September 11, Twenty Years Later

I am sorry that I am a day late with my weekly post. We are still dealing with the consequences of our flooded basement. On Labor Day, I discovered that my paper files were all wet. Three file drawers got soaked. One had much of my research for my current project. This has been a traumatic event.

Because today is September 11, I do realize that many things have happened in the past twenty years that are far worse and much more devastating than my flooded basement. In memory of all the lives lost on that terrible day, I am reposting something from September 11, 2009.

September 11 – Eight Years Later

Today is the eighth anniversary of the terrible events of September 11 2001. This is a particularly poignant day because we are in New York. Eight years ago, I had been in New York the day before, September 10, and woke up, at home, on the morning of the 11th to hear my husband’s voice on the answering machine, ” I don’t know if you have heard what happened in New York but my parents are okay.” As everyone knows, September 11 2001 was a picture perfect New York fall day and the 10th was as well. I felt very steeped in my New York roots because I had spent the evening of the 9th reading about the  pending city elections while I waited for my friend who I was visiting to come home.

Today, September 11, 2009, is not a beautiful day. The weather is  very bad, with high winds and heavy downpours. Because of these bad conditions, we have been unable to attend any commemorative event. Many of them were outdoors.

Despite that, since 2001, I have felt that this day should not be like every other day.  Apparently President  Obama and Congress agree with me. In March the federal government designated September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.  I really hope that this takes root and becomes how  people commemorate September 11th in future years.

My thoughts are with all the people who suffered a loss on that fateful day and it is my sincerest wish that nothing like that will ever happen to any person or country again.

Citibank

As part of the responsibilities I have had taking care of my aunt following her accident, I have been trying to exercise the power of attorney so I can use her funds to pay her bills.

She banks at Citibank. When we were still in Florida, I took the documentation to her local branch and tried to activate the power of attorney. The person I spoke to acted like he had never seen a POA before and told me he would have to send it to legal; it could take up to 48 hours to receive an answer.

This was Monday afternoon. I informed the bank clerk that I was leaving Florida early Thursday morning. I requested that they try to rush the proceedings so I could get this completed before I left. Late Wednesday, the person from the Florida branch called and said legal had okayed the POA. He then informed me that I had to tell him the name of the nearest Citibank to where I live. It turns that is Bridgeport Ct. which is two hours away.

Once I returned home there were several back-and-forth calls to Citibank. Eventually I spoke to a manager who said she would be sending me checks. I asked if there was anything else I had to do. She advised me to go to a Citibank branch and fill out paperwork, essentially a signature card, so I could be added to the account.

I had to be in New York on Wednesday May 19 for something else so I picked a branch near Grand Central Station and asked if I could go there. She said she would email the manager of that branch all the information.

I arrived at the branch, spoke to someone who asked repeatedly if I had the original document, took my identifying information, and then disappeared. An hour later, I looked for her and she was in the manager’s office. He informed me that they couldn’t do anything without the original document. I told him Citibank’s legal department had already approved the POA and that my aunt’s lawyer had the original.

I got the lawyer on the phone, but the bank manager refused to talk to him, saying “I won’t talk to someone I dont’ know”. I angrily took back my papers and left in a huff.

The next day the lawyer sent a demand letter to the branch in Boca Raton and gave them 10 days to respond. Today, in the mail, I got the checks. The lawyer tells me this means we are all set; there is nothing else to do.

From the beginning of this saga, Citibank has been completely unhelpful, and very incompetent, wasting a lot of my time.  I am going to advise my aunt to change banks. Citibank is too large and  has terrible customer service.

Happy Passover

Passover is one of my favorite holidays. When I was a child, my maternal grandparents owned a delicatessen, Al’s Delicatessen, in Long Beach, Long Island.  The store, which is what we called the delicatessen, was open from the end of Passover to Labor Day. Long Beach is an ocean town with a lot of seasonal visitors. In the off season, my grandparents worked in hotels in Miami Beach.

Before they opened the store for the season, they had a big seder for friends and family. The room would be filled with tables where all my relatives sat talking loudly. All of the kids were at one table, me, Fred, Sara, Marla, Linda, Stevie, Marsha and Stanley. I think Lowell was a baby.

My grandfather conducted the seder in Hebrew, speaking really quickly. The place was filled with people and always noisy. There was often singing, not from my family, but my Great Aunt Fay, her children and grandchildren could all carry a tune. I didn’t have any idea what my grandfather was saying but I was always able to figure out when we were done because we got to eat.

The food was delicious. My grandmother was a great cook, especially when it came to Jewish food. She couldn’t make a hamburger but her matzah balls and brisket were fantastic. I can still see her wearing a beige apron wrapped around her waist with her kind face smiling.

At the seder, the grandchildren always got special treatment. Somehow, one of us always found the afikomen (hidden piece of matzah). If we didn’t, we still got a treat. That was the kind of person my grandfather was.

Perhaps these wonderful memories are why I like Passover. I also like that it is family based and takes place in the home. The  holiday message of freedom and liberation is meaningful and timeless. My grandmother died when I was ten and a few years later, my grandfather sold the store. After that  my mother organized family seders which of course had fewer people.

My father, who didn’t speak Hebrew, kept my grandfather’s pace, but in English.  The seders were still loud and lively but there was no singing. My mother tried her best to replicate my grandmother’s tasty dishes. That kind of cooking did not come naturally to her so I give her a lot of credit for trying.

Once I had my own family, I made seders. I have tried to prepare my grandmother’s dishes , filtered through with both my mother’s and my adaptations. From 2005 to 2009, my first cousin’s daughter, Nina, went to Hampshire College so we saw a lot of her. She attended our seders and has continued to do so even after she graduated.

Our seders are loud and lively. We even sing, very off tune, but we do it. My favorite song to sing is not really a Passover song. It is Rise and Shine, about Noah’s ark. We sing it because I know all the words and I think it is funny.

Last year, we had a virtual seder on Zoom. I am grateful that this year we can celebrate Passover in person because we have been vaccinated. Almost of all of the people who made my childhood seders so special are gone. My brother is also deceased. I am glad for those memories and the memories I have made for my family.

 

 

Schaefer Beer

Pabst, which does not brew any beer but owns the rights to many iconic brands from the 1950’s and 60’s, is bringing back Schaefer Beer. Schaefer is associated with Brooklyn, but it is not being brewed there. F.X. Matt in Utica, N.Y. is producing the beer. You can read more about it here.

This is an excerpt from Brewing Battles, about Rudy Schaefer and Schaefer beer during World War II.

Rudy Schaefer, the owner of Schaefer Brewing, had become president of the USBA in 1941. Schaefer Brewing had begun in 1842 and was one of the country’s first lager brewers. Frederick and Maximilian Schaefer emigrated from Russia and eventually operated a brewery near Grand Central Station. Rudolph, Maximilian’s son, took over the brewery in 1912 and moved it to Brooklyn in 1915. During Prohibition, Rudolph Schaefer died, and his two sons, Frederick and Rudolph, Jr. took over. In 1927 Rudy, a Princeton graduate, gained sole control of the brewery. Having survived Prohibition, the company expanded with additional plants in Baltimore and Albany. In 1938 the brewery produced one million barrels and was consistently one of the nation’s top ten breweries. Rudy Schaefer was a long time participant in the USBA.[1]

At the beginning of 1942, Schaefer, in his capacity as president of the USBA, offered his assessment of the state of the brewing industry and its planned participation in the war effort. The good news was that “public acceptance of beer as an essential food” had increased. Tax increases were a less positive development. Schaefer maintained that the industry could not withstand any additional taxes, and that an increase would have a diminishing effect on federal revenue. After all, the industry paid over four hundred million dollars in state and federal taxes in 1941, making beer brewing the fourth most heavily taxed industry in the country. Despite this strong participation in the country’s economy, Schaefer wanted the industry to make a specific contribution to the war effort, and pledged sales of defense bonds to all of the over 60,000 employees in the industry. On a personal level, Schaefer became vice-chairman of the carbonated and fermented beverage committee of the Red Cross War Fund of Greater New York.[2]

[1] Jos. Dubin, “The War’s Effect,” Modern Brewery Age, December 1941, 8-9.; Downard, Dictionary of the History of the American Brewing and Distilling Industries (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press., 1980), 166; F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company, To commemorate our 100th year : the F. & M. Schaefer brewing co. : America’s oldest lager beer (Brooklyn, N.Y. : The Company, 1942); Will Anderson, The Breweries of Brooklyn: An Informal History of a Great Industry in a Great City (New York,: Anderson, 1976), 6, 7.

[2] Modern Brewery Age, January 1942, 18, 82, 85; “Beer is Accorded Wider Acceptance as a Food, Says President of Brewers,” New York Times, January 2, 1942, 39.

© Amy Mittelman October 7, 2020.

Here is Louis Armstrong singing the Schaefer Jingle, from MjayzToonz:

Stoudt’s Brewery Closing

There are not that many women in the brewing industry. Carol Stoudt was one of the pioneers, opening Stoudt’s in the 1980’s. This week she has announced that she is retiring and the brewery is closing. You can read more about this here and here. You can also hear an interview with her here.

In 2009, while spending a month in Manhattan, I went to a panel discussion on women in brewing. Carol Stoudt was one of the speakers. I wrote two post about the evening. You can read the  first here.  I am reposting the second one, from September 17, 2009, below.

Women in the Beer Industry: Part Two

The panel discussion on Tuesday was very engaging and went past two hours. Each of the speakers provided details about how they got into the industry. Carol Stoudt was an educator but got interested in beer through her husband who loved good beer. They travelled to Germany. On their return, Carol wondered why they could not have the same quality of beer at their restaurant in Adamstown, PA. She does not feel that being a woman hindered her career in brewing and credits two men, Karl Strauss and Greg Noonan, with helping her.

Carol, along with the other panelists, felt that it was mainly a myth that women do not like beer as much as men and that they liked to drink “fruity” beers more often. She blamed much of this perception on marketing and media. Carol also believes that women brewing beer has long historical roots and that there are now many places in the world where women are returning to this practice. In particular, she mentioned Ethiopia.

Jennifer Schwertman, the bartender, felt it was a matter of educating women about beer and having better bartenders to help with this process. She believes it is a partnership between brewers and the community palate. Jen loves the community around craft brewing as much as she loves the beer.

Sarah Beach is from Belgium and has worked for Duvel Moorgat/Ommegang for four years. She is in sales and said when she goes into a retail establishment for the first time they often asked her if she is old enough to drink beer. I thought it was interesting that she was included on the panel since Ommegang is a craft brewery that a larger company owns.

Susan Greene, from Global Brewers Guild, is involved in sales and marketing and has worked for the company for over six years. Prior to her working in the beer industry, she was involved with restaurants. Susan feels that although New York has numerous excellent restaurants, the establishments often have poor beer lists.  In this area, she feels other cities are better.

A common theme among many of the panelists was that the craft beer scene is more vibrant in other parts of the country, particularly the Pacific Northwest. All are committed to making craft beers a thriving presence in New York City.

Debbie Boening stated that her family company had been involved, along with the Van Munching’s in importing and distributing Heineken in America. When Heineken took back distribution, it left a big gap in  Boening’s portfolio. It was at this point that she started looking at craft beers. In the early 1980s, Jin Koch (Boston Beer) had to make several repeat visits before she would agree to sell Sam Adams.

One of her sales reps was in the audience and told of going to various stores and bars saying, “I have Stoudt’s for you.” The other person would reply, “We have Guinness.” Sales Rep:  “It’s Carol Stoudt.” “You want me to buy a woman’s beer?” However, the distinctiveness of a woman making Stoudt’s did provide entry. Debbie said that, despite having many excellent craft beers in her portfolio, Colt 45 was still her top seller.

None of the panelists really felt that being a woman in the beer industry had made their path more difficult. All felt that the craft beer industry is very welcoming and supportive. The audience was overwhelmingly female so there may be a completely new group of women anxious to enter the industry.

September 11, 18 years later

This is a post from ten years ago. That fall we were spending a month in New York City. This fall I am at home. In the past ten years, a lot has happened to both me and the country.

What is very surprising to me is that we are still involved in both Afghanistan and Iraq. We also have a president who has no clue how to run foreign policy. I fervently hope Trump will be a one-term President and then we can try to undo all the harm he has done.

My sympathy goes out to all who suffered a loss on that terrible day. May all of their memories be for a blessing.

September 11, 8 Years Later

Today is the eighth anniversary of the terrible events of September 11 2001. This is a particularly poignant day because we are in New York. Eight years ago, I had been in New York the day before, September 10, and woke up, at home. on the morning of the 11th to hear my husband’s voice on the answering machine, ” I don’t know if you have heard what happened in New York but my parents are okay.” As everyone knows, September 11 2001 was a picture perfect New York fall day and the 10th was as well. I felt very steeped in my New York roots because I had spent the evening of the 9th reading about the  pending city elections while I waited for my friend who I was visiting to come home.

Today, September 11, 2009, is not a beautiful day. The weather is  very bad, with high winds and heavy downpours. Because of these bad conditions, we have been unable to attend any commemorative event. Many of them were outdoors.

Despite that, since 2001, I have felt that this day should not be like every other day.  Apparently President  Obama and Congress agree with me. In March the federal government designated September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.  I really hope that this takes root and becomes how  people commemorate September 11th in future years.

My thoughts are with all the people who suffered a loss on that fateful day and it is my sincerest wish that nothing like that will ever happen to any person or country again.

World’s Fair

One of my goals for 2017 was to work more regularly on my book on faculty wives. Recently I have been able to do that and I have run across an interesting subject. Various World’s Fairs have come up in my research because the fairs have often been contested spaces.

The chapter I am working focuses on African-American wives and their clubs. Beginning with the Chicago Exposition of 1893 and going on until at least the NY Fair of 1939, African-Americans sought a seat at the table. Women, both black and white, also sought representatives.

The fair that is most interesting to me is the St. Louis Louisiana Exposition of 1904. Josephine Yates, President of the National Association of Colored Women, (NACW) negotiated with the Fair managers to have a World’s Fair Day for the organization. Other African-American groups also arranged for days.

Hallie Q. Brown, a member of NACW sought employment at the Fair and was refused. This prompted Margaret Murray Washington to urge the NACW convention to boycott the planned event. This became the official position of NACW, however many convention attendees did visit the fair. Interestingly, Booker T. Washington disagreed with his wife, feeling that cries of racism were over stated.

Over 10,000 people picketed the offices of the NY World’s Fair in 1939 demanding employment for black people. The women had more success, happily attending  a National Association of Colored Women Day at the Fair.

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Book Review: Just Kids

Just Kids by Patti Smith is a memoir about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, the photographer.  They lived together in New York City from 1967 – 1972. Their real experiences occurred during the same time frame as the fictional characters of Marge Piercy’s, Small Changes. 

The artistic and musical worlds of New York City were very different from the political and counter-cultural worlds of Cambridge Massachusetts. Although Patti Smith had different encounters with a variety of men she does not write about her experiences from a feminist perspective. Despite the fact that it was very unusual for a woman to front a rock band in the 1970s she does not write about those experiences through a feminist lens. 

Her goal, when leaving her small town in rural Jersey, was to become an artist. While living on the streets, she met Robert Mapplethorpe and they began to purse artistic careers together. While they worked on various artistic projects, they met many people who were already famous and some who became, as they did, famous later. To some extent they were in the right place at the right time. 

In many ways Andy Warhol was the epicenter of the avant garde art world and Robert, especially, sought to enter his orbit.  They went repeatedly to Max’s, a night club, where they did not directly encounter Warhol but met many other artists and musicians. 

Both Patti and Robert were twenty-one when they met and their years together represent the searching and developing of their artistic bent. Robert eventually focused on photography, particularly erotic pictures of men. Patti was more eclectic but became most known for her music. Many people consider her the ‘godmother” of punk rock. 

On one level, Just Kids is a love story. Although Patti and Robert were not always intimate and Robert realized his homosexuality during the time they lived to together, on an emotional level they were deeply connected. 

I enjoyed reading the book and realized I had never really heard her music. I got the album Horses and listened to it. The first time I did not like it at all but the second time around I found some interesting things.  It is clear that, as she says in the book, she was trying to merge poetry and rock.

 

 

 

Jacob Ruppert Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Today, Jacob Ruppert, legendary owner of the New York Yankees and a prominent New York brewer, was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame by the Pre-Integration Era Committee. This committee considers players, owners, and umpires “whose contributions to the game were most significant from baseball origins through 1946.” For more on this click here.

I am an avid Yankee fan and I wrote about Jacob Ruppert and his role in the brewing industry in my book Brewing Battles. In honor of his election to the baseball Hall of fame I am posting an entry I did on September 22, 2008 before I had a word press blog.  (I have reformatted it to work better in the current blog). You can also read a post I did about George Steinbrenner and Jacob Rupert here,

September 22, 2008

Yesterday I gave a book talk at a really nice beer bar and restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Justin, the owner of Beer Table, used to be an importer and he has a very nice selection of regional and imported beers.

Driving home we listened to the closing ceremonies for Yankee Stadium. On April 18, 1923 Yankee Stadium opened. Jacob Ruppert, a brewer, owned the Yankees and had the stadium built. The Yankees won that first game and Babe Ruth hit a home run.

Jacob Ruppert gave many things to Yankee fans, baseball fans, and beer lovers. He played a major role in creating an iconic sports dynasty. In 1923 the country was in the fourth year of Prohibition. Jacob Ruppert and a few other brewers kept the brewing industry afloat while it was illegal. I am a devoted Yankee fan and it gave me great pleasure to be able to write about Jacob Ruppert, Babe Ruth, and beer in Brewing Battles. Jacob Ruppert was a leader in both baseball and brewing.

Jacob Ruppert Time 1932

 

 

 

Occupy Sandy

On Monday I was in New York City and I volunteered with Occupy Sandy. Because I am a nurse I was sent to Far Rockaway to help in a clinic that was being started at St. Gertrude’s Church. I had responded to a tweet and was told to show up at St. Jacobi’s in Sunset Park. I was then driven with two street medics, from Boston, to Far Rockaway.

Because there was not electricity in many parts of the island, there were a lot of cops directing traffic. Many roads were not passable; either because they had become dirt or because various crews were working on them. Part of the time we drove along the beach. There is no longer any boardwalk; instead there are huge piles of wood and sticks as well as equally huge piles of dirt and sand.

Along streets there were cars facing every direction, often covered with mud. I saw one car with its front end facing completing down and stuck.  As we drove along, on empty lots and parking lots there were ad hoc clothing and food drives. This was neighbors helping neighbors.

Although there were a lot of cops, I did not see any FEMA presence. I saw one Red Cross worker walking in the street. St. Gertrude’s was affected by Sandy. Parts of the building in which the relief effort is taking place were flooded and there were people working on restoring the damage. On Monday the building had not yet had full power restored.

The clinic had been started the day before and it was not really set up. Four nurses from NYU Hospital spent several hours sorting through the medical supplies that had been donated and  organized and set up a basic clinic. Volunteers at St. Gertrude’s have been going out and canvassing the neighborhood to see what inhabitants need, particularly concerning medical issues.

At about three o’clock I went with two street medics to check up on several residents in a high-rise apartment building.  We started to climb the stairs and at almost every landing someone had placed a chair. We saw a couple of elderly women siting and gathering their breath We climbed seventeen lights of stairs but the person on that floor did not answer. On the sixteenth floor a Russian speaking women said she was fine and did not need any help. On the fifteenth floor a man who appeared somewhat confused needed some psych meds refilled. I was able to get his Prozac but because Xanax is a controlled substance I couldn’t really do anything. After that we climbed back down. While we were in the lobby the repairman finally got elevators to work. Oh well it was good exercise.

The relief effort at St. Gertrude’s is part of Occupy Sandy which is a part of Occupy Wall Street. The experience I had volunteering on Monday to me reveals both good and bad aspects of the occupy movement. The relief effort at both St. Jacobi and St. Gertrude’s was very disorganized. I had received two emails from two different people. Neither was at St. Jacobi when I got there.

The street medic who took me to Far Rockaway was a volunteer from Boston. The person at St. Jacobi supposedly placing medical personnel did not really know anything about St. Gertrude’s and the clinic. I got a ride out there but was on my own to find a ride back.  This was something that was not made clear to me before I left St. Jacobi.

I think it is terrific that Occupy Wall Street has organized to try to provide relief to people who have been devastated by Sandy.  I do think the effort could use some more consistency and organization.  Both FEMA and Occupy Sandy have gotten good press. The situation on the ground is more nuanced.