Category Archives: childhood
I grew up in a family where my father was — and still is — very connected to the Jewish community of Omaha.
While most kids had social connections from their places of worship and school activities that established community, me and my brother and sister had some of that, but it was fractured by the fact that we had a very 1970s, nomadic childhood.
We took the bus to and from Omaha from Lincoln — where we lived with our mom — to visit our dad in Omaha. We did this pretty much 10 years straight for every weekend of our childhood, from around 1970/1971 (when they got divorced) to 1981 (when we moved to Omaha). Continental Trailways on Saturday mornings and Greyhound on Sunday afternoons.
So that cut into a lot of time when I think we would have been a bit more connected to our community in Lincoln. And made us weirdly constant and familiar visitors to Omaha, but not necessarily tied and connected….
But also it put a very focused emphasis on our dad’s life in those intense two days every week that we spent with him. He would pick us up from the Continental Trailways bus station in Omaha and we would go to Bishop’s Cafeteria, 1414 Douglas, for breakfast. Then we’d spend the day with him at his office. And back to Lincoln on Sunday after the 3:00pm movie I always seemed to watch. Hopalong Cassidy was a consistent favorite.
I always knew we were Jewish, but in Lincoln especially it wasn’t something we talked about a lot. Like having divorced parents. It was the 1970s when this type of thing wasn’t as common. We weren’t observant but I definitely knew — especially when it came to our dad’s life in Omaha — that there was a bubble of Jewish community in Omaha that we were tangentially a part of.
One of the things I have always experienced with my dad was what we jokingly refer to as Jewish Geography — my dad would tell stories about some of the people in the Jewish community in Omaha that his parents knew and socialized with, or that he grew up and went to high school with, or knew from living in Omaha. Maybe it’s the fledging librarian and genealogist in me, but I was always very interested in hearing the stories about all the people, imagining the glamorous lives of my grandparents. My Grandpa Irv had these shiny suits in some of the pictures we had of him, which I thought were super cool.
There was just this constant influx of names and stories of people from the community. And going to Bishop’s we would meet a lot of these characters. During high school after we had moved to Omaha, I would get a ride from my dad every morning and continue the Bishop’s breakfast tradition, sitting with my dad and his friends who I remember told terrible jokes and didn’t seem to mind having a high school kid in their midst.
I ended up knowing the parents of some of the Jewish kids in Omaha — and not really the kids themselves. It was odd, but it was history and Omaha and our dad and just sort of how things were.
So in talking with my dad recently he told me that he had a great honor. I could hear in his voice how touched he was. He had been asked to be one of the pallbearers who carried Rabbi Kripke’s casket, for his funeral.
Rabbi Kripke conducted my dad’s bar mitzvah, and was the rabbi at the synagogue his family went to, Beth El, in Omaha. Over the years my dad would often refer to Rabbi Kripke as a huge influence in his life. And when my Grandma Pearl went into The Rose Blumkin Jewish Home, my dad would always point out Rabbi Kripke (as well as many other Jewish Geography folks who were there and who I had heard stories about) with reverence.
To spend more time with Grandma Pearl my dad volunteered at the Saturday services, assisting in conducting them. Sometimes Rabbi Kripke led but towards the end I just remember the Rabbi being there, enjoying the services. My dad still does this volunteering, and I know it means a lot to him — even though Grandma died.
So I have this weird reverence — and semi-skewed connection — to the Jewish community that is essentially my father’s (and grandparents). Names and some faces are very familiar to me, like Maury Katzman.
My dad would always talk of these people, after they passed, and say, “of blessed memory.” Like he would tell a great story about his father, and say, “my father, of blessed memory.” I always loved that, how there was a small moment of time where there was remembrance of this person within the conversation.
There was another article in addition to an official obituary about Rabbi Kripke in the New York Times recently that triggered me writing this post (and adding the cite to Wikipedia). I think the article on Rabbi Kripke was due to Warren Buffett’s annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting in Omaha that just happened. Rabbi Kripke died this year at age 100.
I have been editing Wikipedia now for a while. I do it to relax and really enjoy the quick publish factor — as well as connecting to my former profession as a word processor for 15 years. Very satisfying.
So in homage to Rabbi Kripke I created a Wikipedia article about him. In his blessed memory.
Rabbi’s wife, Dorothy, as an author of Jewish books, already had her own page, but as usual it needed citation and format cleanup. While creating the Rabbi’s page, I did that. But I hope to add more to her page at some point.
But really, Rabbi Kripke needed his own page, in honor of his accomplishments and years of service to the Jewish community in Omaha. I was so glad — and honored in my own way — to do that.
I have been meaning to mention I did this to my dad when we talk next. I think it continues the tradition “of blessed memory” — and hopefully commemorates a small part of the Omaha Jewish community that yeah I guess I sort of am a part of. At least a little bit.
Aaron’s beard is red, full, and magnificent.
So it’s the very end of October and during this extremely frustrating time — career and life-wise — I have been living like a church mouse, not spending money. Which means a lot of time spent Hovel Chez Moi. With the TV to keep me company. Which means it is a Wednesday night in October and I am watching baseball while trying to whittle away on my various passion projects semi-successfully.
Is it just me or has the television gone all hillbilly? I am just loving this — it’s like saying “add more banjo” to any good country song: “Add more beard!” And the woollier the better.
Omaha-Kansas City Royals
The TV experience — especially the audio of a baseball game being played — brings me back to my childhood, where one of the great things we used to do on Saturdays (after spending the day at my dad’s office) was go see the Omaha-Kansas City Royals play night games at Rosenblatt Stadium (RIP).
Even though they were an expansion team, I loved the Omaha-Kansas City Royals. The games were hypnotizing, the rhythm of the pitching, runs, strikes. And the snacks were great. The peanuts that left crunchy shells on the ground. And those frozen ice creams that came in the circular tub with a flat wood spoon-like thing.
I think we sat near third base in my dad’s partner’s box — we almost always had these great seats. Bless Bob Fromkin. I have fond memories because of his generosity.
Today the team has been renamed (a time or two) to the unrecognizable and sort of dumb — in my opinion — Storm Chasers and they play at some other stadium in Sarpy County. Rosenblatt Stadium is no longer.
Johnny Rosenblatt, Camelot
The stadium was named after former Omaha Mayor Johnny Rosenblatt, who was the first Jewish mayor of Omaha and was, per Wikipedia, responsible for bringing the Omaha-Kansas City Royals to Omaha (along with the College World Series).
The Jewish community in Omaha is (and was) small. And it is weird but when people are shocked that I grew up in Nebraska, I guess a good part of that time I grew up within the loose framework of that community, though we weren’t religious and weren’t only friends with other Jews.
I know I definitely felt like an outsider, maybe not just the Jewishness but my mom came from Brooklyn and we definitely didn’t have a conservative upbringing. At all.
Though these pictures sure tell a different story.
This Camelot like image didn’t last long, though I like the way it looked later, when I was a little girl.
This was supposedly at an Anti-Vietnam War Protest at Memorial Park — not far from the house on W. 53rd and Farnam where we lived during that time (yes, a couple of blocks away from where Warren Buffett lived/lives). But to me it looks more like a picnic (it’s probably mis-labeled).
We moved to Lincoln in 1970 or 1971 after my parents separated and got divorced. But we’d visit Omaha on the weekends and go to these great baseball games with our Da. It was a pretty great part of my childhood….
i am a firm advocate of open access, creative commons licensing, freedom of speech on the internet. i am old enough to remember life before the internet, before a small computer in my pocket that lets me make phone calls and do almost all of my computing — and also plays songs and movies effortlessly — before any of this existed.
the analog world wasn’t so bad. in many ways my childhood years in Lincoln, Nebraska, at least how i look back at this idyllic time, was about innocence and possibilities and living a happy life.
the digital world isn’t so bad either. i have made friends and have reconnected with the various threads of my life because the internet exists. in many instances information is now widely available and free and share-able in a way that it was impossible to dream about 30+ years ago.
but often the cost of this openness is you get the good with the bad. the bad can be people being obnoxious on a mailing list that is more like a community than a bunch of posts. the bad can be mistakes of politics and restriction of a truly open conversation.
because really who wants to have a truly open conversation?
i say to myself that i am my mother’s daughter. that is both a compliment and a criticism. hey, i wouldn’t be delving into that side of my family (really any of my family) without a healthy dose of criticism and judgment. apply hair shirt here.
it’s not the end of the world, it’s not the sum total of my existence (although on the internet things become laser tilted out of proportion a lot of the time). but these hiccups and bumps are not without psychic pain and cost.
so what, this hand-wringing about the parts of the internet that are uncomfortable and that i don’t like or agree with — except in concept — what does it get me to post this post. on a blog that few people read or care about.
i guess that is my point. i’m not deluded enough to think that i am this special precious presence online. no one cares what i have to say or post. the traffic on this website is laughable compared to most other blogs.
i claim this blog (and my other blogs) as a public space that i occupy, that is open and free — or as open and as free as my mind will allow.
if it’s not what you are looking for or if what i post / say is an issue, move on. i’m not really worth the agita. i mean, what really in the analog of my life is worth the digital drama? if i was more important or affiliated somehow then maybe, but this dusty corner is just dust.
a hell of a week, between the crazy Texas laws restricting abortion, the Zimmerman verdict / injustice for Trayvon Martin, Cory Monteith dying, just a lot of crud.
inspired by last episode of Orange Is the New Black.
On “A Case of You”…
“I remember playing it for Kris Kristorfferson. And he was kind of shocked by it. Said, ‘Oh Joni, you know, save something of yourself.’ I think he felt that I had gone to reveal too much of something. I’d laid myself too vulnerable.’
Enthusiasm, muddling through
Not to underline myself as a creator of the magnitude of Joni Mitchell — no Kanye West messianic histrionics here, thankfully — but the words and thoughts in this Joni Mitchell documentary really spoke to me today.
I watch this documentary (American Masters’ Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind) a few times a year, if not more often. I love the ideas of Joni Mitchell, of her creating, doing her own thing. This documentary has a lot to dig into, in Joni’s own words. Plus Joni Mitchell represents my childhood, that time of my life in the 1970s. She was so much about being an independent women creator, just being, just being brilliant, herself, ferociously.
I was one of those kids who sat with a headphones on, in the space between the huge armoire and the stereo cabinet, record sleeve and cover in my hands, parsing every bit of the lyrics and images possible. I felt this connection to the emotionalism of the songs Joni Mitchell sang. The melodies, her singular voice.
I err on the side of enthusiasm so much. And I live my life in a certain way that is very open (in many respects). I love to ask questions and have discussions about stuff. I forget all the time, because I get caught up or I don’t operate in any other mode, that other people are definitely not as enthusiastic. And they aren’t necessarily open — or most importantly, they aren’t interested in a conversation.
Or, more brutally, that they don’t see the world like I do. They have their own thing going on that may not correlate with my oftentimes clumsy, enthused, barreling through.
I forget this. All the time. I can guarantee I will learn from my mistakes with this kind of enthusiasm. But I can also guarantee I will screw up again and again going forward. It is a problem of boundaries, unclear thinking, and hard wiring.
At this point in my life I can learn from experiences — and I am glad I have the chance to continue to do this. But also some things are hard wired into who I am as a person. It is just how I am and I don’t think I can stuff my square self into a round hole to the extent that I could adjust this personality trait enough to “fix” it.
It is what makes me me. A flaw and an asset. I apologize. But I am not sorry. If that makes sense.
And in the end analysis: I can only admit my flaw, try and learn, and continue to move forward. And hope those around me can be patient, loving, and kind if at all possible. I write that and think, yeah, not other people’s problems. Understood. I sort of just have to throw myself on the mercy of the general good in others, I guess. And really, no one is really all that interested in going this deep (or noticing), thankfully.
cataloging the stylin’ people
so this is my friend — and former co-worker in the ibank trenches — Jafe Campbell.
Jafe is very stylin’….
i have some ongoing projects documenting Jafe’s extreme style.
it began with Jafe Shooz…
and continued with Jafe Patternz…
witnessth! the original icon:such great imagery of Hunter S. Thompson online.
the gonzo man hisself in one of his shirtz…
the screenwriting lady
so anyway, my awesome friend Jafe has been working for an NYU professor in screenwriting (aka “the screenwriting lady”) for a long time now, helping her out with word processing on an ad hoc basis. he is starting to help her more regularly. and asked me to help him with some file organization tips.
this is Marilyn Horowitz (aka “the screenwriting lady”).
Jafe knows my skillsets pretty intimately after our 15+ years in the trenches together. i like organizing things. a lot. it’s like in my being, part of the essence of who i am as a person. part compulsion, part desire to organize information, part of why i enjoy content and the gathering of information, a voracious need to absorb and enjoy information in all of its myriad forms….
so i am a good “ringer” to come in and help. and have more confidence and structural concepts in my arsenal after getting my Library & Information Science master’s degree.
stuff like this totally excites me.
great exhibit. great library. wonderful time hanging with my nieces this summer….
a formal introduction to the exhibit.
organized dirt! what could be better?!?
growing up in an office
continuing the thread of organization…. there’s a real thread of workaholism in my family. good or bad it’s just sort of how we are. we are a diligent, hard-working people. my Padre, my father, has been a constant example for me over the years.
and strange as it may seem, from the time i was about 4 years old through high school and beyond, i grew up in my dad’s various offices. after our parents got divorced and we moved to Lincoln my brother and sister and i would take the bus from Lincoln to Omaha (and back) every weekend to see our dad in Omaha. we did this for about 10 years, from when i was 4 years old to when we moved back to Omax and i started junior high in 1981.
every Saturday morning, Da would pick us up from the Greyhound bus depot in downtown Omaha. we would trek on over to the now closed Bishop’s Buffet (an old school cafeteria restaurant) for breakfast, then we would go with him to his office, usually until dinnertime. it sounds a bit child abuse-y looking back on it but there was always a TV there — and we had a pinball machine at one point thanks to Linda aka Wife #2’s dad, the beloved Zede (who with his brothers ran a coin operation business for cigarette and pinball machines in Omaha). we got to spend a lot more time with our dad than i think we probably would have if it wasn’t like that. and i sort of liked it. really, i didn’t know any other way to spend Saturdays back then.
one of my formative memories was of Bob Fromkin. a legendary and loving presence from my childhood.
this is a picture of my dad and Grandma Pearl….
this is very typical of my Da — picking weeds and clearing dirt (dirt theme!) off the graves at the cemetery where his mom, dad, and younger brother are buried….
these are from when Da visited me in New York a while ago….
it was a good time.
instilled by Da
so growing up in an office, it’s like all this filing and organizing is in my blood. i would “work” for my dad as a kid, sitting at the receptionist desk and letting my dad know when clients would come in to see him on Saturdays. i would do fun stuff like photocopy money and play with the carbon paper…. oy veyshmere, the joys of youth!
i went to Omaha Central High School a few blocks away. so in addition to hitching a ride with my Da in the mornings and accompanying Da and his alter cocker friends to Bishop’s Buffet in the mornings, during my senior year i actually worked a regular job every day after school as a runner and file clerk at the office. i would file documents, pick up files, drop off things to the judges at the courthouses downtown.
i remember going back and forth to the Douglas County District Courthouse at lot — one of the prettiest building downtown. there were other courthouses and city buildings i went to but this one is my favorite.
in addition to the work as a runner and other various office jobs like photocopying, putting postage on mail, etc., Da had me organize his filing system and cull files to be sent to storage. words like Pendaflex, lateral files, photocopy, third-cut manilla folders were just part of my world growing up.
so while i job search, i am going in for a few hours at a time and helping Jafe improve Marilyn’s office, specifically her filing system.
it has been really great. the work ties together my background in the movie business as a production assistant and then fledgling script supervisor, etc. — along with an ongoing and perpetual movie love (thanks to early influences of family movie nights and Pauline Kael‘s New Yorker reviews) — with an early, ingrained affinity for filing and organization.
yeah, i’m a Paulette! darned tooting!
look what i stumbled upon. love this woman…. cool!
as i embark on this very fledgling career search into the world of libraries, i have been thinking about libraries, and why i like them so much.
it began when i was very young
i remember my elementary school library, those tingly moments when our classes would visit the library and you could check books out and take them home.
i was drawn to what seemed like a very long inside wall of library shelves, full of books — not sure if i found it myself or if a librarian helped me. i can still see the books lining the shelves. it was where all of the fiction books were. it was like a wall of comfort. a well that i could go back to and draw upon endlessly….
one moment stands out: the excitement of seeing a series of books by Beverly Cleary about a girl i loved named Ramona.
Ramona always seemed to be getting into trouble, but i just loved her. and there were a whole bunch of books about Ramona and her adventures. the pictures were vivid and funny, and i could relate to a dark haired girl with a passion for life.
it wasn’t just the words or the story. it was the actual book — which looked a lot like the old yellow book above. it was something about the library bindings of many of the books in the series. how tough they were, with thick colorful designs. how they smelled, how the pages felt when i turned the pages.
and then it was the worlds that opened up to me. the library became a place where i could escape into my own personal visions of these stories in my head. i felt so connected to those worlds, these people, and those flickering images inside my brain.
but it may have started even earlier
but now i look back, i think it may have started even earlier, when i was in kindergarden. my brother and sister and i went to a Montessori school that was in a church in what we then thought of as West Omaha. laughable now because it was only at 72nd and Dodge Streets, and Omaha has quadrupled in size since then.
i was only 4 or 5 years old when i was at Montessori, around 1971 i think, but i remember the workbooks — and the nuns in their habits walking with purpose down the halls.
the school is no longer there but i remember the workbooks i raced through like they were candy, gobbling up words and images. it was so much fun to go as slowly or as quickly as i wanted through each workbook as i learned the alphabet and words. as i browsed through the shelves of workbooks, as i progressed, the world flowered, opening up. it was the BEST kind of fun. such fun!
an example of “Such Fun!” and another great character who is always getting into scrapes, Miranda, played by Miranda Hart, who makes me laugh, and who i love for being just who she is: brilliant and herself. SUCH FUN!
$5 a book
when we were growing up my brother and sister and i were lucky enough to get an allowance from our father. our dad wanted to encourage us to read, so he would take us to Kieser’s Bookstore in downtown Omaha near his office, or W. Dale Clark Library, also downtown. we could read one book and get an extra $5. it was a pretty big deal.
i remember those $5 books vividly, because i always wanted to try an ambitious book. one of my favorite books was My Ántonia by Willa Cather.
My Ántonia was set in Nebraska, so although i lived in big cities (Lincoln and Omaha), i knew it was my home state. the girl, Ántonia, lived in a sod house on the prairie with her family. that was always fascinating to me, that you could live underground like that. it seemed so fantastical.
but really, for me, My Ántonia was another story about a young girl grappling with the world and forces around her that were often outside of her control. which was another reason that it was so important to me.
checking library books out
but even as a young kid i never wanted to own every book i read. i only wanted to own my favorite books. but i wanted to READ just about everything i could get my hands on.
i liked the idea of reading every book in a series, like the Nancy Drew books, exhaustively. but going to the library and checking them out, then bringing them back and getting more — that was bliss. and i could only do that at this magical place, the library.
just a beginning…
this is early days yet. a beginning of me thinking about why i love libraries, how they have enriched my life and made me the person i am today.
i am going to keep thinking about why i love libraries so much. there’s so much more there. i am pretty sure one of the reasons why i love movies so much is that they are like books that have come to life. and most library people i know love movies too. that is for another discussion. 🙂