Entries by Alex Treitler

Both Sides of the Tracks

“My grandmother’s family was from Bohemia” Dan begins, “Czechoslovakia, gypsy blood…Catholic.” He continues, “she had jet black hair and striking features. She was beautiful.” Dan’s grandfather, at least by appearance, was quite the opposite. “He was Norwegian and looked it.“ “She was oldest of 10 kids,” Dan describes, “There was one of the boys, one […]

We’re Going to Pray for Gary

Donna  had been trying to get my attention for a few moments: tap-tap-tapping on my shoulder, pausing for 30 seconds, then tap-tap-tapping again.  When I finally turned away from my conversation with Jeanine on the other side and faced Donna, she said with some urgency, “We’re going to pray for Gary.” There were at least […]

A Graduate of MSU

‘I’m a graduate of MSU,” Richard said, and paused. I was curious. Richard had never mentioned attending Michigan State University before. Our conversation had started on what would have been a sleepy summer afternoon in 2009 — except that no afternoons were sleepy with Richard Andersen. He and I were beginning to plot out the […]

“A Gentle Lion”

Maya Missaghi is an attorney practicing in the area of what often is called, “Elder Law’.  She helps people write their health care directives and wills; she helps set up powers of attorney and assists in negotiating the transition from independent living to assisted living. Maya is passionate about what she does, grounding it in […]

Overwhelmed with Happiness

“Thank you once again for everything. I’m so glad you came today. My dad told me as he was leaving that he was overwhelmed with happiness!”  Earlier that rainy, chilly Saturday, May 18, we had celebrated Jerry Sherman’s 80th birthday. “We” was Jerry’s two daughters and their families, Jerry’s five siblings and their families, a […]

A “Hochstappler”?

After seeing the performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” in Yiddish, it is a long cab ride home to 19th Street on Manhattan. As the cab bumps along, Leonard suddenly breaks through the rattling din, “When my mother was 90 years-old, she came up with this story,” Leonard begins, “she had never talked about it […]

“She falls… and just laughs!”

Bea’s first child Mark was born on St. Patrick’s Day, a Tuesday, in 1964.  The family was living on Minneapolis’ North Side where until WWII some 60% of the Twin Cities Jewish population lived. By the time the Cohens had moved to the area, however, many Jews had left Minneapolis and moved to Saint Louis Park […]

“On my 10th birthday, he taught me how to make gunpowder”

“I never realized they were that close,” Jeanine said. Her grandson Jim had called in from the military base in Virginia to talk about his Grandpa Rick. Jim had the steady voice and clarity of a military man, though with uncharacteristic emotional openness. “He’s solid as a rock,” Jim says of his grandpa, “he’s definitely […]

“I had a dress just like that”

Ruth was standing in front of a large display case with several short, beaded dresses in different colors arrayed on mannequins. In the background, Coon-Sanders Nighthawk Orchestra was playing ‘Yes Sir, That’s My Baby”.  Her face was shining, sixty years had melted away from her slender, octogenarian frame.  Anyone could see that she had always […]

“…you’re going to your universal foreverness.”

Doris was seated across from me at the table in her small apartment. Her eyes sparkled, her words were soft and slow, chosen carefully and full of conviction. This was our first conversation together about her life, and yet somehow we had skipped childhood, adolescence, professional life, married life, and motherhood. We would return to […]