Category Archives: Memory Monday

Childhood Memory Monday – TV Shows

I like the topic of Olive Tree Genealogy’s Sharing Memories this week, so I’m back in.

I know I watched Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Captain Kangaroo when I was little. And of course, there were always cartoons like Bugs Bunny and others. I don’t remember much of them, just that I watched. The Muppet Show was also popular in our family. Again, I remember more of that from watching re-runs during my college years. Every now and then, I’ll catch an old clip on YouTube from any of these shows and somehow vaguely remember it.

I also know that I watched Star Trek with my Dad. This is another one of those memories where I know that I did something but can’t specifically remember.

I remember arriving at junior high school to find everyone talking about the same TV shows that I had never seen. I was somehow able to convince my parents to watch, or let me watch, The Cosby Show, Family Ties, and Growing Pains (I remember Leonardo DiCaprio before Titanic). There might have been others, but those are the ones I remember best. My parents liked the shows too, so finally I wasn’t a social outcast in those conversations.

Of course, once you start watching prime time shows, you get all the commercials for the others and you keep going. Senior high school viewing included 90210 and Melrose Place. And Dinosaurs. Our family loved Dinosaurs. BTW, “I’m the Baby! Gotta love me!”

I don’t know how I started watching MacGyver in high school, but I remember that one specifically. I was allowed to watch it because no one else was interesting in watching anything else from 7-8pm. Unfortunately, my best friend at the time loved to call me during that hour, so I’d just ask her the time and she’d call back later.

During college, I finally watched Star Trek: The Next Generation and loved it. Oddly, I had no memory of watching the pilot when it came out when I was 14, but I knew it was relevant to the finale, so I rented it — and remembered half of it. So I figure my Dad and I did watch that episode, but he prefers the original.

Childhood Memory Monday – Pets

Back to Olive Tree Genealogy’s 52 Weeks of Sharing, the topic is childhood pets.

We had a bird that I don’t remember, and my brother had a goldfish, but the family pets were a dog and a duck.

Sir Reginald Von Feldstein

Every young boy wants a dog, right? My brother wanted a dog and we got one. My mother chose a Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie) and his name. Called Reggie, he was adopted in 1974 just before I turned 2 years old. My mother took pictures of him for every birthday with a candle in a Gaines Burger. He was a well-trained dog; would take the Milk Bones out of your hand so gently when you told him “nicely”.

In his later years, we taught him how to shake, though I think we did most the actual shaking for him. The one trick we never taught him was Treif/Kosher; we had seen another dog do that and thought it was adorable.

Reggie hated car rides because they always meant either the vet or the kennel when we went on vacations. My mom finally learned how to drive just before we moved when I was in fifth grade. We bought the house and spent a lot of time working on it before moving, so Mom would drive over and take Reggie along. Slowly he learned that the car also meant “that other house”.

When he was finally too sick, he was put to sleep on the third day of Passover in 1983, not long after we moved, and was buried by the side of the house.

Webbey

We lived not too far from Oak Grove Park. One day, a duck came waddling down the street and ended up at a neighbor’s house. That neighbor, Fred, called my brother over and said, “Do you want a duck?” And thus, we adopted Webbey around 1978. Webbey and I didn’t always get along so well. He liked to nip at me, especially when swimming, like he was trying to save me from drowning.

One time, we brought him back to the park to be with his other duck friends, but he didn’t get along with them, so we took him back. He died while we were away at summer camp and was buried next to the house. (The first house; he didn’t make it to the second one.)

Skipper

He wasn’t with us long, but during high school, someone abandoned Skipper in our neighborhood. He walked up to my brother on the front porch and we took him in for about nine weeks until we found another family to adopt him. Skipper was a sweet dog and well trained, likely a pure-bred American Eskimo. We found it hard to believe someone would just abandon him, assuming it was someone who moved into a condo that didn’t allow pets. Surely there must have been some way to find the dog a good home.

Skipper didn’t walk, he pranced. My parents had to ride a bike to take him for a walk; I just ran with him. I wanted to keep him, but he went to a family with a couple of younger kids.

Squirrel! Or bird? Maybe food?

Childhood Memory Monday – Technology

While I’ve got a few entries from the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog 52 Weeks of Sharing, Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog has also been doing a similar theme of Personal Genealogy History. So for this week, I’m switching where I get my theme from and writing about Technology.

Our Original Atari 2600

I remember Pong. We had it hooked up to a TV in my bedroom in our first house, which means pre-1983. When it was out for a year or two, my parents finally sprang for an Atari 2600, and I still have that original one we owned and it still works. I also have all the games they bought, which I’ve added to a couple times with eBay.

In elementary school, I was in the Academic Excellence program. I can’t remember anything about that except that in sixth grade, we learned Basic programming on the Atari 800. I have one of those too now, but I got it during college when a professor found some while cleaning out a closet.

I don’t remember exactly when, but we soon had a computer in the house. The IBM PC, or the XT, or maybe both at different times. I remember seeing the amber monitors and wanting one, just to see something different than the green we always had. Over time, the home computer upgraded to a PS2, and just kept going over the years. Eventually, I was given my own computer, a hand-me-down from my Dad’s office; he would take parts from one or two older ones when someone was upgraded, and maybe add in a couple newer components for me. The first laptop I got was around 1993, also an office hand-me-down.

I was a late adopter of CD technology, having such a collection of LPs and cassettes and not wanting to replace them. Eventually I was given a few CDs for Hannukah and took the plunge.

My Dad was the type who liked to have the latest technology for most things. He had a remote control for the TV, or maybe it was just for the VCR, back when the remote had a long wire still attached. He liked to buy the most expensive VCR, that even a rocket scientist reading the instruction manual would have difficulty programming. I always bought one of the cheapest ones, which were much simpler to operate. Dad even had one of those weighs-as-much-as-a-brick cell phones when they first came out.

When I started college, moving into the dorm, instead of a phone, I had a beeper so I could be reached. I was introduced to email, chat, and Internet beginning in 1991 and was programming web sites by 1993. I didn’t pick up a cell phone until I lived in Nashville in 1998. In 1999, I tried a different carrier, and just before my big genealogy trip across the US and Canada, they introduced nationwide calling plans, so I didn’t have to calculate long distance and roaming charges. I switched to broadband via cable modem in 1999, leaving behind the last land line phone I’d ever have (so far), no longer needing the second line for the computer and depending on the cell phone for phone service.

I was a fairly early adopter of the PDA (personal digital assistant) and I still use one today that I bought in 1996 (my third). I have not switched over to a smartphone yet, especially having used all the major cell phone carriers at one time or another and not being thrilled with any of them anymore.

I know there were lots of other technologies that came about during my lifetime, but I didn’t pay attention to most of it. I was never into fads, so I didn’t have “the latest thing” until it wasn’t brand new anymore. By then, it seemed to be around forever. I vaguely remember rotary phones — our phone number started with 949, can you imagine calling home on one of those with that number?

Childhood Memory Monday – Valentine’s Day

I recall a bit about Valentine’s Day in junior and senior high school.

In eighth grade, the V-Day gifts were carnations, delivered during first period. Oddly, one stray delivery showed up for me during second period that year. It was from one of my music teachers, Mr. Davis. I never did ask why. Was he helping to distribute them and some were left over? Or did he have no idea where my first period class was? Guess I should have asked. Whatever the reason, I remember it made my day.

In senior high school, we had candy-grams, apple-grams, sing-a-grams, and anything-a-grams for every holiday of the year. By eleventh grade, I got one of everything that went around. My best friend, Jennifer Janke, and I always sent them to each other. I don’t remember if we had a specific agreement, or an unspoken understanding, but I could always count on receiving at least one of  everything. I still have the pile of those cards; I’m a helpless pack rat.

The card from 1988 (tenth grade) from Jennifer is the more interesting of the two I have. It was drawn by Bernard Chang.

And it had an interesting message on the first half.

Childhood Memory Monday – My Grandparents, Part 2

Week 2 of Sharing Memories is about grandparents. This is the second part, for my maternal grandparents.

Mom’s Parents

Abraham and Ida Rosenthal, October 1977

Bubby and Zaida, as we called them, were Ida nee Halpert and Abraham Rosenthal. The Yiddish terms for grandparents are actually Bubba and Zeide, but I think me or my brother may have mixed them up when we were young, and they stuck that way. They lived in Cape Coral, on the west coast of Florida.

I remember Bubby used to ride in the back seat of the car; I think she said she was more comfortable there. I can remember bits of what was probably the last time I visited them. At least once, I was put on a plane and sent to visit them alone; my brother did that at least once too. On 16 June 1985, they came to visit us and I asked them about their families — it’s written in my diary. It says that they came to visit, but I remember going to their home and asking, so there may have been two different times when I did that.

Banai and Ida Rosenthal, 1981

Bubby gave me a copy of a family tree that my cousin Don Halpert had drawn up years before. She made some corrections and additions, but I’ve done a lot more to it since then.

Zaida had a boat and liked to take us out fishing. I remember the visit when Bubby taught me to play Pinochle (which I’ve completely forgotten) and let me eat as many Oreos as I wanted. I was sick the next day when we were supposed to go fishing, so we went the day after. I remember catching a lady fish, and Zaida cut it up for bait. One of us caught a catfish. A while later, I thought it was finally dead when it stopped thrashing around, but Zaida said it wasn’t and threw it back in the water to prove it to me. I don’t think we brought any fish back for dinner.

Zaida’s Car

In high school, I had a long trip to school; the school had a deal with the county that we use the Metrorail, but we had to be bussed out of the way to get there. So on during phone call, I apparently complained about the long trip, and also the long pubic bus ride back home when I had to go to work after school and always arrived late. Zaida had been in a car accident recently and bought a new car while his old one was being fixed. He offered it to us. He wouldn’t ship the car, insisting we drive over to pick it up. When we arrived, both my brother and I wanted his newer car, while he preferred his older car, but he didn’t want to hassle with the titles, etc. My brother drove the car home and I rode with him. On the drive home, the thermostat froze, overheating the car. On Christmas. On Alligator Alley. It took us a long time to get it home, repeatedly stopping and letting it cool off, while we all climbed into my parents’ car where we kept the engine and the heater running. I ended up sleeping in my parents’ car for the last part of that trip and I completely missed when we finally drove ahead and called for a tow truck to finish the journey. Sadly, I never got to drive that car to school. Ever. It mostly went to my brother, though I got to use it sometimes. My parents bought me a car the last weekend of my senior year, so I got to drive the last three days in that one.

Gifts

Ida knitted two dolls for me with matching, oversized shawls. I never named them (inanimate objects have to be named immediately or the names don’t “stick”), though I sometimes refer to them as Ida and Mary. The one on the left has two faces — on the back, her eyes are closed.

I also have a jewelry box, given to me in 1973, apparently before we adopted their Yiddish titles, since it’s from “Grandma, grandpa”. It was from Windsor, Ontario, which is where my mother and her brothers grew up.

Missed Funerals

Both of my mother’s parents died in 1997, which was the year I finally moved out of Florida. Abraham is buried in St. Petersburg, Florida and Ida is up in Windsor, Ontario with more of her family. I have visited both of them since.

Childhood Memory Monday – My Grandparents, Part 1

Week 2 of Sharing Memories is about grandparents. This again is one of those times where I desperately wish I had more memories from my childhood. I had three grandparents alive while growing up, but now I only remember slight bits and pieces. Maybe writing it out will help bring back more, so here goes. I’ve written almost everything I can remember, so I’ve broken this up into two entries.

Dad’s Parents

Mary and Lou Goldfarb

My paternal grandparents were Grandma and Grandpa Lou, partly because my “real” grandfather died before I was born and Lou Goldfarb was her last husband. Grandma, Mary Miller, was married four times, or so I was told. I have still only found names for three of them. Grandma and Grandpa Lou lived in Miami Beach. She and Sidney Feldstein had moved there before he died. He was a smoker who developed emphysema and was told to move out of NYC. My father was stationed at Homestead Air Force Base, so everyone ended up in the same place. I don’t know if that was planned.

I really don’t remember much about Lou, except that he was there. I can still picture Grandma in my mind and hear how she speaks. I remember her condo in Miami Beach that we used to visit. I think I recall a Passover Seder there at least once. Weekend morning visits always had Entenmann’s donuts. If there wasn’t a box when we arrived, or we didn’t bring one, Dad would go get one. (I miss those; they don’t sell Entenmann’s in Utah. Someone ship me a box of donuts please.)

I remember the layout of Grandma’s condo, with a closet in the dining room where she kept some games. I inherited the Chinese Checkers after she died. I remember her kitchen and how my Dad re-did the ceiling just like he did our house with the drop-down opaque ceiling grid, except that our house had the yellow and orange motif while Grandma had the yellow and green.

Grandma’s Maiden Name

I remember sitting down with Grandma and asking her about her family tree, carefully writing what she told me. I was about 12 years old, so I didn’t know the right questions to ask. Still, I learned a lot which gave me a good start 14 years later when I got serious about researching. I remember her telling me that her name at birth was not Miller, and that she had no idea how to spell it. Slowly sounding it out for me, I wrote “Mullerzevich”. I mispronounced it for a few years, but when I found the name Mularzewicz, I knew I had it. Looking back, now that I know how to say the name, my phonetic spelling wasn’t too bad.

My Only Funeral

Grandma and Grandpa Lou died within about a week or two of each other, Mary first, then Lou. His kids came to her funeral in Miami and my parents went to his in New York (he is buried with his first wife). Years later, they told me how much they appreciated my parents attending in New York.

I remember going to Grandma’s funeral, which started at a funeral home in Miami Beach and ended up at Mount Sinai Cemetery in Miami. I don’t remember the service, but I do remember being handed the shovel. It is part of the Jewish tradition for each person to shovel some of the dirt over the casket once it’s placed into the ground. My Mom then took me for a short walk to visit my grandfather. They hadn’t thought ahead to buy cemetery plots together, so Mary was buried next to her brother, Alex, and “across the street” from her first husband, Sidney Feldstein.

To this day, it’s the only funeral I’ve ever been to.

Grandma’s Gifts

Grandma once gave me a watch (which sadly I lost long ago) and told me there was a story behind it. She had lost the watch in an ice cream parlor when my Dad was ten, but he went there so often, that the person who found it asked if it was hers. The fact that she lost it once makes me even sadder to know that I lost it and never got it back. How did I lose so much jewelry as a child? Grandma gave me some other jewelry over the years, collected from various trips, usually pins. I still have those at least. She also gave me a doll from somewhere in South America, which I no longer have.

Grandma’s Dishes

Another thing I inherited from Grandma after she died was her dishes. They had been stored in the ceiling that my Dad installed, probably put there by him, so he knew they were there. Not only did I get the Mikasa set, but also some other glasses and plates. They were not my style at all, but I quickly grew to love them. I eventually bought another dish set so I wouldn’t use them so much and risk them (I smashed one bowl to bits). For all I know, they were her wedding set. I haven’t tried to find out how old the design is but I want to. There are some of them with a different font on the back, so it appears that some were replaced over the years — I’m not the only one who has broken some of the dishes.

Anyone have any ideas how I can find out more about these? Easily?

Childhood Memory Monday – New Year’s Eve

Olive Tree Genealogy is hosting 52 weeks of Sharing Memories – A Genealogy Journal. I don’t tend to keep up with the regular columns, or I haven’t in the past, but let’s see how I can do with some of them.

Week 1 is about New Year’s Eve traditions. I don’t have any other than making sure to stay up until midnight and watching fireworks on TV. I’m not even set on watching any particular show — though NYC used to be the show of choice. This year, I watched the local fireworks, partly because I follow Jenny on Twitter who works for the company that runs the best fireworks shows in Utah. She tweeted something about a seven minute show going off inside of 90 seconds. It was pretty cool.

So I’m going to write about a specific NYE, partly because it’s the only one I can remember where I didn’t just stay home. I’m sure there were others that I spent with friends at some point, but I can’t remember them right now.

It must have been my first year in college, so 1990. My parents were good friends with Victor and Eileen Nunberg, and I used to babysit their three kids for years. They were old enough by that year to watch each other, but my only option at the time was to hang out with them. And I was miserable. It wasn’t a good few years for me around the end of high school and beginning of college.

I didn’t have a cell phone, so I must have gotten a message on my beeper from my friend, Paul Auerbach. His parents were having a party. He was acting as videographer but he invited his friends to stop by. Many of them did just as they were told, but I stayed the whole night with nowhere better to go. I didn’t know anyone else there, and I’m sure I wasn’t at all social, but Paul would stop to talk to me, or his other visiting friends would too. Somehow I remember that night like it was one of the lowest points of my depression, but that invitation felt like it saved my life; it certainly saved the night.

Paul was always a happy memory for me from the first night I met him at Marcy Babischkin’s house. I first met Marcy in Driver’s Ed class at NMB Sr High. When I went back to find her again after I started college, I learned that her house was at the geographic center of her friends, so they would all gather there and go out together. I joined them many times.

The first night I met Paul, we got along terribly well. I can’t remember all the details, but we ended up sharing the brown chair. Does anyone remember those chairs on the infomercials where they were made to fit a specific person? Marcy’s father had one. Paul and I sat in it together. I think one of us got up for a drink or something and the other had taken their place, but it was not surrendered peacefully. Again, no memory how it happened, but somehow, instead of each of us crossing our legs, we ended up crossing all four together, and then we stacked up our hands on top of that, also alternating.  Anyone else who stopped by that night thought we were old friends, or maybe more, but we had just met and sometimes you just get along with a person from the first moment.

And so that’s my NYE memory, with two back-stories to explain it. A depressing night during a depressing year, saved by a friend. Thanks Paul.

Memory Monday – 9/11/2001

September 11th has just passed. Everyone already wrote on their blogs about that day. It’s my turn.

1985 - 01 - NYCI was living in Nashville, Tennessee, about to head south to visit my cousin Ed in Arlington, Texas. I was between apartments and checking out of a hotel that morning. I didn’t turn on the TV. I checked out and everything seemed normal. I guess the desk clerk didn’t have a clue either.

I Had No Idea

I got into my car to drive across to the other side of Nashville to check my mailbox and the radio DJs were going nuts. It was chaotic how they were talking about planes and bombs, the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. It didn’t make any sense. Apparently the entire country was under attack and things were blowing up everywhere.

Thankfully, at some point during my drive, they deliberately stopped and decided to explain from the beginning what had happened. It was already about 11am or noon, so everything was already over, not that anyone was sure about that at the time. I drove and I listened, shocked.

Pictures Tell a Thousand Words

I don’t think I stopped for my mail but instead drove a bit farther, knowing there was an electronics store not far up the road from the post office. I went inside and walked over to the TV section where a few other people were also standing around and watching. They were playing several videos of the Towers and the Pentagon, showing the people in the streets. I’m not sure they knew what had happened in Pennsylvania yet, or they didn’t know much.

Hearing it on the radio and seeing the video were very different experiences. It’s too difficult to even try to describe it. I just stood there, for possibly an hour, watching in shock.

Stayed with Friends

I wasn’t feeling up to beginning the long drive to Texas, so I called a friend, April, and drove back to her house on the other side of Nashville. She had been sent home from work and we watched as more information unfolded on the TV. Her husband, Chip, is a civil engineer. While they were trying to figure out why the Towers collapsed on TV, he was able to tell us. Eventually, their explanations matched his from earlier in the day.

April was supposed to be in New York that day. She had a work trip planned and was going to stay in the hotel between the Towers, but the trip got cancelled. She was lucky. We had met more than a year earlier while both working at Deloitte & Touche. The D&T office in New York was in Tower 7 and she knew people who worked there. I have a cousin of a cousin who lived in New York and worked for the company but I didn’t know if he worked in that office or somewhere else. We knew they were all fine, as long as they were in their own building. I can’t remember if I tried to contact anyone online that day, avoiding the phones knowing that they were jammed in New York, but I found out soon enough. In the end, I think April told me that one person who worked at D&T was in one of the Towers and didn’t get out.

My Cousin, the Pilot

I spent the night with those friends and headed down to Texas the next day. Ed is a pilot for Delta, so I knew he was all right just because that airline wasn’t involved. He wasn’t even flying that day, thankfully, but was in recurrent training in Atlanta. I offered to pick him up on my way, but he thought that planes would be flying by Friday, when I was due to arrive at his house, and he was right.

Older Memories

Before I left Nashville, I went by my storage unit in search of some photographs; I just wanted to have the memories near. When I was 12, our family went through New York on the way to a long trip through Israel and England. I remember going to the top of the Tower and looking down at the city. I even remember that my father bought me an adult ticket even though I was still young enough for a kid’s ticket, which was odd because he would usually do the opposite. I had a couple pictures of the Towers and I wanted to have them with me. In 1999, I was in New York for genealogy research and looking up relatives, but I didn’t get any new “tourist” pictures. Returning in the first half of 2001, I went out to Ellis Island with my cousin Malky and took a few more pictures of the New York skyline. Both pictures on this blog entry are from the 1985 trip.

Me and Stephen on the ferry, 1985
Me and my brother Stephen on the ferry, 1985

Childhood Memory Monday – Challenger, 1986

I started this blog post on Thursday, January 28th, the anniversary of the space shuttle Challenger’s destruction. This is a time of sad anniversaries for NASA. On January 27th, Apollo 1 exploded during the “plugs out” test, and on February 1st, the Columbia broke up in the atmosphere.

One bit of good news came through Twitter this morning from @NASA, the US has been in space for 52 years since the launch of Explorer 1 in 1958.

I was in eighth grade at Norland Middle School. After lunch, I was walking out of the cafeteria when someone stopped just long enough to tell me that the shuttle blew up. I simply didn’t believe it but proceeded directly to the library; I knew they had a TV there. (These were the days when TVs were scarce in schools.) For maybe 10-20 minutes, I watched with almost no volume, until I had to go to my next class. (I don’t know why they didn’t turn it up so we could hear.) All they showed were two people, over and over again. That certainly didn’t tell me what happened; they just stood there barely doing anything. (Too shocked?) I didn’t even know who the people were. I learned later that they were Christa McAuliffe’s parents.

When I got home, I headed straight for the TV in the living room, which was probably already showing the news. Only then did I finally believe it.

In 1994, during one of my trips to get out of Florida, I went to Washington DC, where I took the picture of the Challenger memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Arlington, Challenger Memorial

I don’t remember Columbia as clearly. I was simply at home watching TV when it came on the news. I was shocked, but somehow the first tragedy is always harder to take. Also, I was a lot younger for Challenger.

With thanks to Mark Tucker, who came up with this blogging theme on Think Genealogy.