Wednesday, July 6, 2016

New York Day Five - Tuesday

Ted gets the New York Times delivered, so I got to read that fine paper as I ate breakfast. To the Café Noi for a final post and to a shop called Sable’s, which was mentioned in the NYT on the weekend and is around the corner from Ted’s – owned and run by Chinese people, it sells lox and sturgeon, traditionally the domain of the Jews. Bought some for Ted and Lola. Then packing and cleaning, making sure there is absolutely no trace of me anywhere. I hope to be able to come back.

Not even a ten minute walk up 3rd Avenue to Lola’s, to dump my stuff and off to meet Richard Curtis, who became my New York agent in 2006. He loved my Jewish Shakespeare book and tried very hard to sell it, but could not find a commercial press interested – the market, they said, was just too small. So he urged me to find a university press, which eventually I did. I’ve sent him word of how I’m doing, and this time decided to see him again and let him know about my new projects, particularly the next book, about my parents and my uncle Edgar and his arcane world of bridge. Richard thought, though it’s very hard to sell memoirs, he said, there are now so many, there might be interest in a book like that “if you can make it about the larger world.” I will do my best.

Met Lola and her daughter Patti, cab to MOMA. Patti has had an interesting career in fine art restoration, and Lola had worked all her life as an artist and jeweller, so it was interesting touring two exhibits with them, one on Degas’ prints and another, very different, on the modern Californian artist Bruce Connor. The Degas was exquisite – my, that man loved women and yet saw them clearly – I don’t ever think I’ve ever before seen a classic work of art depicting a woman peeing. And Bruce Connor had a very dark sense of humour; I laughed out loud several times.

We had coffee at MOMA, toured the shop and then headed to Grand Central for supper at the Oyster Bar, which worked for Patti as she was heading back to New Haven from there. A delicious meal in a venerable establishment, including fried oysters, plump and juicy. Much, much talk of family. 
Lola and I had a crazy cab ride home – heading off in the wrong direction, much fuming before we got turned around – and then even more talk here about family. She had had a very full day and was still full of energy. A life force. She gave me this quote from Einstein: “The strange thing about growing old is that the intimate identification with the here and now is slowly lost. One feels transposed into infinity, more or less alone.” She understands this better than I. 

We watched a DVD I’d sent her of my family’s early years, film taken by Pop, my grandfather, her mother Belle’s beloved older brother. It showed my dad as a boy sledding in Central Park, he and his little brother Edgar at a place by a lake and at boys’ camp – playing baseball, Edgar the shy intellectual strikes out and my aggressive dad hits a home run. Lola exclaimed, There’s Grandma! Yetta Kaplan, born near Minsk, the family matriarch, a difficult woman. Lola remembers her. Lola remembers when the Hindenburg went down. She is a human history book.
Lola and her sometime caregiver from Uganda, Jennifer
A picture I'd never seen before. The little boy, bottom centre, is my dad, with his father right behind him, somehow looking like everyone in the family. The smiling woman is Belle, Lola's mother, the other man is her husband Jerry, and the little girl on the end is Lola. Must be about 1924. 

We talked about the anti-Semitism her family, and she herself, had endured – her father Jerry Golinko had booked a hotel for a family holiday, but when the check-in guy saw him – “Golinko was not a Jewish name but Dad looked Jewish” – he was turned away: “No Jews are allowed here.”

Now I have to get dressed and go to Newark.

In Daily Shouts: "I hated New York, a city where the desperately overworked and the startlingly rich breathe in the smells of each other’s garbage frying on griddle-like summer sidewalks."

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