Archive for the ‘Memories’ Category

A Jersey memory

Bayonne, New Jersey. A small house on the Boulevard. Grandma Helen Demby and Sgt. Ben Demby

Bayonne, New Jersey. A small house on the Boulevard. Grandma Helen Demby and Sgt.(Uncle) Ben Demby.  c. 1945.  Photo: Jean Litinger–my aunt.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor   @Blogfinger

The Demby family of Bayonne sent 4 sons off to Europe and the Pacific during World War II.  My mother Myrna was one of nine children.  When all 4 sons returned, it was a miracle that none were killed or injured.   Ben received the Bronze star for valor at Leyte in the Pacific.  Duke was in the subs, Al was a Seabee, and Marty–in the Coast Guard—was guarding the convoys in the North Atlantic to Russia and England.  As a child, I was so impressed by all of them.

I think of them often, but the recent Pearl Harbor Day memorial on the OG pier brought it back to the surface.

Grandma Demby was a quiet woman married to a tailor with a small shop in Bayonne, a blue collar town near Jersey City. Somehow they all squeezed into a two bedroom house with one bathroom.  But it was a raucous place with great food and lots of noise. Ben was very devoted to her, being the youngest child. I remember how concerned  and solicitous  he was for her and I learned something from that.

We all carry memories of family long after they are gone.  But somehow so much gets transmitted from one generation to the next which influences us, either consciously or not. And we don’t need a holiday to remind us of what is already inside–always on call.

PETER, PAUL AND MARY.   This song was written in 1962 by Bob Dylan.

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Hastings Gardens, Rutherford. From the Goldfinger family album.

Hastings Gardens, Rutherford. From the Goldfinger family album.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor Blogfinger.net


We lived in a two bedroom garden apartment in Rutherford, NJ.  I was in high school. The photo is undated, but it is c. 1956.   I am on the right looking like I just witnessed the first atom bomb test in Los Alamos or maybe I just got a date for the prom.

The photographer was probably Auntie Jean, Mom’s older sister, who spent a lot of time at our house. Yes, we did call her “auntie” as in Auntie Mame. She was the only aunt to have that title because she was so special. She was like a second mom, and when my actual mom wanted to clobber me with a flying shoe, she stepped in between and saved me from the wrath of Mom. It was sort of a game; like a vaudeville shtick.

My brother Mel, the little guy on the left, was a natural comedian. When I first brought Eileen to our house, he threw down notes from upstairs for her. They said, “Does your mother know you’re here? You should go home.”

Dad, whose name was Max but who was known as “Mickey,” looks like he is about to slice my ear off, but he was OK with that monster knife. Mom was named Myrna, but everybody called her “Molly” or “Malka” (her Yiddish name.)

She was a song and dance mother who was the youngest of 9, growing up in Bayonne. She once auditioned for Ed Sullivan, and our house was always filled with music—-usually her singing, and Al Jolson and Broadway melodies on the record player. Dad sold aluminum chimney and roof mounts for TV antennas.

On Thanksgiving, I would travel in the morning with the RHS “Bulldog” band to Passaic for the oldest football rivalry in New Jersey.  Passaic usually won the game, but our band was better than theirs and the best part were the Passaic “Indian” cheerleaders who wore leather with fringes—– very erotic to a high school sax player and all his friends in the stands.But our cheerleaders were hot, too, and I watched in amazement as they did splits on that cinder track.

There are a few Passaic High grads from that era currently living in the Grove.

After the game we all went home on the bus with our cheerleaders, flag wavers, and twirlers.   We played “In the Mood,” and the girls danced in the aisle–jitterbugging and laughing. The game was forgotten before we left Passaic stadium.

About the wall paper: what can I say?   I don’t remember it, but looking at the photo, I wonder if Mom considered the psychological side effects of the pattern. My brother went on to become a neuro-scientist, so maybe the wall paper took its toll.

When you listen to the music below, near the end, when the band gets quiet, listen for the rim shots by the drummer. My buddy Frank had that job, and it was tough to get it just right.  You had to count very carefully, and Frank talks about those rim shots to this day.


GLENN MILLER and his orchestra:  “In the Mood.”


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