Archive for November, 2009


Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Erev Thanksgiving. While preparing for the morning trip to Chicago I retrieved Hal’s message:

“Have you ever had a pumpkin seed?”

The recording continued: “Margie is accusing us of not having childhoods. She says EVERYONE has eaten pumpkin seeds. Call me.”

Dialing back, I confirmed our lives’ gaping hole to my crestfallen brother. Comforting him, turning my eyes to heaven, I took a vow then and there that upon return to Cleveland we would once and for all set the record straight. And so it was that on yesterday’s flight from Midway I took pen to pad, issuing the following declaration:

Dear Margie,

Love you, BUT, enough is enough.

Hal and I had a wondrous childhood fraught with life, learning, and adventure. Growing up Bogart was not always soft and touchy-feely, but the quality of our youth held life lessons we’ve carried into this millennium. And yes, we did it all while living in a house with nary an olive, a pumpkin seed, or, for that matter, a Phillips screw driver.

Not to say we didn’t eat well. Even on the mean streets of South Euclid there were cleaning ladies. Katie made grilled cheese sandwiches by stove, using a steam iron to press bread to the buttered frying pan. And while I preferred creamed cheese/banana /jelly sandwiches, Hal tried peanut butter. (Creamy only—crunchy was considered avant garde).

And another thing: I don’t want to hear any more that we’re not outdoors people. Did you ever hear about the tent in our backyard? It was 1960. The neighborhood kids came over and “camped out.” That’s right—all of them!….There’s even a black ‘n white photo of us with Bulb is holding the unstolen Adam up front. Hal stayed outside all night, (which was 10 pm in those days), but I didn’t—there were too many bugs.

Nor did we need soft, suburban overnight camps to establish our rugged individualism. We toasted marshmallows in our own backyard—OVER THE FIRE. (OK, it was the barbeque grill on wheels, but we used twigs—not metal tongs). And Jimmy Masseria had a match which we could have used but no one wanted to get in trouble.

Yes, Margie, Hal and I grew up the hard way—we earned it.

Rich kids like Lomaz and the Beachwood émigrés discovered through wood burning or erector sets. Bogarts, like most of the Rowland neighborhood, had to learn through their own devices. Consider: Have you ever got a ball out of a sewer? We have. (Let’s save time: Get a wire hanger, unbend it into a line, and then form a small circled cup at the end. Using it like a soup ladle, you then go fishing for the sphere. Time of course, is of the essence, as balls tend to get waterlogged).

We did what we had to in those days, and it made us stronger.

And we lived dangerously—yes we did! I know he doesn’t have that “bad boy” image, but did you know tough guy Hal cracked his head open three times in one year? His stoicism was epic.

First there was the afternoon we washed our Dad’s car. An argument ensued. As I chased H around the ’60 Valiant he slipped on the driveway’s soap suds…and blood gushed. Then, a bit later, with stitches all but off, it happened again. We were at Wiegand’s Lake for a Lodge picnic when I jumped out of a tree inadvertently kicking my brother in the head. More blood.

Did he complain? Not your husband! They called for a doctor in the house, but once re-bandaged, Hal refused to go home. He never lost a step. Just days later we were wrestling on the cement of Morton Cohen’s basement when I pinned H to the floor, smacking him again. More blood…and more silence.

My brother was bionic.

You see, Margie, anyone can be spoon fed a pumpkin seed. Alas, menus do not make the man, nor speak to his childhood. Just the opposite:
The man, through his childhood, creates the menu of his life.

Growing up Bogart we never owned pocket knives, never had cap guns, and never even played chess. Those, my dear, are store-bought phenomena.

Hal and I, products of a broken home, cut our own path. We were, you might say, Lewis and Clark in yarmulkes. But we had fun. Whether it was playing ping-pong on picnic tables, (using a bat as the net), or trekking by foot to school each day… or merely, like the others, climbing a fence to swing on the vine behind Rowland School, (picture Tarzan), we carved a new frontier each day.

We had the BEST CHILDHOOD ever—one we recall fondly. No bar bells or kite-flying, but the BEST!

Do we look down on those that lived on pumpkin seeds…or did archery? No, not exactly. There’s room for everyone. That having been said, we would never, EVER, ask that you to retrieve a ball from the sewer.

See you at Shabbos dinner,


Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Just as I finally accept turning sixty (It IS “the new 59,” you know), there’s one more pill to swallow— Alan Wieder is too. Let me explain.

Home is Cleveland, Ohio. My whole life I’ve managed to move exactly one mile. Further, with rare exception, the friends of youth have followed suit. As such, contact with the guys has been available. Four decades have passed, but here in town, I’ve been spectator to those that remained. We’ve all aged, separately and at times together—but relatively in view. Alan? He set sail in the ‘70s. He’s been gone. So it’s easy, still, to picture him 20.

Or 10. We began, by geography, as Hebrew School buds. Sometime in late elementary school, though, Alan wound up at Rowland. It’s been friends ever since.

Fact is, we’ve hit for the cycle: Rowland, Greenview, Brush, OSU. Later, as life’s journeys separated us, friendship’s bond gestated. Clearly the laughter, tears and, yes, the vulnerability of youth planted seeds of kinship that continue to blossom.

It’s funny what you remember, though:

We were hungry, and stood under the basket in the Greenview gym. There were maybe twenty 8th graders vying for spots on the JV roster. Randomly Mr. Lautenschlager bisected us, lining the bodies on parallel lines bordering each foul lane. We were to match up with the guy across the lane, parallel sprint down court, passing back and forth…and whomever had the ball at the end was to lay it in. Sprint, dribble, pass—nonstop.

I stood next to Alan and noted Bob immediately across, matched to me. Thinking that was good, I motioned to Wieder. He shook his head.
Alan knew better. “You’ll never see the ball,” he nudged me.

And he was right. Bob passed me the ball. I bounce-passed back. Snyder took off like a bat out of hell, drove the length of the court and scored. I never touched the ball again.

Wieder was right.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****
We were confident. Playing a tournament softball game on the fields behind Morrill and Lincoln; it must have been 1970. It was late in the game; we were up big. Alan was on the mound.

A fly ball. A tag. Slide. Play at the plate.

The call, (perhaps a mercy call in this blowout), was “Safe.”

Then, in plain view, the runner from third lay at home writhing in pain.
Signaling time, the ump called for a stretcher; moments later they carried him off.

Back on the mound Wieder had the look. Focused, he stepped back off the rubber, threw to third and announced “The runner left early.”

The ump again called “Safe.” Then, in plainer view for the world to see, Wido slammed his glove on the ground and glared like Nixon at a press conference with Dan Rather.

The game was all but over so the ump didn’t care. But we knew; yes we knew. Wieder was right. For the guy who would ultimately excel in photography, this, to all present….was a Kodak moment.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****
We were winners.

It was 1964. Three Browns sang “Jingle Bells” on the radio. Doing the math (or should I say permutations), stamping his Dad’s Nationwide ID on backs of every possible combination, we won tickets to the NFL title tilt.
Even saw Mia Farrow in the lobby at KYW as we picked up the tickets. (That was in her “Peyton Place” days…long blonde hair—her A game).

We were fearless.

Alan snuck us into the post-game conference in the terminal. I wonder if he remembers seeing the Colts climb in the bus on Public Square. (They’d been 11 point favorites).

We were nuts.

Alan was my first client. One day he saw Chuck Ciraolo walking outside the dorm.

“Hey Lardass!” Alan shouted from the Dracket Tower window.

The R.A. got wind of it and charged Alan with indecency. It went before some OSU administrator, (with me as Wied’s counsel). Citing “Free Speech,” he got probation.

We were battery-mates.

Here’s something else I wonder. Does Alan recall how pissed he’d get when my throws back to the mound made him break rhythm. (Every once in a while there’d be an errant throw between pitches. He’d glare at me like Sgt. Carter at Gomer Pyle; I’d feel like two cents).

But, he always had my back.

…A sunny Sunday morning in 1969. Last regular season doubleheader….

For the true Boys Of Summer this would be just exhibition before an upcoming playoff. But not for me. Apparently Alan had learned from league commissioner Ruby Wolf that I was leading the league in hitting. Problem was, with one week left, I still needed 9 at bats to qualify.

“You’re batting first,” Wieder told me. (Instead of the usual 9th, ahead of Kraut). The manager was taking care of me.

It’s a funny ending. I went 1-9 for the day, but that was good enough. It seemed that Heiser (Robby or Steve-who remembers?), went hitless on another diamond. ‘ Backed into the title.

I owe Alan that trophy, and all my self-confidence that came from it.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Enough rambling. That’s how it gets when you share about a friend you truly love. But I should brag about him.

He was the first of us on TV—when he danced the “Elephant Twist” on the syndicated Mike Douglas show.

He is a multi-published author. He knew Studs Terkel.

He had an early career as a meteorologist. Indeed, when my Dad gave six of us sales leads to cover in Greater Columbus, week in/week out, Alan’s work day was cut short: He always found the one neighborhood where rain prohibited house calls (i.e. work).

I’ve thought long and hard about Wido these past weeks. From his glares on the mound to last year’s chupah on the beach….What I admire most about him, I’ve concluded, is neither the arc on his ball, nor his craft as an author. It is, without a doubt, my friend’s unique balance of confidence and humility…and his sustained ability to, through all these years, never stop being Alan.

Happy Birthday.


Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

OSU played Michigan up north yesterday. At high noon. From the riverfront in Cincinnati to the shores of Lake Erie—in every portal of the state—Ohioans were glued to televisions or radios… Well, all but one. Just past kickoff, you see, my brother took his aunt shopping.

Poor planning? (you ask). Emergency? Hardly! In fact, it was Hal’s idea. He preferred it that way.

My brother just can’t take it any more. There’s been so much pain in cheering, so much stress in watching…it’s just easier for H to process the game once results are in.

Not that my bro has suddenly grown old, or that his fanaticism has wained. Nonsense! Just the opposite! Caring deeply, with manifest passion, he finds it too aggravating and too pulsating to be riveted to a screen for three hours. Win or lose, his heart can’t take it. Health must come first!

As Hal puts it: “I don’t want to see Red Right 88 in real time. I don’t want to watch another Drive in real time.”

Life, he suggests, is too short.

To be sure, my brother is nothing if not logical. Similarly, he is not one to dwell in a problem; he finds solutions.

Years ago, and with the advent of Tivo, the man found a way.

H, you see, has a Masters from UNC. Further, over the years he has remained an ardent Tarheel fan. (He may indeed be the only living Jew that prefers Dean Smith to Mike Krzyzewski). But if you think the rhythm of a football game creates tension…consider basketball.

H has a Better Idea. A simple idea, but a BETTER IDEA. He just tapes the games.

With basketball, he’ll check the half-time score. If things look safe, he’ll watch the game from start to finish…and never break a sweat. With football, he’ll opt, (as he did yesterday), to grab a final score before watching. It makes matters so much simpler and life so much easier.

I’m not quite where my brother is. When Wieder married last fall Walt, Mary and I found the TV set, keeping one eye on the reception and one on the tube. And yesterday I did watch the Bucks. The first half. It was still a contest at intermission, but I fell asleep. Waking for dinner, I learned of an OSU victory—no major surprise.

My brother got the score, I would guess, about the same time as me. And as I headed out for a meeting he was probably tuning in for the first half kickoff and a relaxing few hours.

We both enjoyed the game, and, of course, the outcome. Hal? He protected his health. Me? Sad to say: I got old.


Friday, November 20th, 2009

“Slump? I’m in no slump….I just ain’t hitting—that’s all!”

                                                Yogi Berra

I’m sharing today not because I want to, but because I need to.
Not because things are happening, but…because they are not.

*****     *****    *****     *****     *****     *****      ******

Lost in the mid-90’s, I had no hope of dealing with life’s eddying ups, downs and in-betweens. Not that I cared. Spiritually (among other ways), I was bankrupt.

Mistakes were made. Many. Sure some people had disappointed me, but most of all I had let myself down. And although it took years to figure it out, I had no one to blame but myself.

Wandering with no game plan, drenched with regret, remorse, and most of all fear…my only coping skill was alcohol. So I used it. It was so easy.

That, however, was then; this is now.

Recovery has taught me a way to enjoy the good, push through the bad, and trudge in times like these—when things are just flat.

(I should have known this was coming…this lull).

The Summer Of George ended with Stacy’s wedding. Then, no sooner had the little one tied the knot, but I was thrust into rehearsals and the play. Indeed, “Laughter…” was my career show. Good cast, good crowds, and even good reviews. Why would I ever want to take the stage again? (It just won’t get better)!

The letdown had to come.

Don’t get me wrong: I love life today—even this rut. It’s autumn in Cleveland and business is flat. There’s no hand to hold and…I can hear the silence.

I try to complain but my sponsor demurs: “Keep on keepin’ on,” he urges. Then he chides me to focus on what is, rather than what isn’t. And to be grateful for what I have.

I listen.

Twelve plus years and I still need to hear what I already “know”. (Remember the ’93 NCAA title game, when the U/M forgot it was out of time outs—handing UNC a trophy? ‘Nuff said).

Oh, the Game Plan? They made it simple for me: Trust God, Clean House, Help Others. (Some days I do it better than others). And when I work it, it works.

Fact is that nothing in my life is exactly where I’d want it today, and yet, I’m content. To me that is not a contradiction; it’s peace.

Consider: Discord between children….but they’re healthy. Friends surround me (when I choose not to isolate). Oh, and business….well, “this too will pass.” Heck, there was a time I didn’t have an office to go to.

My Dad would laugh and say I’m “crying with a loaf of bread under each arm.” And he’d be right.

So, today, with a gentle nudge here and there, I continue to see things as half full. Heading to Chicago for Thanksgiving, I’ll return Saturday to chair a 12-Step meeting at night. Great way to end the month.

Things will turn in December. They always do. Leslie has a friend in Columbus. Need to get down there. Bradley Fenton’s getting married in Florida; I’ll be there. And hey! It may even be New York on New Years.

In the meantime I plod along. If it’s true that growth is doing things you don’t want to do and NOT doing things just because you want to, then I’m on the right path. At least today.

Friday. Nothing stares me in the face. No major commitments, fires to put out, or, (for that matter) social events.

So this weekend, again, I’ll hear the silence, and know it truly IS the good news. And I’ll hit some meetings…maybe even hear (again) what I need to hear, and do some work, and just be….


Sunday, November 15th, 2009




He was a man of impeccable integrity…a friend of unquestioned loyalty.

Quite simply, David was one of the most honorable men I’ve known.















































Thursday, November 12th, 2009

With special thanks to Hal for his contributions to this entry

Our mom married three times: Dad (‘48), Sam (’65), and finally Ed. The first two were good, loving men that, unfortunately, died in their fifties. Then there was Number 3.

“Mr. Ed” was unlike his predecessors. Uneducated, (no– slow), he SEEMED nice enough. Indeed, from the time they hooked up he nurtured our mother. So we overlooked what, in retrospect, were glaring red flags.

Like the fact that he lied when they met: about the nature of his residence….about his employment status (should that be unemployment status?) Blatant bullshit. But we let it go.

In today’s world of background checks it might seem naïve. Those, though, were days of trust. He professed care for our mother and said all the right things. ‘Twas enough. We tried not to judge and accepted him “as is.” Clearly Ed was welcomed with open, unquestioning arms.

Even when upon betrothal he revealed the need for a bankruptcy. (We got him one).

Even when the man couldn’t find work. Indeed, Dick Lomaz was kind enough to give him a job. And heck, when the Lomaz Era ended we went to the OTHER side of the family (Mom’s first husband) and Norm Diamond found Ed a home. Family, you know.

Blended as we were, our mother was thrilled. He wasn’t our cup of tea, but he was hers. So be it. OK, we laughed a bit when he’d opine on subjects he couldn’t spell, (let alone understand). And yes, we chuckled as he’d rail on those two employers, neither of whom, Ed insisted, knew how to run a business.

Because he took care of our mother. And she seemed happy. And he DID take care of her. He did….until the day he didn’t.

The morning of the first Seder–1998. Mom was flirting with depression. Mr. Ed’s answer was to tell her the marriage was over, sign her into Windsor Hospital and drive to Baltimore. Just dumped her there! Retrieving our mother, returning to her apartment, we found an empty refrigerator. No food whatsoever. Well, that is a slight exaggeration– there was a loaf of bread. (Guess he forgot to sell the chumetz).

Mom filed for divorce of course, but the prodigal son returned. You see,
our mother could do many things well, but living alone was not one of them. She bought in, and he was back. Game on.

Our mom declined dramatically the last decade. Physically, mentally. She was frustrated at Menorah Park, but tried valiantly to adjust. We assented to the move, but she was never the same. None of us were.

Ed, it seems, wasn’t spending all his time at the home. Some of it was with lawyers. And guess what? The marital house was now titled to his son. Imagine that!

So much for trust. Confronted with his chicanery, The Thief backtracked.
It clearly is a long, long time from May to December. Over that summer Mom’s house went from Ed to his son—back to Ed in June—back to son in June—back to Ed in August…..Clearly someone believed that one good Turner deserves another.

In the midst of all this Hal got a call.

“Come pick your mother’s things up. They’re in the garage.”

And so we went. The Brothers Bogart and Margie. There, in a lonely corner of the garage, damaged and thrown together in damp boxes were seventy plus years of our mother’s earthly goods. Family heirlooms soiled like the fabric of their marriage.

Mom wanted a lawyer again, but we’d seen this movie before. Nonetheless, one visited her at Menorah and they spoke extensively without the encumbrance of sons. We stayed away; it was her thing. And she did file, but ultimately dismissed again. Elaine Hoffman, at the end of the day, wanted to live out her life “married.” G/d bless her.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
She died peacefully this spring—just before Pesach. He’d taken her money and her house, but now G/d had taken her. The last of Ed?

A few years back, while emptying the till, he assured the Brothers Bogart and her brother Bob that the funeral was paid. Accounting for her funds and brandishing his handwritten note, the Thief looked us dead in the eye and confirmed an $8,000 prepayment to Berkowitz.

It was April 6 … about 10 at night …. Our mom had died a half hour earlier. Hal, Margie and I stood at bedside; it was peaceful. Ed walked in and we gave him respect, waiting outside for a minute.

And then it was our turn to say goodbye. We re-entered to Ed’s final parting gift: It seemed, he submitted, that he never really did pay that funeral bill.

He bid adieu, Number 3…. and retreated only to emerge like a February groundhog …at the funeral. (Although invited, he never did find his way to the Shivah). We haven’t seen him since. And that is fine.

This story is about neither love or money. It’s about trust.

Hal asks whether our mom was truly happy. Only she would know. One thing, though, is for certain: He violated her trust and she lived long enough to see it. We all did.

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Summer’s come and gone. And life, of course, goes on. It’s November, and Ed’s birthday approaches. Perhaps I’ll send a card. For the heck of it, maybe even address it to Ed Turner’s Conscience, c/o The House That Cele Built. Betcha it comes back “Addressee Unknown!”


     “For when the One Great Scorer comes To write upon your name,

     He marks-not that you won or lost- But how you played the game.”


                                                  Grantland Rice


Monday, November 9th, 2009

I have three kids—each remarkable, each different, and each remarkably different. Each is loved equally, and yet, each in a special way.

It’s easy to stereotype: there’s the first born, “the baby,” and….of course….The Middle Child.

Middle ones, they say, can be both highly competitive and quite adaptable. These survival instincts permit them to deal well with growing siblings.

Jamie Elizabeth was the textbook “middle child.” Blue-eyed, blonde and bubbly, she excelled academically, gave 110% athletically, and always found a way to assuage the differences between the elder son and younger daughter. (Indeed, but for her political leanings, she would make a great Secretary Of State).

Jamie, though, was more than a middle child—she was the FIRST GIRL born to a (then) narrow-minded father. History will record: I wanted only sons. That having been said, her presence, let alone her brilliance, changed the dynamic of our family from Day One and of my thinking forever.

Eyes closed: it is Wrenford, 1980. Balancing infant daughter on a yellow changing table— disposable diaper and all…the thought first occurs to me: WHY twenty some years from now should she have to change her name? In my mind’s eye—even today– I envision that moment. For the very first time it was occurring to me that the rules were different for women.

How was I to know?

I was one of two boys. My Dad had a sister, but she was out of the house before he could read or write. Our mother? Her clan’s male/female caste system is well-documented. Parents, alas, can only pass on what they know. None of the Bogart famiglia had any concept of women. (Indeed, even my Dad’s mom, Grandma Bogart, had to raise her hand to be recognized). Heck, I’d married my first girlfriend and that interaction too was a challenge.

But Jamie was and is special. Her esprit de corps was such that she made her father’s evolution from a “guys only” mentality a pure no-brainer. The lady came with star quality.

She had the social skills to pen pal a teacher at ten, yet still not lose friends. Heck, academic excellence could not dull her popularity. Indeed, J was getting straight A’s long before Beachwood passed a city ordinance prohibiting anything less than a B. Jamie had cool.

And I never once heard her complain.

(Well, once—but she was twenty by then). Spending her junior year of college abroad she was bothered I wasn’t calling. Upon return to the States my daughter vocalized her hurt. And she was 100% right. I’d been AWOL. We’d always been blessed with a direct line of communication and my daughter chose to use it. I made my amends.

Jamie could always blend independence with vulnerability. In a good way.
Like when she cried with a bruised knee on the Hilltop diamond, but refused to leave the game. Or, (gulp), like the night at Ruth’s Chris as she gingerly put me on notice that she was now a woman.

She’ll turns thirty today—our middle one— living in New York with Eric. Thirty years!

She is, of all things…a Yankee fan. (Well, nobody’s perfect).

It’s standard fare for a man to crave a son. I did. But there’s no one adjective that truly captures the dynamic between father and daughter.
And I have two.

I saw it with my ex and her dad; I marveled watching Archie Bunker and Gloria. And don’t ask me about Steve Martin in “Father Of The Bride!”
But HAVING a daughter is better than watching it on a screen. By far.

I only wish I could Tivo them.

Happy Birthday JJ


Friday, November 6th, 2009

Hal and I will be heading downtown tonight. Again. HOLD THE THOUGHT.

As kids, we lived right by the school. Not a bad way to grow up. Everyone was on foot and we centered the mix. On the right were Gelfand and Davidson; to the left: the Bulb, the Fentons, Morton and Garry Cohen, Fromin. The corner brought, under his car, Norm Codeluppi.

Best of all…across the street…Rowland Elementary, with its backstopped diamond, several multi-purpose fields, and black-top area if need be. (Not to mention all kinds of brick walls to play Swift Pitching against. We’d draw a batter’s box in chalk, grab a twig for the pitcher’s rubber, and go).

It was the morning of my life.

H and I were never at a loss for friends, yet more often than not, we were each other’s companion. Weather permitting it was the schoolyard. Crossing Bayard together, playing ‘til our porch light turned on…

Euphoric recall is that there were always games to be played and kids to play them. Indeed. Eyeballing the school from bedroom windows, we could always see if guys were congregating. One moment we’d be home— the next we’d be batting. Hey, in the days before the wii and cable TV, what was there to do but go outside? And where was there to go but the ball field? Even just a third body meant “Running Bases.”

Rainy days, too, could be filled. Our home for Monopoly; Gelfand had Careers. They were nothing if not time-consuming. Fenton, on the other hand, had an extensive train set. Bogarts didn’t know from such things, and we’d evaporate as Stuart and Ricky stared mesmerized by stupid cars going under two inch bridges. Let’s call it the way it is: I still have my baseball trophies….where are Stuart’s trains?

“Wait for the whistle!” they’d urge, (but we’d already crossed Wrenford).

There was an ease to life. We had school and family commitments, but with all our cares we remained care-free. It was 1959.

And so it was, yesterday, that H and I headed down to Hilarities to see Richard Lewis. Cleveland, Ohio after dark. Mid-week. The boys were back in town.

The crowd was big and the show was great. To my surprise, this 62 year old Jewish OSU alum drew a remarkably non-Jewish mix.

We roared, though.…for a solid hour. And the joy was so pure, the laughter so infectious, that waking this morning…it had to be heard again.

So it will.

We’re taking reinforcements this time. Margie and the Burnsides. And we’ll head back down for more. Same show—same jokes–24 hours later. I can’t wait!

It is 2009. There IS an ease to life. Like most adults, we have commitments to attend to. Still, tonight, from 8-10, my little brother Hal and I will be care-free. And laugh. Together.

We are, after all, in the morning of our lives.


Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

We unveiled our mom’s headstone this week. Rather anti-climactic.
Two sons flanked by three granddaughters, the remaining daughter-in-law and a surviving sibling. That was it. No notice to the Jewish News. No fanfare. Small, simple, sweet…by design.

Huddled in a horseshoe beyond the foot of her grave, braving the autumn chill, we recited prayers, shared memories, and left. Exiting in silence, my
thoughts ran decades deep and I couldn’t help but note the symmetry in her life:

Three husbands: The first stole her dreams and the last stole her wealth.
Entering the world in poverty—exiting on Medicaid… (but along the way, when her game was on, a circle of highs and lows that made her life A life).

And two sons: each with one wife and three children.

And one resiliant heart. Her strong suit.

My mother could never stay mad at me. Ever.  One way or another, ultimately, there’d be laughter or forgiveness, or both.

“Bruce, it’s NOT funny!” she’d admonish. (Alas, the lady doth protest too much).

At 4, back in “the old neighborhood,” I told her I was going outside to play. She turned around to see I’d jumped from the second story window.

At 5 I decided to see where the clothes chute went. Mortified, she summoned the Cleveland Fire Department to rescue her first born—stuck between Hopkins Avenue floors.

“You’re not funny! You scared me!”–each time feigning anger but spewing love.

By the time I was ten she had lengthened the sentence:

“Grow up. It’s not funny ANYMORE!” (Stuart had tipped her off that, having received a failing grade in Science, I had run away from home). Per his instruction she retrieved me at Eastway and Wrenford and deposited me at home to wait for my father.

And it wasn’t funny, she urged, when long into our 20’s Hal and I trampled wet feet into her Thanksgiving home after Boobus Bowl games.

“You’re both married now. Go muddy up your own homes!”

And so we did.

*** *** *** *** *** *** ***
When she had it to give…our Mom did.

Monopoly games on the porch. Hebrew School carpool. Chasing to
Huron Road Hospital for Little League injuries. Riviera Club—begging us
to get out of the pool.

There weren’t many single mothers in the ‘60’s, and for those that were,
there were never any rest periods.

Fact is Elaine Hoffman was proactive in our lives when we needed her most—in our youths. Fact remains that my fondest memories of her are of HER brightest days.

And may she rest in peace.

                         “We had joy, we had fun. We had seasons in the sun.”

                                                                    Terry Jacks