Sundays

Today’s post is an edited version of another piece of free writing I did in one of Nerissa’s groups. The prompt was probably something to do with Sundays.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about Sundays is ice skating. I have always ice skated. Some of my earliest memories are of my father taking us skating. We went to Yonkers every Sunday and skated, my father, Fred, Sara, and me. I don’t really know how my father who grew up in poverty in the Bronx learned how to skate but somehow he knew.

Carol Heiss won an Olympic figure skating gold medal in 1960. I had a Heiss brand pair of  skates and a book about her that I read all the time.  My dreams were of Olympic figure skating but I never took lessons.

When we moved from the East Bronx and the Eastchester housing projects to 3900 Bailey Avenue in the West Bronx, right there on Broadway next to Stella Doro’s, was an ice-skating rink. My friends and I would go every week. I remember watching a stately older couple skating together every time I went.

After Louis, my older son, was born, I wanted him to learn to skate. When he was three or so I started teaching him. When I got pregnant with Alan, I realize it wasn’t safe to continue doing that. Instead I enrolled him in the Skating Club of Amherst which is the club I now skate with.

When Alan got old enough, he learned to play hockey. During those years we went to public skating a lot. Aaron watched on the sidelines. When the children got older, our skating times declined.

About ten years ago, I joined the Skating Club of Amherst (SCA) and stared skating on Sundays. I picked Sunday at 5 for my session because it seemed the most practical and least disruptive to our schedule. Perhaps subconsciously I associated Sundays with skating because of my father.

Now I skate two to three times a week. Although the Olympics are not in my future, I do know how to do some things that I only dreamed of when I was a little girl.  My sincere  regret is that my father can’t see how I skate.

Cold

As many of my readers probably know, I attend writing groups that Nerissa Nields runs. She always starts her groups with a writing prompt. The prompt can be a poem, or an excerpt from prose writing. In October she read from  This is One Way to Dance by Sejal Shah. The book is a memoir told through essays. I haven’t read it, but I would like to.

Nerissa’s prompt dealt with Shah’s feelings about the cold. To escape the cold, she goes so far as breaking into an unlocked car to find something warmer to wear. I am posting the free writing I did in response to the prompt from Shah’s book.

Cold

I hate being cold. In the summer when we use air conditioning, I often sleep in a winter nightgown and use a heavy blanket.

In the fall of 2009, we spent a month in NYC. It was a busman’s holiday since we were both doing research. Despite that, we also got to enjoy the city. Fall weather in New York can be very unpredictable. One day – 75 degrees, the next below 60.

I got dressed one morning to go to the 42nd library for a day of research. The previous day it had been warm and sunny. Dressing for the last battle, I put on capris and a short sleeve shirt. I didn’t even bring a sweater, something I usually do. I was already cold before we even got to the library. The building was freezing. I was so uncomfortable I couldn’t concentrate and couldn’t get warmer. Eventually we left.

Being physically uncomfortable and not being able to settle in your own skin is extremely unpleasant. Acute or chronic pain as well extreme temperatures can produce those unpleasant feelings. I have experienced all these things at various times in my life due to accidents, illness and not dressing properly for the actual temperature. All these experiences show me how deeply connected the mind and body are.

 

 

NaNoWriMo Day 26

Today began with an unfortunate occurrence. While eating French toast and bacon for brunch, my temporary crown fell out. This was distressing, to say the least, and it took me a while to get it back in.

Since I still see a dentist in New York, (long story – don’t ask), I was glad I could get the crown back in because I didn’t want to travel to New York this week. I still have NaNoWriMo for a few more days, my writing groups, skating and ten people coming to my house, a week from today.

If I sound stressed, it is because I am. I plan on only eating soft food for the next few days. I definitely don’t want it  fall out again.

I ran some errands to try to clear my head and wound up writing 436 words today. Since Halloween, I have written at least 20,000 words or 80 pages.

 

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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