Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I was lucky enough to have two living grandmothers. Grandma Sadie was my mothers mother. We lived with her and Grandpa till Grandma Sadie passed away.

Every morning Grandma Sadie would get up at around five. she would bake these awful sugar and raisin cookies for me - I loved them. She then went to work in a sweatshop running a sewing machine till late. When she was home  she either cooked, cleaned or argued. Given the fact that she argued in  Yiddish - I never really understood what, or occasionally with whom she was arguing.  I was the center of her life at that point in time.

She slept on a cot in the kitchen when my Mother and I lived with her and Grandpa. One night my mom woke me up, very quietly. Grandma was lying quite still and my cousin Jerry was waiting to take me to my Aunt Margaret's house. As a 9 year old I didn't quite understand that she had died during the night.

Grandma Sadie was a well-dressed woman - she always wore makeup and spoke english quite accent free.

Grandma Ida, on the other hand,  had a thick east-European accent and spoke English haltingly. Her father was a salt-merchant. Grandma Ida worked on the back of his horse-drawn truck heaving around 100 pound bags of salt. She was a big, powerful woman. She lost her husband, Harry, before I was born and I was named for him - Howard.  My Father was her youngest and dearest. When he died young, I slipped into that spot.

Friday nights we went to Grandma Ida's home for Shabbos dinner. I could smell the chicken and gefilte fish blocks away. On Passover she made Latkes, fried potato pancakes. My cousin Bennett and I would go to her apartment and get plates piled high with her latkes. The recipe, actually all of her recipes passed on with her.

As I said:I was lucky enough to have two living grandmothers.


  1. What an interesting background! It must have been fun and given you such a rich sense of history. My grandmother fried catfish and we had green beans and mashed potatoes, but I have made latkes from friends' recipes. Good.

  2. Ellis, Thank you for your comment. I think it is so important that we pass these wonderful memories to the next generation.

    Have a Great 2012.


  3. My maternal Grandmother died when my mother was 6 weeks old.
    I was around my paternal Grandmother 5 times in my life. She lived in AZ. and my dad was in the USAF, so we were always somewhere else. I missed out on having Grandmas.
    I like reading your stories Howard, they're very poignant.

  4. Brenda - good words are always welcome!