Archive for June, 2015


Sunday, June 28th, 2015

The best things in life truly are free. Consider:

June 4th it was… Looking to cheer up my kid in Chicago, and with Carrie holding the cell, I was singings Fun.’s “Carry On”. (You know the song: “May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground. Carry on….!”). Sending her the video —the whole thing took less than three minutes— we settled down to dinner in the splendor of Cleveland, and waited for her smile. What came though, was so unexpected!

“I showed it to Lucy, Daddy,” Stace told me that night.
“She doesn’t know the song.”
“Can you send me more?”

We talked a bit. The usual stuff: “…When are you coming to Chicago next? … Did you speak to Michael this week? … When are you coming to Chicago next? … Why wouldn’t our children be at the wedding?” Oh… and “When are you coming to Chicago next?”

Buoyed I was, hanging up, by the notion I’d heartened my daughter. Doubling down days later, retrieving stuff from my archives, I sent her two minutes of the Top Ten things that make me think of her. And a day later, with the help of others, I texted a tour of the refurbished mens’ room at a local house of worship.  In each video, I might add, I said hello to Lucy, Stacy, and Bones.

That Monday my phone rang.

“Daddy it would be great if I could wake up to a video every day. Lucy looks forward to them!”

The flag was up. (This was clearly a case of “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it OR Dad, you really have too much time on your hands).

I haven’t missed since.

In the past weeks my granddaughter’s had her out-of-state grandfather come into her home daily — a cross between a Jewish Captain Kangaroo and a fat Mr. Rogers. Sharing with her daily moments, she’s rejoiced (so I’m told) just watching me marvel at the ordinary.  Miles may separate us, but on aregular basis she’s eyed the method to my madness and the spirit to my heart. Rocketed, we’ve been, to a new dimension.

One day I said “Hello” from the lobby of the VA Hospital. The next I filmed buying her a cupcade in a bakery. One night I played her “Mary Had A Little Lamb” on a piano, and another time I greeted her while getting a manicure.

The time I lay atop the car and Carrie filmed me reading her “Pat The Bunny” was her favorite for a while….until the Friday it poured and CJ (standing safely in the garage) filmed me out in the driveway clad in but tee-shirt, Bermuda shorts and black bowtie, holding an umbrella crooning “Singin’ In The Rain”. I-tunes still ranks that her most played.

I could go on, but you get the point. How great it is just knowing that my mishegos has legs, and that somewhere out there my grandchild loves it.

Ed. Note 1: Of course, sometimes Stacy censors. My guess is she never showed her the eulogy for Ed Turner, or the one when Stuart and I went to a friend’s wake on Mayfield Road, only to discovery (after waiting in line twenty minutes) that we had the wrong person.

Ed. Note 2: I do hope, though, that she showed her my “Hello” from Home Depot, where I explained that I’d never been at the store before because when I was married Dick Lomaz would always help fix things — but that when the divorce came down, Jersey Girl got custody of Lomaz.

It hasn’t all, of course, been jest. No One Trick Pony am I.

From the old house on Maidstone I showed Luce where her mother grew up. From Columbus she was greeted by her Great Grandma Harriet.  And from the hearth where I live, she watched me open her Father’s Day card and thank her “live on tape”.

I could go on, but I won’t. Too much planning to do.

—Like where we will film tomorrow. After all, I’ve got one in the can which I’ll text upon waking! Need to have something in Stacy’s phone ‘ere they wake. (Thank God we’ve a time zone to work with).

And…lest you think, YES, Bruce does have too much time on his hands, let me share this:

My daughter and I spoke this morning about her upcoming trip to Cleveland. (I’m flying out, and with the children we’ll all drive back. They’ll stay with the ex).

From the background I heard a voice.

“Pappy, can I sleep at your house?”

It doesn’t get better.


Sunday, June 21st, 2015

       “…No one ever made me feel like someone, ‘til him…
       My existence bordered on the tragic:
       Always timid, never took a chance.
       Then I felt his magic and
       My heart began to dance!”

In a few hours we’ll be in Columbus standing graveside of the person who made my every day a better place. Thirty years this August it’ll be and even now he remains in my fabric as a compass.

Few remain of those present at the front of the 60’s. Our parents divorced and, gambling debt up his wazoo, our father left town. In an epoch when no one split (except the parents of the kid crying over his bed in the opening shot of tv’s “Divorce Court”), Hal and I found our family broken. Ed. Note 1: The closest of brothers, in 5+ decades we’ve never REALLY talked about it. Suffice it to say we each sense the other’s general perceptions without ever directly sharing our differences. Thirty seconds of unplanned biannual discourse always ends with one of two comments. Either he’ll proclaim “Well, you were older than me and you saw different things” or I’ll advise “Well, you were younger than me and you saw different things.”

A half-century later, do the what, where and why really matter?

Here’s what I do know though— and what has always mattered: in the five years of my father’s odyssey, whether he sold ties in a territory created by Norm Diamond, “home study” from leads off matchbook covers or magazines for dear “Highlights For Children”— in an era pre-cell phones and internet and a time before no-cost long distance — my father ALWAYS found a way to connect. As much as I missed him I was never truly without him.

This is not euphoric recall. Prove it I can.

Reorganizing archives but weeks ago, I happened upon a compilation of letters sent me through his transient days. On motel letterheads from such iconic places as Piqua, Ohio and Inkster, Michigan, and on stationery that was merely the backside of sales report forms, he wrote his boys. (Ed. Note 2: Did I tell you that if the envelope said “Bruce and Hal” the inside address always read “Hal and Bruce?).

Sifting through his words, some as much as 52 years old, I felt warmth. Smiling…welling… melting, I shared them with Carrie.

I wanted to get on the phone and call my kids—the one that saves and the one that scoffs— and shout from the rooftop “SEE, THIS IS WHY I THROW NOTHING AWAY!!!”

Through lens of decades though I was seeing something new. With my life-stained perception I was realizing that while in the 60’s I held the letters in his absence to render him present,  in my 60’s I held his words in my hand— and his values — to keep his presence immortal.  Reading and re-reading his comments I came to see that indeed, it was what he wrote between the lines that has lived on…

How he’d ask about others, like Gil Arian, Saul Goldman, or “Sheila and her baby”?

Or inquire about Adam? Always about Adam.

(Ed. Note 3: No, not the Adam that Stacy stole away to Chicago, but the one pedigreed “Digest Adam Of South Euclid, the pup of our youth).

How constantly he praised us and encouraged us to be in contact with our grandmother, our Aunt Blanche… and to “remember your Aunt Helen’s birthday— she has no one else”….?

—Indeed, how his musing so often were soaked with his essence:

October 27, 1964:

“…I wanted to mention how pleased I felt to see you on the Bima last Friday night…I would like to have you carefully consider remaining in Hebrew School. Look at it this way: Perhaps you will not benefit from continuing but all you have to lose is two hours once a week from Alan Wieder, Bobby Snyder, etc…”

August 5, 1966

“…Philadelphia is mammoth. It makes Cleveland look like a country village. I have a conservative synagogue directly across the street and the “Corky & Lenny’s” of Philly two blocks away. They give about twice as much meat in a corned beef sandwich…”

September 12, 1966:

“…Glanced at the Rolling Stones on TV on Ed Sullivan Show, got sick…Recovered with Red Skelton on same show…”

May 5, 1967:

“…Bruce you force your mother to be harsh on you. You were 100% wrong. I would be remiss in my duties if I did not mention this episode. OK, consider it buried but really? All this for an Indians game?”

March 14,1968:

“We’ve been cheated out of time together but this too will pass”.

I went to Michigan State out of high school the fall of ’67 in large part because my father was teaching an hour from East Lansing. (My mother’s Aunt Ruth would jeer that I’d followed him).  I transferred to OSU for my second quarter. When, within a year my Dad found work in Columbus, (as the that same aunt railed “He followed you.”).

By junior year my 45 year old father had met his “Carrie”. He knew right away (he said then), and once we had that Sunday afternoon on East 4th when Marilyn made latkehs and we all met Harriet, the man was off and running.

—But never without us.—

So today is Father’s Day… and with timing that can only be termed “divine”, Harriet, alas, is in the process of moving.

“I have these things of your fathers,” she phoned. “More stuff for your closet”.
“We’ll call as we leave the cemetery”.
“Bring boxes,” she cautioned.

Yes, today is Father’s Day.

(Like every single day of my life).

            “There will never ever be another one like him….”

Mel Brooks (“The Producers”)


Monday, June 15th, 2015


“I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.”                 Mark Twain                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

He died this week and guess what? My son was right. It wasn’t “bad news” at all — just “news”. Indeed, if death is a part of life, let the record be clear: this man was no part of ours. (At least not once he slinked out the back door by way of the bank and County Recorder’s office).  Ah, but that was years ago. We’ve moved on and now, apparently, so has he.

There is an old Latin phrase “De mortuis nihil nisi bonum”, which translates to “Of the death, nothing unless good”.

Should I not then speak? Is silence more appropriate?

I really don’t want to err. Is there a proper barometer?

Less than a year ago the “Washington Post” noted the passing of Jean-Claude Duvalier, the Haitian leader credited by human rights organizations with killing tens of thousands of his citizenry and under whose watch his country — as per the obit — became the “Western Hemisphere’s epicenter for AIDS”. Still, the newspaper’s balanced coverage pointed out that Mr. Duvalier “…supported a quickie divorce law — anyone could get a decree in 24 hours…”

May I reflect then how years ago our dearly departed, on the eve of Passover, signed his wife into a hospital, told her the marriage was over, and then drove to the coast?

No less a publication than “The New York Times”, in its May 2, 1945 obituary of Adolph Hitler noted:

“…Hitler was truly devoted to music not only as an art but as a tonic for his nerves. His favorites were Schubert, Beethoven and Wagner…”

Would it be appropriate then to mention that the recently departed enjoyed Johnny Cash?

Lost I am— not so much for words, but for a sense of proportion?

Dare I speak? Does it matter? Indeed, what is right?

It is hard not to recall at this time, the thoughtful, sensitive, poignant words attributed to the late Bette Davis:

“…I was told only to speak good of the dead, she said before adding: Joan Crawford is dead….good!”

I think I’m done!


Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Tuesday night was relaxing. Key word: “relaxing”. It was dinner at 6, meeting at 7, gin at 8:30, then DVR’d “Olbermann” and “Castle” enhanced by Skinny Pop popcorn in bed. Oh yeah, and commencing 10:45 give or take, periodic pausing the recorder to check the NBA playoffs.

Let’s go Cavs!

Now before you start railing on me as my son does or registering skeptical amusement as my son-in-law has, let me explain:

It’s not that I don’t care. Of course I do. Indeed, I am passionate. Past games have been riveting and I stood before the TV the last five minutes of each. (Ed. Note 1: Regulation, that is. The first two went to overtime. As such, I retreated to the recorder until I sensed but a minute or two of game remained).

I can’t take the stress.

Michael doesn’t get it; neither does Jason. The guys up at Corkys do, though. (The non-gamblers). And the bailiff I spoke to just today does … and I do.

Look, I’ve paid my dues!

I sat in the Coliseum rafters for the Miracle At Richfield. I was THERE when “Duck” Snyder hit the layup. And I suffered through “The Shot” of Jordan; I did.

I was in the dog pound with H for “The Drive”, watched “The Fumble” on tv with Mandel, and sat in disbelief as the Indians pissed away the last game of the 97 World Series.

Oh… and even before all that I had my heart broken in the final minute freezing my ass off in the upper deck with Al Oster at the Red Right 88 Game. The windchill of -37 degrees still ranks in the Top Ten of the NFL’s “Weather Games”. Google it. Ah, but I was young. (Ed. Note 2: How much did I want to be there? I wore a garbage bag with cut-out sleeves over my winter coat).

I say DAYEINU! Enough!

I just don’t need the stress. (Ed. Note 3: That’s why I never read novels. Only non-fiction for this cowboy. I need to know how things end.  At 65, I’ve had enough drama in my life. I’ve buried four grandparents, two parents, a step-father and a marriage. I’ve served in the Cub Scouts, the Army, and was married to a girl from New Jersey. I’ve taken my Aunt Helen shopping).

Yes, DAYEINU! I say. I’m all in.

The Cavs tip off at 9 tonight. I’ll be ready.

We’ll have dinner by 8, play some gin around 9; and then I’ll head for bed.

And “Olbermann”
And “Castle” (or maybe “The Mentalist”).

…And at 10:45 give or take, I’ll check out the game.

Hopeful I’ll be, to be sure. Calm I’ll be, either way. And best yet: my cardiologist will be smiling.


Sunday, June 7th, 2015

Dear Dad,

You were wondering how Aunt Helen was doing, what with her 101st birthday being today. Draw your own conclusions:

Sometime last winter her TV stopped working. I mean for good. (Ed. Note 1: Remember that on countless instances o’er the past decades H has been summoned –at all hours, I might add — to “fix” her television. Recall further that on each occasion it was a two-second job. She just had to be reminded not to hit a certain button again, or not to unplug it, or that perhaps…just perhaps… people should consider replacing their TVs every thirty-five years). (Ed. Note 2: She never called me, by the way. “You’re not good at this,” she’d articulated. Bothered I wasn’t. After all what did I ever do but call Dickie Lomaz?).

Anyway, Thanksgiving the thing just died. Done. Fartik!

— So in December we debated…

“Your brother thinks we should go to Target. I’m not certain.“
“He knows those things,” I confirmed.
“How do you know what he knows? Perhaps Margie told him.”
“Margie knows those things,” I concurred.
“How do you know what Margie knows?”
(Yet before I could frame a response she continued):
“How often do you talk to Margie?”

— And in January we planned…

“When we go shopping this week might we look for a new television?”
“Where do you want to go?”
“I will call your brother. Perhaps he has thoughts.”
“OK, whatever he says.”
(Then on Game Day):
“Your brother wants to make this simple.”
“What do you mean?” I inquired.
“He thinks it doesn’t matter.”
“It really doesn’t,” I assured. “They’re all the same.”
“How would you know?  When did you last buy a tv?”
“Whatever my brother says — that’s what we should do.”
“I think I shall wait.” (she concluded).

February turned March turned April. Her silence was golden. Indeed, if my Aunt Helen wasn’t bringing up going for a television, neither was I!

Ah, but then came May…

Renewing her focus on what, when and where to buy a set, she again spoke with Harold. (Ed. Note 3: You know, H: her “good” nephew—the Ray Romano to my Brad Garrett).

“Let’s go to Target!” she pronounced that week.

(Ed. Note 4: A fool I’m not; I was going to take her WHEREVER my brother suggested. This would not end well (odds were), so a Sgt. Schultz mode was best. I knew “NOTHING”.

—And so it was that one Friday mid-May, per directive of H, we went to Target (Ed. Note 5: the same Target he’d suggested a half year earlier), purchased a tv and antenna, and …

Conducting me up her stairs, pointing to a spot in her living room, in her female Colonel Klink:

“Leave it there,” she directed. “Your brother is better at plugging things in than you are. He will come over.”

(Once again, if she didn’t want me to—-who am I to object? As I said, this would not end well).

Placing the unopened box per her orders, I smiled, kissed her, and left. It was Raymond’s to deal with, to plug in, to program.

He called me, he did…your son… late that night:

“The TV’s going back,” he said (laughing). “She never let me open it.”
“Did she say why?”
“She said she likes her old one better.”
“You mean the one that doesn’t work?” I asked him.
“Apparently so.”

That was three weeks ago, Dad, and she’s still without television. She did call Carrie the other day and inquired about her old monstrosity—the one still sitting in her basement.

We shall see.

I guess when you’re 101 a TV of 35 doesn’t sound so old.

Again, we shall see.

In the meantime, that’s what’s going on. Draw your own conclusions.

I miss you,



Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

       “…I want to wear the life I’ve lived… 

Pat Benatar

What could one have made had he bet back in the 60’s that a half century later I’d be seeking Wieder’s advice on marriage? (Ed. Note 1: Bobby, Stuart, Ermine –of course. Treinish and Stockfish, yes. But Alan? The odds would have been prohibitive)!

And yet at Starbucks in April I sat with Alan:

“At this point you don’t really ask her. You can’t propose,” he counseled. “Just discuss it.”


—At age twenty, in Columbus…naïve and unwitting:

“It’s time you talked about marriage,” the Jersey Girl’s friend pointed out in the DPhiE living room. (Who knew?)

—At age sixty-five, in Cleveland…seasoned by a lifetime:

“Why do you need to get married?” I heard — she heard — from our blood ONLY.

Carrie told her kids first; they’re here. I told Stace in Chicago and then, excusing myself to another room, phoned Michael. Perhaps it was the culmination of blood, sweat and years, but as I spoke to my son, tears erupted.

“Just want you happy Dad.”
Overcome with emotion I was.
“I know. I love you.”
“Are you all right, Dad?”
“Yeah, we’ll talk later. I love you. Goodbye.”

Before I’d travelled out west, during the two-day window that her children knew but mine still didn’t, we agreed to tell no one else. After all, right it wouldn’t have been if my kids had heard on the street. (I would find out later that she couldn’t help herself; she told a friend. She would find out even later that I told someone too: Mark. Oh yeah, then Bobby and Stuart and Kraut).

Life-long pals, of course, were thrilled for us. I sensed it in the voice of one, the laughter with “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” from another, and the “B, I’m so happy for you I could cry” from yet another.

I heard it not only in emails that trickled in— one even from a friend of the ex — but also through unabashed voice mails, one of which bubbled “We are SO happy for the two of you!”

How great we felt!

My friend offered up a Florida condo for the honeymoon. CJ’s cousin helped with tickets for a concert. Our agenda was moving forward.

It takes me back — takes US back, frankly — to my conversation with The Kraut back in 2012. Standing in Corky’s lot I’d just shared with Art that I’d be giving up my place and moving in with her. “It’s easy,” he told me, “Because it’s right.”

So here we are less than three years later: me pushing a pair of sixes and her teasing sixty. Getting married.  Meshing through legal issues, nuances, “stuff”.

Some, clearly, are wishing us well yet wondering why. Others, just as certainly, are quietly noting our age, our circumstance, our already being together, and … again … wondering why.

As noted before, what others think of me (us) is not our business.

For me though, I know that seeing is indeed believing. And that Carrie and I share at least one strong suit: we lead with our hearts.

— And yes, there is but one Rule Of Engagement: “Love conquers all”.