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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 24, 2011 / 22 Sivan, 5771

Dad's Stuff

By Greg Crosby



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | One of the earliest memories I have as a child is that of "going through stuff." I guess I liked to do that a lot because I can vividly remember sitting on the floor opening drawers and cabinets looking through my parents' things. My father's things were my favorites.

There was a magical quality to Dad's stuff, more so than anyone else's. Maybe it was because Dad's life was more private than the rest of us…or so it seemed to me as a child. All I know is, his stuff was the good stuff. He had a gold money clip in the shape of a dollar sign, old key chains, pocket knives, bus tokens, a skeleton key, old rubber stamps, large red dice and poker chips with the names Desert Inn and El Rancho Vegas printed on them, matchbooks with alluring graphics, a Horner Harmonica, ball-point pens (some used as promotional give-a-ways with various company names on them), a wealth of collar stays, tie bars, tie-tacks and tie pins. Cuff links in every conceivable size and style. Cigarette lighters and a couple of cigarette cases (each stored in a soft cotton pouch). A pocket comb, nail clippers, monogrammed handkerchiefs. Tools of the trade for a previous generation of American man. These were not expensive things for the most part, but they were his and because of that, treasures to me.

He kept most of these things, when not on his person, either on top of his dresser (in cufflink boxes and within an ugly ceramic kangaroo figurine valet) or in the top drawer. That top drawer was the real cache--the crème de la crème of Dad's stuff. I remember it being quite expansive and deep by today's furniture standards.

Naturally I knew I wasn't supposed to be going through that drawer, which of course made sneaking in there all the more exciting. The practical function of the top drawer was to store his socks, undershirts and handkerchiefs, but it held much more. This was where he kept the switchblade knife hidden in a reading glasses case beneath the underclothes. Here, too, were the old personal address books, letters and business cards with people's names I'd never heard of. Odd little black and white photographs of people I didn't recognize. Anniversary cards with private hand written notes at the bottom, sometimes extending to the back of the card. A dog-eared pocketbook of poetry. Decks of playing cards. There was definitely a life here that had nothing to do with me.

There was a cigar box filled with birthday cards from Mom and us kids going back years. There were the little things that we made in school for Father's Day--he actually kept them all. Even his socks were interesting. I never knew there could be so many variations on navy and black.

Everything he had smelled like him. Canoe, I think, or maybe Brut, but mixed with his own scent to create a smell as personal as fingerprints. It was a warm comforting smell. A smell I haven't smelled since he died twenty five years ago. The "stuff" is still around, I've got some of it, but the scent, his scent that his belongings acquired, has long since dissipated.

There were a few rare times when Dad took me to work with him. How special and exciting it was to be alone with him, riding downtown in his black Pontiac. Some of the people in Dad's office made a fuss over me as he walked me to his desk. "You sit here, son, at my desk…here's some paper and pens to draw with. I've got to meet with some customers, but I'll be back soon."

Alone at Dad's desk, I discovered more of his stuff. Purple ink pads and stamps, strange wheel-like hard erasers with little brooms at the bottom (I found out later these were for typewriters). In one of his desk drawers there were matches, cigarettes, and a deck of cards. A pack of Sen-Sen, some Blackjack chewing gum along with assorted pencils, pens, business cards, and postage stamps rounded out the stash.

In the middle drawer were loads of paper clips, stationary, rubber bands, push pins, order books, and carbon paper. Different things than at home, but in a way, even more mysterious. In another drawer a can of black shoe polish together with a well used buffer and cotton rags permeated the wood with a pleasant oily scent. A big heavy looking adding machine was at the corner of one of the other desks. Ash trays all over the office--large glass ones on every desk and gray standing ash trays next to every guest chair.

As a young observer I enjoyed the noisy hubbub of the office; phones ringing, people hurrying around, customers looking for salesmen, salesmen looking for customers, secretaries looking for files, and always somebody looking for coffee. There were lots of jokes being told, wise cracks, and breezy repartee-- much more, it seems, then I hear in offices today. This was my dad's place, and by bringing me down there he was allowing me to glimpse a piece of his life away from our house. He was showing me that I was a part of his world not only at home but also at work or wherever he was. I was proud to be there and I hoped to make him proud of me.

In the top drawer of my dresser in the bedroom I have a watch, a large cameo ring, a cigarette case in a cotton pouch, a cigarette lighter and cuff links which belonged to my father. I also have some birthday cards and letters he wrote me, but I keep those somewhere else since they don't make dresser drawers as big as they used to.

And, yes, much to my wife's chagrin, I do have an ugly ceramic kangaroo valet sitting on top of my dresser…right next to the photograph of Dad.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2008, Greg Crosby

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