Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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Jewish Childhood Blog

"This blog carries the voice of my memoir, past and present, into the future. Feel free to fill out the form with a question or comment. I look forward to a dialog with you."

  —L'chaim, to life, Jeanne



A Jewish Childhood - Ringing in the New Year -The Joy of Flowers- Rose Parade 2013
Friday, 04 January 2013 14:45

It seems like only yesterday I was six or seven, standing on a three legged milk stool, and being balanced by my father as we stood there on Colorado Boulevard watching the Tournament of Roses. The smells, the colors, the sounds of the big marching bands were all intriguing to me and they still are.

Afterwards, we went to the park where all the floats are staged for three days up close bringing the glory of the parade right back. The park is called Victory Park and is located on Sierra Madre and Washington. I remember going there in my early 30s with a few friends and being taken right back to those early days.

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A Los Angeles Jewish Childhood - Winter 2012
Friday, 28 December 2012 19:36

What comes out of a Jewish Childhood? Strong beliefs of social justice, how to survive in a world with prejudices and mind sets that are in the DNA of each of us. How stereotypes play out in a world where Jews have often been those scapegoats as well as defenders of others.

I remember the Watts Riots, 1965 in Los Angeles. I remember the Freedom Riders in the 1960s, many of them Jews, riding on the buses, walking with Martin Luther King.

I remember Julian Bond, one of my early heroes, when he came to talk with us at my synagogue, Temple Beth Shalom, at an afternoon event sponsored by the Santa Fe Human Rights Alliance. He spoke about biases, similarities and freedom won in our own time. How inter-racial marriage was banned in much of the south until 1967.

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A Los Angeles Childhood - Menorah Memories - Chanukah 2012
Monday, 10 December 2012 20:17

The menorah I now have is the one that Grandma Goldenberg gave my mom and dad when they married. The same one was given to Aunt Minnie and Uncle Gordon.

The menorah shows two Lions of Judah, facing each other with small cups for candles along the bottom and a shamas, the head candleholder at the top. Since it was right after the war (WW II), it was made of pot metal, a white metal die cast zinc, inexpensive and low melting temperature, there is a hole in the side of the shamas, probably from the heat from the candles burning below it over the years.

I take out my menorah. I try to remember how many times my mother cleaned out the wax at the end of the eight days, and how long had she placed the shamas in a half of a potato to keep it separate and safe.

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Kaddish 10 years later
Saturday, 24 November 2012 21:48
It's been ten years since my mother Esther's death. Although I think of her every day, there is a sense of freedom that she is somewhere in the ether, and free and happy.
 
I am currently reading Lisa See's book, PEONY LOVE, and have been enmeshed with old customs of: what happens when we die? Do we come back? Do we remain in that in between place? Are we honored or cursed? Will we be hungry ghosts?
 
As concerns my mother, I have written about her in my memoir, SAVING MYSELF: A LOS ANGELES CHILDHOOD. I am currently working on a second memoir, to be called JUST NOW: THE ALZHEIMER'S JOURNAL. It has to do with living with my family's Alzheimers and Dementia.
 
So if you will indulge me, I will share with you again, KADDISH.

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A Los Angeles Childhood - Breaking The Rules - Margarete Bagshaw
Tuesday, 30 October 2012 20:47

Back in April 2011, I blogged about Pablita Velarde. I am watching a documentary made in 2005, one year before her death. Pablita used to tell her children and grandchild stories. It was not until she illustrated the stories that they began to understand what she was truly saying.

Pablita talks about trying to understand, first her daughter, Helen Hardin's paintings, and then even a step more abstract, her grand daughter Margarete.

Both Helen and Margarete grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and not in the Indian way.

Margarete takes her grandmother to art museums because Pablita tells her, "I don't walk that great anymore."

Pablita talks about her children: "I had two kids to raise, put them in Catholic School, pay tuition, chauffeur, cook, baby sitter. What I made in painting was a godsend."

Her daughter and her granddaughter were rebellious, just as Pablita was growing up.

Over the years I have seen Helen Hardin's paintings Click here: Santa Fe Treasures: Santa Fe art: Margarete Bagshaw "Breaking the Rules" and have seen Margarete's work both at Golden Dawn Gallery at 201 Galisteo Street, across from Collected Works Bookstore in Santa Fe.

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A Los Angeles Childhood - More Reviews
Thursday, 04 October 2012 10:23

I have been writing blogs for almost two years (in December) and during that time, so many of you have purchased Saving Myself: A Los Angeles Childhood. Many of you have been kind enough to write a review. I want to share those with you today.

At the beginning of preparation for publishing the memoir, I asked six colleagues in various professions that touch upon the content of the memoir to read and review the book. Here are those reviews:

“Jeanne Simonoff’s beautifully written memoir explores what it means to be human, to overcome hardship and loss, and to come into one’s own. It’s full of life, and we are with her all the way. The book is a complete delight: poignant, charming, brimming over with observation, vitality, and will to survive.” –Kathleen Spivack, poet and Pulitzer Prize nominee, Moments of Past Happiness, The Beds We Lie In

“ I have been enthralled by this inspiring memoir of a child’s experience of profound loss and survival; a story of individual resilience and familial care. This is an intimate glimpse into the mind of a child with irrepressible vitality and strength. Thanks to Jeanne Simonoff for her contribution to the literature of childhood loss and recovery.” –Jane Napier, psychotherapist

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A Los Angeles Childhood - Where Were You When We Landed on the Moon?
Sunday, 02 September 2012 16:30
I am sharing this again in honor and memory of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. Please let me know your thoughts. It isn't often that such a hero has such an impact on my life. It widened my horizons and gave me a better understanding of the possibility of Fly Me To The Moon.

The date is July 20, 1969, 16:50 military time. Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins landed in the Sea of Tranquility.  When Armstrong stated: "This is the LM Pilot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way."

Now the Space Shuttle is being retired.  It will be launched this coming July for the last flight.

Where was I? At the Westwind Bar down in Venice Beach, the smell of cigarettes and stale beer. Once the moon landing was over. The jukebox must have been blaring rock and roll sex music, "Proud Mary, Hey Jude and Revolution, the Beatles grounding us back on earth, Honky Tonk Women, Bad Moon Rising". Then we heard Dylan's voice singing "Lay Lady Lay”.

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A Los Angeles Childhood - Poetry Workshop, American University, Paris, Jours 13-18 Part 2
Thursday, 23 August 2012 20:07

I once heard it said that everything one writes within a six-month period is somehow connected to each other. This is proving to be true as I continue on my adventure into a land I was for so long afraid to enter for fear I would ‘catch it’. Like when I was in graduate school studying in a two-year course for my master's in rehabilitation counseling. With each disability we studied, I swore I had some of the symptoms. I may be able to chalk it up to active imagination.

The other women in the workshop were all ages and came from different countries to study with Kathleen Spivack. There were only two of us currently living in the States, as well as Kathleen. One from Copenhagen, a young stand up comic, one from Switzerland, from London, three from France, all writing in English although for some it was their second language.

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A Los Angeles Childhood - Poetry Workshop, American University, Paris, Jours 13-18
Monday, 20 August 2012 19:58

I have been to Paris ten times, five of which I have rented the same apartment at 32 rue Gay Lussac, two blocks from Luxembourg Gardens and Boulevard St. Michel, six blocks from my favorite gelato store Amorino. I have three buses within a two-block radius and great green grocers, Mason Marie right across the street. Last year I found that the boulangerie across the street made gluten free breads and the taxi stand, which I walked to every morning to get to the poetry workshop was three blocks away. Each morning was rain. I decided the luxury I would give myself is taking a taxi there and then the buses 63 and 27 back to the apartment.

The whole workshop process was wonderful, freeing and I found myself highly productive after not writing poetry for about 10 years while I worked on and finished my memoir.

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A Los Angeles Childhood - Jours grouped - Les Chiens de Paris - In memory of my friend Farfel Part 2
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 10:23

Kathleen Spivack is teaching the poetry workshop that I will be taking at the American University at Paris. She has assured me ahead of time that I can write whatever I want to. She won't limit me to poetry. Since I have all but one of her books, I purchase the one that I do not have, A HISTORY OF YEARNING, and turn immediately to my favorite poem in that book, "Pale Light In The Luxembourg Gardens."

By now I am hungry and we agree to meet at a cafe around the corner and across the street from Saint Sulpice. I have a desire for pommes frites, which this cafe doesn't have, so I settle for chips. When the server brings our fare, out he comes with a package of Lay's Potato chips. Imagine coming all this way to have that. But I need the salt I share the bag with Kathleen. We agree to meet the following evening at the Music Conservatory. Her friend's daughter has a recital there for her master's program. It will be a group concert based on the work of John Cage. Well I enjoy John Cage so, for two hours, we sit and watch and listen to their interpretation. I understand some of it. Again, I am hungry so we go off after the concert to find a cafe where I get my pommes frites, at last.

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