Dolorous days of the Great Depression,

driving my Pontiac pedal car up and

down well worn wooden floors

of grandma's dry-goods store.

She buried two husbands, lived

in the back of the store with

the aroma of garlic schnitzel,

roasting red peppers and eggplant

always on the stove.

She shuffled about leaving a flatulent trail of softly

exploding firecrackers in her wake.


Fluent in Romanian, Polish, Ukrainian

and German, she haggled with customers,

squeezing every penny out of

each unfurled bolt of material.

On Sundays in father's model A,

We drove to Delancey street,

watched her do battle with wholesalers

who followed her out on the street

to clinch a deal over the price of a

dozen box of socks or underwear.

After loading up on licorice ropes,

papered dots and chocolate covered

halvah at the push-cart candy peddler,

a root-beer and hotdog for a nickel, a weekly treat.


On rainy days we played in the basement

filled with crates and old counters.

When my brother, bearded, wearing a

homemade Lincoln stovepipe, delivered

the Gettysburg address, a Hoosier cabinet

tipped over crashing into his head.

As blood gushed forth I raced up the

stairs screaming, "My brother chopped his head off."


The injury was stitched up and forgotten

until seventy years later,when his head

was once again opened up to remove a brain tumor

the size of a lemon, the surgeon explained.


Milton P. Ehrlich