Ownership is important to people. Especially to people who have never owned anything before. The first thing my parents owned was a car. It was a black Dodge. Not a sedan. Probably the least expensive of the line. But this car was a big deal for us.
My grandfathers sister was married to a bookie. His name was Lou Levy. He was totally adorable and sweet. When we moved to Bayside he would take me to the corner candy store and but me malted. Then he would leave me happy at the counter and he would disappear into one of the old fashioned telephone booths. One day the police came and he panicked and shoved all of his betting notes into his mouth.
Anyway that part of my family – the bookie side- had money. His son became a radio announcer. His niece was an actress and danced with Fred Astaire. She was married to an Italian guy who was very very jealous.
Anyway, these people didn’t give us the Dodge. My mother and father bought it on their own and it was a big deal. It was 1945. I remember we would go on a Sunday drive. My dad would drive and my mother would yell and I would daydream and stare at the Hudson River. It was great.
Once we got the car, there was no stopping us. We were the first family to get a TV on the block. Every Friday night I looked forward to my Grandfather coming to our apartment to watch the fights. I loved him and he loved me. When I was out with my friends in the winter he would hide in the doorway of the storefront across the street. He’d hide so as not to embarrass me with my friends. But he waited in the cold every night to make sure i got home safely.
One time I came home from camp when I was little. My bangs were down to my nose. He offered to cut them for me to surprise my mother. Well he did. And I looked awful. My mother freaked out. But I loved my hair because I loved him. She insisted on taking me to the beauty parlour when I was subjected to a perm . It was awful.
My Grandfather had pigeon coops on the roof. It as very magical. He died of a massive heart attack when he was 63. He’d retired from the Navy yard and was doing odd jobs. He was putting up shelving in someones office when he died. That was a sad time.
After my Grandfather died, my mother didn’t want her mother and grandmother to live alone. My parents began a search for a house so we could all live together. This was a time when Queens was beginning to be built up by developers and access to it expanded into the LI Expressway.
It was a dream for my parents to own a home and their search went fast! They bought a ranch home in a brand new community. They were shown a model. Mostly it was a 3 bedroom but we made the dining room into a 4th for my brother. The basement was finished at my dads request. They made it into a den with a kitchen and my dads office. Clients even came to our house! There was a separate entrance, which was very fancy from our perspective at the time. Oh! And he built a bar in the basement with a blinking light over it when read MURRAY’S BAR.
Eight years later my mother renovated the kitchen and livingroom and bought all new furniture. She had a 5th avenue taste at that time. Eventually we even got a pool!
These big steps for my family paved the way for me to take giant leaps in my life. My mother taught me I could accomplish anything I wanted and she and my father proved it.
Today, I think more people could take big leaps in their lives given the right support. They just need encouragement. Encouragement is the key. Believing that people believe in you turns the corner. Also, laughter and fun and joy and making people happy in important. Every time lately Ive made someone laugh, it feels spiritual and rewarding to me.