Originally posted August 15, 2010
When the old people die in the old neighborhood, usually it's their kids who clean out the apartment. But sometimes their kids send their kids who don't know what's what, or sometimes there's no kids so it's the niece's or nephew's kids, and sometimes it's even the kids of the neighbors who are too old to cleaned out their own apartment so kids who are complete strangers clean out the life of a person who has no kin and no connection except to the people in the photos they leave behind.
Which is how the Henry Street neighbor's daughter found all these old photos tossed in the garbage. She brought them home so that a discarded life and history could always have a home.
This is Delancey Street. The Delancey Street Florence roamed. The Loews Delancey in the backbround looked like that still when we went there on Saturday afternoons.
They think this was taken on Orchard Street. The boy, the mother, and even if she was the sister, the young woman relegated to the back. There was hope he came back or was back for good when the picture was taken.
On the back of this, in beautiful fountain pen cursor, someone wrote "Herman. He played for the Czar." Since the only Russans who came to America in the early 1900 were Jews, all we could think was this was a Jew who played for the Czar. That was a big, big deal. Did Herman ever make it here or did he die there, probably in a pogram or in the camps?
But this was my favorite. Because we all looked at this guy and we all said "He looks familiar. That place looks is familiar." This picture, every inch of it is one of those moments I had as a kid, the evening dark, the clock early, the smells recognizable, the accent my own.
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