Saturday, August 29
The weather today was much better than yesterday's constant rain. What little rain there was, was more like a heavy mist. This made our 45-minute drive to Julie & Arnie's house in Hillsdale, New Jersey, much less perilous than it would have been yesterday (which was the day we were originally supposed to go). I didn't take the dogs with me; they enjoyed a quiet day in the Roadtrek.
I love my cousin Julie's house, especially the basement. Living in Southern California where most of the houses are built on slabs, we have no basement, no real attic, and our house doesn't even have a garage (converted to a family room before we moved in). I am extremely jealous of the
spacious storage and extra room(s) a finished basement provides. This spiral staircase is one of two staircases that lead down to Julie & Arnie's basement. When their 3 kids (born in less than a two-year period) were growing up, it served as a giant playroom. Now it contains a ping-pong table, pool table, and enough weight-lifting and gym equipment to rival any commercial gym! There are also two other rooms down here which, I am told, have served various functions over the years, most notably perhaps being where Julie operated her law practice from after giving up her downtown office. And I thought Dave and I had a lot of book-shelf space --- look at this hallway lined with solid built-in bookshelves (that is not a mirror at the end---it's more shelves!). It only appears partially empty because Julie just finished a major clean-out of all her old law books and lots of others, precipitated by a mold problem she discovered after the 29 consecutive days of rain they had in June/July.
Another thing Julie has inherited because she was the only one to really have the room to store them, is our Grandfather Ben's collection of wooden things that made. While all of us grandchildren, and some of the great-grandchildren, have wooden jewelry boxes, ferris wheels, carts & horses, or some of his other works, Julie has some I'd never seen before like this model of the White House Grandpa Ben made. These creations are even more noteworthy when you learn that most of them were made when he was in his 90's or early 100's (he lived to 104) out of little bits of wood that he would find here and there or that Uncle Sam would bring to him at the Jewish Home for the Aged on Coney Island where he live for about the last 20 years of his life. While he might not have been quite as great a whittler and carver as Mooney Warther (see post of Aug. 6), his creations were very detailed (and from memory, I think) Doors always had hinges and opened and closed. The jewelry boxes, with many drawers, were fully functional. The trolley car model he made had wheels that moved, etc. Anyway, we all treasure these things he made and I'm glad Julie has the room and willingness to store them; it would really hurt to see any of them thrown away.
Sorry. That was a bit of a tangent, wasn't it.
An hour or so after we got to Julie & Arnie's house, my cousin David Silber (my mother's brother's oldest son) arrived from his home on Long Island with his girlfriend, Myrna. Here's a picture of me, David, and Julie: three first cousins. The 3 of us, each an offspring of a different one of Ben and Rose Silber's 4 children, hadn't been together in many, many years so we had great fun getting caught up on the different branches of the family. And in addition, we got to enjoy the delicious hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken that Arnie & Julie grilled (in San Diego we would say "barbequed" but out here, they call it "grilled). And with a nice green salad, Aunt Selma's cole slaw, apple pie, and the fruit salad that David & Myrna brought, we were quite satiated by the evening's end.
I got to drive Aunt Selma and Uncle Sam's hybrid car (first time I've driven one) back to their house, where my anxious babies (Maggie and Juliet) were very happy to see me.