Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Joy’s Diamond Ring (5):Romance & Racketeers by Robert M. Katzman

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

Part 5 (scroll down for parts 1-4)

Then very carefully guiding my hand, he tilted it so that all the valuable little critters fell neatly back into their glassine home, where all the inhabitants were equal.  He folded the top of the envelope over, returned the envelope to its appropriate slot on the black tray, surrounded by dozens of other such envelopes, and returned the tray to the yawning black safe behind him.  Buddy then placed his hand flat against the safe’s thick steel door and pushed it until I heard a distinct “click” sound as it locked itself.

Buddy then showed me a nice-looking platinum ring with all its little prongs standing straight up, as if reaching for a stone to grasp.  They looked like tiny baby birds to me, stretching their necks, waiting to be fed.  I said it would be fine, in my vast experience as a connoisseur of jewelry.  Buddy nodded, and told me to wait there in his office and he would assemble the ring on the spot.

He placed the diamond I’d selected into the ring, right there in front of me, as I stood next to him at his workbench.  He carefully, skillfully, pressed down all of the prongs, as he slowly turned the ring to attend to each one in turn, to firmly hold the diamond in place. Then he washed the assembled ring in some solution to make it sparkle.  He dried the ring, placed it inside of a little black velvet jeweler’s box and handed it to me.  That…was it.

He also handed me a certificate of authenticity stating the exact number of carats, or fraction thereof, the diamond’s color and other information my insurance company would need. Buddy then signed and dated it as I watched him.

Then, I paid him.

In cash, of course.

My Dad’s relationship with Buddy and his presence in Buddy’s office with me that day assured me that everything was kosher, as we say, even about a Lutheran.  But Buddy the Hun was no ordinary Lutheran.

My Dad’s world was neatly divided into either “us” or “them”. Friend or Foe. It was a crucial difference and all that mattered.  To him, and now to me, too, Buddy was “us”.

And also, my Dad told me that I received much more diamond than I could ever have afforded to pay for otherwise, at that time.

Where did all those diamonds come from?

Only God knows and I sure as hell didn’t feel the burning need to know.

Some things, you just don’t ask.

How much did I pay for the diamond ring?

Well, my Dad died ten years ago.  Among his few remaining possessions, I found a black jeweler’s loop.

Buddy, Buddy the Hun is dead, too, and hopefully from natural causes.

Thirty-three years later, I’m the only one left who still knows, and friends, things will remain that way.

Some things, you just don’t tell.

So, finally, what does that now decades old diamond ring represent?

Well, no one has ever gasped in amazement as my lovely wife walked into a party with all the light in the room brilliantly filtering through the enormous rock on her hand, blinding everyone. No, Joy’s ring is much more modest than that.

Subtle love.

Joy’s diamond ring somehow tied together:

(1) My once happy Mom’s teenaged talent for designing beautiful jewelry, seventy-one years ago

(2) Her elf-like mentor, the Master Jeweler, Sander Goldstein, who opened other doors to the trade for her

(3) My Dad’s unlikely, yet enduring friendship with a man who was very different than his own people, Jews, overcoming his own ethnic prejudices in a dangerous part of Chicago, eighty-two years ago;

(4) The Irish-Jewish alliance stemming from the grim tenements on the old West Side of Chicago

(5) World War II, my Dad’s 42 months overseas in the Pacific, and the impact on his life afterwards

(6) The very strange and now completely forgotten fact that once upon a time, for years, my Depression-era parents were both jewelers with their own jewelry store, when Eisenhower was America’s President, and they were both filled with high hopes for their futures, together

(7) How that store disappeared after Bonnie and I were born, and the gradual disintegration of my parent’s marriage after that

(8) My Dad’s postwar reunion with ex-con Buddy the Hun and Izzy’s offer to rehabilitate his old friend’s career

(9) My Dad’s old world protective impulse toward women, including one particular black woman, Lorene, and his calling on his (connected) friend Buddy to rescue her from the source of her misery

(10) My previously unknown (to her) appreciation of just one woman’s expectations of me: A Ring

(11) An architecturally significant Chicago steakhouse that used to employ sensuous senior citizen waitresses in tight red satin corsets and worn fishnet stockings, slinging booze and serving sirloin

(12) And, of course, not to slight them by forgetting, the silent but always nearby Chicago Syndicate, ready to help out, whenever you need them. An equal opportunity supplier of services and one which “amazingly” no one ever complains about, well, anything.

I hope it is quite clear to my readers why it took me so long to sort out all these many parts, so I could accurately write this story.  Truth can take longer than fiction.  Some of those doors in my memory were locked up tight.  Hard to open.  Some, I didn’t want to open. It may be that the recent (June 11, 2010) death of my sister, Bonnie Sue, compelled me to finish a story in which she was part of it.  I don’t know.

But this I do know:

To me, when I gave it to Joy, the diamond ring meant,

Here, take this and wear it.  Have my babies.  I will love you forever. 

To Joy, when she received it from me, I believe the diamond ring meant,

Love me now, when I’m beautiful. Give me babies.  Love me later, when I’m old.  Stay with me always. 

Thirty-three years later, a deal, is still a deal.

We have four children, three married, have one grandchild, and two more on the way.

We’ve shared prosperity and ruin.  Too much surgery and even incurable illnesses.

As Joy and I both continue to thread our way together through the dependably treacherous thicket of life, we still pause in the occasional sunlight-dappled meadow, to kiss.

We still hold hands.

We still keep each other going.

Never mind all that.

By now, I hope she knows: I will love her forever.

Ring, or no ring.

(My love of 42 years died on Sunday, Mother’s Day, May 14th, 2017.

We were married in a Jewish ceremony for the first time on Sunday, March 26th and she was wearing her diamond ring for the last time before her hands swelled too much from cancer to allow that. It gave her much satisfaction to have the chance to make one last public declaration of our undying love for each other. But the woman herself died exactly seven weeks later, surrounded by her family.

Joy is also, today in late 2020, survived by five grandchildren: Talia, Eli, Jericho, Jacobi, Jericho and Emjay. She knew all of them, and they knew her. Sarah, her last child, is now 24 and unmarried, so Joy and my Tribe may still increase. I hope Joy will know when that happens.

She left her ring to Sarah.


Publishing News! 

Bob Katzman’s two new true Chicago books are now for sale, from him!
Vol. One: A Savage Heart and Vol. Two: Fighting Words

Gritty, violent, friendship, classic American entrepreneurship love, death, heartbreak and the real dirt about surviving in a completely corrupt major city under the Chicago Machine. More history and about one man’s life than a person may imagine.

Please visit my new website: https://www.dontgoquietlypress.com
If a person doesn’t want to use PayPaI, I also have a PO Box & I ship anywhere in America.

Send me a money order with your return and contact info.
I will get your books to you within ten days.
Here’s complete information on how to buy my books:

Vol 1: A Savage Heart and Vol. 2: Fighting Words
My books weigh almost 2 pounds each, with about 525 pages each and there are a total together of 79 stories and story/poems.

Robert M. Katzman
Don’t Go Quietly Press
PO Box 44287
Racine, Wis. 53404-9998  (262)752-3333, 8AM–7PM

Books cost $29.95 each, plus shipping

For: (1)$3.95; (2)$5.95; (3)$7.95; (4)$8.95 (5)$9.95;(6) $10.95

(7) $11.95; (8) $12.95; (9)$13.95 (10)$15.95 (15)$19.95

I am also for hire if anyone wants me to read my work and answer questions in the Chicago/Milwaukee area. Schools should call me for quantity discounts for 30 or more books. Also: businesses, bookstores, private organizations or churches and so on.

My Fighting Words Publishing Co. four original books, published between 2004 and 2007 are now out-of-print. I still have some left and will periodically offer them for sale on my new website.


Comment by Don Larson

August 6, 2010 @ 8:50 am

A wonderfully complete ending.

My wife’s engagement and wedding rings are also representatives of a budget from 37 years ago. Our love continues as always, the way true love should be.


Comment by Paul Eisenbacher

August 7, 2010 @ 9:17 pm

What a beautiful love story. A connection of two people on so many levels. I was impressed with how “the Ring” represented the obvious love between you two, but also a deeper and wider involvement of so many lives and directions that are represented by your own personal journey. I am impressed and humbled by your life’s spirit and tenacity as personified in your wonderful stories. It is a pleasure to call you a friend. Well done. Paul

Comment by Gargi

November 3, 2011 @ 2:04 pm

Not that Joy(ce) would ever take that ring off her finger, but if it was ever theoretically sold, WHAT a provenance it would have…

As they say, Bob: Priceless!

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