Blacks, Jews, Hispanics and Juanita
Ed turned 95 on Saturday.
He walks like a 70 year old and smiles like a teenager.
My gift to Ed was a question.
His gift to me was an answer.
"Hey Ed, what's your earliest memory?" I asked.
I gave him time to think...
(With 95 years worth of memories, you need to allow a minute or two for sorting and recall)
He recalled being about five years old and having a girlfriend who lived next door.
"Brooklyn, 1922, in our neighborhood there were blacks, Jews, Hispanics... all of us together" he shared.
"My girlfriend was named Juanita, she was Hispanic but I'm not sure what kind," he paused.
"I was a Jew... Still am... Proud of it."
Juanita had an older brother who loved bacon.
Ed's earliest memory was Juanita's big brother taking him for walks down to the butcher shop.
In those days the butcher would hand out a free sample of his special bacon.
"As I mentioned, I'm a Jew and in those days my family didn't eat the bacon," he explained.
"The butcher would give me a sample and I'd give it to Juanita's big brother."
"He was happy to have the bacon and I didn't care. I just liked going for a walk."
I inquired about segregation and the culture of his neighborhood.
He waxed about being poor, being in Brooklyn, and being alive.
Here is what came up for me during our chat:
Separation is a choice and it rarely serves us well.
Culturally or individually we are (generally) better together.
From the Irish potato famine came this powerful quote:
"It is in the shelter of each other that the people will live."
Here's a question for you...
In what ways are you a shelter for the people, and in what ways are you a fortress to keep yourself and your opinions clean?
Who do you avoid and why?
How does that change if it is 1922 and your neighbors are Ed and Juanita?
Yes you can have my bacon.
I am happy just to walk with you...
Happy birthday, Ed.