Monday, October 3, 2016

Memories of my old country and first alma mater

When I say in these parts that I'm going to the Old Country, some think it's Poland or Ireland, but for me it's New York, N.Y., where I am now for this morning's services at the 92nd Street Y.

A lot of people have been sharing the beautiful video the Y produced for Rosh Hashanah, and I have been commenting that I'm proud it's my (kindergarten) alma mater. Actually nursery school and kindergarten, the green room and the red room.

I can remember playing on the roof, being in dance recitals in the auditorium where services are held, and pledging my love to Bobby G (I actually think we were sitting in a toy closet, but how can that be?) and Bobby returning my love so that we told our mothers we were engaged.

Later while in the auditorium for services, before feminism was "big," I remember my father and mother looking at all the names of the great men in history in panels on the ceiling and remarking that there were no women. My mother (and the mothers of my friends) was an early feminist without calling herself that, testing trucks in the army, running a jewelry business with my aunt, and with her mother, opening the jewelry store, Lynne's Speciality, which was my home away from home, 1288 Lexington Avenue, not even a 10-block walk from the Y.

Rosh Hashanah dinner at 1200 Fifth
We did a lot of things there besides going to services. I took dance classes there and have a strange memory of practicing a blind dance in the big blackout and having the teacher calmly say, well, we can open our eyes and still practice our blind dance because we won't be able to see.

The teacher made a mistake in letting me leave in the darkness to walk down to the store at the same time my mother had left looking for me. I remember being in a panic when our paths crossed and I couldn't find her but then going back and being relieved when she came back to get me.

The last Rosh Hashanah with my mother was painful. The lung cancer that appeared pretty quickly had progressed and totally changed her looks. Diane warned me because she had been there earlier. When I walked into the apartment for our erev Rosh Hashanah dinner, I was shocked at how pinched she was.

Many of us probably have that memory of our parents at the end. But I like to think of my vibrant mother and all those Rosh Hashanah dinners at the apartment and great years at the store and at the Y, dancing on the stage and holding hands with Bobby G and, as the diploma says, successfully completing the following courses: block-building, bike-riding, fingerpainting, modeling, music, pasting, horticulture, singing Shabbat-Shalom, living and laughing together, which I'm grateful that my mother had framed for me. And grateful for all the Rosh Hashanah memories and for Ben still being able to go to the Y with me and for cousin Jeanne and husband Bruce putting up with me spending the night at their apartment and for the pizza dinner we had which even though not traditional Rosh Hashanah dinner still had the spirit because we toasted to a good New Year and also of course grateful for my other children here with me in spirit and the rest of my family from and wishing all a healthy, happy, and peaceful New Year.

1 comment:

Diana Louise Carter said...

Happy New Year, Ronni! You bring the place and those memories alive.