My dad was hooked on high-octane black coffee. I was hooked on low-octane decaf.
Every summer, as soon as school was out, usually on my birthday June 30, we would pack up my dad’s car and head up to the mountains.
I was aware there were many mountains in the world, but this one was simply known as “the mountains.” Everyone living in the New York, New Jersey and surrounding communities, unless they lived under a rock, knew to which mountains we were referring. “Bungalow colony” rolled off our tongues as easily as “more ice cream please.”
We could say things like: “we are going up to the colony.” Folks always knew what we were referring to.
Dad left Poland as Hitler was arriving. His yellow star I found hidden in a box in my mom’s dresser after she died was evidence of the life he would have faced.
Mom was one of an army of single Jewish women who volunteered to leave the comfort of their homes in the states, traveling by ship to Europe with the intention to marry and rescue single Jewish men.
Mom arrived, at what would turn out to be her forever love’s village, not a moment too soon. To their horror, Hitler invaded Dad’s village, killing his entire family soon after Dad and Mom arrived in the states.
Love was not a requirement for these arrangements. Marriage to an American was the only requirement for remaining in the United States, the goldene medina, the land of gold. After three months in the states the marriage could be annulled, if one so desired.
My parents fell madly in love and the rest, as we say, is history, including my sisters and myself, seven grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.
Dad arrived in the USA penniless. His older brother had arrived in the states a few years earlier. As it turned out they joined the butchers’ union, and each opened their own successful shop.
Eventually my dad and one of his brothers-in-law bought a small tract of land in the mountains and built a small, lovely bungalow colony, in Highland Mills/Monroe, N.Y. Dad worked all week in his kosher butcher store, and on weekends traveled to the mountains to work on maintaining the colony. Whatever it took to give his girls a good life.
Early on in our childhood my sisters and I discovered he could sing and was a fabulous dancer. Whenever we went to events as a family, and since Mom was not a dancing kinda gal, I became his constant dance partner. We garnered much applause.
The man did not graduate high school, yet he could build almost anything, could fix almost anything, knew everything there was to know about cars, toasters, washing machines, tractors, electrical machinery, finances, sewing machines, and he spoke three languages fluently and another two haltingly, to name just a few of his many talents.
In truth, my sisters and I don’t need Father’s Day to remember our dad. He and Mom, in eventuality, always become part of our conversations. Comparing our stories that made up our childhood could be a book in and of itself.
His grandchildren talk about his vibrant personality, the way he would lovingly hold their faces in his hands, the jokes he would tell, or the games he would play, and of course, singing and his rhythm in dance.
The Red Apple Rest is alive and doing well. Families from all over the tri-state area stop to visit on their way up to the mountains.
Dad has not been physically with us for some time now. He and Mom are together.
His presence is felt every day, one way or another.
Happy Father’s Day! Happy Every Day!