Archive | May, 2016

Perhaps We Really Do Deserve The Senior Citizen Discount

26 May

I admit that I am now over 60, but I cannot understand why restaurants and theaters are giving me the senior citizen discount without me even asking for it!

It started innocently enough. My husband and I went to our local movie theater. It is our theater of choice and we go there almost exclusively to see movies. About a year ago I went up to pay the ticket and I noticed the discount.   I was surprised.

“You gave me the senior citizen discount,” I said. “I am not 65.”

“Oh our discounts start at 55,” she answered sweetly.

“Well that is okay then,” I responded. And happily walked off with an extra dollar.

But that was then. Now it is different.

The last two times when I went to my favorite bagel store, part of a big chain, I was stunned when I looked at my bill. The first time was in mid April. I took my children to lunch and was surprised to see ten percent removed from the bill. I showed it to my daughter.

“Look, he gave me the senior citizen discount. Do you think I should tell him I am not a senior?” I asked my daughter.

She looked down at me (she is 4 ½ inches taller). “Mom, you are a senior,” she responded. Really. I do not think so.

A few days later I went back with my sister in law. Once again I was given the senior discount. This time I felt better. My sister in law is two years older than me. It was much more legitimate. But I was still shocked that it was just given to me without even asking.

Okay I do have very grey hair. Some might even say that the hair that frames my face is white. But honestly, in the back it is quite black. And I really have no wrinkles.

I guess I do not see myself as getting older. But it is obvious that some younger people see me in a different way.

However, this week, I realized my husband and I get the senior citizen discount for a good reason.

My husband and I love the chicken noodle soup at a local deli, D’Bronx. It has the all time best ever chicken noodle soup with a matzah ball.   I love it. I have encouraged many people to become addicted to this soup. For months my husband and I ate there almost every Monday night after our ballroom dancing class. But a few months ago, our instructor left, and we stopped our lessons. So we stopped going out for soup every Monday.

This past weekend we were bemoaning the fact that we missed our soup. So I announced that we would go out for dinner on Monday and have D’Bronx soup. It was planned!

This is where the senior citizen part comes in.

Monday evening came, and my husband arrived home from work. “What’s for dinner?” He asked. There was obviously nothing planned.

“We are going out for soup,” I announced.

Then we talked for a while about where we wanted to go. And ended up at a restaurant close to our house with a wonderful salad bar, but horrible chicken noodle soup.

When I paid the bill, you go through a buffet and pay at the end, the young man gave me the senior citizen discount. Once again I bemoaned this discount to my husband.   But I accepted my $2.34 discount.

While we were eating dinner, I mentioned how much I did not like the soup. In fact I stopped eating it and threw my paper napkin into the bowl. It was that bland and yucky.

D'Bronx Chicken Noodle Matzah Ball Soup

D’Bronx Chicken Noodle Matzah Ball Soup

My husband said, “We should have gone to D’Bronx. We love their soup.”

We both stopped.

“Oh my G-d!” I laughed. “Now I know why we get the senior citizen discount. We cannot even remember where we wanted to go eat. That was the purpose of going out tonight; to go to get chicken noodle soup at D’Bronx. And we both forgot!!!”

We had a wonderful laugh.

I will never bemoan the senior citizen discount again.

 

 

(To be honest on Tuesday, I went over to D’Bronx by myself and had a bowl of soup for lunch.)

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Holding My Grandparent’s Naturalization Papers Overwhelms Me

23 May

 

imageI have a small leather case that is inscribed with the words Certificate of Citizenship.  Enclosed are my grandparents naturalization papers that change them from immigrants to citizens.

I hold the papers in my hands and I wonder what my grandparents were thinking. Here are the legal documents that made them naturalized citizens of the United States of America. They were no longer Polish citizens. They were free of the past, or were they?

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One paper is 84 years old.   My Grandmother became an American in 1932. She was 27 years old. I know she had just returned from a trip to Europe to regain her health and see her family and my grandfather’s family. She took her two small children, my mother and my uncle, with her for six months in Poland. And then she came home, a changed woman with a mission. Get as many family members out of Europe as possible.   Grandma was smart. She saw the coming tide of Hitler and his anti-Semitism. What would she think now with the new rise of hatred and xenophobia throughout the world?

The seal encompasses her photo. Her certificate has a small burn in it. The paper was folded when it happened. I can see my grandfather smoking a cigarette with an ash hanging off as it falls on the papers. I know my grandmother must have been furious. It looks like that type of burn to me. I am glad that my children have never seen a cigarette burn. When my father and grandfather smoked, papers often got singed.   But by the time my children were born, there were no more smokers in my family.

There on her paper is a space for Race. It says Hebrew. I wonder if she worried about that word on her papers? They were not yet putting yellow stars on Jews when she was in Europe. Even though she was worried, perhaps, being here made her feel safe enough. The good news is that 11 years later, when my grandfather became a citizen, there was no longer a space for Race. This item was removed from the naturalization papers. It makes me happy to see this change.

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I wonder why Grandpa waited so long? He came to the USA in 1920. Did he originally think he would go back one day? Maybe. But the war probably changed his mind. He became a citizen in the midst of World War II — the war that destroyed his family. The war that murdered his parents and his siblings, his nieces and his nephews, his aunts and uncles, his cousins and his friends. Almost all perished. He did not yet officially know this in 1943. But perhaps he knew, since all letters stopped coming and there was no more contact with his family. It was not till after the war that he knew they had all died.

On this paper I see my grandparents’ signatures. I usually did not see it. To me Grandma only signed all letters Love, Grandma Thelma. Grandpa never wrote letters. In his later years, he forgot how to write his name in English. He only remembered how to write it in Hebrew. But here I see his signature. It gives me a thrill to see these names on these certificates.

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On the back of Grandpa’s certificate of naturalization is an additional note. It was when he became an official citizen that he legally changed his name from Nisson to Nathan. He put away his Yiddish/Hebrew name and moved to an English name. This is the name I gave my son. Nissan, Nathan. He was born 11 months after Grandpa died. It seemed right that he should have his name.

By the time Grandpa became a citizen they had moved to the home they lived in for over 30 years. This was the location of their bakery in West New York, New Jersey. A home and a bakery where I spent many hours and enjoyed so much love. The same address where I spent the first three years of my life. Where my parents spent the first six years of their married life.

When I hold my grandparents’ citizenship papers I am overwhelmed. Because they moved here and left their homes when they were so young, 18 and 16, I am alive. Because they made a conscious choice my children have freedom. Because they were able to immigrate to the United States, we live in freedom.

I hope the United States will continue to be a beacon of light to immigrants throughout the world, as it was for my grandparents.

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/06/25/how-world-war-i-saved-my-family-or-my-grandpa-was-a-draft-dodger/

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/i-believe-mystically-and-magically-great-grandma-chava-watches-over-me/

 

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/grandma-thelma-knows-what-she-knows/

 

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/speaking-yiddish-always-brings-me-holocaust-memories/

 

Drinking An Ooglie Mooglie/Gogli Mogli Always Made A Sore Throat Feel Better

11 May

Recently while at lunch with my Kansas Yiddish buddy, we were talking about how some children did not like eggs and the ways their mothers snuck eggs into their diet.

I told how my husband hated eggs so much, his mother would make him chocolate chip pancakes so that he would have eggs without knowing. Not such a harsh way to eat eggs! In fact, I laughed about it. But it was a tradition my husband continued with our children.  Scrambled eggs were not the right Sunday morning breakfast in his mind,  you gave your children pancakes and biscuits to have them eat eggs.

My friend’s mother had a sneakier way to get her to eat eggs. My friend would drink a malted after school each day. Her mother would mix a raw egg into my friend’s malted. She was surprised that her mother would do such a thing. When she found out what her mother was doing from her young uncle, she never trusted those special drinks again.

“It was a good thing I never got salmonella,” my friend said.

But then they did not think about salmonella over 50 years ago….okay I am giving away our ages.  In fact, serving raw eggs was considered a delicacy. Personally, I was not surprised about putting raw eggs in a drink. I asked her, “Well didn’t you ever have an ooglie mooglie?”

“What are you talking about?” She said as she looked at me as if I was crazy.

I could not believe she never had one of this special ‘treats’ when she had a sore throat or cold. Raw egg mixed with sugar and beaten till it was smooth and frothy, an Oogle Moogle or Ooglie Moogli was a treat that I had on occasion from my grandmother.  But never from my own mother.

However, when I lived in Israel during my sophomore year of college, I had many occasions to have an Oogle Moogle from my great aunt and uncle.   Holocaust survivors, they often made this treat for their daughter, who loved them. She would have them all the time if she could.   I remember the first time they made one for me,  I was so sick.  She wanted one as well!   But they only made one for me!  It was delicious.

I told all this to my friend, and to prove I was not crazy, I googled (LOL) oogle moogle. And there on Wikipedia was an entire page devoted to this treat, I show the first paragraph here:

“Kogel mogelGogl-MoglGogel-MogelGogol-Mogol (Russian: Гоголь-моголь), Gogli-Mogli, or Gogle-mogle (Yiddish: גאָגל-מאָגל‎) is an egg-based homemade dessert popular in Central Europe and Caucasus. It is made from egg yolkssugar, and flavorings such as honeyvanillacocoa or rum, similar to eggnog. In its classic form it is served slightly chilled or at room temperature. Served warm or hot, it is considered a home remedy for sore throats. As a home remedy it could be of Russian or Yiddish origin. Variations include milk, honey and soda.[1][2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kogel_mogel

There was my proof, except the name was slightly different: Gogli Mogli. Perhaps I had misunderstood what it was called, but probably over time, I just forgot and changed the pronunciation. It did not matter, my friend still had never heard of it.

But since she never liked eggs, I cannot imagine that her mother or any relative would ever offer her a drink made primarily of eggs and sugar. Whereas I can still see my great uncle mixing the drink and stirring it so quickly till it turned to forth. To me the memory of an Ooglie Mooglie or a Gogli Mogli is a wonderful memory, especially when I am suffering with a sore throat. It would make it feel so much better.

Memories of My Grandparents Or Why I Always Read Street Signs

8 May

I can be annoying when driving or sitting in the passenger seat of a car. Why? Because I read all the road signs…out loud…always: street signs, billboards, ads. If it is on the street or the highway, I read it.   And I read quickly. When you learn to read by reading street signs, you learn to recognize letters and words and read before the car passes the sign.

I did, in fact, learn to read, or at least enhance my reading through verbalizing what was written on signs.  Although we had plenty of books in our house, it was street signs that were important. My maternal grandmother started this habit. She read every street sign as my grandfather drove. When I was a child I did not know why, I just knew we had to read all the signs. As a teen, I realized the importance of reading signs when Grandpa was driving.

My maternal grandparents came to the US from Europe in the early 1920s. Although my grandmother went to night school and learned to read and write English, my grandfather never did. He was great in Yiddish, Hebrew and Polish. But English, he never really learned. So it was Grandma who read the papers, kept the books and read the street signs for him.

Grandpa did drive the car. I guess driver’s licenses were easier to get back then. No written tests I assume, because Grandpa could not read or write English well. He could read slowly and write his name. But overall not well enough to read the street signs. To make finding their destination easier, in the times of no GPS telling you what to do, my grandmother would always read the street signs to let him know exactly where we were: Stop, Yield, Merge were easy. I know he learned to recognize those signs over time.

But my Grandma did not stop there, she read all those street signs as to where you were and special billboards as we drove along. If there was a sign, she read it. Eventually, we just read along starting at a unusually early age. I think at times there was a race to see who could read the signs first, as my sister and my brother and my Mother also read the street signs.

My Grandpa needed it. My Dad never said anything about it. Perhaps he thought it was cute when we were children. In reality, it is a habit I cannot stop. I still do it. I read when I am driving, or when someone else is driving.   Lately the ones that really get my reading mind in gear are in Missouri. They have all these electronic billboards that say things like, “Buckle up, MODOT cares.” I read all of them out loud. I cannot read them silently. Part of reading a street sign is to read for everyone to hear. At one point while we were driving to St. Louis, my husband piped up and said, “Don’t get into an accident reading all those MODOT signs.”

My husband probably had no idea why I always read the signs. But he puts up with it and has not said anything about it in years. At one point early in our relationship, he did say something about being able to read for himself. But that stopped when our children were little. I think he thought I was reading for them. But I was not.   I was just continuing a childhood habit.

To be honest, I usually do not read the signs around our home and neighborhood. Those are not necessary to read. However, as soon as I get on a highway and, especially, if I am in a new place, I start reading those signs.  Last year we had a road trip to Minneapolis. It was a road sign Bonanza, especially after my GPS stopped working. (We accidentally popped out the little disk.)

I have a few friends who I know find it annoying when they are driving with me. I think they think I do it when I have nothing else to say, just to hear my own voice. But that is not the reason. Reading signs is second nature. I remember long car rides to the Catskills with my grandparents. I hear my Grandma’s voice as we drive along. And I know we will be safe. We know where we are going.