My Favorite Toy

My favorite toy as a child was the little door underneath our kitchen window.  It was about twenty by twenty inches. When you opened the door there were holes that brought in the outside air.  Probably its original purpose was to store perishables, but to me it was my jukebox.

And The Little Dog Barked

The year was 1976. It was a hot and humid August evening.  As I climbed up the subway stairs in Downtown,there was a fine drizzle in the air.  I was on my home from my job in Manhattan.  As soon as I opened the door to my little efficiency apartment, my four cats and little poodle, Babette, came running to greet me. They were always so happy when I came home.

When Cats Meow

It all started when Rufus Hareball lost his job and moved in with us. He had been working for the International Pet Patrol agency and was the best detective in the Feline Search Patrol Unit. Pet owners no longer needed the services of I.P.P.  Micro chips now locate the strays and reunite the lost with the distraught.

Miriam Finds Her Place

Miriam, a tall, graceful, physically beautiful young sixteen-year old girl, was very attractive to her classmates.  She was skillful in accenting her long lashes with mascara which made her light brown eyes startlingly lovely.  She was always meticulously groomed, her skin velvety and flawless, her lips rosy and soft looking.  Her nails were done regularly by her mother’s manicurist.

The Hypotenuse Shortcut

It was a late afternoon in June, and yet another sudden thunderstorm had just ended. The schoolyard in back of P.S. 139 was usually filled with kids, but now I was the only person there. The square-shaped schoolyard is probably about one hundred feet on each side, and the two entrances, one on each street, almost form a diagonal, the hypotenuse, they call it in geometry, that line of a triangle opposite the right angle.

Cowboys, Candy, and The Holiday Season

At last it was the season I’d waited for.  I can remember counting the long hard days as well as the slow summer months that I felt would never end, by magic autumn was here full of color and

The Toilet Wars

Hey landlord, hey super
The harassment that you both provoked in me
The tables have turned and it is my turn now
So get the toilet fixed, not say it’s my fault
The service you are required by law is the issue
Not a fairy tale that you decided against me
Beware of what you say and do that it’s my fault and I should pay
Do not play games that will work against you
Harassment is the issue
Too bad, too late, flush you
This’ll be fun
Housing Court, here I come.

On The Threshold of Life

My dreams as a teenager were abruptly shattered when, in March l939, Czechoslovakia,a small country of 15 million, was occupied by mammoth Germany. To play out “David and Goliath” was out of the question. A month later, Hitler delivered a victory speech from the Prague Castle to a huge welcoming crowd of people shouting “Heil Hitler” and “Sieg Heil”. His admirers were the German-speaking former Czechoslovak citizens who lived in the borderland, referred to as “Sudetenland”, which had been annexed to Germany six months earlier.

My Backyard

Behind the Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens where I live, I enjoy the view from my 10th floor window of the changing seasons.

Ribbons and Bows

A large Hires Root Beer soda dispenser blocked my view of 42nd Street in Manhattan where I worked in the F.W. Woolworth 5¢ and 10¢ store.  I remember the smells from the lunch counter.  I was stationed behind the ribbon counter next to the luncheon section of the store.  I was fifteen and this was my first summer job.  It was at the beginning of World War II and bows were wired to combs and were very popular.  We all wore them in our hair, young girls and older women, to keep up our spirits during those early years of the war.

 

Hairball

I was afraid of them, had no trust in them, didn’t want to stroke them or have them touch me. Most of my life I didn’t like cats. That is, until I met Katze and Neko seventeen years ago. Katze means cat in German and Neko means cat in Japanese. They were American Shorthair felines.  Katze was an all white timid male. Neko was an all black frisky female. Brother and sister had great dispositions: friendly, playful, and lovable. Initially, the cats belonged to someone my daughter Lisa dated. When their relationship ended, Lisa kept the cats.

 

Memories

I reach into the back of my closet to take out a tailored navy bule sllk dress with a matching short jacket that is lined with a surprisingly brilliant yellow-green fabric.  This was my mother's dress-up outfit.  She wore it only on special occasions and looked lovely when she did.  I don't know why I kept it, other than it belonged to her.  I never planned to give it away nor wear it myself.  It was hers and so it would remain, a kind of loving keepsake. 

Spitting Image

"You're the spitting image of your father," I was told, and I loved him, not her.   A chip off the old block, the acorn.  He took me to work with him on Saturdays at the Baker Brush Company, bought sandwiches for the sour smelling bums in Soho, before it was Soho.  He took his daughter to lunch with pride; a big shot to his little shot.  The spitting image of my father, I wanted to be like him, seemingly in charge, decisive, willing to spend money; attractive, a big shot who tipped his hat.

Edifice

I am
empy,
hollow,
no,
hollowed out,
scooped,
not ice cream scoop,
but derrick—
a shovel
with teeth
coming down hard
to make a hole:

I am to be a hole,
an important hole,
to base a footing
for an edifice,
a Grand Edifice,
a Grand Plan
for a construction.

I am to be
crushed with cement,
pierced through
with re-bars.

I am to be an anchor
for the cornerstone,
an anchor in dirt.

The Rent Wars

My rent is exempt from increases
I, as a senior citizen, accept this
The devil who disguises himself as
A landlord does not
Certified mail to landlord
No response from Landlord
Lawyer calls him
No response from Landlord
Letter written to him
No response from Landlord
Is it personal?
I think not
Is it greed?
Absolutely
Housing court here I come.

A Dream

It was a big open space.
Despite the cool day, warm.
The walls raw pine, unfinished,
were a light mellow yellow brown.
There was one window
on the north wall.
The ceiling had a hole
in one corner,
ladder vested in it.
Bushels of apples lined
the back wall, floor to ceiling.
The aroma a reminder of
grandmother's orchard.

The Redwoods

Soaring as rockets trapped in ascent
reaching toward the heavens.
Anchored in earth which by a miracle
holds them tightly to her bosom.
Mighty sentinels majestically stand.

Yet neither threat nor cannon here assemble.
Silence permeates and we are entranced
while standing in the confines of the ancients.

As in a house of prayer the need arises
to softly whisper in this enchanted cathedral.
May you be here eternally, my friends,
to nurture lost souls and humble the eagles.

The Nosegay

Our slender torsos danced under the starry summer sky.
I remember the warmth of your caress, the wine of every kiss.
Pressed between the love letters of long, long ago
are the beautiful rose petals. They still glow.

Trust

Our rock spins, whirring into black

O but we do not fall from our rock

And oceans never spill a drop.

And houses stand still

and children sleep securely,

cuddled by the towns.

And leaves on trees do not even tremble as they might.

While you

and you

stand and walk

or run or ride

across the planet

that is our home.

Memories of Living on the Lower East Side

In January of 1949, my husband Max and I were informed by the New York City  Housing Authority that we had qualified for immediate occupancy of an apartment at 465 East 10th Street, just of Avenue D.  We rejoiced at finally moving into our own home with our three-month-old baby daughter Debby.  Ever since Max's discharge from the army two years before, we had occupied the living room of my parent's Upper West Side apartment (only forty blocks from where I now live) and it had been a very stressful experience.

Pages