody who is at home, although I did have a child, but I wasn’t at home. So she was well taken care of at the time.

Anyway, the bargain was that I wanted a home in Montauk, I loved Montauk. And I wanted a summer home and I have an apartment in New York. So he would be moving into my apartment in New York. So that worked out very beautifully. Montauk is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. And I have traveled the world quite a lot. And we had a wonderful life there. We both … we were working and we’d come for the weekend which was from Thursday to Sunday, and on Monday even. And so it worked out beautifully. And we met some lovely people.

I played golf, which was something I really enjoyed. I was very happy that my husband wanted me to do that. And we had a lovely group of people, and we were friendly with all of them. Not only homeowners but people who had property, they were the newspaper, the pharmacy, business people. And so we had a lot in common. We had a great social life. And my husband died before me. And unfortunately you know, and I had very good friends who really helped me out there, the whole town helped me out. And I remained in Montauk after my husband died. So it was … a total of 32 years I’m talking about, and the only reason I moved is because … my daughter lived in Pennsylvania and they went to the shore and they had a second home there.

Joy From Children

Life Story Club Contributor

August 21, 2020

I have four grandchildren, all girls, and two great-grandchildren, one girl and one boy. Of course I did get a lot of smiles when I had the boy. But they’re all wonderful. They’ve grown up. They’re all in the health services or the law. And it’s been a long time, and I’m just very proud. And I do love children too, I really do. You know they bring joy to life. That’s the only time of innocence.

The Definition of “Beauty”

Life Story Club Contributor

August 7, 2020

What I’m going to read today comes under the heading of what I think is beautiful. It’s an ode to my birthday in 1991 from my friend of 60 years. It’s a poem about me and it’s…it brings tears to my eyes because she’s not alive but I would like to read that. It’s called “An Ode to Muriel Schwartz on Her Birthday, 1991.”

“She’s ambitious, never capricious, can be charming and also disarming. And the greatest friend that one could have. Here she is with us, Muriel Schwartz. She is loyal, a real poyle, she is sharp and wow can she cope. She’s productive and can be active, none other than Muriel Schwartz. And when she laughs her eyes light up like fire, but when she’s mad just don’t incur her ire. She’s gregarious, never nefarious, she’s Aquarius. She’s also right on the ball. She’s holistic, she thinks futuristic. Mrs. Wonderful, Muriel Schwartz.” – This is supposed to be sung by Mr. Wonderful but anyway – “She’s energetic and empathetic, she exaggerates but she also cogitates. She’s a homemaker, she’s a Shidduch maker. Ain’t that so, Muriel? Yes. And now we wish this lovely friend many good years of health, happiness, and wealth. Muriel Schwartz, you’re quite a woman and we toast you today on your birthday. So keep up your hopes, your spirits, it should always be high. Happy birthday.”

I read that…I haven’t read that in years and I found it in the drawer the other day, and this is the most beautiful thing that’s happened in this horrible world we’re going through now. So, that’s what I think is beautiful. The most amazing thing is that everything she was talented at she taught herself. This was an amazing time. She’s dead about 10 years now and she was just a wonderful person. I’m lucky, and I want to think about all the people in my life who I’ve loved.

Lillian Stover wrote that for me in 1991. I was working for a company and she was the bookkeeper, and she had taken me under her arm when I was 21 and we were friends for the rest of 60 years. I worked in the company in a different capacity than she did. And she was a bookkeeper and I was a fashion designer and we just hit it off and we had a wonderful 60 years together as friends. However, I do have one of her nieces that is involved in some of my little business who is 62 now. So I didn’t lose everybody completely. I have another copy that she had done with an artist of this poem, and it’s framed in one of my rooms. It’s lovely, I’m happy to read it. It made me happy today. She read the poem at a restaurant – I think I was 65 then. I know that I’m 94 now so it’s quite a while back.

She was sort of my mentor. She happened to be eight years older than me and she helped me in a lot of ways. When I met her I was 20 and she taught me how to write checks, things that I didn’t know that I should have known. And she always had my back, always. And I grew to love her, you know, and I’m happy that I have that in my life.

A World Of Fashion

Life Story Club Contributor

July 31, 2020

 I wanted to be in the fashion business all my life and I didn’t know which way I could get in. I didn’t have a formal education about it. So I thought I was kind of pretty if I have to say so myself at 94, but I was short. So I figured out something that I should get a pair of shoes with some high heels, and I’ll stuff them, and I’ll just swing it, and then I’ll try to get a job as a junior dress model. And this was the only way I could figure it out.

Well, somebody recommended somebody to me in the garment center that had a very good firm and she said, “Oh, he’s my uncle and he’s gonna love you.” I said, “I don’t know about that.” Anyway, I was very nervous.

Anyway, I did go for the interview and it turned out exactly the way she said. He said, “When can you start?” So I did start. It was a very young firm and I really got an education you could never buy. I became the model. And in those days, nobody was a giant like today, so I got away with the shortness. But the thing is that they used to put the dresses on me and pin the patterns on me. And I was a very obnoxious young girl because I was really wanted to get somewhere. I didn’t want to be a model my whole life. So they would stick pins in me. My boss found out and, you know, so he let them have it.

Anyway, I did say to him, “You know, Mr. Safian [SP], I cannot be a model all my life.” He says, “Well, what would you like to do?” I said, “Well, you and I go to the stores, I pick out the things that I think would sell. We buy them, we interpret them, and they sell.” He says, “You know, it’s a very good point. When can you start?” I said, “In an hour.” And I had a very, very good education from them.

In the meantime, I wasn’t getting enough money so I opened up a store in my neighborhood. I lived in Brooklyn. And they have these brownstones with windows that showed you the street. And I had a partner and I would go to work and he would, so-called, take care of the young women that came in. Well, I hated…actually, I hated the retail end of it so I got busy looking for a job as a stylist. And I will say that those were wonderful, wonderful times when I was taken for somebody, you know, or offered a job really quick, and I started to grow and grow and grow. And in the growing, I went to Europe, I went all over America, I learned my trade, and every day was a happy day.

And the men that I had to deal with were really rough but I found out that I knew a way to get along with them. So I always said, “If my personal life could be as good as my business life, I’d be in ultra heaven.”

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