Sunday, February 26, 2006

B. Barer & Sons commercial

Burl made doing commercials look so easy. When he left I decided to do my own. The first few were easy. This is my most successful one.

Grandfather Barel had asthma causing him sleepless nights. He often hitched up his wagon in the dark and headed out to the country to buy scrap metal. He was fortunate to have a wonderful horse named Bill.

With the motion of the wagon grandfather would often doze off. When Bill would arrive at a familiar lane he would stop and shake his head pulling on the reins waking Grandfather. This was repeated during the day. Grandfather contacted his customers and filled his wagon with scrap dozing in between stops.

I haven't been able to train my trucks to do this trick. So next time you come into town load up your truck with scrap metal and deliver it to-- B. Barer & Sons Fourth and Rose Walla Walla

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Family Anomaly-

When Danny was young his hair was very straight. Worn in a page boy bob ala the Beattles he was often mistaken for a girl.

As he reached adolescence he began experiencing a whole new hair pattern. Barbers reported they had never seen anything like it.

I recalled complimenting my father on his striking wavy hair. He told me at that time his original hair pattern had been very straight. In Russia at the age of ten or eleven he had ringworm, a parasite that attacks the scalp. The only known cure was to keep the head shaved. When his hair was allowed to grow back it was the luxuriant wavy black hair that endured through the rest of his life.

Monday, February 20, 2006

When I attended the University of Washington, my roommate for awhile was Tom Lantos, a Holacaust survivor who later became a U. S. Congressman. Tom at the age of nineteen beat out five thousand other European students for a scholarship to study in the U.S.

He told me many stories of his activities in his native Hungary during World War II. Some were almost unbelievable including the one in which dressed as a German officer he arrived at a Nazi concentration camp with orders to transport a Jewish prisoner. The camp commander released the requested prisoner to him. On leaving the camp both the officer and the prisoner, Tom's uncle, quickly changed to civilian clothes and disappeared into an underground railway arranged by the Swedish diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg.

On hearing this story story, my father told me of a less heroic adventure of his uncle Nachman in World War I. Uncle Nachman was drafted into the Czar's army. He was imediately dispatched as cannon fodder to the Austro-Hungarian front.

He felt so honored to serve Mother Russia that he surrendered to the first Hungarian patrol he encountered. Able to speak fluent Hungarian he was paroled to a Jewish merchant whose clerks
were at the front in Hungarian army. Sort of "Wake me up when the war is over".

This brought up a discussion about his knowledge of Hungarian. Apparently the borders were very fluid. Some of grandmother Rissa's family were born in Russia and some in Hungary without really moving very far.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Excuse the cliff hanger appearence but with my one finger typing I sometimes linger on the shift key locking the keyboard. Very frustrating.


Grandfather approached the crossing hoping to find word of his family's fate. Accross the river at this narrow point he could see Russian women washing clothes at the river bank.

He shouted over to the various groups in Russian, "Have you seen a woman with three children walking toward the border.

Behind him the unmistakable sound of a round being chambered and he turned to face the bayoneted rifle of a Roumanian sentry.

Very soon B. Barer found himself in a dungeon. He finally was able to attract the attention of a guard. What happens now he asked.

You are a spy. You will be shot.

Grandfather reached under his shirt and displayed the money belt. Holding the belt out he offered it to the jailer. "Take it!" he gasped. "Call the U. S. Consulate. I am an American citizen."

The man looked at the treasure offered him. He selected two small bills indicating that this was the normal bribe he would share with his supervisor. He handed the belt back saying "Hide that quickly there are crooks here."

Shortly, a man from the U. S. Consulate arrived. As he and Grandfather walked out the gate of the prison the man opined that with all the taxpayer money Mr. Herbert Hoover was doling out in Europe these guys better jump. Oh, By the way! Your family is at the hotel waiting for you.

The lights of Bucharest were dazzling the first night the family walked together through the main Boulevards of the city. My father, Israel, focussed his attention on a golden leather pair of shoes displayed in a department store window. Much of the time in Russia he had been barefoot wearing gunny sacks at work in the rendering plant where he was employed.

The next morning his father bought the shoes for him.

Official records left behind in Russia, Barel and Rissa were remaried at the consulate with three giggling children looking on. At that point all became citizens by virtue of grandfather being a citizen.

Off to Liverpool and the S. S. Cedric for the voyage accross the Atlantic.