Today is the day we honor all of the amazing men and women who fought and died for this country. There are not enough words to thank them for their service, for fighting for independence, for preserving democracy, stopping fascism, preventing the spread of communism and attempting to quash terrorism. Every single one of them gave the ultimate price for their country and today we all honor them and deservedly so.
In today’s blog however, and without meaning any disrespect whatsoever to this most important holiday, I want to honor those who made my home, my building, my community an amazing place to live. We all live with heroes in our very own community and today let’s remember them fondly.
I lived in a 60 apartment building in Brooklyn growing up. The super intendent Burt and Jane were heroes. I remember Burt being able to fix anything that was broken at the drop of a dime. His wife Jane was everybody’s babysitter and dressed up in the craziest Halloween costumes every year for the children. The porter in my building, Andy Jones, kept the place spotless and ALWAYS had a smile on his face, even when he was taking the garbage to the curb when it was zero degrees.
Harold Goldberg lived on the 6th floor and drove my mom and I to work, with his wife for years. Never took a dollar for it. Helen Novick, on the same floor, was in my home all the time and was my mom’s friend. While I remember her fondly, I also remember her smoking all the time, even in my tiny apartment. At the time, it wasn’t taboo.
My second grade teacher, Mrs. Licht, actually lived next door. If I was messing around in school, she didn’t need to give a note to my parents, she simply came in for a cup of coffee. Jack Stern was two doors down and was a polygraph examiner and allowed me to do a college internship with him. Charlotte and Ben were my friend Harry’s parents. Ben was a concentration camp survivor and I remember the numbers on his arm vividly. His train heading to Auschwitz actually derailed, allowing him to escape. He ran a store in the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan the rest of his life and was a hard worker.
Harry Haber and his wife Ida were simply gems. Harry was the President of the Board for years. His most important goal…..to make sure the kids have enough playground space. One day, Harry’s grandchild Karen was killed at 17 in an auto accident. It was one of the worst days of my life. Harry loved me like I was his own and on the day of that terrible funeral, I will never forget that when hugging me, he simply couldn’t let me go.
I was so lucky. I could go on and on about the people in my building who were always looking out for me. Always teaching me. Always leading by example. It was a blue collar kind of place packed with people who definitely shared a connection. Everyone knew everyone. So today, in addition to those who lived and died for our country, I am also honoring those who made my home an amazing place to grow up and always had my back.
So, who were your heroes?