“…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”)

2 Responses to “‘TIL HIM”

  1. alan wieder says:

    Love this but also loved both you & Hal on Mr. Ed. There could not be more contrast between the last two posts.

  2. Marc says:

    Very nice blog. I know you miss him and the relationship you had. You pass that on to your kids and grandkids and give them the memories they will carry forever.

Leave a Reply