The kids in my family consisted of my sister Faith and my brother Gary and me. Our home was in Brighton Beach New York over fifty years ago. Brighton Beach was then 95% or so mid-European Jews, in some cases long-time residents of the United States and in others one or two generation’s removal from Hitler’s Germany. These were not the Sephardic Jews who toiled fields and had manual crafts but Easter European Ashkenazi who when they toiled in the fields dreamed of Yeshiva and being scholarly and their relationship to the all-knowing. We were Ashkenazi and wandered around Brighton Beach without a care. Safe and secure with officer Johnny on his horse roaming the bust streets like Brighton Beach Boulevard. Our Mom felt so comfortable with the local streets that she sent us on errands at the local stores and we picked up lox or rye bread or whatever she asked of us. The thing was that we had to contend with the elbows of many of older Jewish women who felt though they arrived after, we were young and could wait a little longer. The merchants knew us because they knew my parents, especially fond of my mother who was kind and courteous and I was told she was pretty. To me, she was just mom.
Gary was too young so he didn’t accompany us and I acted like a big shot with Faith and told my sister to order the bread or whatever believing she was fearless. In truth I was a wimp and scared of those old ladies’ elbows and believed my darling little sister would get served faster than her older man-of-the-world brother.
There were pizza places serving by the slice, the pies still hot from the oven, most of them hot enough that they didn’t need a second heating, and delis and knishes (both Mrs. Stahl’s and Gabila’s). And to our shame we referred to Asian cooking by a racist term which was Chink’s though I didn’t learn that until I was a bit older. As for seafood there were several restaurants including those of Sheepshead Bay in the next community to ours. One of the restaurants was the second of the three Lundy’s which sat over 2,500 and had two massive kitchens and a huge clam bar that employed at least 10 people to shuck oysters all the time. The waiters were all black and the restaurant was non-union and the waiters were paid better than union scale to keep them that way and my Dad was friends with many of the workers. Most of the other restaurants were also huge by California standards – seating 400 being a common size.
In the other direction we had Coney Island and its rides and its own nosh kingdom of Nathan’s.
In addition to food Brighton was famous for its Boardwalk and during the summer, fireworks two nights a week that I soon bored of. Spectacular lights in the skies – bleh. How ordinary.
Dear Reader – It’s just that I can’t go on this way listening and reading about . Trump, a modern reincarnation of Nero, and the modern Democrats, spineless, soulless putting together half-baked plans like Obamacare better than nothing but not much more. There was a time, just a few years ago, that many in the party believed in Single Payer and then that self-serving politician, Hillary, so belittled Bernie, that most support evaporated. Even in the days of Obama our move towards climate control was too small, too slow. Income inequality and not bringing those on Wall Street to justice for the crash was almost ignored as much by the Democrats as the Republicans. Forget them, I’m going to write about my home and ex-home and my family and not because they are so spectacular but because they are slightly unusual and yet caring. This is a time we should ponder all of our roots and as for the politicians and bankers and media czars and corporate giants and psychologically fucked up executives yes, I know that this is more than two, but like the great man kind of said “A pox on all their houses.”