In my blog of a few weeks ago, I wrote of the dangers of technology taking over our lives. I admit that in a way, I am no one to talk, since I have spent a good part of the last two years staring into my computer screen typing like a madwoman -- first for my blog and then writing my book (using only one finger on each hand since I never learned to type, but I have gotten pretty fast with my hunt and peck system). Sometimes Irwin would say to me “When your nightgown becomes your day gown, it‘s time to get out of the house” just to remind me that it was time to take a break. My main theme in that blog was the explicit loss of privacy and the human connection, not the wonders of our current technology, which is so very crucial to the Love and Quiches momentum.
There is currently a spectacular exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum in New York called The Steins Collect, displaying the astonishing amount of art amassed by Gertrude Stein and her brothers during their years in Europe. They were close friends of Picasso, Matisse, and others who were just starting out, and the Steins bought up everything they could get their hands on for literally pennies. A lot of the exhibit’s accompanying explanations were primarily focused on the Stein family and their glittering circle of compatriots. One thing that resonated with me was Gertrude Stein’s quote, “Somebody told me to write a book, so I wrote one”. Simple as that. I am not comparing myself to Ms. Stein, but that is what happened to me. I was ordered to tell my story, so I did.
What I have enjoyed so much about it has been looking back and trying to tell it all as correctly and honestly as I could, no sugar coating. But that was for the Love and Quiches story.
What I also did was look back much further, way back, and I have remembered so much that has nothing to do with my story, but has brought quite a few smiles to my face and my heart.
When I was a kid in the Rockaways (part of Queens in New York City, but a world away because it was a beach community right on the ocean, just across the Marine Parkway Bridge to Brooklyn) there were two nightclubs that used to have top shows, booking the likes of Harry Belafonte and Frank Sinatra. One was called Ben Maksik’s and the other The Elegante. I have two remarkable stories about these nightclubs. Ben Maksik’s had booked Judy Garland for a two-week stint and rented my Aunt Molly’s house for Ms. Garland’s family. I assume Liza Minnelli, still a young child, was part of that entourage. Those of you who have been following my blog will remember that I spent every moment I could watching my Aunt Molly cook and bake, almost as much as I watched Evelina in my own house. Sadly it took less than one week for Ms. Garland to break her contract, and total my Aunt’s house. The nightclub agreed to pay for all the repairs and damage. I never forgot this story though I haven’t thought of it in decades.
I also remember so clearly that these and many other nightclubs in the city all used to serve Chinese food exclusively. Not too sure why, or why I even remember this quite mundane fact.
Many of my friends had their Sweet Sixteen parties in these two nightclubs. The best of all was my friend Cynthia’s at The Elegante, where the show was by a then-unknown group, the Supremes, with Diana Ross singing her heart out. They took the house down, and the rest is history.
Being a kid in the Rockaways was a good place to be. We were a large group of children from all walks of life but we saw no differences between us. We grew up in gangs, not cliques. We swam in the ocean until almost November, when our mothers would start screaming.
The world was much safer then. When we were only nine or ten years old, a group of us would take the bus far into Brooklyn by ourselves on Saturdays to ice skate in a place called The Ice Palace. Now parents rarely let their children out of their sight.
Once in high school we would all congregate on Friday nights in Far Rockaway, where there were two movie theaters, the RKO Strand and the Columbia. Far Rockaway was a good half hour bus ride from where we lived, and on the way home the bus driver would wait at every stop until each of us had run down the block and into our houses. We were safe, but he did it anyway; a different world.
Best of all have been all my conversations with Irwin, where he started looking back, as well, telling me so many stories that I have never heard before, not even once( and we have been married for a very long time)—another good thing that has come out of my blog and my book.
One of his stories leads me to believe that our lives intersected before we even met. I’ll be telling it in my next posting.
Until next time...make someone happy —serve them dessert!