Five Years

joshua goldstein footstone in ohev shalom cemetery in brookhavenJune has many special dates in it for me. Most are happy dates, like 10 June, our wedding anniversary (27 years, this year,) the kids high school graduations, and several others. There is one sad one, though. On 11 June 2012, my father died. Five years. When I was a kid, I didn’t know how I would get along without my dad. Since I was a around 10 years old, my dad would say, “one day, I’m just going to wind up in Brookhaven.” Every time he would say it, my mom would get mad at him. He and I would laugh.

My dad was use to going to the cemetery there. His mother died when he was four years old and he started visiting her grave with his sisters and brothers before he was seven. As he liked to point out, he was going there so long, Brookhaven Road was just a dirt road. I guess I’ve been going there for a long time, too. I was probably eight or 10 when I would go with my dad sometimes to visit my uncle Herman’s  grave. My dad also showed me where his mother was buried, and his brother Abe. And the twins, Morris and Pauline, who died in infancy a year or two before my dad was born.

goldstein tombstone in ohev shalom cemetery in brookhavenGoing there now is completely different, though. When I was a kid, I didn’t know many of the people buried there and I would come and go with my dad. Now, there are many people there that I knew. The biggest difference is it is now the only place I can go to be with my dad. It does make me smile, though, when I think of all of our conversations about the cemetery.

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Joshua Goldstein, 7 January 1918 – 11 June 2012

My dad died today. He was 94. What an amazing man he was. He was the youngest of eight kids born to Russian immigrants. His mother died when he was just four years old. Before he turned 10 he was selling the Chester Times newspaper. A year or two later, he began working at the Edgmont Beef Company, a supermarket in Chester, PA.

He started working full time after dropping out of school after completing the eighth grade. He also did some boxing around the time he was 15, but was forced to stop by his sister Jane after a hard fought victory left him pretty bloody and bruised. He continued to work at the Edgmont Beef Co. until he was drafted into the service in the early 1940s.

He was trained in aviation ordnance and subsequently trained others. He grew tired of being a teacher and wanted to fight. He got his wish and became a tail gunner. He flew 24 missions and was credited with several kills. He rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant. On his 24th mission, his plane was shot down over Quedlinburg, Germany. He was a Prisoner of War for 13 months in camps in Germany and Poland.

Once home after the war, he returned to the Edgmont Beef Co. until his brother died in July, 1970. He left his position at the Edgmont Beef to help my aunt run the small supermarket at 52nd and Market Streets in Philadelphia. He then bought his own market in West Philadelphia, on his way to buying 15 stores during his career. Early on, he bought underperforming stores that Acme and A&P no longer wanted, in areas they no longer wanted to be in.

Along the way, he taught me about life, sports, and business. He let me do things that kids with visual impairments probably shouldn’t do. I could also get him to do things he probably shouldn’t have done. “Dad, do you think this station wagon could do 85?” I asked on a trip to Pittsfield, MA. It could. My mom was nervous when me and my dad would test each other like that. I never got hurt too badly and he never got a speeding ticket while I was with him.

I am going to miss my dad. We spoke on the phone almost daily for years, talking about business, the stock market, the Phillies, and Jacob and Jane. He also would joke about ending up in Brookhaven. Thursday at 2.00pm, it won’t be a joke anymore. I just hope he doesn’t need any permits from the borough.

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Father’s Day

Me & my dad at dinner today.

Me & my dad at dinner today.

We had a very busy Father’s Day. We went to Outback at 11.10am for lunch with Eliz’s father, mother, her sister Margaret, and our niece Meghan. Yes, I said 11.10am. More like brunch, I guess. I have to say that is by far the earliest I have ever eaten a Bloomin’ Onion. It is also the only time I’ve seen Outback less then 90% full.

After an enjoyable meal, we came home to make peanut brittle. That is our gift of choice to both our dads. They both like it and it isn’t too difficult to make. Eliz does the majority of the work, measuring, watching the temp, etc. I pretty much am the designated stirrer. I stir it frequently from 225 degrees up to 280. At 280, the peanuts go in and it’s got to be stirred constantly until it hits 305. Once the peanuts go in, it is a nice workout. At 305, it comes off the heat and vanilla and baking soda are added. I stir it vigorously for a minute or two and then Eliz dumps it on the table (onto parchment paper and towels) and spreads it out. The whole process takes about an hour and a half.

My biggest contribution comes when I sample the product. It takes about 40 minutes to cool enough to break into smaller pieces. I usually start sampling about 10 minutes after it’s been spread onto the table and every five to 10 minutes there after… Today, we were heading to my parents between 3.30pm and 4.00pm, so we had to “make sure” it wasn’t too warm to break up and stack it in a corning ware for the journey. We don’t want it to stick together… I also sample it along the way, just to make sure everything is good. Today, Jane helped sample.

When we arrived at my parents, they invited us to dinner. It is unusual for them to want to go out to eat. Well, it’s unusual for my dad. They like to go to Ruby’s Diner since it is across the street and fairly quick (as long as it’s not busy.) I wasn’t too hungry today after the big lunch at Outback and all the sampling I had to do. Eliz and the kids weren’t too hungry either, but my dad was okay with going out, so we went.

I had the Asian Chicken Salad. It had grilled chicken breast, lettuce, bell pepper, and wonton strips. The dressing was awful, the wonton strips seemed like stale tortillas, and ended up wearing honey mustard sauce and Oreo Fantasy milk shake that I tasted from Jane’s dinner. Even that couldn’t stop me from enjoying the meal.

I am 46 and my dad is 93. Eliz’s father will be 84 in October. We are both so fortunate that we can enjoy time with our fathers. It doesn’t matter what the food tastes like or how the service is.

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