Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Am I My Sister’s Keeper?…by Robert M. Katzman (written in 2004)

Am I My Sister’s Keeper? 

by Robert M. Katzman Copyright 2004

(First, this note. I am my Father’s son. But he was the son of Eastern European immigrants, people who fled from Jewish genocide in the Russian Czar’s Pale. They were terrified defenseless people. But their son Israel (1912-2000) grew up in the dangerous West Side of Chicago’s gangs in the Thirties who fought with the Polish and Irish gangs to hold their turf. Then three and a half years in the Pacific fighting the Japanese with General MacArthur, getting wounded but determined to stay in the fight. He was NOT a terrified Jew. An American who was very different than his parents, and who transferred that sense of justice and defiance to me in his many stories over my younger years. In many ways, I became an extension of him, of what he believed. Of what his sense of justice was. But I never dreamed that connection would lead to this story. Welcome to my very strange world, but believe it.)


In the winter of ’79 I received an unusual call from my father, Israel, who was living at that time in Sherman Oaks, California. My home was just south of Chicago.

My Dad was very distressed, I could hear it in his voice, because my older sister, Bonnie, had called him, in tears, he said because some foreign creep was stalking her at the school where she was a teacher. She was five months pregnant at the time with her first child, and the unnerving situation, my father told me, was only adding to her distress.

(Read on …)

Chicago Jewish South Side, 1959: Sunday Brunch Battlefield…by Robert M. Katzman

Robert M. Katzman’s Amazing Story:  http://www.differentslants.com/?p=355

© February 16, 2014


Pots and pans flew

From my Mom toward my Dad

Grey metal whizzing through the air

Once a sharp ice tray shot by my small

Olive-toned nine-year-old face

Just missing me

Did she ever hit him?

He’d never say

Good thing she was a lousy shot

And he never returned fire

Our kitchen was No Mans Land

In 1959

  (Read on …)

Cancer in My Rear View Mirror…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Bonnie stories,Depression and Hope,Friendship & Compassion,Life & Death,Love and Romance,Marriage and Family — Bob at 2:46 pm on Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Robert M. Katzman’s Amazing Story:  http://www.differentslants.com/?p=355

© December 4, 2013

A person I met at neighborhood gathering in early December this year asked me how my store was doing, in Skokie, Illinois. The actual answer would be: “Terrible!” like so many thousands of small businesses across America. But I didn’t say that. I said something else, that it really didn’t matter to me how successful my store was in the larger picture of my life.  She looked quizzical.

I briefly explained.  She seemed surprised by my response, but then told me to write about it, that it might mean something to people who need hope. I hadn’t planned on doing that.  But since I have respect for Frances Roehm, who is an Online Librarian for the Skokie Library, and I consider her a friend, I told her I would do that, because she asked me.  My story has nothing to do with Christmas, despite the date of it. The meaning of it is within me, all year, every year.

(Read on …)

Bonnie’s Sparrow…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Bonnie stories,Depression and Hope,Friendship & Compassion,Jewish Themes,Life & Death — Bob at 11:33 am on Sunday, June 10, 2012

Robert M. Katzman’s Amazing Story:  http://www.differentslants.com/?p=355

© June 11, 2012


The thing about extraordinary experiences is that you’re never ready for them.

You forget what came just before, then the moment itself, and then what happened next, and you stand there stunned, caught up in the swirl of unearthly phenomena.



My older sister, Bonnie Sue Katzman died today, two years ago, at age 62, from blood cancer.

She was married to a good person named Chelin for a long time, and then another person, but I prefer to remember what her name was when I first met her in 1950 when she was two and a half.

We both came from a terrifyingly dangerous home where her solution was to disappear into the homes of her many friends and mine, well…I had no solution and suffered the consequences.  We had no relationship. I never saw her.

I left home in the middle of the night on June 8, 1964 at fourteen while still in eighth grade on the South Side of Chicago and she was sixteen and a sophomore at Bowen High School.  I moved five miles north to Hyde Park and two years later she went to The University of Illinois at Urbana.  Now we were both free of the person who cursed our lives, but still, I never saw her.

Except for occasional family holiday parties, there were no calls, no contact, although I did send her birthday cards every October 22nd.  I’d go to her home for Passover and the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, but she’d never greet me, hug me, talk to me while I was there or say goodbye when I left.

This all was incomprehensible to me and over time, my resentment to her indifference grew stronger.  Our father maintained an illusion that we were actually a “family” and the year I finally decided I’d had enough of being made to feel inconsequential and refused to go to one of those semi-annual parties at her house, he called me to change my mind.  He pleaded, threatened, yelled at me and when he realized he had no power to make me do as he so fervently wanted, broke down in tears.

I, of course, then felt like a dog.

(Read on …)

Eulogy for Bonnie Sue…by her brother, Bob Katzman 6/11/10

Filed under: Bonnie stories,Depression and Hope,Friendship & Compassion,Life & Death,My Own Personal Hell,Rage! — Bob at 5:26 am on Friday, June 11, 2010

Older Sister                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wherever you are                                                                                                                                                                                                       I hope it’s all                                                                                                                                                                                                                Periwinkle                                                                                                                                                                                                               Fuchsia                                                                                                                                                                                                                       and                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mauve

The daughter                                                                                                                                                                                                               of an                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Interior Decorator                                                                                                                                                                                              Ought to                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Dwell in Eternity                                                                                                                                                                                                       In a                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Universe                                                                                                                                                                                                                        of                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Subtle colors

You                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Were the Perfect one

(Read on …)