Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Remembering Sgt. Israel Katzman on Veteran’s Day, November 2018…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: American Soldier and the Filipina Singer,Friendship & Compassion,Jewish Themes,Life & Death — Bob at 1:47 pm on Monday, November 12, 2018
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Bill Skeens just reminded me, what about my Dad? The kid who was the son of two Jewish immigrants and was named Israel? The kid whose teachers told him when he was about to graduate grammar school that it was his last chance to Americanize his name on his degree, from Israel to Irving so he would “fit in” better to American society. We all know how well that idea turned out. Imagine some teacher saying that to a kid today? “Irving” remained “Izzy” to his friends, tho’.
 
Israel, nearly 30 years old, joined the US Army on St Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1942, along with 12 other Jewish guys from the old neighborhood. His younger brother Milt was already in the army as an MP, and his tour was ending when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Israel became a sergeant with the Signal Corps teaching other men how to send vital messages from the battlefields with a telegraph key. He worked under General Douglas MacArthur, whom he met only once and felt was a “pompous ass”.

(Read on …)

Bookstore Stories (1) On Turning Away Hate…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Bewilderment,Friendship & Compassion,Gritty Katzman Chicago Stories,Jewish Themes,Rage!,Retail Purgatory — Bob at 10:10 am on Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Bookstore Stories (1) On Turning Away Hate

by Robert M. Katzman © November 7, 2018

(This possible series of story ideas was suggested to me by my wonderful Daughter-in-Law, Nicole)

 In 1991, I owned a small foreign-language world-travel bookstore on the north side of Chicago in the Lakeview area, near Clark and Belmont streets. It was the center of Chicago’s gay/lesbian community, and was also and still is known as Boy’s Town. The store’s name was Le Grand Tour, and before that, Europa.

(Read on …)

1964: A Runaway’s Renaissance and a Jewish Boy’s Revenge…by Robert M. Katzman

1964: A Runaway’s Renaissance

by Robert M. Katzman © September 9, 2018

Fifty-four years ago on June 8th, 1964 I ran away from a dangerous violently abusive home. I was fourteen and two weeks away from graduating Caldwell grammar school on the South Side, about a dozen miles south of State and Madison, Chicago’s Downtown.

My story is filled with Ghosts, but it is worth writing down, if only to soothe the Ghosts’ anxiety.

After all, aren’t I part of a world-wide Tribe so often called: The People of The Book?

Who am I to resist that Celestial Design?

It is now long past “What will become of this wild child?”

Now near seventy, I must write, “This is what really happened.”

(Read on …)

Joy’s Diamond Ring: Romance and Racketeers (complete story in order for the first time)…by Robert M. Katzman

Joy’s Diamond Ring: Romance and Racketeers

By Robert M. Katzman ©

First published by Bob Katzman at 10:47 pm on Sunday, July 11, 2010 

Not your usual love story.  

A fifty-year saga about a Chicago West Side tribal immigrant’s tale, encompassing:  Friendship, Jewelry, Gangsters and the real meaning of lifetime friendship, no matter what.

A puzzle with so many pieces, all steadily adding up to Joy’s diamond ring.   

 

On December 31, 1977, New Year’s Eve, I invited my long-time love, Joyce Esther Bishop, then 27, to dinner at a famous old Chicago steakhouse.  Specifically, The Kinzie Steakhouse, but which is now far better known today as Harry Caray’s Steakhouse, after the now deceased and legendary Chicago radio announcer for the Chicago White Sox baseball team, famously remembered for yelling: “HOLY COW!!” after every home run hit by the home team.  

Aside from Joy’s full-time day job working in the city, she also worked at my original Hyde Park store, Bob’s Newsstand, every weekend.  She was either selling newspapers, stuffing the Sunday newspaper’s weekend components inside each paper or keeping an eye on all the numerous part-time employees and/or the endless stream of customers.  

This was back in the days when Chicago still had four separate daily newspapers and was the last remaining American city to be so blessed.  Now there are only two Chicago newspapers left, both post-bankruptcy, and in their present (2010) shrunken and sensationalized formats, they would have seemed other worldly to either of us in 1977.  

The then fiercely competitive conservative Chicago Daily Tribune and the more liberal Democratic Chicago Sun-Times, were rich and mighty Midwestern icons of journalism, seemingly able to last forever, just thirty-two years ago.  What happened?  

Joy was certain that I loved her, since I told her so every single day (and still do).  I was also convinced that she loved me too, in the unmistakable ways women get that idea across to the objects of their affection.  

(Read on …)

I Planted A Lithuanian Tree Today…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman © July 20, 2018

I planted a tree today.

The grayish-bluesy sky was gloomy, threatening to rain, and I was standing in my garden thinking:

 “Good”.

 Some days drag themselves like there are elephants hanging onto each hour. I had no plans, no list of anything to do, no calls to make. I thought,

“Bob, plant a tree”.

(Read on …)

“I’m Fourteen. I Need a Job”…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Friendship & Compassion,Gritty Katzman Chicago Stories,My Own Personal Hell,Old Fart Wisdom — Bob at 6:28 pm on Wednesday, July 18, 2018

By Robert M. Katzman © July 18, 2018

 Summertime. Got a kid sorta looking for a job? Maybe they’ll actually look for one or maybe they’ll not bother.  But what if it were not a choice? Maybe this story will inspire them. Or you:

“I’m Fourteen. I Need a Job”

On June 8th, 1964, I escaped an insane home on the South Side of Chicago where beatings with thick leather belts, belt buckles, rubber hoses and clenched fists were an everyday event. I left running with only the clothes on my back, in freezing rain, two weeks before graduating eighth grade at Caldwell School. Met up at some point with my father who took me to live with him in a one-room studio with a small kitchen and bathroom in Hyde Park, across the street from the Museum of Science and Industry. I was going to need the industry part. He wasn’t working.

(Read on …)

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