Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

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

Cold rain pouring down

In a thin T-shirt and jeans

I had a dime and made a call

I waited on some steps

Dad came to get me at 2:30 AM

Back to his one-room apartment

A pull-down-from-the-wall bed

A single hanger in a closet

Two TV dinners waiting

Come morning

I flattened one aluminum TV tray

Banging on it with the heel of my shoe

Twisted the other one tightly into a handle

Wrapped a rag around it

Attached the two together with four big safety pins

Fried six eggs for both of us

On a dented four-burner gas stove

I understood my situation:

Didn’t want to be safe but also hungry

Combed my long dark hair

Washed my face

Smoothed out my now dry

T-shirt and jeans

Then went out on the street

Looking for work

48th Street, 49th Street, 50th Street

Kid, we don’t need nobody

51st Street, 52nd Street, 53rd Street

No! No! No!

Hey, why ain’t you in school, punk?

54th Street, 55th Street

Hyde Park seemed to have

A million streets

Stretched out ahead of me

I would not quit

I would not get discouraged

This endless rejection was nothing


Compared to what I left behind me

I had to eat

I would find a job

After one hundred stores

There, in a dusty grocery window:

Clerk Needed

I’m selling fruit for Greeks

Three days a week

Got me another job immediately

Job insurance and food

Washing dishes at an Irish diner

Sweeping up and keeping lost change

Ate three meals in six hours

Learned quickly the world is divided

Black, White, Catholic, Jew

Greek, Italian, Irish, Polish

Everybody watching everybody else

A lesson to remember at fourteen

How to get along with people who are not you

Self-employed at fifteen

Big move up

Working in the dark

Working in the cold

Working in the rain

Working in the snow

Selling newspapers keeping two cents per

Nasty paper-truck drivers cursing me

When they see the six-pointed star

Hanging on a thin chain

Circling my neck

I learn fast that

No matter where I go

There are insane people everywhere

My Dad never caught a break

Depression to War

Married a dangerous woman

More than he could handle

Job to job to job

Never dreamed five years later

That his freezing kid sitting on that step

Would set him up for life

In a place of his own

A kosher delicatessen

Paid for with my


Saved newspaper stand pennies

Little copper bastards can sure add up

The man came and got me

No one else for me to call

A debt unpaid

He never thought so

But I did

He gave me the chance

To grow into a man

And meet the world

Face to face

He died in my arms

Thirty years later

Father, brother, teacher, friend

All of that

To me then, to me now

Every day

Is Father’s Day

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.

 Twitter handle: bob_katzman


Comment by Don Larson

August 29, 2014 @ 12:18 pm


One of your best.

A true life story of Father and Son dedicated to each other.


Comment by Anara

August 29, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

This is a powerful story, Bob. Thank you for sharing. I think it is one that other youth should read–can give them hope. –Anara

Comment by anna kong

August 29, 2014 @ 1:28 pm

It made me cry. So thankful for my loving family – mom, dad and siblings. Will call my mom today and tell her how much I love her.

Comment by Katrinka Threet

August 29, 2014 @ 2:20 pm

All of us have many stories, it’s good that you are able to write yours down. Mine are buried inside where they eat at you! We do care about what you had to endure !

Comment by Dobie Maxwell

August 29, 2014 @ 6:42 pm


I wish I couldn’t relate to this but unfortunately I can to all too much of it.

I don’t know why life has to be SO damn difficult, especially for those of us that only want there to be peace with everyone. I don’t care who is Jewish, Polish, Irish, Italian, black, white, whatever – and I know you don’t either.

Proud of your heritage? Of course,and there’s nothing wrong with that for anyone – but it’s not a definition of who we are. We are all a lot of things, and you are a brilliant writer, very nice person and I’m delighted we crossed paths. You struggle just like I do, and much of the world just doesn’t care about anything but stupid things. I wish it were different, but I totally feel your frustrations.

I guess we wouldn’t be who we are without having to face these struggles, but somewhere in the back of my mind I have to believe there is a planet somewhere that longs for peaceful and creative people like us. I hope we get a chance to go there at some point. This planet kind of stinks from my observation.

All good vibes your way, and please don’t ever quit on your writing. That’s what you do, and you are REALLY good at it.

Your friend,


Comment by Louisa kaiserman

September 1, 2014 @ 12:07 pm

First thing I’ve read here. Twice. Powerful story.

Comment by Paul eisenbacher

September 1, 2014 @ 9:46 pm

I did not have the childhood of your hard experience. However, my father died in my arms. His eyes I will never forget. His life was hard. He was abused and neglected by his family. I found that out later in my life. He gave to me the value of responsibility and personal empowerment through a seres of events in my early life. This helped me to become the person that i am today. I understand your words. Cherish the good memories. We are what others have given to us. We are what we have given to others. As a writer and the person you are today you are his reflection. Well done. Be well and happy my friend. Paul

Comment by Bernard White

May 15, 2017 @ 2:35 pm

Dear Bob,

please indulge my familiarity for I believe we are family.

I have the good fortune, by the Grace of God, to be married to Jackie Katzman.

Jackie is busy today, working lovingly and fiercely at her art so I have to wait to ask her all the questions, to clarify who you are and who we are to each other.

this comment, couldn’t wait, it seems.

I know this, already, from reading about 4-5 of your entries on this “different slants”, I know that we are artistic soul brothers, who share the same Holy Father.

Jackie and I sometimes walk in that beautiful park along the water in Evanston and she tells me about a big house and we try to find that big house that her cousins used to live in.

a place for which she has fond soul memories.

I believe this big house has to do with you.

I am tearing up as I write this thinking of the loss of your dear wife, Joyce.

even though I know so little of your lives.

I am buoyed and strengthened by your Love and your Faith in the face of this time of such profound loss.

I am inspired by your mitzvah to help repair the threshold to that “lost” Jewish Cemetery 5 months ago.

I am moved and inspired by your love of the word.

I am so so very sorry for your loss.

Jackie and I were just walking in that park in Evanston about 2 weeks ago.

We were there to be at the bedside of Jackie’s sweet and precious brother Earl who had a massive stroke about a month ago (maybe 3 weeks) and was resting in a coma at Presence St. Francis Hospital near Ridge and Austin.

So close to the synagogue where Jackie and I celebrated Passover a couple of years earlier.

Earl Israel Landau (born September 21, 1951) passed a day after we returned to Los Angeles, May 4, 21017. He was buried last Wednesday in a small and sacred Jewish ceremony.

I am looking forward to reading your other writings.

I am looking forward to Jackie and you being back in touch, if time and desire and the will of God allows.

I am looking forward to meeting you and learning of your life.

Jackie sobbed upon learning of Joyce entering Hospice and sobbed again upon learning of Joyce’s passing yesterday, less than 24 hours ago, on Mother’s Day, surrounded by you and her children and grandchildren.

Oh this precious and mysterious life.

Thank you for trusting in Hashem.

Thank you for your faithfulness to the mysterious healing magic of the word.

you are and inspiration, brother.

God bless you and your family in this time of irreplaceable loss.


Bernard White

Comment by Bob

May 15, 2017 @ 6:10 pm

The address of the huge house was 1632 Sheridan Road. We lived there from 8/80 until 10/85. jackie ran around the house and up and down the stairs as a child. The house, now yellow, I think, is directly across from where the boats get launched and where that big pond is. The big maples on the property were planted by me in 1983, thinking we’d always be there. If you write me at robertmkatzman@gmail.com I can communicate a little better. Tell Jackie we all appreciated seeing her perform years ago in the Skokie NorthLight Theater while naked. Made our day. This is a very hard time for me and I miss Joy terribly, especially when sleeping after 42 years. There was a poem i wrote on DS called 1632 Sheridan Road if you put my last name first and type that title in on the search bar, maybe it’ll appear. You’ll learn a lot about that house. Joy loved Jackie and was very happy to rediscover her. She would want Jackie to know that. Glad you two are together and i hope you’re happy. Her life was a tough one, i believe and jackie deserves some good times.—love, Bob

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>