Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I'm speaking about Bonnie and Burtsky, our friends that moved to that ugly western city on the muddy ocean called San Diego, Yuk, who would want to live there? I guess that once you become a yuppie you look for sun and water and there you are. They believe they're living in Paradise. Maybe they're right.

When it gets too hot, they head for the beach. I mean the view has got to be wonderful. Blue ocean, clean bright sand and an occasional bikini view, but who's watching. Burtsky is an avid cyclist and the trails he rides on have to be absolutely beautiful. Great scenery, overlooking the ocean, unbeatable weather, probably averaging lower 80s, and once in awhile a bikini rider.

Their time here in KC was too short but at least we had a chance to spend a few hours together. The girls all went shopping yesterday and because my wife left her USA (United Shoppers of America) shirt at home, she made NO  purchases. I wonder if she's OK. All this exercise might be going to her head.

We miss the Burtskys, they were a major part of our group that laughs a lot and had good times together. Come to think about it, I think we're laughing more and having better times since they left, they know I'm just kidding, or am I?

When my wife and I were in LA for a family Bar Mitzvah they drove up and spent some time with us, which was very nice but they're so boring, we couldn't wait until they left.

Most of this of course is tongue and cheek, we really do miss them and envy their weather situation. Our friendship will remain strong, helped by the internet and Skype and I guess every once in awhile one of us will visit the other, of course we have to be invited.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Yesterday being Father's Day brought back many memories of my Dad. I've written about him a few times before so what I have to say may be a bit repetitive, but it's my blog. I also covered some of the time we spent together in my memoir MAKING HAPPY.

My Dad came to this country as a child in the early 1900s with 7 siblings, 3 brothers and 4 sisters. I believe there might have been another child that died at an early age while still in the old country, Russia, or whatever it was called at the time. I think they came from some little schtetl (village) near Kiev. I tell people that if they should watch FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, that's the old neighborhood.

The family moved to Chicago on the near north side because the Uncle that sponsored them had rented an apartment in that area where many Jewish immigrants had settled. He went to grammar school and to high school and I'm not positively sure if he graduated. He met my Mother while in High School and was immediately smitten by her. He often said that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and I'm positive that during their marriage he never strayed.

When the war (The big one) started in 1941 he tried joining the Army but because he had flat feet (no kidding) he was turned down. He went to work at a defense plant before He and Mom purchased the grocery store on Division St. They owned the store through the war years but soon after Armistice Day an A&P moved a few doors down and shortly after, they were forced to close.

Dad and I were friends not only Father & Son, we were very close and shared our love of sports including Boxing, Wrestling, Horse Racing and Baseball. He took me with him as often as he could except on school nights. Most of our wonderful times together were spent during the summer months when school was out.

We would sit together in the bleachers at Wrigley Field, in center field before they blacked it out. He always had seats for the boxing and wrestling matches in the first three rows because of his love of the sports and the people he knew. Many nights we would return home with spots of blood on our clothing. Some nights when we went to the harness races we sit up on the roof because it was cooler but since no vendors came up there I had to run for the sodas or whatever we wanted.

It was wonderful being his son and especially nice when we would take some of my friends along and they would all tell me what a great guy he was. When I left for the Army his advice to me was to do my best and always think this thought, "Will it kill me to do it?" Many times during basic training I used that bit of advice to get through some tough stretches. My experience in the service made me a better man that I was before I was drafted.  I was hoping to go to college on the GI Bill when I got out but instead I got married and started a family.

Everyone that knew my Dad tells me how much we looked alike and when I now look at pictures of my son, grandson and great grandson you can see the Shapiro genes. I think of my parents very often but I remember, more than anything, the great times I spent with my Dad. Father's Day still brings a tear.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


   Friday late morning after returning from making my deliveries I arrived home, opened the garage door and pulled into my space. An awful smell pierced my nostrils and I thought that some animal had gotten into our space and had died. The odor permeated our large garage as if a poisonous gas canister had exploded. As I exited my van I noticed that our other garage door was partially opened about a foot and a half and the realization set in that my wife had left her side of the garage open to hopefully dispel the smell.

   My cell phone buzzed and showed that I had a voice mail. It was from Norma telling me that our freezer of 30 years had died and all of the contents were defrosted. She had already disposed of the top shelf by the time I arrived and we had to get rid of the remainder pretty fast.

   I opened the freezer door to look inside and it was the biggest, ugliest, smelliest mess I had ever seen in my life. All the frozen meat, two turkeys, a few chickens, two dozen recently frozen bagels from St. Louis, all of my wife's baked goodies, salmon and all the recently made blintzes, about 5 dozen, all gone to the stink grave.

   The thawed freezer bags were all slippery and slimy and were hard to handle but luckily I had some sample gloves in my van that would keep my skin from touching the yuck. I filled about 8 fifty gallon trash liners, put them in my van to take to the dumpster. The bottom tub of the freezer contained the blood from the frozen meats and was about three inches deep. I carefully carried it into the kitchen to empty down the disposal and created that awful smell inside the apartment. After dumping I washed out the tub and sprayed a cinnamon fragrance all around the kitchen and living room.

   The smell was so rotten it had soaked into my nose and it wouldn't go away, even after multiple washings.
Some of the liquid waste from the freezer had dropped onto the garage floor as I was disposing of the contents, I poured some clear water and tried to mop it the best I could. I dumped all the bags into the dumpster and used my spray can to hopefully eliminate some of the smell. I then had to clean my van with some wipes and spray inside rather heavily. I was soaking wet with perspiration from the endeavor but looked at it positively as a way of working out. The negatives were the smell and certainly the loss of all the food, especially my wife's baked goods.

   When she returned home from her part time job of mahjong we set out to buy a new freezer. The unit was 30 years old so we had certainly gotten our moneys worth during it's life, but like many things, it got sick and died, unfortunately taking many innocent goodies with it.

   Who would think that finding a replacement freezer would be such a big deal. Well, it was. After checking many of the large stores that sold appliances and basically not finding many units in stock we decided to try FACTORY DIRECT APPLIANCE in Lenexa. Wow, did they have the inventory and the one we were looking for on display. We were helped by Joey Villarreal who negotiated a fair price including free delivery and pickup. Should you be looking for any appliances, give him a shout.

   After choosing the freezer we wanted and arranging delivery, he asked my wife if she was sure of her decision. "Yes, I'm sure", that was until the next morning when she changed her mind for the next larger unit. Hopefully, Monday morning she could catch them before they load up. I should have known better and  stayed out of the decision making, altogether. She had told me that should I decide on an anniversary or birthday gift, I should make sure it doesn't come with a electrical plug on the end, oh well, maybe next year.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


   The other day while driving in my mini-van, a thought zoomed through my now aged mind. Why is it that my sister Elaine, an accomplished author of THE DIVISION STREET PRINCESS, her daughter Jill is a writer and producer in Hollywood, ie; GREY'S ANATOMY, 6 FEET UNDER, UNITED STATES OF TARA and a few more, her other daughter Faith is also a writer and composer doing shows in the Boston Area.  Faith along with sis Jill created THE REAL LIFE BRADY BUNCH that started their show business careers. Jane Lynch (GLEE) was Mrs Brady. Faith also wrote the plays, JESUS HAS TWO MOMMIES, MISS FOLK AMERICA and many more.

   Our cousin Gerry, a professor at Nebraska has written many books and his brother Neil is a wonderful caricature artist. I the oldest of all and the newest author of MAKING HAPPY, my memoir,  is the least notable of the bunch.

   How did this creativity come about. Could it be the old cement sidewalks of Division Street or the streetcar tracks that ran in front of our grocery store or could it be because my Father Irv was a voracious reader of paperback books. In his spare time he read, probably a complete book every day. After we would close the store and go upstairs to our apartment for dinner he would retire to his easy chair, pull out the day's book and read until he fell asleep. This was before all the TV we now have. Back then we would sit around our 5" Dumont TV watching the test signal anxiously awaiting something, anything that would take us from our doldrums of the TV hypnotism.

   I remember Dad telling me that reading was the most important thing in growing up. Many times during his reading periods I would try to interrupt with a question and he was so into his book he would ask me to wait awhile. After many unsuccessful tries I finally asked him if I was bothering him. His reply was very simple, "How else are you going to learn if you don't ask."  I imagine that his zest for reading rubbed off on some of us and I think he would be very proud of some of the things we've done, maybe not so much of my book, although he did read Mickey Spillane.

   I try to tell my grandkids, read, read, read, as much as you can. It will pay off in your future.

This last weekend my stepson David married his lovely bride Jeanne and increased our family by two with her son Colby joining our great family. Now Dylan will have a brother to bother.