From the archives of the descendents of Daniel and Ethel Davidow:
Robert Davidow, 1930 - 1997
"Reminiscing with Dad," September 1995
"A Brooklyn Photo Album," September 1995
In September, a bunch of us gathered back east for my Aunt Janet and Uncle Bob's 40th wedding anniversary. Dad decided to take my sister, Rachael and I on a tour of the places in which he grew up in Brooklyn and Long Island. Rachael had camera troubles, so we missed out on photos of many of the places we saw. Here are some of my favorites of what came out.
First, here is an earlier (taken a year ago) picture of Aunt Janet Bacon, who is showing how one gets a plane ready for flying, and Uncle Bob, busily supporting the rudder. Flying and travel are two of their greatest pleasures (alongside visiting the grandkids nearby) these days.
Here is dad. I should mention that my father has never told many stories about growing up. It was only about ten years ago, for instance, that I discovered that my great grandparents had settled in Patchogue, Long Island--not Brooklyn. Patchogue is the town next to where my mother's family lives, so you can imagine all the visits where the subject just wouldn't have come up!!???? We were on our way to break into the family cemetary at the time to visit his father's grave. We were about to jump the fence because none of dad's cousins (with whom he was not close, anyway) were home to give us the key. Needless to say, on the Long Island railroad later that afternoon, we bumped into his cousin Sandy and wife Sandra.
Our first stop was in the Brooklyn neighborhood where dad lived through high school. It was a good way to start the trip. Dad showed us where his room was, and we wandered around at the park, and he told us about playing stickball in the street, and where he got Bar Mitzvahed and went to school--we found a gym instructor in the schoolyard who remembered back forty years and could reminisce a bit with dad. It was at this point, I believe, that the film ran out, and the defective roll was placed in the camera (or the camera didn't catch on a good roll of film), leaving us without photographic proof until much later that day.
This is the only photograph that includes my mom. It was dad's trip. She told us a bit about visiting relatives in Brooklyn (she grew up on Long Island), but her memories were vague, and dad worried that we wouldn't see everything if we got diverted.
You now skip most of a wonderful day to a photo showing the pier opposite where my grandfather's restaurant stood in Sheepshead Bay. To read more about the day, you can read my notes (link at bottom of this page, or to the top left side) in a different document. Why no photo of the restaurant on that spot now? I only tell the stories; sis took the pix. The restaurant was a huge, traditional steak and seafood joint, Seidel's, seating hundreds of people. (If you aren't family, are you sure you don't have anything better to do?) I should add that this is about where Rachael discovered the film problems and corrected them.
Driving into Glen Cove the next morning my father was quite agitated. He had last been here when he was about five years old. This, as we all know, was about three hundred years ago, and he was worried that he would recognize nothing. He insisted on taking the old road into town, and then he saw it--the school opposite where the house had been. As we discovered later, the school had been boarded up and abandoned only a few years ago. Later this year it will come down. We arrived in the nick of time.
Parking the car, we found the place where the house must have stood, and even found the plumber's house down a few houses down (still a plumber's house--as we found out later; that plumber's son had carried on the family business and only recently retired). Across the street we found the creek where Dad caught fish with bent nails and string--some of the fish being horrifically unkosher, as he learned upon presenting them to my grandmother one afternoon when she was entertaining one of her women's groups. This was a prelude to his later high school career "spear fishing" off a Coney Island buoy. In later years, during infrequent visits to the US from Israel, Dad was seen fishing in luxury with cousin Mel Fergang on Mel's boat on Long Island Sound, but that was much, much later. Next to the creek we confirmed where the old ball field had been, and talked with the guy running the new, fenced in one, next to the old location.
Going downtown into Glen Cove we did find where Dad thought our grandfather had run a lunch counter/bar/whatever. We found some old-timers and they reminisced with my father for a couple of hours. They didn't remember that specific spot (which my grandfather could only have run for a couple of years, anyway, back towards the beginning of the depression), but they helped Dad pinpoint a lot of memories. This is the corner where we believe my grandfather's place was.
No visit to Long Island is complete without stopping in to see my mother's family. We visited my cousin Alan's wife and kids (he was at work as we passed through), caught more cousins downtown, and visited her brother and sister-in-law, Marvin and Jean. We also passed by the Sayville synagogue/JCC that my mother's parents founded, with much nudging from Aunt Jean ("Do you want your grandkids to be Jewish or not?"). In a county at the end of Long Island where there were once few Jews, there are now several synagogues, including Orthodox, and a thriving Yeshiva. (At the urging of my aunt, the family was also active in founding this institution, as well.)