Monday, October 29, 2007

Would women today believe that the B'Nai B'Rith Women were condidered an auxillary of the men's lodge?

When the Walla Walla Men's lodge voted to turn in their charter the women recieved a letter that their charter was also voided.

To the men the"BB"was a social thing. They had poker games as fund raisers.

The women, mainly stay at home mom's, were another story. They networked and worked on a volunteer basis for the Red Cross and the Veteran's Hospital.

As world War II progressed, Walla Walla was the final training spot for B-17 bomber and later B-24 bomber crews. The men or mostly boys were single or married with their wife with them shared one thing they were away from home they were facing a long overseas posting in a combat situation.

The synagogue was full every Friday night. Several marriages took place there.

Service men were invited into homes and life long friendships were formed.

The U.S.O was an off post gathering place for off duty service men and the BB women served as surrogate moms to many many lonely fellows.

During the years of the BB women there were frequent get togethers with each woman bringing a portable electric oven usually full of sweet and sour cabage rolls or brisket. An ample meal was followed by cards or other socializing.

The big event that brought all of the members out was the "Rummage Sale."

The planning for a major invasion paled before networking that took place before a BB rummage sale. It was rumored that some members bought items at department store sales just so they could have a suitable donation. Of course there was a shakedown of local merchants for their overstock items.

There was always a lineup of "doorbusters" looking for underpriced treasures. The word on the street was that the BB sale was the one to attend for the best in upscale recycled clothing and household good.

The sale went two or three days yielding three to five hundred dollars or more after paying rental of a vacant storefront.

Most church rummage sales at that time yielded far less. I asked a ladies at other sales what they made and they were happy get $25.00 to $100.00.

Nothing was marked and it was strictly a barter situation of prices and counter offers.

The Jewish community in Walla Walla has had ebbs and flows. Today there is a resurgence.

I don't know if there will be another era like the one I remember.

Friday, October 26, 2007

In old Walla Walla

Each night as my Dad would come into the house after work he would go throught the litany- What's new with Dorothy? How's Sadie? How's Violet. Did you speak to Leona or Clara?

This was a bit of a tweak on my mother's close relationship and her daily phone calls with the "girls".

Like teenagers, the girl's made the rounds by telephone planning social events, charitable activities, Mah Jong games, etc.

Other's came and went and some just didn't participate in the A phone circuit but were part of the sisterhood anyway.

The history of Jewish people in Walla Walla goes back as far as Walla Walla itself. Shortly after the valley was reopened for settlement following a ban after the Whitman masacre, the Schwabachers moved up from The Dalles and made the community the headquaters for their retail chain that extended through most of the towns in the area from Boise on the East to the village of Seattle on the West where there son in law Bailly Gatzaert also served as mayor. They eventually moved on selling their flagship store to their manager who renamed it Gardener's.

My earliest memories are of my mother and Aunt Dorothy under the watchful eyes of the ├Âlder hands" like Mrs. Chernis, Mrs. Youdavitch, the Gorfkles putting together the chartering of the B'Nai B'rith Lodge and Auxillary along with families from Pendleton and Baker, Oregon, the Tri Cities and I believe as far away as Yakima.

The occasion took place at the old Odd Fellows Hall on Fifth and Main which was torn down many years ago. The sponsoring group was the Spokane Lodge.

The charter presenter was Bessie Copeland, Aunt Dorothy's mother. Mrs. Copeland was an officer and eventually president of District #4 of the order. District#4 encompassed the states of Washington, Oregon, California and I believe some of the peripheral states as well the province of Brittish Columbia.

Whoops got off the track again. More to follow.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It is hard to imagine life without Aunt Dorothy.

From the time I took to the stage to show off my new but undeveloped tap dancing skills at my aunt's and uncle's wedding at the age of five, Aunt Dorothy has been so much a part of my life.

As a new bride, she invited me to dinner at the new Barer residence at the Birchway Apartments, evidently baby sitting me while my parents were out. She was so gracious and I was so impressed that when the Birchway property came up for sale many years later I bought it.

It was one of the few times Uncle Dave really took me to the woodshed about a stupid buy and he was right!

I don't know if you could call it the Barer neighborhood but my grandmother and my Aunt and Uncle all lived within an easy walk of each other. Grandfather had made the move from 28 W. Chestnut to 1217 E. Isaacs not too many months before he died. Jan inherited 1217 and sold it to the school district so the the house is gone and the land is part of the Green Park school playfield.

I spent alot of time at the D. Barer residence. As a quiet kid, I found my aunt very easy to talk with probably overdoing it as one day as I was leaving she mentioned that she hated it when people said they were leaving and then stood around and yacked. I got the message.

More recently we were joint owners of a piece property. I paid the bills and Aunt Dorothy would reimburse me so her standard greeting when I would call would be, "So what do I owe you this time?" It was our joke.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The customer is always right.

Just finished, I hope, a misunderstanding with a phone kiosk operator at the discount warehouse

Jean got tired of being jerked around and talked to a few management people and finally found one who put his foot on the neck of the offender and he made things right.

As we plugged in the final computer entries I had a flashback probably sixty or more years ago.

The main store front at our place was sixty feet from the front door to the rear. Behind was a driveway between the store and the warehoue.

In those days a popular product was steel wire rope cable used for loading hay.

I was standing in the driveway with my dad and Uncle Dave when a man approached.

Throwing a role of cable on the ground he asserted that the cable was no good and he wanted his money back.

Uncle Dave examined the cable and responded that there was an appearance of abuse while being used.

The man flew into a rage. "I knew you Jew Sons of ----". He didn't finish his statement.

Uncle Dave spun the man who was at least as tall as he was. Picked him up by his belt and collar and "bums rushed" him the sixty feet to the front door propelled him out where he lost his balance and fell. As the man gathered his wits, the roll of cable came flying out after him and the door slammed behind him.

The other onlookers present began debating as to whether the guy should have been beat up on the premises or whether there was a liability incurred by throwing him out on a public street.

I, of course, was taken aback this was totally out of character but it was explained to me that the merchandise was purchased prior to haying season and now that the season was over and the cable had been used and abused the guy wanted his money back.

The ethnic slur was not to be tolerated.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

No report on the rogue's gallery in the Human Resources dept of B. Barer & Sons would be complete without mention of E-- who at last notice was enjoying three hot and a cot courtesy of the Washington State Department of Corrections.

E-- had a speech impediment. Normally I wouldn't mention this except for the fact that when pressed he spit out the pebbles and became a Demothenese.

The love of his life was L-- and he idolized his son, Michael.

L-- had a friend in Pasco, forty five miles away, when she fought with E-- she would visit her friend. She would call E-- and inform him that she and the friend had only beer in the house and Michael was crying because he had not eaten all day.

E-- would race to Pasco only to find the doors locked and no response. He would rap on the front door and bang on the back door only to be confronted by a policeman summoned by L--.

The first time this happened I drove to Pasco and paid his fine in lieu of a long stay in jail on charges of harrasment.

After that, I told him that if he was dumb enough to bite on her scam again he could sit in jail.

The only problem was that after he had finished his term I rehired him.

He then used a derelict truck I used for transfering scrap around the scrapyard to drive to

Pasco for another confrontation with L--. A Highway Patrol flagged him down about the beat

up machine that violated every rule in the book. He was able to plead a dire emergency and get

away with it.

Eventually, I told him enough was enough. Hewas very vindictive about being sacked and

began a campaign of vandalism against me.

And L--. She became infatuated with Steve. At least once or twice a week around ten in the

evening the doorbell would ring. Steve would hide and a drunken L-- would demand to see

him. I would assure her that Steve had gone to sleep due to a very early morning appointment

and eventually she would leave.