Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

A “Chocolate Phosphate”, or What My Jewish Mother Told Me in the Fifties…by Robert M. Katzman

When I was very young on the South Side of Chicago, my Mother, a daughter of immigrants from the Jewish Pale area of Eastern Europe where Jews were forced to live by the Czar, was addicted to this drink called a “chocolate phosphate”.

She ordered this delicacy in Jewish restaurants which was essentially ice cubes, chocolate syrup and carbonated seltzer water. The basic point, she explained to me, was to make her “greptz” or belch after a heavy meal.

Decades later when I began going to New York City in 1980 for book conventions, I naturally assumed this common Chicago beverage would be available anywhere in a city with the largest Jewish population in America. But no one heard of it, didn’t know what I was asking for and quickly conveyed the impatience and rudeness that NYC was also famous for.  (Read on …)

June 8th 1964… by Robert M. Katzman

© August 22, 2014

Fifty years ago

This happened:

At five, six, seven years old

Curses and slaps

In the middle of the night

Eight, nine, ten years old

Beatings without end

And no reason

Eleven, twelve, thirteen years old

Trapped in closets,

Whipped with leather belts

Metal belt buckles

Fourteen: June 8, 1964

My long glass fish tank shattered

Water and dead fish everywhere

Bookshelves toppled

My face was smashed with fists

But I couldn’t hit her back

I escaped the monster

Screaming into the black night

(Read on …)

Deli-Dali Delicatessen and 2/12/1970…..by Robert M. Katzman

Updated St. Patrick’s Day, 2013

Lincoln’s birthday.

On this day, in 1970, my father, Israel, and I met with the Baird and Warner property manager of the shopping center at 51st and Lake Park, in Hyde Park, on Chicago’s South Side. A giant Whole Foods store completely covers that site as of today. So use your imagination to see all I describe above, ok?

Forty-three years ago, I was 19, and my father was 57.

That morning, we were about to sign a lease to open the Deli-Dali Delicatessen, but legally, I was still too young to sign any lease. So, my father signed it for me. Nevertheless, I would own the Deli. He was to be the manager of the new business, which was about 200 yards away from my original newsstand, closer to the actual corner of the shopping center. My Uncle Ziggy would also work there as an employee. It was a happy day. We were hopeful and saw the future as a bright one for us.

This was ironic, because just 13 months earlier, I had unexpectantly undergone salivary gland cancer surgery at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, Ill. and had the left side of my jaw removed by a Dr. Danely Slaughter. Nobody talked about “the future” in front of me.

(Read on …)