November 25th, 2010

This picture is an old one. It must be from about 25 years ago, more or less. My brother looks to be about One and a half, maybe two years old, which would put this picture in 1985. My specific memories from 1985 tend to gravitate towards other areas, by no fault of my parents mothers.

Abraham, Ben, and the Grandmothers

Abraham, Ben, and the Grandmothers

My paternal grandmother, Yetta, on the far left of the picture, lived in New York in a home for the aged blind.  If I’m not mistaken it was also Jewish, which gives it quite the specific clientele.  My entire experience with Yetta was in this home, which for a little boy could some times be a little scary.  It was filled with odd equipment and even odder smells.  I remember being amazed by the gigantic tomes that sat in her rooms.  Braille printing necessitates heavier paper than can withstand the printing process and maintain it’s new shape over the long term, and space required by each letter.  They were big books.  I don’t remember now what they were, but my impression was that they were either general fiction or biblical or something.  I was a little kid, how am I supposed to remember.

My maternal grandmother, Cynthia, on the far right of the picture, lived in Maryland just outside of Washington DC.  Our visits to Washington were much different that our visits to New York.  In New York, we stayed in hotels and visited Yetta at her home, in Washington, we stayed at Cynthia’s house, and went out to see the sites together.  I have many fond memories of the museums around the Mall, specifically the Air and Space Museum.  Cynthia was a docent at one of the museums, I think Natural History, and she greatly enjoyed teaching us. I remember her house as a split level with an attached garage, a rolling green hill for a back yard, and plastic plants inside.  Big bright Amazon Jungle kinds of plastic plants that balanced on the line between beautiful and scary.

Unfortunately, both Yetta and Cynthia passed away within six or seven years of this picture being taken.  While they lived relatively far away from us in Chicago, we were able to visit each of the at least once a year.  A lot of my friends growing up had their Grandparents near by, and saw them regularly.  I never felt as though I was missing out by not having them around more, it was just different.  I did more traveling than a lot of my friends.

I do wish I could have known them as an adult.  I think I could have learned a lot about my parents specifically, but also about their lives.  They lived through the Depression, the Second World War, the establishment of Israel, (I’ll post some day more about my mother and her family’s experiences with the early state) the Civil Rights Movement, etc…  But that’s what I have Wikipedia & Hollywood for, I guess.

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