Some days, hallmarks that they are, just live on. Like the 27th of October, ’62.  And it’s been a half century.

‘Twas special day in a simpler time. The Beatles still in England, my Dad still at home, on this wondrous fall morning I had my Bar Mitzvah. In a world then young, surrounded by kin then alive, I, first born son of a first born son, had my fifteen minutes…plus.

This was the zenith of the The Baby Boom. Indeed, my shul alone had multiple B’nai Mitzvoh each Shabbos. As such, readings were shared with two others: David Skolnik and Sheridan Shur. Clutching 33 rpm vinyl we’d been meeting with Rev Levy all summer, (‘though I never, please note, missed a Little League game). Ultimately, one of the trio, (NO NAMES PLEASE), couldn’t learn his part and yes, just weeks before, they’d thrown me more lines.

The day was great! There I was on the bima, flanked by not only The Family Von Bogart in its last public appearance, but Rabbi Cohen on his game. I recall well how the cleric, voice crackling like thunder as he raised his monstrous hands above us, eyes piercing like daggers, provided an endless blessing. I recall too, my fear sensing that God/forbid I not keep looking at him— lightning would strike me down right then and there…and how, petrified, I locked in a stare, never taking eyes off that Jewish Charlton Heston, nodding ever-knowingly with each and every phrase he spoke: of this and that, from my obligations “as a man” to how he’d presided over the marriage of not only my parents but my aunt and uncle, and how he’d known my grandfather, (Park’s b’al koreh ‘til his death in ’54)….

And I remember well my pride at noon. Service over, two grandmothers—nice ladies with little in common—in tandem stood smiling.  Their grandson, clearly, had knocked it out of the park!

Even the post-game was special. That afternoon, like many Saturdays, was spent with Al Bogart. OSU on tv, no weekly event back then, we watched Woody’s boys beat Wisconsin in black and white. I think, but couldn’t swear, that Ohio State covered.  My Dad was smiling.

The day culminated, of course, with a reception at night. (I shouldn’t say “of course”. A year-and-one-half later, Hal too was Bar Mitzvahed. Our parents by now split, his party was down-sized from 200 plus with band to 20 plus and a middle- aged Harry Kliot spinning records).

My gala, though, was at Sherwin’s. Eastside Cleveland’s caterer de jour, it was chosen ‘cause the owners were…you guessed it: Al Bogart’s lodge brothers.  All, as we say, in the family.

The hall, somewhere about 105th and Carnegie, was full that night. Every sect, from Dad’s card players to Mom’s mahj ladies, from the myriad of Hoffmans, Sharps and offspring to—on the other side of the ball—the residue of Grandma Bogart’s litter, (some sixteen siblings and progeny).

And my friends. Two tables of guys, two tables of girls. The men were my age. Ladies, though, came in two flavors. There was the old guard—Linda, Maddy, Arlene…from my grade. They’d been around a while; I knew them, could talk to them. Still raw (for me) were the ones a just younger. Shy, insecure, I’d stumble dealing one-on-one with Edrea, Rochelle, or Cathy.

(For guys like me, moreover, dancing was but jitterbug or box step—no in between. The British, recall, had not yet invaded, and dance floor rhythm just wasn’t my strong suit. Arthur, Bobby—they could cha-cha, maybe more. Wieder, Bogart? When it came to movement, the buffet line was our wheelhouse. Whatever Tony & Yolanda taught in their studio, it didn’t sink in. Even on a one, two count I’d be three steps off. I was one of those that, when slow dancing, would feel the girl’s hand leave my back shoulder and instinctively know she was waiving Snyder or Kraut to cut in).

But not that night. Not on October 27, 1962.

It was my Day Of Days and my Time of Times: an evening emceed by Lodge Brother Bernie Ginsberg, where feeling no pain an impromptu Estelle Lomaz grabbed the mic crooning “Bei Mir Bis Du Schoen”, where best-pal Stuart lit a candle for all friends and even Aunt Helen, (then only 68), took a bow, (Candle Number 6).

The fete ended, as they all did then, with the playing of “The Party’s Over”.  And it was. Within months our Dad moved out…forever. I remember just how he told me. It was a Saturday. Awaking for Sabbath School my Mom said he’d had a business meeting out-of-town the night before. It wasn’t so.  He showed up at Park that day, poaching by the old building as school let out.  He drove us home.

“Your mother and I are in a fight, but it will be over soon. I’ll be gone a few days—no more.”

The man knew better, I sense, ‘though I believed him then.  I needed to.  It was the only time, to my knowledge, that my father lied to me.  He needed to.

10/27/62 had passed and indeed, the party was over.

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