Nachum's Recollections

Dad used to say " that is a 10 dollar word".

Dad's advice about writing a paper for school was this: The most important thing is that you hand it in on time. Then it matters that it is written well and says something. I never understood how you could first hand it in on time and afterward write it well. I never did hand things in on time. In fact, he would stay up late proof-reading my papers for grammatical errors. And then we would argue about whether they were really errors. It was fun, but did not help me to write coherent papers.

When we were in the car we used to play a game of guessing what classical composer we were listening to on the radio. It was usually Mozart.

If I used to start a sentence and then stop in the middle, he used to say: Think of what you are trying to say. Think of the words you are going to use to say it. And then, say it.

If I asked Dad, "Can you sue for that?" He would answer, "Of course you can. You can sue for anything; you just might not win."

If a wall was white with a slight bluish tone he would say that the wall was blue. That was his artistic eye.

About buildings that drew attention to themselves Dad would say, "Well, that's a piece of architecture."

He would also say, You can't put up a room. You can only put up walls. The room comes by itself.

He told the story that his father and mother were on a Florida vacation. His mother called to say that his father had a heart attack and is in the hospital. "When did this happen?" "Three days ago." "What! Has he said anything." "He ask, How are the boys." With that my father deduced that he wanted to see the boys and so he got on the next plain to Miami. He arrived and his father had just died. He never forgave his mother for not informing him of the situation earlier.

When he was 5 years old he went to summer camp at camp Swago. At the end of the summer his parents drove up to pick him up. On the ride back he ask, "Why aren't we going to Brooklyn." "Because we moved to Manhattan when you were away." When they arrived his dog Tippy was not there. His mother told him that the building did not allow dogs, so they had had to put him to sleep. Dad never got over this. Both the loss of his dog at the hands of his mother and not being given a chance to move his own things and say goodby to his house in Brooklyn.

When he moved back to 86 Edgemont Road from the commune, he had me help him pack his things so that I would realize he was really moving back. Of course, I was shocked by all that since he told me that my mother would no longer be at home.

When Dad was about 42 years old he bought a motorcycle to save money on gas, a Honda 250. One day he was driving on the highway wearing a T-shirt. He decided to make an experiment. When turning a corner on a bicycle or motorcyle one normally leans into the curve. "What would happen if I just turned the handle bars without leaning?" Dad wondered. So, while exiting the highway onto the exit ramp, he did precisely this. The bike began to fall, as a reflex he immediately turned the opossite way and fell over. He was dragged by the bike some 50 feet, his arm scraping the highway as he went. It took several years for all the gravel to work its way out of his arm. From then on he had an asphalt colored scar in his arm.

Dad used to like to tell the story of how when I (Nachum ) was young and I was sick of every woman asking me "Where did you get such red hair?" and I did not know what to answer. So I asked Dad what to answer. And so next time some one asked me, "Where did you get such red hair?" I answered , " From my folicals". That shut them up.

Dad used to request me to do my funny walk (to my embarassment)

He also asked me to suddenly open my eyes in a shocking way.

He also asked me to do my bird skwauk

He also said, " Don't bother counting the cash from an ATM machine." Why? I asked. "What would you do if it shorted your $20? Who can you complain to?" When crisp bills would come out, he would fan them out and crinkle them in his hands and then put them into his wallet. This way the bills had crinkles in different places and he would prevent the possibility of pulling out two bills stuck together and not realizing it.

He used to say there are 16 amino acids people need, neither beans nor rice provides them all, but combined, they are a complete protein.

He used to say that the onion is the most civilized food. In nature it is harse and inedible, only by the civilized act of cooking it can it be eaten.

Ordering Ice-cream at Apple Gate Farms, he would ask for Bitter Camel, instead of Butter Carmel and noone flinched and eye.

Dad used to say that once the water is boiling, turn down the flame since water will never get more than 212° f.

He used to say he was always kind to his bowels and they had so far always been kind to him. He never delayed using the rest room, and he had never had any "accidents". He felt that using toilet paper (or t-paper) was like using wood, since paper is basically wood. He thought people should use wash cloths for such purposes and he did. He warned me away from using his wash cloth.

He liked tea with honey but with no milk.

He would ask for tea (from a waitress, etc.) by putting his hands together perpendicularly to form a capital T.

I once noted that my father always had a white russian, black russian or sweet vermouth when he came home from work. I told him that being an alcoholic meant one always drank, regardless of how much it was. Hearing this, Dad decided to quit alcohol for several years, just to be sure he was not alcoholic. I had not anticipated this reaction.

Dad readilly adopted Carter's energy saving idea of keeping the home heat down to 65°f. He also liked the idea of saving water at the toilet. We were told to flush only after "number 2". He also put two brick into the tank of the toilet so flushing would use less water. And he installed a flow restricting shower head.

Dad objected to the idea of taking a bath. He though, How can people bathe in the same water they are currently dirtying up? He took showers.

I never remember Dad being sick, ever. Except when he finally got cancer.

He loved the New York Times, especially the Sunday edition. His bedroom had pile of newspaers he hadn't yet gotten to or ones he was saving. Sometimes half his double bed was taken up by saved or yet unread sections of the Times. Usually he save an entire section of the paper, rather than rip out the article he wanted to save. Sundays in the summer he liked to read the paper in the back yard. He would "strip down" taking off his shirt to get some sun. He had an outside phone jack attached to the outside of the house in the backyard. He could then attach the house phone out in the back and enjoy the sun, read the paper and still get his phone calls.

At one point the wall in the shower was corroding so Dad decided to remove the tiles and plaster and install one of his columbus homes murals. He did this, but there were numerous places where there was still no wall. So he simple covered the wall with a clear shower curtain. You could see the mural and the wall stayed dry, mostly.

When I was about eight, dad took me to Columbus Homes in Newark, now demolished. There I worked with him in a basement with inner city blacks. He got a kick out of working with these people. I was a little uneasy. I didn't really make friends with them. Even though some were my age, I felt a huge gulf seperated us. Culturally, we were very different. But Dad liked being with these real people, real life. Though one time he felt his life was threatened by a jealous boyfriend of one of his assistants. This man just walked into the basement studio one day and threatened my father. After that he kept the door locked.

In the end most of the mural were never installed. And the ones that were installed were vandalized. When the started to demolish the building, my father went there to try to salvage what he could of them. Some he later installed in Newark's Department of Education buildings. Though this too presented problems. Even though the mural were bolted to concrete walls some people worried that if they fell off and injured someone, the Department of Education would be sued heavilly. As a result, some murals were removed.

When asked if he slept well, he would reply, "I don't know. I was asleep at the time."

He told me that a list of three items could be punctuated one, two, and three or one, two and three. The first being more logical, the second more economical.

I remember Dad taking me to the annual car inspection. It was a grimy place, but interesting all the machines they had. I never really questioned why he took me, but looking back it seems strange. Maybe he thought it was educational. Maybe he wanted company. I also remember going to Lary's Garage for various repairs. It seemed his repairs never lasted long. I also remember going to a junk yard to find a door for the Buick we had. the color didn't match , but the door did fit.

He told me the JFK never put his hands in his pants pockets, except if he left the thumbs out. That is ok, because then it is clear you are not playing with anything in there.

Also, a suit jacket should leave only a tiny bit of shirt sleeve visible. This was high class.

He taught me how to cross a busy 4 lane street. First look to the left. If no cars are coming cross until the double white line. Then wait for the car coming from the right to have a gap and cross. You might get stuck out there for a while but no worry, you have the double yellow line as your safe zone since cars can't cross it. A bit harrowing, but it works.

He made me feel the "mouse" in his knee once when we went running. I am not sure if this is a real phrase to describe the little jump in one's knee if moved in a certain way, or if he invented it. Alex K. claims it is a real phrase.

He would sun himself by a pool for a while, use baby oil. Then dive in and do an underwater lap of the pool and come out again. He preferred sunning, but was an excellent swimmer. He also played tennis well. He also was a good horseback rider. He told me to really hit the horse when I wanted to pet it because the animal is so big a hit is like a pet for a cat.

He occasionally let me sit on his lap when he was driving. He would let me hold the wheel. One time on the highway he had me on his lap and holding the wheel. We were in the right lane going about 40 mph when a police man stopped us. He asked my father why he was traveling so slowly and Dad explained that it was because I had been on his lap. The officer didn't like this answer and proceded to give him a speeding ticket. My father protested that he was not speeding but was informed that there is also a speed minimum on the New Jersey Turnpike. I don't think he let me steer after that. But he would let me shift gears from the passenger seat.

Somebody, maybe him, told me that prepositions are a late addition to English and therefore the rules of their use is still unclear. In Latin, case is used instead of prepositions.

He like the use of the word informed, as in: "The author's writing was informed with a deep knowledge of the South."

He used to joke that his second son finished college in just three years: It was a two year college.

He felt I should get some college degree no matter what, then I could decide what to do with myself. He told me to study what I like, not neccessarily what is practical. I think he thought Computer Science was not a worthy academic field since it was really a trade and not mind expanding.

He was always saying he was trying get in touch with his feelings.

He said the three states of matter were not solid, liquid and gas, but rather solid, liquid and gaseous. One should use the adjective to describe the state, not the noun.

He often noticed the shadow of a plane or a bird passing over him. He thought this was very weird. Statistically anamolous.

He also found that whenever he checked his digital watch it was always a few minutes before or after the hour. He thought this was weird.

He had a large toothed black plastic comb hanging in the bathroom by an elastic string. He used it.

Dad liked to point out about the NY Outerbridge Crossing : It is named after Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge. Rather than call it the "Outerbridge Bridge" the span was labeled a "crossing," but many New Yorkers mistakenly assume the name comes from the fact that it is the most remote bridge in New York City. It is also often mistaken to be the "Outer Bridge" since it is also the southernmost crossing in New York state

He asked what is the densest material to use for fill? Sand? Rocks are denser but they leave gaps. Gravel, also leaves gaps. Answer: A mixture of these will create the densest fill.

When air conditioning was invented some architects thought buildings no longer needed windows. For light you have electric lights and for air you have air conditioning. Later it was realized people like sunlight and fresh air!

If you build walls 4 feet thick you achieve a constant winter and summer temperature of about 60 degrees. It is like you are living in a cave and caves have a constant temperature. This can save on heating and cooling.

He had a bluejean jumpsuit.

When drawing a woman, the breasts should be drawn lower, about mid-chest. When drawing a face, the eyes should be in the middle since the forehead is about as big as the nose to chin area.

If one follows electric wires, high tension wires, one gets a great cross section of the forests without getting lost or having to blaze a trail.

He told me that a docter should not ask you did you stool look like oatmeal, because your body and brain are clever enough that next time it will look like oatmeal. Instead the docter should simply ask, what did it look like?

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Dad took me down from my bed at night to see Nixon resign. I was about 6 years old. He hated Nixon. I thought Nixon was this boring guy.

He said that eating nuts was like eating wood and was bad for the intestines.

About one of his girlfriends he said, It is hard to get a woman to love you when she loves someone else -- especially if that person is dead.

Soup is good to eat before a meal. It relaxes the stomach.

To Edhaupt someone is to hear him say something and then assuming the person meant it seriously, repeat it in the form of a joke, when all along that person intended it as a joke.

He told a story of once being in the company of some people at a restaurant and after the waiter poured a certain man a small quantity of wine from the bottle for the man to taste, the man said the wine was not so good. Dad remarked to me that really one is just expected to say if the wine is off, not if it is just not of high quality. The waiter did however bring a new bottle.

Women (in the Victorian era) often played harp because it required them to sit in a suggestive position, raising their shirts a few inches.

His favorite sweet was chocolate covered cherries. He like milk chocolate too and baklawa.

He thought it was strange that I knw what baba ganush was.

We used to go canoeing and camping along the Deleware river, near Skinner's Falls and Eagle something. The rule at canoe rental was that only three people in one canoe. To save money he had Gabriel wait down stream and he Henry and I got one canoe. We then picked up Gabe. He had an extra paddle and lifer preserver anyway.

If we slept over night we could do a longer trip. Then we needed two canoes since we carried with us a tent. Dad was always very concerned that we might tip the canoe over. He alwasy talked about safety and putting your paddle in the boat in a certain way before moving, the exact term escapes me. He was very afraid of the rapids and detested bear drinking and rubber rafts, bith were thoroughly unprofessional. So we did sleep out at least once, setting up our tent along the banks of the river. Then after two days we came to the end and dad (and Gabe?) had to hitch hike a ride back to the start to get our car. He left us with a dollar at the end point and the store there. We had to wait. I remember thinking he would not succeed in getting there and back, but in the end he did. I must have been about 8 years old.

Once He and I went to camp Swego to stay in a country house kept by Adelle when her father, David Kaplan, sold the camp. We could only go in the winter since the kaplans used it in the more desirable times. So there was snow all around, and the cabin/house was not heated. It was a fun experience. Like camping in the middle of nowhere. Camp Swego itself was deserted in the winter.

Getting good grades showed you could follow instructions, nothing more. And that is what companies want to find, people who can follow instructions. So they look for students with good grades.

He said a cat could get through any whole that his head could fit through. His body was supple enough.

He often attempted to grow a bonzai tree. His goal, and the goal of all such growers, was to create a bonzai that looked like a miniature adult tree and not a sapling. The goal was to grow it such that a close-up photo of the tree would make the tree appear to be full sized. His trees usually died quickly.