Sunday, May 28, 2006
ANOTHER NOTCH ON THE BELT
Eli and kid brother Gerry, 1933.
Today, May 28, my Daddy - Eli, his ownself - carves the 81st notch on his Annual Trip Around The Sun belt.
Growing up in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn during the Depression, he lived in an apartment on Bay 26th Street at the corner of Cropsey Avenue. I remember that apartment, for my grandparents continued to live there until the early 1960’s, when my grandfather’s health rendered living in a fourth-floor walkup no longer feasible. I can still picture the living room with its gauzy white curtains. I recall the bedroom where I would occasionally spend the night, with the window that looked out onto the fire escape and a view of the Sinclair station at the corner of Cropsey and Bath Avenues. And I remember the smell of the place, of decades upon decades of fragrant Eastern European cooking that had permeated the very molecules of the walls.
That was, for many years, my Daddy’s home.
Newlywed Eli, 1950.
He’s seen and done a lot, the Old Man has. He was graduated from high school at the grand old age of sixteen; attended both Brooklyn College and Columbia Teacher’s College; was stationed in Kunming, China and in India during the tail end of World War II; got married in 1950 and raised two sons; widowed in 1988; remarried in 1991.
At age 52, he was half of a doubles racquetball team that was ranked #2 in the United States. [He still plays...and wallops people half his age.]
Eli in 1990.
Kid brother Gerry passed away in 2000, a heartbreak. At the time, Dad poignantly observed that he had known his brother longer than he had known anybody else in his life. But earlier that year, he himself had dodged a bullet. One day in January, while in the middle of a racquetball game, his heart just stopped. The fact that his playing partners included both a retired police chief and a retired fire chief is probably what saved him; they were able to keep him alive long enough for the EMT’s to come and slap the jumper cables on him. Later that week, his multiple bypass surgery beat David Letterman’s by one day.
Since that January day in 2000, he has treated every new day as a gift.
He retired at age 79 and would probably have been perfectly happy to work another ten years...but has learned to enjoy retired life.
He has traveled the world.
He can tell a joke better than anybody else I know.
Eli in 2006 - with Sammy.
He is my Daddy, and I love him. Happy birthday, Dear Old Dad!