Screen Shot 2021-01-15 at 9.28.45 AM.png

SESSION 1 - WINTER 2021

WEEK 1: PROMPT # 1 

What did you read under the covers with a flashlight?  “Good night” I told my parents and then snuck away under the blankets to keep reading.  Remember “murder” mysteries or sporting events on the radios?

Stories Submitted

My First Car - Andrea


My first car was a Chevy Vega, a graduation gift from college. Because the engine was in the back it was rated as the most dangerous car on the road. In ten years it never gave me any problems, but driving lessons did. My dad arranged driving lessons for me at the AAA on Columbus Circle and 59th Street in NYC. When i got in the car for the first time, cars, trucks and busses whizzed by. I said "I can't do this." The instructor said “Honey...I get paid if you drive or not so GO." With each lesson I gained more confidence and from that moment to this I was never afraid to drive anyplace. When I moved to Orangeburg my friends would only drive local quiet streets. I guess the moral in those days was FATHER KNOWS BEST. Incidentally my mom never drove.




My First Car - Claire


Oh my! My first outing alone after getting my driver’s license and the car
seems to have a mind of its own. I had a doctor’s appointment just a few
short blocks from the apartment where I lived with my family that consisted
of my parents and my younger brother. My father had taught me to drive
and I passed the test on the first try. Why did the car seem to be moving on
its own power?
I kept my foot on the brake and made it home in one piece. I stopped in
front of our apartment building and breathed a sigh of relief. While I was
pulling myself together, a neighbor from the building was walking by and
stopped to say hello to me. Of course I took the opportunity to tell her my
problem. She listened attentively and then quietly pointed toward the gas
pedal and said, “Your car mat is on the gas pedal.”




My First Car-Beginning a New Chapter in Life - Joe


Wow! September 1959. A 1959 white Plymouth sedan was ours. A basic mode of
modern transportation was going to help us move along in life.
I met Shelly Kerper, lovely, charming and beautiful in 1955. I was a freshman at
NYU Dental School and she a sophomore at Brooklyn College. We married in 1958.
We lived in a small studio apartment (I never saw a large one) at the Ocean
Parkway exit of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Shelly taught first grade at the
East Meadow Elementary School. Shelly supported us both and luckily we didn’t
eat much. Her generous parents gave us their old (aptly named) Oldsmobile which
had 140,000 miles and a faulty electrical system. I enlisted in the United States Air Force and we drove from Brooklyn to the air force
base in Orlando, Florida. We said good-bye to our Oldsmobile and welcomed our
new Plymouth. So, September 1959 was a true transition for us. A song I wrote, “This is the Air Force, Dr. Katz,” (which Irving Berlin modified) was
playing in my head as I drove to work. A large impressive sign “McCoy Air Force
Base-Strategic Air Command-321 st Bomb Wing” marked the entrance. The new
Plymouth and the young Captain entered. The Plymouth’s front bumper had a large
sticker that read “Captain, 813 Medical Group, McCoy AFB, USAF, SAC”. The old
car had a bumper sticker also, “Original Pete’s Pizza.” The car and driver were saluted by a smartly uniformed sergeant and greeted,
“Good morning, doctor. Have a good day, sir.” I returned his salute, wished him a
good day, and addressed him by rank and name (which I read on his uniform).
What a nice way to start a day and begin my military career, a wonderful two
years. No one ever saluted that car again, but the car did receive recognition by the New
York Police Department for parking violations.





WEEK 1: PROMPT # 2 

There were the things we couldn’t touch.  Old photos of people we didn’t know or couldn’t recognize, like your parents’ parents, your own grandparents, when they were young.  Perhaps there were trinkets, keepsakes, or perfumes.  Close your eyes and remember what you saw.

Stories Submitted

I REMEMBER GOING TO THE DOCTOR-Janet


In Harrisburg where I grew up our family had one doctor. He was a jack-of-all-trades, taking
care of everything and everyone in the household, from babies to the elderly. If my mother
called, he would come to the house any time of day or night, and we often went to his one person
office for scheduled visits. Several visits stick out in my memory.
When I was 12 years old, I woke up one morning and was unable to walk. I had terrible pain in
the backs of my feet. I was lying on the living room couch, moaning, when Dr Viener arrived.
He examined me and asked what kind of shoes I had been wearing. I showed him my new flip
flops, which I had worn most of the previous day. Sure enough, it was a strain from the shoes.
In junior high school I had an assignment to write my autobiography. Having completed the
contents, I wanted to create a hard cover to make it look like a book, so I took the cover from a
children’s picture book and was trying to sew it together when the sewing needle broke and a
part of it lodged in my finger. Off we went to Dr Viener who had to numb my finger in order to
remove it.
School physicals were given every other year until the 8 th grade. They checked our height,
weight, glands, and I don’t recall what else. As the school doctor was examining me, I
overheard what he dictated to the nurse to write in my chart, “Supra pubic mass.” I hurried back
to my classroom and wrote down what I had heard, fearful that I would forget it. When I got
home I told my mother. Immediately she called Dr Viener who said, ‘Bring her right down,” As
he examined me, I remember him telling my mother that if he didn’t know me and my family, he
might suspect pregnancy but in my case it was probably just a full bladder. He was my doctor
until I left Harrisburg in 1958 and he was an honored guest at my wedding three years later.





WEEK 2: PROMPT # 3 

A first car is a milestone.  Maybe you got it to commute to school or to get a new job. Perhaps your dad got a new car and you were allowed to drive his old Junker. What freedoms did a car afford you? What did it feel like the first time you were behind its wheel?

Stories Submitted

I REMEMBER GOING TO THE DOCTOR-Janet


In Harrisburg where I grew up our family had one doctor. He was a jack-of-all-trades, taking
care of everything and everyone in the household, from babies to the elderly. If my mother
called, he would come to the house any time of day or night, and we often went to his one person
office for scheduled visits. Several visits stick out in my memory.
When I was 12 years old, I woke up one morning and was unable to walk. I had terrible pain in
the backs of my feet. I was lying on the living room couch, moaning, when Dr Viener arrived.
He examined me and asked what kind of shoes I had been wearing. I showed him my new flip
flops, which I had worn most of the previous day. Sure enough, it was a strain from the shoes.
In junior high school I had an assignment to write my autobiography. Having completed the
contents, I wanted to create a hard cover to make it look like a book, so I took the cover from a
children’s picture book and was trying to sew it together when the sewing needle broke and a
part of it lodged in my finger. Off we went to Dr Viener who had to numb my finger in order to
remove it.
School physicals were given every other year until the 8 th grade. They checked our height,
weight, glands, and I don’t recall what else. As the school doctor was examining me, I
overheard what he dictated to the nurse to write in my chart, “Supra pubic mass.” I hurried back
to my classroom and wrote down what I had heard, fearful that I would forget it. When I got
home I told my mother. Immediately she called Dr Viener who said, ‘Bring her right down,” As
he examined me, I remember him telling my mother that if he didn’t know me and my family, he
might suspect pregnancy but in my case it was probably just a full bladder. He was my doctor
until I left Harrisburg in 1958 and he was an honored guest at my wedding three years later.





WEEK 2: PROMPT # 4 

There was a particular teacher who you were positive hated you.  Remember how big the 5th graders were when you were a first grader? Your favorite subjects and the ones you liked the least, the girls or boys you loved to tease.

Stories Submitted

My First Car - Andrea


My first car was a Chevy Vega, a graduation gift from college. Because the engine was in the back it was rated as the most dangerous car on the road. In ten years it never gave me any problems, but driving lessons did. My dad arranged driving lessons for me at the AAA on Columbus Circle and 59th Street in NYC. When i got in the car for the first time, cars, trucks and busses whizzed by. I said "I can't do this." The instructor said “Honey...I get paid if you drive or not so GO." With each lesson I gained more confidence and from that moment to this I was never afraid to drive anyplace. When I moved to Orangeburg my friends would only drive local quiet streets. I guess the moral in those days was FATHER KNOWS BEST. Incidentally my mom never drove.




My First Car - Claire


Oh my! My first outing alone after getting my driver’s license and the car
seems to have a mind of its own. I had a doctor’s appointment just a few
short blocks from the apartment where I lived with my family that consisted
of my parents and my younger brother. My father had taught me to drive
and I passed the test on the first try. Why did the car seem to be moving on
its own power?
I kept my foot on the brake and made it home in one piece. I stopped in
front of our apartment building and breathed a sigh of relief. While I was
pulling myself together, a neighbor from the building was walking by and
stopped to say hello to me. Of course I took the opportunity to tell her my
problem. She listened attentively and then quietly pointed toward the gas
pedal and said, “Your car mat is on the gas pedal.”




My First Car-Beginning a New Chapter in Life - Joe


Wow! September 1959. A 1959 white Plymouth sedan was ours. A basic mode of
modern transportation was going to help us move along in life.
I met Shelly Kerper, lovely, charming and beautiful in 1955. I was a freshman at
NYU Dental School and she a sophomore at Brooklyn College. We married in 1958.
We lived in a small studio apartment (I never saw a large one) at the Ocean
Parkway exit of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Shelly taught first grade at the
East Meadow Elementary School. Shelly supported us both and luckily we didn’t
eat much. Her generous parents gave us their old (aptly named) Oldsmobile which
had 140,000 miles and a faulty electrical system. I enlisted in the United States Air Force and we drove from Brooklyn to the air force
base in Orlando, Florida. We said good-bye to our Oldsmobile and welcomed our
new Plymouth. So, September 1959 was a true transition for us. A song I wrote, “This is the Air Force, Dr. Katz,” (which Irving Berlin modified) was
playing in my head as I drove to work. A large impressive sign “McCoy Air Force
Base-Strategic Air Command-321 st Bomb Wing” marked the entrance. The new
Plymouth and the young Captain entered. The Plymouth’s front bumper had a large
sticker that read “Captain, 813 Medical Group, McCoy AFB, USAF, SAC”. The old
car had a bumper sticker also, “Original Pete’s Pizza.” The car and driver were saluted by a smartly uniformed sergeant and greeted,
“Good morning, doctor. Have a good day, sir.” I returned his salute, wished him a
good day, and addressed him by rank and name (which I read on his uniform).
What a nice way to start a day and begin my military career, a wonderful two
years. No one ever saluted that car again, but the car did receive recognition by the New
York Police Department for parking violations.





WEEK 3: PROMPT # 5 

What games did you play growing up?  Were they “indoors” or “outdoors” games? Did you shoot marbles, play kick the can in the middle of the street, draw hopscotch on the sidewalk, jump rope?

Stories Submitted

MY BROTHER AND ME-Andrea


Bobby is four years younger than me. He had bright red hair and so people always noticed him.
Looking back on our relationship I guess we got along like most young brothers and sisters, good
days and bad. Skinny me was always an issue for my mother. She and Bobby would meet me
after school with a banana.
One day, as Bobby and I ran ahead of Mommy he grabbed my banana and ate it. My mother
started screaming at him and said that she would tell daddy and he would be in real trouble.
Bobby started to cry and run away. He was about four years old. I guess mommy thought that he
would be in front of our apartment crying. He was not. She started calling his name and looking
for him. Soon everybody in the apartment house was searching and calling and crying. After a
while the police were called. They yelled louder and said maybe he was lost, got hurt or even
worse. It seemed like forever ‘til he was found by the police, hiding under the stairs leading to
the third floor of our building. My mother was surely relieved but he refused to come home
thinking the police would get him. He slept at a neighbor’s that night..
I remember how scared I was that he was lost and how relieved I was that he was found. It made
me realize how much I cared about him.
From then on I ate my own banana.




My Favorite Thing to do with my Best Friend - Ruth


Doing our homework together in each other’s homes was our all time favorite. Rae and I took the
same subjects and enjoyed our time together. We even wrote a Spanish play based on Arthur
Godfrey’s radio program called “Arturo Godfreyo y Sus Amigos.” Our Spanish class enjoyed it.
Our Latin translations were often difficult, but between the two of us, we managed to get the
work done.
Outside of school, I loved to do hairdos. Rae’s hair was very straight, and Toni Home
Permanents had just come out. So I asked her if she would like me to give her a permanent. She
was up for it. It was messy and “smelly,” but we got through the process. I did it for her a few
times, but the first time was a disaster. It was too curly and very frizzy. She was good about it.
After the first one, I improved, and Rae liked it so much she asked her mother if she would like
one. She had one long braid that went all the way down her back. She was willing to have me cut
off the braid and give her a permanent. She looked so different and really liked it.
If we did not do our homework together, we would talk on the phone for a VERY LONG TIME!
My married sister, who happened to be visiting one day said, “You just got off the bus and now
you’re on the phone??!!!”
Rae and I were more like sisters than friends. We never had an argument and are still friends 74
years later!





WEEK 3: PROMPT # 6 

There are certain smells and tastes that can transport you right back to a specific moment in time.  Perhaps you are sitting in Grandma’s kitchen or perhaps it was your own Mother or a favorite Aunt?  Did you help to cook a holiday meal? Maybe Grandma let you lick the bowl from the chocolate cookies? Did you have a favorite food that only Grandma could make just right?  Feel free to change the prompt to fit your memory.

Stories Submitted

In My Grandma's Kitchen


As a young child my family and I had the good fortune to spend summers with my maternal
grandparents. We shared a bungalow in Rockaway. The days of the week were always easy
to know by the smells coming from the kitchen.
Monday and Thursday was dairy, fish frying, borshcht, schav or maybe blintzes. Tuesday wasmeat, Wednesday was up for grabs, and unmistakably Friday was chicken. Saturday lunch was Friday leftovers and Sunday was appetizing, chinese food or deli. What was always special about Friday was not the chicken soup cooking early in the morning but the sounds and smells of Grandma Annie baking her infamous coffee cake. To this day, I have not found a coffee cake that compares. Believe me I have tried ! When you entered the kitchen it was covered with flour, dish cloths, rolling pin and wooden
boards. All the ingredients were out, and to this day I have no idea how she knew how much
of each she should use. I don’t recall seeing measuring cups or spoons. When I asked how
much of each, the answer was usually, you will know, a little of this a little of that! Watching my grandma roll that dough was an art, and she did it with all the love and patience she could muster up. The final step after making the dough was covering it with a dish cloth and waiting for it to rise. How weird that was. I learned not all cakes were created the same. Her coffee cake had this magical ingredient YEAST that caused it to swell. Again, I never knew how she knew when it raised enough, and was ready for the next step. If there was any dough left over after putting the cake into her special pan, it was then made
into individual coffee cakes resembling a cinnamon danish. I knew that one of those little
cakes always had my name on it, and I couldn’t wait for it to be baked. Grandma Annie’s coffee cake had a cinnamon crumb topping that was the finishing touch, it is still making me drool as I am sitting here writing this. The recipe is gone but gratefully the smell and memory lives on. As an aside, all my cousins
are envious that I had this unique relationship with my grandma. Thank you grandma for your
coffee cake and for this memory.




In My Nana's Kitchen - Rabbi Paula


In my Nana’s kitchen, everything was always safe and easy and more than delicious. I know that I will never again taste the seasoning and spice of her cooking. Strange that I can conjure the smell of her knishes in the oven, feel the texture of her knishes in my mouth, and taste that flaky crust and the meat filling. I’ll never taste it again. First of all, no one cooks with chicken fat and fried onions in quite the same Old-World way or rolls out dough made from scratch with lots of Crisco. And of course, there’s the small issue of my vegetarianism. If Nana could reach through the seams between me and her in the World-to-Come and hand me a knish, I would most definitely let go of my morals for that taste! Her kitchen was more than the food that came from it: her chicken soup, chopped liver,
blintzes, hamburger patties, brisket and tzimmes, her brownies, jelly rolls and blondies. It was an attitude and a way of valuing time together. Nana’s attitude was pure generosity and
kindness. She was famous for mailing baked goods to people who had been kind to her like an airline stewardess or the clerk at the local store. She was given to whimsy, baking cakes for birthdays with psychedelic frosting colors. I mean, she must have figured out that if she used less food coloring, the butter cream would be more of a normal color. But once she started making those cakes, I think she loved the fact that the cakes looked so wild! In Nana’s kitchen, we made coffee and I was allowed to drink coffee with her from a very young age. My coffee was mostly milk, but still it was in a mug and I felt very grown up. My favorite thing was to take the saccharine from its little round pillbox with tiny tweezers and drop two into Nana’s coffee for her where the sweetener would rise to the top and break apart like tiny white fireworks!




IN MY MOTHER’S KITCHEN - Janet


My paternal grandmother was a decent cook and the memories I have from visits to her house are mohn cookies and tagleach in a jar covered in honey. I was never with her when she made these delicacies. I was five years old when my maternal grandmother (Bubbe) passed away so I have no recollections of her cooking but my mother inherited her culinary skills (she had many, even making her own wine) and these recipes were passed down to me. I still make a lot of the old world traditional foods, such as Pitcha, Kreplach, stuffed heltzel, and, of course, the best chicken soup in the world according to my grandkids! That brings me to a vivid memory I have from my childhood, the Shabbos chicken. Let me tell you about this weekly ritual. Every Thursday morning a farm truck pulled up in front of our house. My Mother went outside to talk to the driver. After awhile, she would return with a package wrapped in brown paper. The man was Gensler, the Shochet (ritual slaughterer) and on his truck were cages with live chickens inside. I don’t ever remember accompanying my Mother out to the truck, so I never actually witnessed the slaughter. But when she opened the brown package at the kitchen sink on a special long tray, the skin
of the bird was still warm. I stood beside my Mother and watched as she carefully plucked stray feathers and cut the chicken open. She detached the neck, carefully removing the windpipe and certain veins, and laid it aside. She meticulously cut off the skin surrounding the neck, to be used later for making heltzl. Gribinyes would be made from the fat globules and excess skin. If she was lucky, she found a few egg yolks of various sizes, which would be boiled in the chicken soup and fought over by my sister and me. Sometimes an egg yolk had a blood streak through it and had to be discarded. Next she removed the liver. Even the feet were detached and scrupulously cleaned of outer skin, to be boiled in the soup. Then, the promise of good
fortune—when Mother eagerly opened the pupik, sifting through the grit and fine stones, hoping she might find something valuable like a diamond the chicken may have swallowed, only to be followed by resolute disappointment—not this time. When the viscera were all removed, it was time for the next step. The chicken along with all its useable parts was placed in a special pot in our basement sink, soaked, and then transferred to a slotted wooden board where it was sprinkled on all sides with Kosher salt. After an hour, the chicken was rinsed, transferred to a bowl and refrigerated overnight. Friday morning the chicken ritual continued. Mother poured a teakettle full of boiling water into a large white porcelain pot containing the chicken and all its parts. Immediately the skin shriveled and all the tiny hairs and feathers stood upright. The gas stove burner was turned on and the chicken singed, giving off a distinctive odor that smelled like, well, burning feathers! She scraped the skin to remove the resistant hairs. She pulled the outer skin from the feet, turning it inside out as it came off. Finally, a day and a half later, the chicken was ready to become our Shabbos chicken soup. The liver still had to be broiled, the neck skin stuffed and sewn into heltzl, and the fat rendered with onions for schmaltz. I remember thinking how much time, effort and labor went into cooking chicken soup, and, more
importantly, wondered if I would be required to put forth the same effort when I grew up and became a Mother. But mostly, I admired my Mother for performing the same chicken ritual every single week without a complaint.




MY AUNT ROSE’S KITCHEN - Lydia


My Aunt Rose’s kitchen was, to me, the epitome of what a Jewish kitchen should be like. It was full of love, and wonderful odors. It was from Aunt Rose that I learned a lot of my cooking skills. Aunt Rose made the best brisket and always said it was a “Shanda” if you didn’t rub in the seasoning with your hands. And, her potato knishes- unbeatable. And hers were always stuffed with meat. It wasn’t until years later that I learned it was “miltz”. Yuk. Aunt Rose had a mini farm in her back yard so the vegetables were always incredible. Seders at Aunt Rose’s were the most enjoyable. The children, (that was us) sat on the daybed at the end of the table that was opened as far as it could go. We all pitched in when it came to set the table and prepare, especially to make the charoses which was the most fun. We absolutely never helped with the cleanup because we were all asleep by then, on that famous daybed. Aunt Rose had a huge pantry that you could walk into. What a treasure trove. And the window sills were always filled with home baked cake, pies, rolls cookies- you name it. The kitchen was old fashioned with a big free standing stove and refrigerator. It’s wonderful to have all the modern gadgets we have today but I sure miss Aunt Rose’s kitchen.





WEEK 4: PROMPT # 7 

In some families, birthdays are national holidays.  In others they pass without fanfare.  Was there a special tradition or a favorite cake? Or maybe a special birthday party? Did you have to share with your siblings, or did you get to be the star on your birthday?

Stories Submitted

My First Car - Andrea


My first car was a Chevy Vega, a graduation gift from college. Because the engine was in the back it was rated as the most dangerous car on the road. In ten years it never gave me any problems, but driving lessons did. My dad arranged driving lessons for me at the AAA on Columbus Circle and 59th Street in NYC. When i got in the car for the first time, cars, trucks and busses whizzed by. I said "I can't do this." The instructor said “Honey...I get paid if you drive or not so GO." With each lesson I gained more confidence and from that moment to this I was never afraid to drive anyplace. When I moved to Orangeburg my friends would only drive local quiet streets. I guess the moral in those days was FATHER KNOWS BEST. Incidentally my mom never drove.




My First Car - Claire


Oh my! My first outing alone after getting my driver’s license and the car
seems to have a mind of its own. I had a doctor’s appointment just a few
short blocks from the apartment where I lived with my family that consisted
of my parents and my younger brother. My father had taught me to drive
and I passed the test on the first try. Why did the car seem to be moving on
its own power?
I kept my foot on the brake and made it home in one piece. I stopped in
front of our apartment building and breathed a sigh of relief. While I was
pulling myself together, a neighbor from the building was walking by and
stopped to say hello to me. Of course I took the opportunity to tell her my
problem. She listened attentively and then quietly pointed toward the gas
pedal and said, “Your car mat is on the gas pedal.”




My First Car-Beginning a New Chapter in Life - Joe


Wow! September 1959. A 1959 white Plymouth sedan was ours. A basic mode of
modern transportation was going to help us move along in life.
I met Shelly Kerper, lovely, charming and beautiful in 1955. I was a freshman at
NYU Dental School and she a sophomore at Brooklyn College. We married in 1958.
We lived in a small studio apartment (I never saw a large one) at the Ocean
Parkway exit of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Shelly taught first grade at the
East Meadow Elementary School. Shelly supported us both and luckily we didn’t
eat much. Her generous parents gave us their old (aptly named) Oldsmobile which
had 140,000 miles and a faulty electrical system. I enlisted in the United States Air Force and we drove from Brooklyn to the air force
base in Orlando, Florida. We said good-bye to our Oldsmobile and welcomed our
new Plymouth. So, September 1959 was a true transition for us. A song I wrote, “This is the Air Force, Dr. Katz,” (which Irving Berlin modified) was
playing in my head as I drove to work. A large impressive sign “McCoy Air Force
Base-Strategic Air Command-321 st Bomb Wing” marked the entrance. The new
Plymouth and the young Captain entered. The Plymouth’s front bumper had a large
sticker that read “Captain, 813 Medical Group, McCoy AFB, USAF, SAC”. The old
car had a bumper sticker also, “Original Pete’s Pizza.” The car and driver were saluted by a smartly uniformed sergeant and greeted,
“Good morning, doctor. Have a good day, sir.” I returned his salute, wished him a
good day, and addressed him by rank and name (which I read on his uniform).
What a nice way to start a day and begin my military career, a wonderful two
years. No one ever saluted that car again, but the car did receive recognition by the New
York Police Department for parking violations.





WEEK 4: PROMPT # 8

In some families, birthdays are national holidays.  In others they pass without fanfare.  Was there a special tradition or a favorite cake? Or maybe a special birthday party? Did you have to share with your siblings, or did you get to be the star on your birthday?

Stories Submitted

MY BROTHER AND ME-Andrea


Bobby is four years younger than me. He had bright red hair and so people always noticed him.
Looking back on our relationship I guess we got along like most young brothers and sisters, good
days and bad. Skinny me was always an issue for my mother. She and Bobby would meet me
after school with a banana.
One day, as Bobby and I ran ahead of Mommy he grabbed my banana and ate it. My mother
started screaming at him and said that she would tell daddy and he would be in real trouble.
Bobby started to cry and run away. He was about four years old. I guess mommy thought that he
would be in front of our apartment crying. He was not. She started calling his name and looking
for him. Soon everybody in the apartment house was searching and calling and crying. After a
while the police were called. They yelled louder and said maybe he was lost, got hurt or even
worse. It seemed like forever ‘til he was found by the police, hiding under the stairs leading to
the third floor of our building. My mother was surely relieved but he refused to come home
thinking the police would get him. He slept at a neighbor’s that night..
I remember how scared I was that he was lost and how relieved I was that he was found. It made
me realize how much I cared about him.
From then on I ate my own banana.




My Favorite Thing to do with my Best Friend - Ruth


Doing our homework together in each other’s homes was our all time favorite. Rae and I took the
same subjects and enjoyed our time together. We even wrote a Spanish play based on Arthur
Godfrey’s radio program called “Arturo Godfreyo y Sus Amigos.” Our Spanish class enjoyed it.
Our Latin translations were often difficult, but between the two of us, we managed to get the
work done.
Outside of school, I loved to do hairdos. Rae’s hair was very straight, and Toni Home
Permanents had just come out. So I asked her if she would like me to give her a permanent. She
was up for it. It was messy and “smelly,” but we got through the process. I did it for her a few
times, but the first time was a disaster. It was too curly and very frizzy. She was good about it.
After the first one, I improved, and Rae liked it so much she asked her mother if she would like
one. She had one long braid that went all the way down her back. She was willing to have me cut
off the braid and give her a permanent. She looked so different and really liked it.
If we did not do our homework together, we would talk on the phone for a VERY LONG TIME!
My married sister, who happened to be visiting one day said, “You just got off the bus and now
you’re on the phone??!!!”
Rae and I were more like sisters than friends. We never had an argument and are still friends 74
years later!





WEEK 5: PROMPT # 9 

Of course, grandma only has eyes for grandpa, and vice versa.  But what about the first time you noticed that the opposite sex might offer more than cooties? Did you have class together? Were you neighbors? Where did you first see them? What were they wearing? What did you like about them?

Stories Submitted

In My Grandma's Kitchen


As a young child my family and I had the good fortune to spend summers with my maternal
grandparents. We shared a bungalow in Rockaway. The days of the week were always easy
to know by the smells coming from the kitchen.
Monday and Thursday was dairy, fish frying, borshcht, schav or maybe blintzes. Tuesday wasmeat, Wednesday was up for grabs, and unmistakably Friday was chicken. Saturday lunch was Friday leftovers and Sunday was appetizing, chinese food or deli. What was always special about Friday was not the chicken soup cooking early in the morning but the sounds and smells of Grandma Annie baking her infamous coffee cake. To this day, I have not found a coffee cake that compares. Believe me I have tried ! When you entered the kitchen it was covered with flour, dish cloths, rolling pin and wooden
boards. All the ingredients were out, and to this day I have no idea how she knew how much
of each she should use. I don’t recall seeing measuring cups or spoons. When I asked how
much of each, the answer was usually, you will know, a little of this a little of that! Watching my grandma roll that dough was an art, and she did it with all the love and patience she could muster up. The final step after making the dough was covering it with a dish cloth and waiting for it to rise. How weird that was. I learned not all cakes were created the same. Her coffee cake had this magical ingredient YEAST that caused it to swell. Again, I never knew how she knew when it raised enough, and was ready for the next step. If there was any dough left over after putting the cake into her special pan, it was then made
into individual coffee cakes resembling a cinnamon danish. I knew that one of those little
cakes always had my name on it, and I couldn’t wait for it to be baked. Grandma Annie’s coffee cake had a cinnamon crumb topping that was the finishing touch, it is still making me drool as I am sitting here writing this. The recipe is gone but gratefully the smell and memory lives on. As an aside, all my cousins
are envious that I had this unique relationship with my grandma. Thank you grandma for your
coffee cake and for this memory.




In My Nana's Kitchen - Rabbi Paula


In my Nana’s kitchen, everything was always safe and easy and more than delicious. I know that I will never again taste the seasoning and spice of her cooking. Strange that I can conjure the smell of her knishes in the oven, feel the texture of her knishes in my mouth, and taste that flaky crust and the meat filling. I’ll never taste it again. First of all, no one cooks with chicken fat and fried onions in quite the same Old-World way or rolls out dough made from scratch with lots of Crisco. And of course, there’s the small issue of my vegetarianism. If Nana could reach through the seams between me and her in the World-to-Come and hand me a knish, I would most definitely let go of my morals for that taste! Her kitchen was more than the food that came from it: her chicken soup, chopped liver,
blintzes, hamburger patties, brisket and tzimmes, her brownies, jelly rolls and blondies. It was an attitude and a way of valuing time together. Nana’s attitude was pure generosity and
kindness. She was famous for mailing baked goods to people who had been kind to her like an airline stewardess or the clerk at the local store. She was given to whimsy, baking cakes for birthdays with psychedelic frosting colors. I mean, she must have figured out that if she used less food coloring, the butter cream would be more of a normal color. But once she started making those cakes, I think she loved the fact that the cakes looked so wild! In Nana’s kitchen, we made coffee and I was allowed to drink coffee with her from a very young age. My coffee was mostly milk, but still it was in a mug and I felt very grown up. My favorite thing was to take the saccharine from its little round pillbox with tiny tweezers and drop two into Nana’s coffee for her where the sweetener would rise to the top and break apart like tiny white fireworks!




IN MY MOTHER’S KITCHEN - Janet


My paternal grandmother was a decent cook and the memories I have from visits to her house are mohn cookies and tagleach in a jar covered in honey. I was never with her when she made these delicacies. I was five years old when my maternal grandmother (Bubbe) passed away so I have no recollections of her cooking but my mother inherited her culinary skills (she had many, even making her own wine) and these recipes were passed down to me. I still make a lot of the old world traditional foods, such as Pitcha, Kreplach, stuffed heltzel, and, of course, the best chicken soup in the world according to my grandkids! That brings me to a vivid memory I have from my childhood, the Shabbos chicken. Let me tell you about this weekly ritual. Every Thursday morning a farm truck pulled up in front of our house. My Mother went outside to talk to the driver. After awhile, she would return with a package wrapped in brown paper. The man was Gensler, the Shochet (ritual slaughterer) and on his truck were cages with live chickens inside. I don’t ever remember accompanying my Mother out to the truck, so I never actually witnessed the slaughter. But when she opened the brown package at the kitchen sink on a special long tray, the skin
of the bird was still warm. I stood beside my Mother and watched as she carefully plucked stray feathers and cut the chicken open. She detached the neck, carefully removing the windpipe and certain veins, and laid it aside. She meticulously cut off the skin surrounding the neck, to be used later for making heltzl. Gribinyes would be made from the fat globules and excess skin. If she was lucky, she found a few egg yolks of various sizes, which would be boiled in the chicken soup and fought over by my sister and me. Sometimes an egg yolk had a blood streak through it and had to be discarded. Next she removed the liver. Even the feet were detached and scrupulously cleaned of outer skin, to be boiled in the soup. Then, the promise of good
fortune—when Mother eagerly opened the pupik, sifting through the grit and fine stones, hoping she might find something valuable like a diamond the chicken may have swallowed, only to be followed by resolute disappointment—not this time. When the viscera were all removed, it was time for the next step. The chicken along with all its useable parts was placed in a special pot in our basement sink, soaked, and then transferred to a slotted wooden board where it was sprinkled on all sides with Kosher salt. After an hour, the chicken was rinsed, transferred to a bowl and refrigerated overnight. Friday morning the chicken ritual continued. Mother poured a teakettle full of boiling water into a large white porcelain pot containing the chicken and all its parts. Immediately the skin shriveled and all the tiny hairs and feathers stood upright. The gas stove burner was turned on and the chicken singed, giving off a distinctive odor that smelled like, well, burning feathers! She scraped the skin to remove the resistant hairs. She pulled the outer skin from the feet, turning it inside out as it came off. Finally, a day and a half later, the chicken was ready to become our Shabbos chicken soup. The liver still had to be broiled, the neck skin stuffed and sewn into heltzl, and the fat rendered with onions for schmaltz. I remember thinking how much time, effort and labor went into cooking chicken soup, and, more
importantly, wondered if I would be required to put forth the same effort when I grew up and became a Mother. But mostly, I admired my Mother for performing the same chicken ritual every single week without a complaint.




MY AUNT ROSE’S KITCHEN - Lydia


My Aunt Rose’s kitchen was, to me, the epitome of what a Jewish kitchen should be like. It was full of love, and wonderful odors. It was from Aunt Rose that I learned a lot of my cooking skills. Aunt Rose made the best brisket and always said it was a “Shanda” if you didn’t rub in the seasoning with your hands. And, her potato knishes- unbeatable. And hers were always stuffed with meat. It wasn’t until years later that I learned it was “miltz”. Yuk. Aunt Rose had a mini farm in her back yard so the vegetables were always incredible. Seders at Aunt Rose’s were the most enjoyable. The children, (that was us) sat on the daybed at the end of the table that was opened as far as it could go. We all pitched in when it came to set the table and prepare, especially to make the charoses which was the most fun. We absolutely never helped with the cleanup because we were all asleep by then, on that famous daybed. Aunt Rose had a huge pantry that you could walk into. What a treasure trove. And the window sills were always filled with home baked cake, pies, rolls cookies- you name it. The kitchen was old fashioned with a big free standing stove and refrigerator. It’s wonderful to have all the modern gadgets we have today but I sure miss Aunt Rose’s kitchen.





WEEK 5: PROMPT # 10 

When I picked up my high school yearbook, I was transported back to 1958, holding the book under my arm as I wandered the halls of William Penn High School in Harrisburg, PA looking for friends to sign it.  What was high school like for you? Do you recognize the people in your yearbook? Do you recognize yourself? What do the things people wrote remind you of?

Stories Submitted

My First Car - Andrea


My first car was a Chevy Vega, a graduation gift from college. Because the engine was in the back it was rated as the most dangerous car on the road. In ten years it never gave me any problems, but driving lessons did. My dad arranged driving lessons for me at the AAA on Columbus Circle and 59th Street in NYC. When i got in the car for the first time, cars, trucks and busses whizzed by. I said "I can't do this." The instructor said “Honey...I get paid if you drive or not so GO." With each lesson I gained more confidence and from that moment to this I was never afraid to drive anyplace. When I moved to Orangeburg my friends would only drive local quiet streets. I guess the moral in those days was FATHER KNOWS BEST. Incidentally my mom never drove.




My First Car - Claire


Oh my! My first outing alone after getting my driver’s license and the car
seems to have a mind of its own. I had a doctor’s appointment just a few
short blocks from the apartment where I lived with my family that consisted
of my parents and my younger brother. My father had taught me to drive
and I passed the test on the first try. Why did the car seem to be moving on
its own power?
I kept my foot on the brake and made it home in one piece. I stopped in
front of our apartment building and breathed a sigh of relief. While I was
pulling myself together, a neighbor from the building was walking by and
stopped to say hello to me. Of course I took the opportunity to tell her my
problem. She listened attentively and then quietly pointed toward the gas
pedal and said, “Your car mat is on the gas pedal.”




My First Car-Beginning a New Chapter in Life - Joe


Wow! September 1959. A 1959 white Plymouth sedan was ours. A basic mode of
modern transportation was going to help us move along in life.
I met Shelly Kerper, lovely, charming and beautiful in 1955. I was a freshman at
NYU Dental School and she a sophomore at Brooklyn College. We married in 1958.
We lived in a small studio apartment (I never saw a large one) at the Ocean
Parkway exit of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Shelly taught first grade at the
East Meadow Elementary School. Shelly supported us both and luckily we didn’t
eat much. Her generous parents gave us their old (aptly named) Oldsmobile which
had 140,000 miles and a faulty electrical system. I enlisted in the United States Air Force and we drove from Brooklyn to the air force
base in Orlando, Florida. We said good-bye to our Oldsmobile and welcomed our
new Plymouth. So, September 1959 was a true transition for us. A song I wrote, “This is the Air Force, Dr. Katz,” (which Irving Berlin modified) was
playing in my head as I drove to work. A large impressive sign “McCoy Air Force
Base-Strategic Air Command-321 st Bomb Wing” marked the entrance. The new
Plymouth and the young Captain entered. The Plymouth’s front bumper had a large
sticker that read “Captain, 813 Medical Group, McCoy AFB, USAF, SAC”. The old
car had a bumper sticker also, “Original Pete’s Pizza.” The car and driver were saluted by a smartly uniformed sergeant and greeted,
“Good morning, doctor. Have a good day, sir.” I returned his salute, wished him a
good day, and addressed him by rank and name (which I read on his uniform).
What a nice way to start a day and begin my military career, a wonderful two
years. No one ever saluted that car again, but the car did receive recognition by the New
York Police Department for parking violations.





WEEK 6: PROMPT # 11 

Some say a sibling is a friend for life.  What about you? Were you co-conspirators or sworn enemies?  What about the time you covered for each other or a secret you shared?  You can choose at what age, which sibling, just one or all of them. Feel free to replace sibling with cousin or another family member or a best friend.

Stories Submitted

MY BROTHER AND ME-Andrea


Bobby is four years younger than me. He had bright red hair and so people always noticed him.
Looking back on our relationship I guess we got along like most young brothers and sisters, good
days and bad. Skinny me was always an issue for my mother. She and Bobby would meet me
after school with a banana.
One day, as Bobby and I ran ahead of Mommy he grabbed my banana and ate it. My mother
started screaming at him and said that she would tell daddy and he would be in real trouble.
Bobby started to cry and run away. He was about four years old. I guess mommy thought that he
would be in front of our apartment crying. He was not. She started calling his name and looking
for him. Soon everybody in the apartment house was searching and calling and crying. After a
while the police were called. They yelled louder and said maybe he was lost, got hurt or even
worse. It seemed like forever ‘til he was found by the police, hiding under the stairs leading to
the third floor of our building. My mother was surely relieved but he refused to come home
thinking the police would get him. He slept at a neighbor’s that night..
I remember how scared I was that he was lost and how relieved I was that he was found. It made
me realize how much I cared about him.
From then on I ate my own banana.




My Favorite Thing to do with my Best Friend - Ruth


Doing our homework together in each other’s homes was our all time favorite. Rae and I took the
same subjects and enjoyed our time together. We even wrote a Spanish play based on Arthur
Godfrey’s radio program called “Arturo Godfreyo y Sus Amigos.” Our Spanish class enjoyed it.
Our Latin translations were often difficult, but between the two of us, we managed to get the
work done.
Outside of school, I loved to do hairdos. Rae’s hair was very straight, and Toni Home
Permanents had just come out. So I asked her if she would like me to give her a permanent. She
was up for it. It was messy and “smelly,” but we got through the process. I did it for her a few
times, but the first time was a disaster. It was too curly and very frizzy. She was good about it.
After the first one, I improved, and Rae liked it so much she asked her mother if she would like
one. She had one long braid that went all the way down her back. She was willing to have me cut
off the braid and give her a permanent. She looked so different and really liked it.
If we did not do our homework together, we would talk on the phone for a VERY LONG TIME!
My married sister, who happened to be visiting one day said, “You just got off the bus and now
you’re on the phone??!!!”
Rae and I were more like sisters than friends. We never had an argument and are still friends 74
years later!





WEEK 6: PROMPT # 12

What was your family doctor like?  Was he kind and friendly or were you scared when you had to see him?  Did he give out lollipops if you were good?  And oh, those shots!

Stories Submitted

I REMEMBER GOING TO THE DOCTOR-Janet


In Harrisburg where I grew up our family had one doctor. He was a jack-of-all-trades, taking
care of everything and everyone in the household, from babies to the elderly. If my mother
called, he would come to the house any time of day or night, and we often went to his one person
office for scheduled visits. Several visits stick out in my memory.
When I was 12 years old, I woke up one morning and was unable to walk. I had terrible pain in
the backs of my feet. I was lying on the living room couch, moaning, when Dr Viener arrived.
He examined me and asked what kind of shoes I had been wearing. I showed him my new flip
flops, which I had worn most of the previous day. Sure enough, it was a strain from the shoes.
In junior high school I had an assignment to write my autobiography. Having completed the
contents, I wanted to create a hard cover to make it look like a book, so I took the cover from a
children’s picture book and was trying to sew it together when the sewing needle broke and a
part of it lodged in my finger. Off we went to Dr Viener who had to numb my finger in order to
remove it.
School physicals were given every other year until the 8 th grade. They checked our height,
weight, glands, and I don’t recall what else. As the school doctor was examining me, I
overheard what he dictated to the nurse to write in my chart, “Supra pubic mass.” I hurried back
to my classroom and wrote down what I had heard, fearful that I would forget it. When I got
home I told my mother. Immediately she called Dr Viener who said, ‘Bring her right down,” As
he examined me, I remember him telling my mother that if he didn’t know me and my family, he
might suspect pregnancy but in my case it was probably just a full bladder. He was my doctor
until I left Harrisburg in 1958 and he was an honored guest at my wedding three years later.