Return to Main Photography page of Dave Beckerman
Travels with Dad, Part 2


These are un-edited transcripts (I had a tape recorder with me) of the conversation with my father (Aaron) as we drove through various neighborhoods in the Bronx. We would usually stop in front of a particular building, and sit there go back in time.

We're on 204th Street:

Aaron

Where I met your mother... She lived around the corner. I'll show you where she lived. Do you know the story about NYU and my father and what he said to your mother? He said to her, "He doesn't belong in college. He's gonna get sick. Tell him to stop. It's wrong for him."

Two years later, three years later, I think I already had my masters or was in the masters program your mother says to me: "Let me tell you what your father said a couple of years ago." She says, "I didn't say anything to you, at the time, but this is what he said."

David

What was his... where was he coming from?

Aaron

Well, I don't know what he thought. He thought that I wasn't smart. My brother was the smart one.

David

Where did all that come from?

Aaron

Well...the only part that I know is that my brother [older by three years], did very well in high school. We think he was a valedictorian. And when he took the test for going into the air force, he got as high a mark as you could possibly get. All in the nineties, except for guns. And everybody regarded him as the smart guy. (pause) I did too. Everybody did.

As far as my father was concerned, the only thing he was interested in was somebody to get a job.

This is where we lived.

David

Who lived?

Aaron

We rented a room here with Dinah. And that's where I first met her [my mother Sheba] at 2204. I used to deliver groceries to her. Right around the block. And we ended up living there, after Dinah died. Dinah had, uh, cancer. And we moved there. That may have been the first place we ever lived. And we had one room in the back. We used to drink, our wine. We'd have a marker on the bottle there, and the bottle would just get less, that's all. Her name (the other boarder) was Hasta.

David

How did they end up in the Bronx? Do you have any idea?

Aaron

We came back from Cleveland Ohio.

David

Hadn't you already been in New York before Cleveland?

Aaron

Yes, but we were in Manhattan. We were on the Lower East Side. And I left by the age of six or seven (for Cleveland). Around Houston Street. That's where I was born. Then we went up to Ohio 'cause my father got a job there. And lived in Cleveland with relatives. He was a truck driver. He drove a ... a bakery truck. We have pictures of him in the bakery truck. And he goes out on his first day and they say to him, "Max, be careful. It's snowy. It's hilly. " And Max says, "It's not an issue. I know how to drive. "

And he does very very well. Until he's about two blocks from the bakery. At which point the trolley stops (they had trolleys in those days), the doors of the trolley open, and they open out, and he keeps going and he takes off four doors of the trolley.

David:
(laughter)

Aaron
(deadpan)

He just takes off four doors. His first day out. That was his life! He always got into trouble. (My father's voice is getting louder). When he worked on the subways, I don't know the year, it was all electrified, he almost got electrified. He put his finger someplace... they found him unconscious. You know. He always had stories.

He used to tell the stories of his horses. You know, when he was a peddler. And he said, "But I didn't always get the good horse." He had names for horses. It was called Molly. Wonderful horse. But you know what. She used to fart a lot. He says, "Now you got a horse, and customers coming over and they're pickin' up the grapes, and the horse lifts up his leg, he farts, you're not gonna sell too many grapes."

(We're both laughing)

He says, "It's a lot of trouble." That was my father.

* * *

 

I offer several Bronx photographs as Note Cards here

All photography copyright Dave Beckerman.