The Swimming Years
I grew up in North Miami Beach, the west side. It was a glorious place to grow up in. We lived close to Uleta Park, where I learned how to swim and joined the NMB Seahawks under the direction of Mr. Glen.
My brother Steven is on the far left.
When I was six years-old I joined an AAU swim team at Victory Park under the leadership of Coach Holly. I remember the long hours of practice, even during the winter months. That may not sound like much coming from Miami but it really was cold. Then, when it was too cold for us to swim into the evening hours, we would run instead.
After two years of swimming with Coach Holly’s team, I told him I wanted to “retire.” Truth is, I was swimming, learning music and dance with no free time to play with my friends. I was so nervous asking for his approval that I brought my stuffed purple pig for moral support. Can you imagine?
Family and Food NMB
Anyone who has experience swimming knows that this activity in particular stirs up ones appetite and lucky for me and my family, we lived a few blocks away from Mister Coney Island.
Photo Courtesy of Growing Up In North Miami Beach in the 1970s
Hot dogs were King, so it took me awhile to order my first knish but once I did, I was hooked! The knish is a snack food from Eastern Europe and is a Yiddish word. Traditionally speaking, a knish has a thinly-crusted dough that is stuffed with potato, meat, kasha or cheese. The dough can be fried or baked.
Family and Food LES
Immigrants from Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and present day Belarus brought this comfort food to the US in the 1900s. The first knish bakery opened in NYC in 1910, more specifically in the Lower East Side: Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery. More than a century later it is still located in the same place.
Sweet knishes showcased in the front window such as blueberry, cherry and chocolate.
My Great Grandma Lil lived in Greenwich Village close to the Astor Place subway stop. I remember Great Grandma Lil recounting that she would buy appetizings such as kipper and pickled herring from Russ & Daughters.
After graduating high school, my mom spent a summer working with her at Nantucket Mills. My mom received a ticket to be a part of a live audience for The Jack Paar Show in NYC. Audience members where asked to submit a question to Mr Paar. They chose my mom’s question but when they asked her, Gloria, to stand up she remained seated. I always wondered if things would have somehow been different for her if she would have stood up that day.
Great Grandma Lil passed away in 1986.
And so as I reflect upon my recent excursion in the LES I can’t help but think and be reminded of her. She was spirited and sharp as a tack. She always told me to “do something with that hair” of mine. I’m still working on it! Miss you Great Grandma Lil.
My mom, Gloria, Great Grandma Lil and cousin Michael at Marseille Drive, Miami Beach, circa 1969/1970.