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I Hate Having to Say, “Me Too”

19 Oct

I hate having to say, “me too.”   It makes me a bit sick to my stomach to be honest. So many of us were harassed on the job or in school or just walking down the street in the 60s. 70s, 80s, and even today. I wish the culture would change. Perhaps it will.

I remember when my husband would watch, Mad Men. Sometime he would say something like, “I cannot believe they treated women like that. “ And I would respond. “Yes they did. And it was sometimes much worse.”

So I will relate my two worst encounters.   To be honest, I have a list of about ten incidents that impacted my life. But I was lucky. There always seemed to be an angel near by that saved me from the worst. As Fred Rogers would say, I always looked for the helpers. Here are the two worst work-related incidents and the angels who saved me.

I started working In the 70s.   When I was in high school and college, I worked at a grocery store in Monticello, NY. The Catskills my happy place. For five summers I worked at Shopwell. I actually loved my job. I worked behind the Deli counter. I knew the other worker, almost all men.   I made friends with some of the cashiers, almost all women.

For four years, I never had a problem.   I loved going to work. I hung out with my friends. I made two great friends over the summers and we looked forward to being together. Until the fifth year. The year I was 20, entering my junior year of college.

I admit I was adorable. And small. That is important. I did not look strong, but I was. I was raised to be independent. I had just returned from living in Israel for a year, and nothing frightened me. But the store hired a new manager of the deli. Eliot. He was young, perhaps 30; he was obnoxious; and he was after me in a not nice way.

It became an extremely unpleasant place to work. He would whisper horrible comments in my ear, and give me the most obnoxious jobs to do.   Victor, one of the long-term employees, who I had known for years, started standing next to me whenever he could.   I actually started keeping a giant butcher knife near me all the time. And once I threatened Eliot. I told him that if he touched me again, I would cut off his penis. And I meant it. He was insidious.

One day I went to eat lunch in the staff lounge, upstairs and away from everyone. Eliot followed me. He cornered me in the room and said something like, “IF I rape you right now no one would believe you.” I never had the chance to respond.

Out came my angels. Two of the cashiers, who I had known for years, were in the ladies’ room. They heard every thing. “How long has this been going on!” Anita demanded. They chased him out of the lounge. Held me and said, “We are going to the manager.” To be honest I was a bit afraid of losing my job. But no worries.

The manager was appalled.   He told me to call my grandfather to come and get me. (I did not have a car, and my grandfather often drove me to and from work.) When Grandpa got there, the manager and he had a talk.   We drove home basically in silence. I could tell he was upset, but did not know what to say. He had a talk with my Mom when I got home. My Mom and I had a short discussion.  When she found out he had not touched me or harmed me physically, she calmed down.   We never spoke about it again.  It was a part of life for women.

Two days later I went back to work. The manager told me that Eliot was fired and was not allowed on the Shopwell grounds. That if I was to see him there, I was to come to the manager immediately. Eliot never came back when I was there.

I was fortunate that I had people who protected me and kept me safe.

The next incident happened four years later. I was working on my master’s degree in journalism at the University of Missouri. I was also working part time at the Missouri School Boards Association. I loved working there. We had a great staff. I was in charge of the PR, newsletter and publications. I made great friends with the two secretaries, the other women in the office. Susan and I got especially close. The Executive Director and Assistant Executive Director were men, but really nice. It was great.

Once a year we would all go to Tan Tar A, near Lake of the Ozarks, for a convention. My job was to put out the convention newsletter and write the articles. I was worked about 16 hour days during the convention.

The first year, there was one school board president who was persistently bothering me. He was often drunk and unpleasant, middle aged and married.   I was 24 and engaged. I wanted nothing to do with him.

Luckily, Susan was with me the first time he tried something. She told me to never get on an elevator with him. In fact she and the other secretary would go down with me in the morning. One would come to the printing room at night to get me to my room safely. But they were going home a day before me.  That last night they would be gone. I was worried. So were they. This guy would not stop! NO! said emphatically did not deter him.

We finally told the Assistant ED.   At first he would not, could not believe it. But in the end he agreed to come to the printing room to walk me to my room that night. The drunk was already there when he arrived. My boss was really stunned.  I think somewhat ashamed. He walked me to my room. The next day, when the convention ended, he drove me back to Columbia, Missouri. We spoke about it briefly. His telling me that not all men were like that. But as a young woman in 1979, I knew the truth….more men were like that then he realized.

Again I was fortunate.   I had angels and helpers who kept me safe. But there are many women who are not as fortunate. Who suffer undo duress and pressure. My “Me Too” is small in comparison to the stories of others..

Honestly,  I think because of these incidents I looked for a safe place to work when I got my master’s degree.  I found that working for a Girl Scout Council.  No men.

As women, we never knew who would be safe and who would make unanticipated and unwanted advances. At work, at school, on the street, on a bus, in a store, in the bathroom, at a restaurant, in a bar! When I was younger, I was always on the watch.

My daughter once made fun of me. She and a friend traveled to Egypt together. I said, “Do not go to the bathroom by yourself. Always go together.” She laughed until her friend did go to the bathroom by herself and was assaulted by the male attendant, but luckily another woman came in before anything happened.

I hate having to say,  “Me Too”. I hope by the time I have granddaughters, the world will be safer.

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My Favorite Catskills Photo of Me

16 Oct

Summer 1957

There are many reasons why I have always Loved this photo. First it was taken in the Catskills when I was 2 1/2. I am blissfully happy sitting in the grass. I love seeing the old wooden outdoor furniture.  I know that bench is Blue. I spent many hours on it over the years. 

I love seeing the women on the bench. The one to the far left is my maternal grandmother. She and my grandfather owned the bungalow colony. And with many family members there, I was surrounded by love. To be honest I am not sure who the other woman is, but I think it is my aunt.  I love that bench as my paternal grandmother taught me to knit and crochet as we sat on it when I was about seven or eight. 

I love that my aunt’s feet are resting on that single chair, as I know she is really relaxing. They mothers only put their feet up when they were settled in for a rest.  There is another chair to my side. It indicates to me that there is a square table to my side as well … the table where my grandmothers, great aunt and their friend spent endless hours playing canasta. 

Further on I see some of the white painted bungalows. This was the original colony. Eventually my grandparents purchased more land and moved some of the buildings. Only two of the original bungalows still exist. The land has been sold off and newer homes were erected. Two of my cousins purchased some of the land, so I am fortunate that I can still walk this property. 

I love how I look in this photo. I remember my Dad telling me that this was his favorite picture of me as a child because in this photo he could finally see how I would look as an adult. But I also love it for the curl in the middle of my forehead. I had and still have thick, curly hair. I cannot tell how often one of my parents would recite this poem to me: “There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very, very good But when she was bad she was horrid.” 

I know that hat and outfit. It was red and white. Because of my black hair my mom often dressed me in red. I rarely wear red now. Blue is my favorite color. But when I envision myself as a child I am often in red or pink. But that hat I specifically remember. I must have worn it for several years before my younger sister was born and she have the chance to wear it. 

I wish I knew what was in the box I am holding. I am sure it is crackers or cereal. But I wish the front of the box was facing out. It would add to the memory. I guess it does not matter.  Whenever I see this photo, I am filled with joy. I am in my happy place. Our home in Kauneonga Lake, in the Catskills where summers were always delightful.  

Are There The Ghosts At Holiday Celebrations?

21 Sep

Another holiday.  A festive meal. Visits with family and close friends. Celebrating. But as I entered the room for dinner, for a moment I saw my Dad the last time he celebrated a holiday at my friend’s home. And next to him was their mother.  Both passed away years ago. But I saw them smiling and talking. 

This is not the first time I saw a vision of a loved one who has passed at a holiday table or at a special event. I am sure some think it is just my imagination or a vivid memory.  Perhaps it is both. 

But I am not so sure. 

How can a vivid memory describe the moment at my daughter’s wedding when, for a brief moment, I saw my parents standing to the side smiling. Was it something I wanted to see so badly, that my brain produced the image for me? Perhaps. 

But what about those times when I can still hear my mother’s voice as I am preparing a holiday meal. I do not use recipes, I just listen to that inner voice telling me what to do next. But that voice is always my Mom or one of my Grandma’s.  So are they there?

Or when I went to purchase holiday challah. At first I thought I would just get one round raisen challah.  We really do not need two challah. But then there was My grandfather’s image pointing to the plain challah as well. Yes I purchased both. Grandpa was a baker, so I had to follow his advice. 

At our Catskills home I have the most vivid images.  One day this summer, as my sister stood at the kitchen sink, I saw two images next to her.  Both my Mom and Grandma stood there and each was superimposed on the kitchen that existed in their time.  It was just an instant, but for a moment I was in a time warp. My sister, my Mom and my Grandma all standing at the sink speaking to me. (They were probably all giving me instructions!)

We have spent over fifty years in the house in Kauneonga Lake, and the memories are so strong there.  We spent many Rosh Hashannah holidays eating a festive meal and preparing for the new year. But there are also so many summer memories infused in the being of the house.  It is not difficult to imagine a loved one walking in the rooms along side me. 

There are ghosts of people I knew in my synagogue as well. Since I go regularly, I am used to people sitting in certain seats. They are not assigned. But people seem to find a place that is comfortable and so sit there every week. I have my seat and from my vantage point I can close my eyes and envision the room filled with those who passed. 

Recently a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor passed.  When I turn quickly I still see him smiling as he sits in his seat, his walker close by. Other survivors who passed fill the seats as well. When I see their children and grandchildren still coming to synagogue, I feel their spirit of joy in the congregation. 

But the most poignant for me happened about two months ago. I noticed a young man come in to shul with his wife and newborn son. They walked directly to the seat where his grandfather always sat. He sat in his grandfather’s seat holding his son, whose name was a memory for his grandfather. I really thought I could see Sol smiling at his grandson and great grandson filling his seat. It is one of my new favorite memories.  

I believe when someone dies they do not totally disappear.  A bit of them, an essence, stays behind. A smell, a sound, a place can bring their memory and their spirit/presence  back to us. I hope I always see and sense the ghosts of the ones I love at my holiday and other celebrations. 

Grandma’s Ceramic Strawberries Were Meant To Be Mine

13 Sep


My Grandma had two ceramic strawberry shaped jam jars that she never kept jam in.  They were filled with thumb tacks, safety pins, buttons and other little items that she needed to keep corralled in a safe place. She kept the jam jars on her kitchen window sill along side her plants. 

I remember them always being in her home. When she moved out of her West New York, New Jersey,  apartment up to her home in Kauneonga Lake in the Catskills, she took the two strawberries with her.  And they once again graced her window sill. Always there.  A beacon in the kitchen. 

I don’t know why I loved them, but I did. They were a shine of color that brightened up the kitchen. Perhaps I loved them because the red strawberries look like two hearts sending a hug of love. 

When my grandmother died, my grandfather left the house basically how Grandma had it. The knick knacks stayed where they were placed by her.  So even though Grandpa lived about eight years longer, the Catskill’s house still felt like Grandma.  And the strawberries stayed in their place in the kitchen. 

The house in the Catskills went to my parents. Mom and Dad remodeled the kitchen and packed up many of my grandmother’s  tchotchkes and placed the boxes in the garage. 

Eventually my Mom had us go through the boxes. She wanted us to take what we wanted before she donated the rest to charity. So my sister, my cousin and I searched the boxes. I focused on finding the two strawberries. I wanted them. I did not know it, but my cousin wanted them as well. 

“I remember seeing them at Grandma’s!” My cousin said…whined…pled. She knew when I wanted something I was one minded, so she made her case to have them as well. 

I was the older cousin, so I should have them was my first thought.  But there were two. And she really wanted one. So we did the right thing.  We each took one. We shared.  I always say, I gave one up for her because I love her. 

My strawberry returned with me to Kansas, where I put it on my kitchen window sill. It looked lonely without its mate. No matter, I knew my cousin deserved one as well. 

But I think Grandma was looking out for me. I think she knew that I really wanted to have two. I am sentimental. Having one was great, but two would be better. I should have known fate would intervene. 

About a year after I brought the strawberry jam jar home to Kansas, I went out to lunch with a work friend on a summer day. I do not remember the exact day, but Grandma’s birthday was in July. 

  We parked near a small antique/trinket store.  After lunch, since we still had time, we decided to browse in the shop. We had never been there before and honestly, I never went there again. But it ended up being a magical place! 

I still remember the moment I saw it: a small ceramic strawberry jam jar.  It seemed to be exactly like my Grandma’s strawberry. EXACTLY!  I knew I had to buy it.  

The owner wrapped it up in brown paper.  I carefully carried it to my friend’s car. I was so excited. She tried to calm me down a bit by telling me it might not be the same.  But in my heart I knew it was a match. 

Later that day, when I  put it next to my jam jar, I was not disappointed. It was a perfect match.  To this day I cannot tell which one I purchase and which one was Grandma’s!  

Do I believe Grandma had a hand in my finding it?  Is it even possible? I am not sure, but sometimes events happen that have no explanation. I think the jam jar falls into this category.  

As for my cousin, the strawberry jam jar she so wanted, she no longer has in her possession.  She told me that she moved so many times since Grandma died about 36 years ago. At some point the strawberry was lost.  I only moved twice across the country, always taking my strawberries with me. 

But it really does not matter whether she kept hers, for I have the two strawberry jam jars that were meant to be mine. 

Learning About The Civil War While in Arkansas

5 Sep

When I woke up Sunday morning, I did not expect my day to end up focused on the Civil War. It was not even a topic that was remotely on my mind. I was in Arkansas visiting friends and we planned a trip over to Bentonville to see another friend who was busy with pet adoptions as they prepared their shelter to take in animals from Houston. 

But politics and the Civil War were waiting for us in Bentonville. 

We arrived in Bentonville exactly on time to walk to the town square and meet up for lunch at a local restaurant.  For those who have not been there, Bentonville is the site of the very first Walmart store.  There,  along the town square, is the Walmart Museum. A peaceful little park with a statue fills the town square.  I was surprised to see an abundance of American flags in the center of the square surrounding the statue. 

American flags surround the the statue in the town square.


My Eureka Springs friend said to my Bentonville friend upon greeting, “Well you have had some excitement here.”  My Bentonville friend, “Don’t even go there!” So of course I needed to know.  That lovely little statute I had seen several times was actually a monument to the Confederate soldiers who lost their lives in two battles near Bentonville, the most important was the Battle of Pea Ridge. 

I  never realized what the statue was before.  We had seen it and walked past it and never really looked at it. But over the last few weeeks, quiet Bentonville had been the scene of protests over this statute.  

We left town square for lunch and all conversation turned to the rescuing of dogs from Houston.  My Bentonville friend was involved with a shelter that was receiving dogs that afternoon that were being transported up from Texas.  The day before a truckload of pet supplies had headed south. My contribution had been cat litter. Our discussion of the Civil War ended as we discussed Houston.   

After lunch we left Bentonville and headed back to Eureka Springs on a different road. As we traveled, we planned the rest of the day. My husband was checking his phone to see what was around when he came upon the Pea Ridge National Park.  We had recently purchased our life time National Park passes and were excited to use them.  We were not sure what we would see.  But were delighted.  It is a gem!

Pea Ridge Battlefield.


Who know that one of the most important and vicious battles of the Civil War took place in Arkansas?  Not me!  The battle that changed the direction of the war was here!  16,000 Confederate soldiers  met 10,000 Union soldiers on Pea Ridge in March 1862.  At the end of the two-day battle almost 3500 soldiers were dead.  Many more were wounded. This battle changed the balance of power of the Civil War in Missouri.  It was here that the Union defeated the largest Confederate army ever brought together and due to that defeat were able to keep the Confederate soldiers out of Missouri and head south to split the Confederacy in half. This battle basically set the course for a Union win. 

Elk Horn Inn was a privately own home used as a field hospital.


Here at the battle site stands the recreated Elk Horn Inn, which served as a field hospital, where soldiers from both sides were treated and many died during the two day battle. (Right in front of this building runs the Mikitary Trail road. This road was also the path of Cherokee Nation on the Trail of Tears. Over 11,000 Cherokee passed this inn between 1837-39.)

  Although many soldiers were originally buried at this site, the graves of the soldiers were disinterred in the late 1880s and moved to two cemeteries: one for Union soldiers and one for Confederate soldiers, both in Fayetteville.  But in a field near the Inn are two monuments that were placed in a plea for unification. 

The large open field where the soldiers met is reminiscent of Gettysburg.  In watching the movie at the museum and walking through the museum displays, one can feel the sorrow that this battle caused. One sign commented that local farmers could not plant crops that year due to the destruction and the blood soaked lands. Agriculture was destroyed. 

We drove the circuit around the battlefield, stopping at several key sites. This was a battle for our nation’s soul. This was a battle that changed the course of the war. And so many lives were lost. We spoke to park rangers at the Inn who explained in more detail what had happened there.  

When we drive from my friend’s home in Eureka Springs to Bentonville, we pass a house where the owner flies the Confederate flag. That always angers us. Why fly this sign of hate?  Why not honor those who died by joining together to work in unity, and as is honored at the Pea Ridge site unification. 


In the car on the way back we discussed the Pea Ridge site. The impact of what we had seen. The next day, the local newspaper, “The Northwest Arkansas Democratic Register, had an article about discussions the Bentonville  community will have in a public forum. 

My personal opinion: The statue of the Confederate soldier should be moved. If it was a statue honoring both sides, I would feel differently. But it is not. I believe it could be moved to the Confederate Cemetary in Fayetteville. A plaque explaining its history should be placed by it. 

I am not for destroying monuments, I am for placing them in sites where their value as a lesson could be used. We should not be honoring those who battled to destroy the United States through treason and sedition.  But we also can never forget what happened here in the Civil War. Losing that memory will also remove our collective history. And we should never forget that in slavary human beings were once treated as cattle.  And that is wrong.  

The Way to My Husband’s Heart is Ice Cream

31 Aug

During a recent conversation with my daughter, I realized that even my children understand that their Dad loves ice cream more than any other food. She was discussing a man at work, who when offered ice cream, said something to the effect that he loved ice cream and if they wanted any, they should take it now because he would eat it all. And he did.

In telling me about it, she said, it made her laugh so much because he ate ice cream the way Daddy did. She was actually still laughing when she told me how he put the spoon in the ice cream and just dug in.

I knew exactly what she meant. My husband eats ice cream with gusto! He scoops his ice cream with a whole heart and a big spoon.   My husband does not savor his ice cream. He devours it!   He absolutely loves ice cream. He even rates his travels on how good the ice cream is. We have tasted ice cream across the USA and in countries far and wide.

Although he speaks a bit of Spanish and Mandarin, my husband’s word of choice in any language is Ice Cream. In Italy it is Gelato. When in Milan, my husband ate ice cream every single day from the ice cream parlor around the corner from our hotel. On our last day, he went back for a second treat before we left. I would say he loved that ice cream.

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The most delicious ice cream in Rome, Italy.

In Rome, a friend of his took us to the La Gelateria Frigidarium, a place he called the best ice cream ever. And he was so right. I loved it because they had sorbet. But this sorbet was so creamy, I was sure it had dairy in it. But it did not!!! Yum. My husband had three scoops there. I know if we had stayed longer in Rome, there would have been many trips to Frigidarium. As it is, we recommend it to anyone heading to Rome.

His least favorite ice cream was in Turkey. He said they put taffy in it, which destroy the value of true ice cream. He is an ice cream purest. But he still ate it. Ice cream addicts need their fix.

When we were in Israel in December, we took a private tour in Tel Aviv. My husband was interested, but not so much as we walked through an outdoor pedestrian shopping area. Shopping is not his favorite thing to do. As the guide and I were talking, I noticed my husband stopping. One word came from his lips, “Galida.” Ice cream; his one real word in Hebrew.

The tour came to a thirty-minute stop as we all had an ice cream treat. The guide said, “This is a great idea, especially when I have children on a tour. From now on, I am stopping here for a treat as we do the tours.” I am glad my husband’s ice cream fanaticism helped the tour guide with future successes.

Last week when we went to see the eclipse in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, he found Moo’s Gourmet Ice Cream in Jackson. I enjoyed the Huckleberry sorbet the one time I went.   I am not sure all the flavors he tried over his multiple trips to Moo’s.

In February of 2016, my husband, sister and I went to Universal Studios in Florida. We had two-day passes. On the first day, while my sister and I used a rest room on our way out of the park, my husband found an ice cream parlor. He loved the ice cream, so we had to have some as well. It was great for me, as they had sorbet. The next day, we had a planned stop for ice cream there as we left the park. My husband was so excited when he found out it was part of a national chain, with a store not too far from our home…about four miles. Stone Cold Creamery was his new favorite ice cream.

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Out of the hospital for about 20 minutes. The smile is for ice cream.

This past year he had to have some major surgery. On the day he was released from the hospital, I took him to Cold Stone Creamery for a treat. It might have been hard for some people to eat ice cream with a neck brace on, but not my husband.

I posted a picture of him, and a few days later, he received gift cards in the mail from some of his friends so he could get more ice cream. Two weeks later, when the neck brace came off, I took him back for more.

The way to my husband’s heart is ice cream. The way to cure pain of surgery is ice cream. The way to deal with stress is ice cream. The way to end a day is ice cream. I know my husband loves our children and me. I even joke with him by saying, “I love you more than ice cream.” But when it comes down to it, sometimes I am not quite sure if he has the same sentiment.

PS: my 96 year old grandfather died after eating ice cream. His last words were, “yum, delicious.”  I hope, way in the future,  my husband’s ending is as happy.  

The Grand Teton National Park Combines History And Nature

29 Aug

The Grand Tetons


As I ate lunch in the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park and stared out the windows at the marshland and the mountains, I could not help but wonder ‘what if?’ 

What if John D. Rockefeller had not come to Jackson Hole? What if the beauty of these mountains and the need to preserve the land had not touched his heart? What if the strong opposition to the creation of another national park so close to Yellowstone has persevered?  What if there was not a wealthy Rockefeller who was willing to spend his own money to buy up thousand upon thousands of acres of land and then donate it to the National Parks?  

What if?

But he did come out to Wyoming and preserve the beauty of the Grand Teton National Park.  

Jenny Lake ( Photo by my husband.)


Who knew there were 12 glaciers high in there jagged mountains!  Not me!  And the stunning lakes, like Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake waiting to be explored. Even the Visitor Centers are lovely. Especially the Laurence Rockefeller Center with its meditation room which surrounds you in the calming sounds of the forests. A short walk to the waterfall at this  Center brings you past a stunning river scene. 

An abandoned barn in Mormons Row.


Then there are the historical buildings and sites within the park. A small Episcopal Chapel — The Chapel of the Transfiguration– with the most stunning view. Praying would be easy there as you look toward the mountains and see the glory of nature. The settlers houses from the late 1800s and early 1900s are somewhat preserved so you can see how the original settlers lived before modern conveniences. It must have been so cold!  We walked down park of Mormons’ Row. A settlement that is now mostly abandoned homes and barns where a Mormon Community once thrived. Now there is just one active homestead belonging to a family who runs a bed and breakfast. 

Seeing the site of the ferry that once took settlers across the river in safety and the home where the ferry owner lived and opened a small outpost, reminds you that the settlers did not have cars and bridges. 

I think it is best to go to Grand Teton Park before going to Yellowstone. This way you learn the history of the area and the ‘ normal’ natural beauty of the Jackson Hole area before going up the mountains to the weird and amazing beauty of Yellowstone.  Most important you learn of the people who persevered to settle in the stunning, but relentless mountains of Wyoming.