Happy Birthday To Me

I'm a Halloween kid, born on October 31, 1924.

Yep, I'll be 92 in a week, and I really didn't expect to live that long. However, if this column is published on October 24, I still must be alive!

I was born in Philadelphia, PA of parents Anna & Harry Block. Six months later after my parents retired from a very successful and extremely wealth-producing retail millinery business, they moved to Atlantic City, the Northeast’s playground at that time. They were in their mid-forties when all this happened, and it was quite an early retirement even in those days.

There were two things I can remember at age five: leading a kindergarten band as the conductor, and playing football on one of the city's famous hotels front lawn. The other memory that has never gone away is when Atlantic City was hit by a hurricane (at least three times when I was aged five to nine.) After the hurricane disappeared, my friends and I would always head for the space underneath the city's famous Boardwalk and built rafts from planks of wood we always found floating in pools of water.

I remember I became an early surf boarder in these times; the surfboard, of course, was my own body because I always felt that this was the best way to ride the waves into the shoreline...and I was pretty good at it!

Unfortunately, my parents made some poor investments during those hectic financial times, and by 1934 had lost most of their money in the real estate market which crashed about three years after the stock market did, and started a depression that lasted until the start of World War II. They went back to work and ran a dress store, attending to business from 9 am to 9 pm six and half days a week to make a living. 

Under those circumstances, as a latch-boy kid, parental control was almost non-existent.  I had a sister who was 13 years older than I was who was more interested in boys, and was not too much of a help regarding family or life around her except her own.

When I was ten years old, my parents decided to move to Jamaica, N.Y. (in the Borough of Queens one of NYC's five Boroughs) to be near my mother's sisters. This time my parents went back into the millinery business, serving the upper class in clientele in Garden City, Long Island (N.Y.), and once again saw very little of them since they not only commuted on the Long island RR, but kept the store open from 10 am to 7 pm.

I grew up during those depression times with only three toys: pick-up sticks, roller skates and a chemistry set. The kids that I played with during that time centered their life playing stick ball (a sawed-off broom handle bat) and a red ball, and other games such as "Johnny-Ride-the-Pony", "Kick-the-Can", "Hide-and-Seek",  Marbles, Mumbly Peg (with a Boy Scout knife), went ice skating in the winter, and swimming at Rockaway Beach in the summer. One rich friend had the only bike available in our neighborhood which he rented for a penny for an around-the-block journey.  With the girls, we enjoyed "Spin-the-Bottle", and they even taught us boys how to dance.

We had only the radio to listen to during this time, and heard such programs as--Flash Gordon, The Shadow, Fibber McGee & Molly, and the Lone Ranger (mostly at the 5-pm pre-dinnertime.) TV came to fruition just as a the war ended, and the largest set had a 6" screen!

I did venture into my first journalistic endeavor when I started a gossip sheet called "Snooper Sleuth" in which I reported all the gossip available from my six reporters on what was happening in our 140-apt building when I was 15 years old. I used a Hectograph system (gelatin-duplicator printing press) to prepare and print my gossip sheet. I sold my gossip sheet for one penny twice a month, making a big profit of $1.40. I also had a part-time news route for the local daily newspaper for a while, and worked at a local newsstand stuffing the Sunday N.Y. Times sections for ten cents an hour. Eventually I worked at a local ice cream-sandwich store for 25 cents per hour for a number of years as a "soda jerk." as I neared 18.

The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, which we learned when my father and I were listening to a NY Giants Football game around 1:30 in the afternoon of December 7, 1971.  I was then eligible for the military. I was finally called up in the draft; however I was told to go home and rest and eat well to help reduce lobar pneumonia that showed as a big black spot over my lungs. I was certified as 4F in the draft.

It took me almost nine months to recover since there were no "miracle" drugs to fight off the problem.  At the end of the recovery, I volunteered to enter the U.S. Navy, and was sent to Newport, RI for boot camp.





 We will have a COLA (Cost of Living) raise on January 1, 2017, the first one since 2015.  The raise is cited at .003% (or you'll receive $3/month more for every $1,000 S/S sends to you.)  Don't spend it all in one place at the same time!!!!




ON-LINE SENIOR HUMOR: I am not grouchy. I just don't like traffic, waiting, children, politicians...!  


Bernie is a real person who resides in one of our Brookdale communities. Many of the stories he has written are based on factual evidence from newspaper stories and other sources available to the public.  He uses his imagination in parts to help supply the “twist” at the end.  The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Brookdale Senior Living.


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