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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 May 31, 2010 / 18 Sivan 5770

The Old Lady in Black

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The most vivid memories aren't those carved in stone but the ones etched in the mind. Memory deepens with the years, the way a river carves through rock, slowly revealing new layers, creating canyons. Sometimes the river overflows its banks. And you tear up. Maybe on an anniversary, or when you hear a certain song, or for no discernible reason at all. And it all comes back.

On this Memorial Day weekend, I think of the old lady in black. She was a fixture of my childhood, never speaking, but always there in one of the little shops up the street just a few doors from our own.

Texas Avenue was lined with such shops, many with living quarters above. Every family had its own history, customs, story to tell -- whether Italian, Chinese, Jewish, Syrian (now known as Lebanese) or Other.

The thriving black downtown was a couple of long blocks away, complete with its own stores, restaurants and cafes, newspaper office, movie theater and night life.

In short, mine was an all-American neighborhood.

We kids spent a lot of time underfoot in other families' kitchens. Long before I learned it was called baklava when bought at a bakery, I watched Aunt Lillie up the street roll out and stretch the philo dough, again and again, for baklewi, till it covered the whole kitchen table and drooped over the edge -- to be filled with nuts and fruit before being baked to a flaky brown. The first taste was served fresh out of the oven, dripping honeyed goodness. There's nothing like food as a preservative of memory.

Years later, I would learn that Texas Avenue was considered a rough neighborhood, which came as a surprise. To a little boy, it was just the way life was. I would have been surprised to learn that my world was anything but warm and homey.

I scarcely remember when the war came. In my child's mind, it had always been there. Complete with bond drives and colorful posters that said Remember Pearl Harbor and ration books and voices on the radio reporting from far-off places in a clear, neutral, standard American pronunciation. Robert Trout, for example, and Edward R. Murrow -- "This … is London?." The war suffused all of life on Texas Avenue: There were the uniforms on the street, and the little cards that kids prized with black silhouettes of different warplanes. The aircraft themselves might be spotted heading in and out of Barksdale Air Base across the river, and we competed with one another calling out B-17! B-24! P-51!

Every Saturday, Texas Avenue teemed with black sharecroppers and their families, and with uniforms Saturday nights -- there was a saloon up the street that regularly attracted the MPs and some welcome excitement for a little boy. And a few storefronts up, in the back of a dry goods store, there was the old lady in black.

As a child I seldom saw her, but knew what had happened. Her boy Bill had been killed in the war, one of the early American casualties -- of so, so many -- in the Pacific. No one mentioned his name except maybe the grown-ups in hushed tones. I always stepped toward the outside of the sidewalk when passing her store. To a little boy there was something ominous in her silent vigil. Mourning is foreign to a child.

Years later, I would bring my own kids back to visit the old neighborhood -- just to point out where this store or that one had been, and where this family or that one had lived, and where we'd gone to get RC Colas, or how you could hide in the alleys to ambush the other kids when you played cowboys-and-Indians….

And there she was, still in black. Only she was sitting at the front of her store that day, and motioned me to bring in the kids. She wanted to know their names and how old they were, and insisted on getting them Cokes, and spoke of people who used to live in the neighborhood. It was only then that I realized she could smile.

The river of time had ebbed, revealing a new layer under its dark waters. I no longer saw as a child -- or saw the old lady in black through a glass darkly. The grief still hung on in her visage and bearing, as grief must, but the veil had been lifted. She seemed recalled to life. Maybe it was the presence of the children that had done it.

One more memory had deepened and broadened, one more connection was made, one more soul had reached out -- hers? mine? the children's? Bill's? The forever young, cut down in their youth, reappear in our thoughts as they were, unchanged. Even as those who treasure their memory grow older, then aged, and then they themselves are gone. The quick and the dead, the young and old, we all seemed of a piece that brief hour, sitting there, sipping our Cokes, having our own Memorial Day.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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