I was the eldest grandchild so I never got hand-me-downs. I always got the new stuff. Normally my stuff would’ve gone to my Aunt Frieda’s kids. But they never wanted hand me downs. My Aunt Frida was married to my Uncle Jim who was a bookie only for a short time. She had one of those names I just couldn’t say when I was 3. So I called her Foota and it stuck. To anyone other than myself or my cousins she went by Frieda until she decided that name was too Jewish. So she went by Florence. Foota didn’t sound Jewish to her I guess. So she kept that one.
Anyway, My Aunt Lil’ had the job of taking me shopping most of the time because my mother worked. I was 7 years old and Aunt Lil took me to S.Klein on the Square at 14th street to buy clothing for school. This was not my first time shopping. My mother took me to Division Street near China Town. Division Street was where the bookies (not my Uncle!) would take their girlfriends to buy expensive fur coats. They also had stuff for kids. So I knew what shopping was and I liked it. I had no idea that all of the people down their were cheating on their wives. All I knew was they were very fancy and they hugged and kissed a lot.
Anyway, Aunt Lil’ got to take me to S.Klein. My mother paid her to take me, which shows my mother being an entrepreneur again. Though I’m not sure she knew Aunt Lil’ left me to my own devices when we got to the store. I should give her more credit that. She did look for clothes with me for a few minutes but then she was gone like lightning.
I looked over at the cashiers and picked the one with the shortest line. Even though I was scared, it never occurred to me to skip the line.I could’ve got to a guard but they were men, which made me nervous. So finally it was my turn at the counter. I was about 4 feet tall and could just barely see over the counter. “Hi I’m Judy and Im lost. Auntie Lil’ was supposed to watch me. I’m lost.” The cashier was an older woman who was clearly more responsible than Aunt Lil’.
“What’s your last name honey?” No sooner did I tell her she was on the loudspeaker. “Would the person in charge of Judy Baraban please come to the cashier?” I was looking for Aunt Lil’ when she suddenly was behind me, horrified.
“I would’ve come back for you, Judy!” and she took my hand and we went home.
Later that night, I told my mother what happened. That was the last time I was left alone in a store by Aunt Lil’.