Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

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.”

Today is the evening before the Jewish New Year. In Hebrew: Erev Rosh Hashanah, 5777, a time for summing up and considering one’s life. By the end of this grave period of self-assessment, Yom Kippur, people must ask themselves:

What kind of person am I?

Do I regret my errors in judgment?

Will God allow me to live another year, or is my time on earth up?

Will I drown, as it is written as a possibility if not forgiven, be consumed by raging fire, or worst of all to me, be torn apart by wild beasts?

God is making an offer a Jew can’t refuse. (Apologies-sincerely-to Mario Puzo)

I am the last of my family. I better write faster.

It was a largely Irish/Jewish community. A year earlier I’d had my bar mitzvah a mile farther south at the largest synagogue anywhere on the South Side, Rodfei Sholom Or Chodesh, so packed with kids and families that instead of one such important ceremony each Saturday morning, the temple had two of them in order to keep up with the baby boomer crush of children. They had to squeeze me in early, so I was actually still twelve when I participated in the ancient coming-of-age ceremony.

On days like this, over a thousand people crowded into the cube-like yellow-brick Temple at 91stand Jeffery Avenue. I remember as a child how silent a thousand people could be regretting their cruelty, praying to be forgiven, and wondering if they could forgive those who were cruel to them.

Children think their small world is forever and nothing will ever change, but within three years the post-world war two, southern black migration north to find a better life for themselves terrified the residents of that fifty-year-old community, and in an incredible real estate scam peddling hate, lies and prejudice, by 1967 the entire area around my former home was inhabited by black people. Except for my Mother, Anne, in her two-story red brick Georgian style home who never moved. She wasn’t prejudiced and stayed there another twenty years.

Her parents lived a couple of miles even farther south; Nathan Warman and Celia Baumwohl Warman, both immigrants from Minsk, Byelorussia and Dobra, Poland before and during World War One, never moved either.

I have thought about that, about why the three of them weren’t afraid. Why they never ran. Then as I grew older and kept reading, always kept reading, I realized that compared to the murderous Cossacks under the orders of Russian Czar Nicholas II, who went rampaging through Jewish Shtetls raping and killing helpless unarmed Jewish peasants trapped in those impoverished tiny villages, which my family witnessed, their choosing to live with people with merely darker skin color then themselves was, well, comparatively no big risk. 

My Grandmother Celia, hiding behind a barn door with her little sister Shirley saw their father, Moshe, beheaded by a Cossack riding on a “big black horse with a terrible sword” as she told us many times. She watched his head roll away into a ditch. It froze her heart. My middle name Michael came from him. His memory dwells within me.

No harm ever came to my Grandparents or to my Mother in all the time they remained in their homes. Their grandchildren, my sister Bonnie and myself inherited this lack of prejudice, as have all six of our children and as will all eight of our collective grandchildren. Hate has stopped with us.

But my grandmother’s frozen heart made my Mother a furious violent single parent, who took out her rage on her small son for nine years, beating him with fists, metal garbage cans, leather belts and rubber hoses, and shedding his artwork on his walls. All of that was secret. No one knew about it and I never talked to anyone about it. I knew that it would be a “shanda for the Juden” or an embarrassment for the Jewish community if anyone knew about her. This tribal rule kept my bleeding mouth shut. I have never understood why, even today.

My ice cold unloving Grandmother Celia unknowingly transformed that terrible Cossack into my Mother and after nine years of enduring her irrational fury, when I turned fourteen I ran away into a cold rainy night with nothing but my t-shirt, blue jeans and gym shoes until my Father Israel found me and I moved in with him.

But that is another story. Not the one I have never written about before.  This a unique odyssey which I will write about today.

Earlier, after extensive and to me, endless testing, I’d been accepted into Hyde Park’s University of Chicago Laboratory School. I’d never heard of it and my parents battled over my going to such an expensive exclusive school four miles north from my Mother’s house, it was supposed to be the best high school in America.

But a Jewish psychologist working with troubled boys in Downtown Chicago, a Dr. Mayer, warned my parents, after they were endlessly called to my grammar school because of my relentless playground fighting and my unwillingness to be silent in class, that if I wasn’t given a chance to go to a far more challenging atmosphere and somehow discover a way to quench my unending desire to release my hair trigger temper. He didn’t know about my intense intent to exact revenge upon my insane Mother. No one did. No one understood the volcanic violence barely contained inside of me. The doctor felt that eventually prison might be in my future otherwise.

My running away from her ended my Mother’s financial involvement in my life. My Father lived in a one-room small hotel with a pull-down metal bed stored upright against a wall during the daytime, and with a small kitchen and bathroom. He couldn’t find work and nothing seemed to go right with him after his nearly four years in World War Two in the Pacific arena. 

He was wounded in more ways than just from aerial bombing which sent sharp burning hot metal shrapnel into his legs, which he never had removed and died with those pieces still in him thirty-six years later, after the night he moved me into his small life.

Regardless, his poverty didn’t make him any less of a hero to me. Money was not how I judged him.  Kindness was all he could offer me and that was what I was desperate for.

I would be responsible for paying the school’s tuition. I knew that and decided to talk to the University High School’s Tuition Office about my situation. This was a place where wealthy and sometimes famous parents sent, or maybe parked their children when they travel the world, and was also a discounted perk to draw in distant desired professors with children at other universities to join the University of Chicago’s faculty.

Money wasn’t an issue for those children, the six hundred or so that composed the four-year student body. The Tuition Office didn’t have fourteen-year-old kids coming to talk to them about figuring a way to pay the high tuition.  However, my being a rebel for the eight years I was in that other public school didn’t let that intimidate me, and after a frank talk with a somewhat surprised, disturbed and very tall Patrician-type administrator there, he agreed to let the first year slide until I could find work and begin paying them when I was fifteen.

However, if I didn’t repay the first year’s tuition within the next four years, I wouldn’t be allowed to graduate. They didn’t offer me any discounts, or charity, and that didn’t surprise me. The man I was speaking with, formal in a three-piece suit and a gold chain with Greek letters on it, wearing wire-rim glasses, felt my somewhat dire circumstances might positively develop my character. We shook hands, and I left his office.

Never saw him again and in fact, four years later in Spring 1968 when I was a senior in that school, I received a letter informing me that without repayment of my freshman year’s tuition, I would not be allowed to graduate with the other one hundred sixty people in my class.

My working seven days a week for the past three years was well known by both the faculty and my classmates, because of positive newspaper publicity about my business, called Bob’s Newsstand, evidently didn’t impress them as evidence that my character had transformed positively. That I never was able to participate in any of that school’s extra-curricular activities, or dances or sports teams or whatever else the other kids did after school there was of no matter to them. I owed them money. They wanted it.

I admit that I was seething at their uncharitable attitude, the coldness of it, and decided that I would find a way to pay off the debt. However the repayment would be done in a memorable way. I guess you could take the South Side kid out of public school, but you couldn’t take the South Side public school attitude out of the kid. I repaid them, after causing an appropriate amount of chaos in the University’s Burser’s office. I didn’t do anything. It was how I chose to pay my debt. I graduated. A year later, I learned that the assistant manager of the Burser’s office still remembered me. Not happily. I liked that.

That story, written and published in one of my earlier published books, is called “The Thousand Dollar Bill”.  But that is not the purpose of this story either.

This story is about the most wonderful transformation that occurred to me in that amazing school, and how it affected all of my life.  That is the reason I titled what follows now, 1964: A Runaway’s Renaissance, because it was.

In my freshman year in that high school, beginning in September, 1964, I had more free time than I ever would for the rest of my life, until I closed my last store in Skokie, Illinois to care for Joyce, my dying wife of forty-two years, who was in hospice in our Wisconsin home in 2016.

Lab School or else U-High as people generally called it, was a very clean, bright lit and carpeted classroom sort of place, where it was safe all the time, where the classes were small, unlike the thirty-three or so per class in my public school. The teachers were mostly quiet people, gentle, easy to talk to and serious about educating us. There was no playground to fight on. There were no gangs and no weapons. There was a lot of discussion about whatever we were supposed to be learning.

I have decided to leave the cafeteria in the school’s basement out of my story. I guess perfection was difficult to achieve when it came to supplying, um, tasty food in that exclusive private high school, even for the mighty parent organization, The University of Chicago. Bon Appitite-Not!! Let’s move on.

There was a large room on the school’s first floor called The Audio Visual Center, where students could go to practice learning a foreign language, or hear some lecture about some subject they were supposed to write about. There were numerous booths with walls between them and a record player for each booth, and big earphones to keep the sound of the record within that booth. There was no adult in there and it was for self-learning. It fascinated me. I began exploring what else was in there I could listen to for free, besides French, German, Russian or the history of religion and dull stuff like that. 

I was fourteen and this was a very cool room.

I discovered music.

I discovered some faraway place called Broadway in New York City.

This was a fantastic discovery, and for free, and I decided to learn everything about this stunning place and who inhabited it, which I never before knew existed. For the next nine months, I studied musical theater and singers.

Imagine if you can, being culturally isolated me, and for the most part never having heard of the following people:

Barbara Streisand, Mary Martin, Robert Preston, Robert Goulet, Carol Channing, Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Jones, Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra, Stubby Kaye, James Cagney, Ruby Keeler, Fred Astaire, Diane Washington, Nat King Cole, Maria Callas, Chita Rivera, The Everley Brothers, Hank Williams, Pearl Bailey, Doris Day, Gene Kelly, Mel Torme, Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme, Judy Garland, Dorothy Dandridge, Yul Brynner, Bing Crosby. Louis Armstrong, Ann Margaret, Rita Moreno, Julie Andrews, The Andrews Sisters, Ray Bolger, Vivian Blaine, Gordon MacRae, Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Harry Belafonte, Paul Robson, Robert Morse, Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf, Billy Holiday, Barbra Harris and uncountable others.

Or being able to listen to for hundreds of hours, the following musicals:

Carousel, Funny Girl, I Can Get It For You Wholesale, Camelot, Guys and Dolls, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, West Side Story, Hello Dolly, An American in Paris, Oklahoma, The King and I, Singin’ in the Rain, The Wizard of Oz, Showboat, Calamity Jane, South Pacific, Gigi, Annie get Your Gun, Bye Bye Birdie, Porgy and Bess, The Music Man, 76 Trombones, Cabin in the Sky, Carmen Jones, Brigadoon, Pins and Needles and more.

Did I have to look up the names of the musicals and the singers? Sure, I’m ancient now, but I only listed the ones I remembered discovering in my little booth with my big earphones on.  I know I left many people and productions off those lists, but that isn’t the point.

Imagine the impact on my life learning all the stories, the liner notes on the backs of the album, hearing singers at the top of their game, the dramas, the love stories and being transported to wherever the musicals would send me. Imagine listening to all of that from the age of fourteen and a bit of fifteen.

Later, when I had multiple stores and I would travel to New York once a year for the gift show in the exhibition hall in Mid-Town, I would stay for two days, always went to the Second Avenue Delicatessen, then some top steakhouse, and always two shows on Broadway or off-Broadway. I never had a reservation. Just walked up to the box office, bought the best seat available that night for one guy and spent a couple of hours in heaven.

This went on for a long time, until it didn’t. Things end.

Going to the Lab School gave me two educations: Discovering all I wrote about above, that there were wonderful caring teachers who would take the time to talk with me if I asked them and my two years in Journalism class putting out the Midway, the school’s newspaper which had a real impact on writing news stories and my way of writing life stories like this one, and how different the two styles were.

But also, because of the necessity of paying my way, that newsstand taught me the rules of showing up on time every single day, how I must speak to my customers, how to deal with truck drivers who initially assumed they could steal newspapers out of the bundles and I’d never know how to catch them, how to safely dress for Chicago’s frozen winter weather, how to make a waterproof, windproof wooden newsstand, how to make a fire in a tar pot, later a kerosene stove, how to light and care for a kerosene light and later a Coleman lantern, how to tie strong knots when returning unsold magazine and newspapers, how to hire people and the man born in 1896, my first employee Bill Reynolds, then 69, a one-armed, one-legged former bookie, hobo and newsvendor in 1912 on my same corner, who became my mentor to the world for three years, bless him.

I wasn’t very successful in a number of my classes, like French, or Physics, or Geometry, and I didn’t win any awards for my scholastic achievements at the end of my four years there. I remember sitting there burning about that. An anonymous face in the crowd who stood out in nothing in that exclusive school. Burning with frustration.

But by my junior year I was able to buy a car for $300, a 1962 Buick Electra 225, with what I was earning at my newsstand. I was reading the New York Times every single day, every section including Business and Finance and all of the editorials and the politics from the age of 15 until I closed the newsstand in 1985 when I was 35. A very different sort of self-education. I had an accountant, a lawyer and before I graduated I had a corporation. Between the school and the newsstand I believe I had a unique education and a way of looking at the world probably like no other, and despite the bad times, I am grateful for the chance that school gave me despite my lack of money.

But there’s one more thing.

I really wanted to be good, be civilized while attending that special school. No trouble, no fighting, no disrupting classes, no bad reputation following me from teacher to teacher, class to class like in my public school like a permanent black cloud hanging over me. I decided that Lab School might be my one chance to really learn something and maybe make something out of my life. But perfection and aspirations are elusive and then came the explosive incident in my French One class in early Spring 1965 when I was fifteen.

There were three older blonde boys sitting behind me in a room with about twenty students and desks that weren’t attached to the floor. These boys, contrary to my hopes of encountering no trouble, decided that my Jewish nose, which loomed large against my 120 pounds and my five-foot, four-inch stature, was a reason for them to collectively have some fun at my expense. Bad fun.

Week after week, month after month, when the stern French teacher, Lydia Cochran, was present and who had very good control of here class, they would whisper just loud enough for me to hear: “nose, nose, nose” over and over, stopping to laugh every so often, because what was I going to do about it?  There were three of them, they were bigger than me and they assumed they held all the cards.

And I waited.

I could do this. Not get in trouble. Not get expelled from that school. Not let my life return to an endless loop of misery.

But life didn’t cooperate and neither did those three boys. One day that tough teacher was gone and a mild young woman substitute took over the class for the day. The trio decided she was no problem for them and they decided to become more aggressive, saying that word “nose” not only over and over, but also louder so other people noticed. The teacher said nothing. But others began watching this situation. No one knew me. No one knew what my life had been like for not just during my nine years in public school, but also the nine years in my dangerous house.

There is a limit to patience. A limit to civilization. A limit to what a person could endure. Or maybe more importantly, would endure. The boys must have decided they want to find out the limits of the short skinny kid in the first row, the silent Jewish one with the big nose.

I did nothing in response to their words. I was waiting, as always, for the bell to get out of there. Then the ringleader of the crew became impatient at my lack of response. This wasn’t any fun if he could insult me and get no rise out of me.

He did something new.

He kicked my chair, hard.

He made a mistake. This was the public school equivilent to challenging some guy to knock a chip off of his shoulder as a prelude to combat in the gravel. But Mr Blond guy didn’t know about that lower-class stuff.

He found a way to see how far he could go with me. I turned around and very quietly told him he could call me whatever he wanted, but NOT to touch my chair. He smiled, then he laughed at me, and then they all laughed, feigning terror at my whispered warning.

But I knew what was coming and they didn’t. As sure as I was of what that main guy would do, I saw my life spread out in front of me like a wide landscape of endless violence and no escape from it. I knew I was going to be expelled from the school. I knew the volcanic anger was boiling up inside of me and I didn’t care about anything else in the world except for the next two minutes and delivered justice to these privilaged private-school maggots.

Then the son of a bitch barely touched the back of my chair with his toe and I exploded, whirled around like a raging roman candle and went right for his throat with all the velocity and propulsion my hundred twenty pounds could supply, and we went back, farther back, and then down, sliding through row after row, scattering other desks and students, papers and pens flying in the air ’til we crashed into the room’s wall, and I didn’t give a damn. Not a fucking damn. He was in my world now.

I wanted to kill him, right then he was everything horrible in my life and I didn’t care and he would pay. Laugh now you stupid asshole, laugh now with my strong fingers digging into your soft neck. His eyes bulged wide and he was terrified. He had no idea what monster he had just unleashed.

Many hands grasped and quickly separated us. The tables were returned to where they had been. All the papers and pens were picked up and all the kids returned to their seats, including me and the three totally stunned assholes.

I waited with resignation for the end of my career in that school to come because how could that mild young substitute teacher ever know what had happened to cause what I just did in her quiet French class?

But then something changed. Really changed.

That young teacher paused for a moment to allow everything to return to order, and then after a moment, a quiet moment gazing at everyone, and me…she just resumed teaching. 

I stared at her.  She was teaching French. She wasn’t screeching at me like I was some wild animal. She didn’t send me to the principal. She didn’t ask me to defend myself, to somehow justify what just happened. All she did was resume teaching French from exactly where she was stopped by what had just happened,  interrupting her.

Maybe she heard the boys. Maybe she understood everything. Maybe she came from a home, a life, like mine. She never said one word to me, this angel, offering me justice.

I have no idea. But nothing happened to me. It remains an unsolved mystery in my life why justice was available to me that stunning day.

It was a small student body and word spread quickly to all four levels, freshman through senior, about the wild incident in the Freshman French class and what the public school kid did to the boys who were insulting him. A friend, I didn’t have many, but I did have one, told me about this.

No teacher ever mentioned it. Neither did any of my classmates. Like it never happened. But in my four years at that special school, an island of civilization, not one person ever touched me, insulted me or did anything else which might–just possibly–cause me to react like I did in that French class. I still didn’t have many friends after my four years were up, but no battles either. It was my last fight ever with anyone after that incident in May 1965.

While my life has unfolded in unusual ways, sometimes I remember that one moment when I felt so completely free to do whatever I was compelled to do with no concern whatsoever about any consequences. Even kill.

I think to myself I wonder if other people ever experienced a moment like that, where nothing else mattered. I admit there is no equivalent to what I felt that day. When justice arrived and I was found to be innocent.

But today I have many friends, nice, smart, kind people who seem happy to see me and never talk about what I look like or anything like that. I think about that and the mystery of that one time and have decided, since I’m writing this on the eve of the Jewish New Year, that if God decided it was time for me to receive a break–if I proved I had the nerve to stand up for myself–that all what had already happened to me was at last enough and would happen to me never more, I’m willing to accept that as a possibility.

I will pray tonight, asking for forgiveness, seeking atonement for my sins and be willing to forgive other’s transgressions. But also, every so often, I will express silent thanks for the chance I received that day to have a better life and escape from all that came before. Because after that day, that one day, I was free, and all the anger went away. 

See also, for more illumination: “I’m fourteen. I need a job.” (written July 18, 2018)

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

Shipping by air to most of Europe, due to the weight of my books is $99.00

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.  My hour-long story reading at WGTD 91.1 NPR Kenosha, Wis is now a podcast. The interview and story can be heard here:

Speaking of Our Words June 30th, 2017 With special guest star and featured writer Bob Katzman. Bob reads his memoir, “Audrey, Pink Bunny Slippers, Her Cat and the God’s Eye” and talks about his wife.   Your comments are welcome, below, and please tell others I can be found here as a writer. I can also be hired as a speaker for organizations, etc, both here and in Europe. Seeking an agent. robertmkatzman@gmail.com Poet & Storyteller for hire for organizations, schools or private events   www.DifferentSlants.com to view recent and older examples of my work

Preview YouTube video Speaking of Our Words – June 30th, 2017

Speaking of Our Words – June 30th, 2017



Comment by Jim Payne

September 9, 2018 @ 6:23 pm

You are a great story teller. You are unique.

Comment by Herb Berman

September 9, 2018 @ 6:35 pm

Goodness, Bob, you run Job a close second. I’m glad your current friends are kinder than your childhood tormenters. I guess they couldn’t be meaner.

Your life-story almost always astonishes me.

Shanah Tovah.

Comment by Charlie Newman

September 9, 2018 @ 9:18 pm

Well-done…as always…file under “that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”…tho I wish you didn’t need the strength

Comment by Lynda Rosemark

September 10, 2018 @ 6:31 am

Wow..quite challenging for you.so glad you had a gentle sub. My teacher training was of the philosophy that no kid could touch another or disrupt class….if so, kick him out!
It s a schande that the Lab School made you pay full price,,,,,they should be ashamed.
Shanah Tovah Bob

Comment by Bob

September 10, 2018 @ 6:51 am

Lynda, everything is relative. A nasty teacher hit me with a ruler in 6th grade and I reported her to the principal firmly stating at the age of twelve that this was no Catholic School and no teacher could hit me. The teacher was completely put in her place by the principal and that woman never spoke to me again for the rest of the year. I had my limits. Thanks for writing to me.
Shanah Tovah, Lynda

Comment by Brad dechter

September 10, 2018 @ 7:11 am

Shana Tova Bob! A very good outcome to what was a bad situation.
Reminded me of the old joke though:
“What did one eye say to the other?
Between us, something smells!”
Sorry- couldn’t help the joke.
I experienced antisemitic behavior in the Boy Scouts at Caldwell, which is the reason I left the troop after3-4 months. Even on the South Side, where Jews were by far the majority prior to 1967, there was still pockets of antisemitism on the South Side. Sad!
Glad you knew how to take care of yourself and glad you had such an understanding teacher!

Comment by Don Larson

September 10, 2018 @ 12:30 pm


Thanks for writing this story.

I don’t feel that fighting for our honor is a sin or needs an excuse. Perhaps though it is better had we not needed to fight with such anger more often than we have.

The more important lessons are the ones we had the hardest times learning at first, absorbing more of those lessons later.

Every time I read your stories I feel glad that we have been friends for 60 years now. Part of me considers that I should have been there with you in some of your battles and you with me in mine. But apparently we were supposed to endure those battles alone to deeply integrate the experiences into our souls.

During my Sophomore year at Bowen, I had the pleasure of sitting at lunch with a group of friends who all were Jewish. I never felt awkward in that group having had so many Jewish friends ate Caldwell. One day a topic came up at lunch about “being Jewish” in some regard. One of my friends mentioned that I was not of that faith. Immediately someone said “let’s make Don an Honorary Jew!” That was the solution fully embraced by the others and it was an honor for me to be so considered by my friends.

I was a Methodist at that time and for many years afterwards. For a while I considered becoming Catholic. Eventually I found my Spiritual sanctuary in other ways and have never looked further.

But I was Jewish at least for one lunch period amongst friends at Bowen and I still find comfort and pride in that designation. 🙂


Comment by Bob

September 10, 2018 @ 8:26 pm

You being my friend for a zillion years is enough. Friends can’t be everywhere they are needed, all the time. While I certainly will accept you as an “honorary Jew”, who you are to me all this time and right now is far more important than to giving a name to a philosophy which probably has no real meaning in your existence. You need not pass any test to be a friend of mine.

Comment by Don Larson

September 10, 2018 @ 8:46 pm

Hi Bob,

We understand each other very well.


Comment by Bob

September 11, 2018 @ 5:50 am

I guess I’d prefer to be filed under “Hot Sex and dark Chocolate”, but, well, we can’t have everything, can we? Happy New Year, C!

Comment by Bob

September 11, 2018 @ 6:01 am

Jim, thank you. This story, which stemmed from a realization that it was so unusual, untold and jam-packed with emotion, that I decided I had to see what I could do with it. It has been re-edited and expanded a dozen times in an effort to catch all the little errors and to say the things I wasn’t so sure about saying initially. Add in the fact that it is about Rosh Hashanah, during that same holiday and there was a pressure to finish it before the holiday passed. But within 24-hours it became the most read story of anything I’ve posted in eleven years. THAT was a surprise.

Comment by Jim Payne

June 7, 2019 @ 10:47 am

Bob, Your sentences are so full of action and color, memories with pathos, that reading your story for the second time is even better than the first. You are a great writer with stories that will live beyond your years.

Comment by David Griesemer

July 21, 2020 @ 11:46 am

“My ice cold unloving Grandmother Celia unknowingly transformed that terrible Cossack into my Mother…”

For years, since I first heard of Bob’s’ mother, I wondered what pathology could possibly call up such evil. But here, Bob puts his finger directly on it.

One is reminded of Mary Shelley’s monster, who said, “If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear.”
Anne became that monster.

Dr. Mayer feared that Bob was headed for prison. But Bob did not become a monster, perhaps because of what happened in May of 1965. “…after that day, that one day, I was free, and all the anger went away.”

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