Monday, December 31, 2007

Wednesday Dec 31

Its All over,

New Years Eve. this year
at District, and Jewish
Students club, in conversation
with a fascinating girl Miriam,
Later at Jewish Students club.

Going home early in the morning
the streets down town were
still crowded with thousands
going home from festivities.


Matt's Notes

"It's all over," indeed. Papa's final diary entry gives us a nice little snapshot of his life at this time: The Zionist organizations and Jewish clubs he was part of; his guarded excitement over yet another intriguing woman; his walk home alone through a crowd of revelers, an echo of the way he started the year. And we know more about him now, too: he was an opera aficionado, a baseball fan, a movie lover, an avid radio listener, a labor activist, a deeply spiritual Jew, a devoted brother, a homesick child, a son who grieved for his father, a romantic soul, an unremarkable immigrant from Eastern Europe, and a remarkable figure to those who knew him.

He died when I was four years old, and, as it turns out, I've missed him every day since then. Still, I feel extraordinarily fortunate to have had the chance to spend this whole year with him in something like an adult conversation. Next year we'll see a conversation of a different sort, or one side of it, anyway, as we look at the letters he wrote to my grandmother during their long courtship. I'm looking forward to it, but right now I want to make sure I cover every word left in his diary, because he did write a couple of of more lines on the last "Memoranda" page, each separated by a little squiggle:

Riches in the heart is content
and not riches in the hand
Music is food for the soul
Jane Novak my favorite movie actress

Novak was a prolific, well-known actress in her day whose good-girl image probably appealed to Papa. Her career faded with the advent of talkies, though she did pop up in modern movies from time to time and published, in 1974, a cookbook called A Treasury of Chicken Cookery. It's no longer in print.



  1. Wait. How can you leave us hanging and not share why Novak was mentioned in a cookbook! Or at least your best guess why.

    Was it one of her recipes? That's sort of random, no? Like Jennifer Aniston's risotto recipe surviving down through the ages (even if the cookbook itself is not in print)!

  2. She wasn't just mentioned in the cookbook -- she wrote it. It was published in 1974 by Harper & Row and you can get it used all over the Web.

    Papa wasn't around when the book came out, but I wonder how he would have reacted to it. It probably would have been the first time he'd thought about her in 40 years (she barely appeared on screen after 1930). Would he have remembered that he once considered her notable enough to record her name for posterity?

    I suppose he would have if he revisited his diary over the years to remind himself of what his life was like in the 1920's. I wonder how often he did that.

  3. Thank you for sharing your grandfather's story. It is charming and educational. I am an Episcopal woman and live in the south in the 21st century, but I have felt many of the feelings your grandfather described. This is a beautiful project.

  4. Thank You! Thank you Papa! For sharing! I'm a Puertoriquen,New York,Bronx girl...Totally captured and taken in by Papa and his experiences.As read his entries,I often find myself researching and discovering wonderful history ...which I love!