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 Los Angeles Childhood -So We Remember, So We Don't Forget
Thursday, 17 May 2012 21:47
I have been blogging for 15 months now with over 15,000 hits. so thanks to all of you who are following us. I thought I would re-run the most read blog over that time, SO WE REMEMBER, SO WE DON'T FORGET. The runner-up is about Marilyn and me. We will do that one next week.
Soon, I will again be blogging from Paris, the city of light. So stay tuned in around June 13th for 18 days of new visions.

Not all who survived the holocaust were in the Concentration Camps. There were first, second and third generation survivors, Jews, Germans, homosexuals, disabled, and persons different.

In the camps themselves, all personal identity was stripped. No names used, just numbers which as we all know, were tattooed on arms. A badge of dishonor, a badge of isolation, stripping away of all that was taken with clothes, jewels, books, and personal articles as they entered.

I always wondered why I so closely identified with the holocaust survivors. The ones whose photos I saw in Life Magazine. When I look at my childhood photos I am not smiling. "Your mother went away to Chicago on holiday." That's what they told me. How many others who suffered early childhood loss had those photos as children? When did they ever smile? Is it something about losing my navigational force that could protect me? It's like that with your mother when you are two or three or four years old.

I attended a lecture at the Creativity and Madness Conference the beginning of August. One of the speakers talked about the Holocaust and PTSD. Not only those who survived in the camps but the two generations after that. So many children who were hidden while their parents were taken. This is something one never gets over. It's an interior banishing, hearing voices and finally only vapor and dust. Memories tied up in a packet of letters or photographs. Something only left after death takes away the body that was a mother, a father, the aunt, uncle or cousin, brother and sister.

Yet we land on our feet, those of us who have found ways of coping. For me it was the writing.

You Can Go Home Again - In Memory of Darlene Boward Rubin
Saturday, 05 May 2012 21:27

I am re-running a Blog I posted in December 2010 in memory of my elementary school friend who passed away this week. I remember she wrote me an email telling me, "I loved you then (in elementary school) and I love you now. We saw each other at my book launch in Los Angeles March 2011. We reunited in person over 50 years after we last saw each other in high school. May her name be for a blessing.

Here it follows: I joined my high school alumni association, Eagle Rock High School, S’58, Pericleans, sea foam green and black, pegged skirts, and wavy page boy haircuts, bobby sox and mary janes.

For a long period of time I had been getting emails of the passing of one Periclean after another, and with each passing, my chance of growing a happy high school experience diminished.

Then I wrote in response to one of those emails, that I was celebrating my later years, how the last ones have been creative and full of some sense of wonder; that my  memoir was coming out, that I lived in a glorious place, the high desert, in the country and that life, for me, was joyous.

A Los Angeles Childhood - Snapshots From The 60s Part 2
Tuesday, 24 April 2012 21:10

We took turns going to Canter's Deli on Fairfax Avenue with the Sunday Los Angeles Times, or down to Chinatown for dim sum. Either way making the pilgrimage down the Venice for the afternoon for either our winter rituals or the summer ones where we would sit out on the sand in front of the Westwind Bar, turn with the rays of the sun, get warm, go into the bar and have a beer before running out to the seashore to jump into the waves to cool off.

When we were young, in our 20s it seemed like time would last forever and we with it. Sue is gone. I remain, getting older and more achy, still full of memories.

A Los Angeles Childhood - Snapshots From The 60s
Friday, 20 April 2012 12:14

Sue and I in my convertible MGB, top down, driving through Watts. Violence everywhere. Sue with her blond hair. What were we doing down there anyway? How did we get there? Just out for a drive 1965. "Get out of here and go home. It's a riot", a cop yelled to me as we drove past him. I hit the gas so fast it made our heads swim. We got out and back to safety. We didn't know that taking Vermont Avenue as far as it would go would end in danger. What was it all about anyway?

I remember my cousin Ruthie who was a ballroom dancer, circling around and around with her partner wearing the same outfits at sixteen as she did in her 40s, 50s and 60s.

Sometimes I ran into my cousin Frances, with her flaming red hair, doing sketches for her paintings of the old Jews down by the synagogue in Venice Beach right on the boardwalk near the bakery where Sue and I would get a big piece of cheesecake, take it out to the lifeguard station, climb up the steps in the winter bundled up in a warm coat, perhaps even mittens, and watch the waves slap the shore. Other times we would take a bag of sunflower seeds in the shell, crack them, eat them and discard the shells below on the sand. Or we'd write our troubles in the wet sand and when the waves came in, wash them away. It truly felt like they disappeared. Sometimes Sue would pose for a picture as I grabbed the camera to snap her photo, her blond hair glistening in the sun, her bangs covering her face, head cocked to the left or right depending on the way the sun caught her face.

A Los Angeles Childhood - Common Language -Goya and Jaune Quick to See Smith
Thursday, 05 April 2012 22:36

A few weeks ago I went with my friend Greg to the Albuquerque Museum to see the National Museum Tour of Francisco Goya’s LOS CAPRICHOS. The booklet that accompanied the exhibit defined capricho as a whim, a fantasy or an expression of imagination. They go on to further say that Goya saw it as much more.

I remember seeing his work in 1990 at the Prado in Madrid and thinking that it was so disturbing that I could not look at it.

I found out that Goya was a man trapped in a world of silence - totally deaf- after a bout with typhoid fever or Menieres disease. Perhaps lead poisoning from his oil paints somehow set him free. He began his work depicting demons, vices, something otherworldly.  In a manuscript that accompanied one of the plates in the series, he wrote, "The world is a masquerade. Looks, dress and voice, anything is only pretension. Everyone wants to appear to be what he is not. Everyone is deceiving, and no one ever knows himself."

A Los Angeles Childhood - It Might As Well Be Spring
Saturday, 24 March 2012 21:07

In December it seemed like winter would be here forever. And now, three days into spring, I have picked my first daffodil. I know, those of you in Los Angeles where I spent most of my life think, so what. Flowers have been blooming there, some like camellias have been blooming for quite some time. But here in the high desert, spring is revolutionary. All of a sudden, plants start to poke out of the ground. My quaking aspen, the female, has it's little blooming tassels that look similar to pussy willows while the one to the left of the courtyard gate will wait a while longer to show buds. The wonderful lilacs, over ten feet tall are starting to set buds and the birds seem to be singing more. Although breezy as March and April usually are, the temperature at 12:30pm is 52 degrees and expected to go up to the high 60s by the end of the week.

My friend Richard who has been saying spring is almost here since January has something to shout about now.

A Los Angeles Childhood - Passing the Torch - Whitney Houston to Bobbi Kristina
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 19:02

I don't know for sure what compartment to put these thoughts in. Perhaps Whitney Houston's early death touches on my own mortality. I am not a famous person. I am not in the spotlight. The closest I've come to being out there is with my Jewish Memoir and my poetry. It's not like being labeled "The Voice" by Oprah, or asked to play a role of the good woman, the girl next door. She was the child of a mother who shared her voice with God, Cissy Houston, or her aunt, Dionne Warwick.

I do come from a lineage of strong women, though, have done my share of drugs and alcohol, but have not mortgaged my soul.

I'm on a train where I can get off at any place and experience a new geography, not one that is running so fast nothing but death could have stopped it.

A Los Angeles Childhood - Remembering Whitney Houston Part 2
Monday, 05 March 2012 13:14

Whitney was listed in the 2009 Guinness World Records as the most awarded female act of all time, and one of the world’s best selling music artists. She sold over 170 million albums, singles and videos worldwide. She was the only artist to chart seven consecutive No. l Billboard Hot 100 Hits, and had two number one Billboard 200 "Album Awards”. Her album Whitney, 1987 became the first album by a female artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

Whitney received her first Grammy awarded to her in 1986 by her cousin Dionne Warwick. This year there were tributes to her. Yes she had problems but none of that spoils what she gave me.

I watched her funeral celebration of her life and it was clear to see that she was loved and remembered as a child of God.

As I watched the hearse pull away with the body that was Whitney Elizabeth Houston, I heard the love of her by so many people who performed, gave praises. After two hours of television coverage, I had to see her alive just one more time. That is the beauty of fame and film. I streamed "Waiting to Exhale".

A Los Angeles Childhood - Remembering Whitney Houston Part 1
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 16:57

A couple of weeks ago on a Thursday at my local supermarket the checker and I listened to a song that was playing: "You Give Good Love." It was Whitney Houston. We talked about where we were in 1985 and 86. For me it was Los Angeles I was just coming out of an eleven-year relationship. Two Sunday mornings ago, my friend Martha called me early. "Whitney Houston is dead." I was in disbelief. Hadn't I just heard her? Didn't I just talk about her? "I'm Every Woman," "Saving All My Love For You."

I seem to live my life and mark it by specific songs.

A Los Angeles Childhood - Synopsis of the Book Part 2
Monday, 20 February 2012 12:16

My Father’s Story

My father didn’t know what to do when my mother died. After he buried her, he decided to leave. He was angry that his wife suddenly left. No notice. One minute they were sleeping, but even before the alarm clock went off, she started pulling at him, trying to wake him out of a good dream, a deep sleep.

“She’s dying,” he shouted.

So he called the ambulance. After it came, he took me to my grandmother’s house. Then came back to our old house, and packed two bags, one for me, and one for him, in the suitcases he and my mother saved since their honeymoon. They still had the stubs of train tickets inside. One said “New York City” and the return ticket: Union Station, Los Angeles. He couldn’t shake the loss. He didn’t think he could raise a child alone. He said he had no choice. He said, “I can’t see it ending up another way. Someone else will take care of her.” He was sure of that. After all, he came from a family with three sisters and a brother.

“I just have to do this first. Get my head back on straight. Take care of the immediate,” my father said.

He stayed with me at Bubbie’s until the funeral. I was not allowed to attend.

My father figured I understood.

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