A BROOKLYN STORY

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— Al Jacobs Ladder —

A BROOKLYN STORY


Work Goes On Even at Seventy-Eight And It Gets Tougher  —  wrote here about myself in the Ladder because I believe something that controlled my life,  I call Seek And Discover (SAD not SAT) and curiosity which started me on my lowly voyage.  I wish to share that encouragement for those out there who might need a little push during these trying times…  

And it shows obstacles are merely simple things like numbers you come across in a workout. You push through… at 78 outliving most of my tribe, including beating a recent heart attack, walking into and out of the hospital, something worked well but age regardless is catching up.  The Golden years are when you transfer most of your gold to the Doctors… 

I am down to my last wish… I am the last of my generation still alive… relatively no family, fortunately lots of friends and acquaintances,  and if I see nothing, the Donald T-RUMP utter demise and convictions, in politics and life is all I’m asking…  he is the False Prophet the bible warned us about.  He has managed to destroy the American core of fairness and the American dream and potentially kill 560,000 people and does not care… and jeopardized one million more.

If there will be a normalcy anymore, I fear, wrong I know many of T-Rumps proclamations called Executive Powers were filled with lies, hatred and mis-information. More to attack a previous President and anyone who does not agree with him with nit-twitt attacks and lies.  And he is the true liar, and blames everybody else. 

I am a solo player, somehow I inherited two things from my mother, independence and questioning everything. Even more important today as we live in a world of liars and cheats, crooks and cons and thats just the politicians…  FOX news and Pots and pans on TV lie too…  If you are naive to think they work for you, you need help.  


I’m Just A Kid From Brooklyn
In the beginning there was light, somewhat… finding the switch helped, paying the Con Edison Electric bill made it happen and in 1943 to be exact,  at 990 Montgomery Street,  in Crown Heights Brooklyn.  With no TV and a flashlight light I became a reader, the start…  

I was a typical Brooklyn wise guy!  I occasionally speak the Kings English, preferring Brooklyn based meta-phonetic syllabication aka Street English, Brooklynise, Slang and that explains my poor writing skills.  I’m really not a writer…I am a story teller from Brooklyn, who tells it as it is…, sort of a non-fiction type investigator…  

Because I could read almost a year and half ahead of other kids my age, on a stage with no computers, no big screen TV, no car… I had to create my world and write my own play…

I attended city primary schools, a public high school and a city college, learning, but I consider myself self taught.  Two of my high school teachers called me names and would have strangled me if the law allowed, and I felt the same towards them, but I stood my ground,  I was convinced of my righteousness and proved it. College was better because we were left to our own devices and allowed to think.

Education  —  George W. Wingate High School…
Was a critical point in my life as I discovered many of those in control and power are totally screwed up,  true to this day especially, haven’t a clue and couldn’t run a free water store in the Gobi desert.  Sounds basically similar to our government.  It was our Government!   Today George W. Wingate High School is a defunct comprehensive dead school in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Wingate neighborhoods of Brooklyn, New York City.  

It opened in 1956, closed down in June 2006.  Poor academic performance and years of some severe dangerous problems like stabbings and racial disparity, poor staff, and incompetence.  Wingate was an experiment in race relations.  

Stinking thinking — The idea was to mix kids exactly in a 50-50 ratio from a notoriously bad neighborhood,  Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant. was well known as a hellhole, mixing with kids from another community white middle class,  and “ something might rub off”.  It did… nothing exceptionally good.  More rubbed on…

Survival Training  —  I majored in survival through detention and cutting classes, I relished it.  Most of what was being discussed in classes was inaccurate, nor relative to things current,  nor scientifically correct.  And I had my books to read, which were advanced for my classes. I was learning in detention more than in the class.  And earned in my mind a detention chair with my name on it.

My English teacher and my Earth Science teacher, were new enemies, and boring. The battle in English was Shakespeare, I questioned the value of Shakespeare since as I explained he was quite dead and good riddance,  I jokingly taunted “ He talked Funny”.

The battle in Science was over the Dinosaurs, Man and creationism.  I somehow cracked, went ballistic when hearing her version,  the biblical big bang, the Apple and the Snake.  I humbly mumbled “ BULLSH*T”  at 56 decibels, a bit  too loud… off to detention… and making truancy an art form.

My Interest and Goals  — To this day I do not regret what I had to do, to learn,  as I learned first hand on site, live and in living color and became a self-proclaimed reporter creating book reports as evidence of  Al’s field trips to the NY Museums of Natural History;  Modern Art;  The Guggenheim; The HUGE Manhattan Library: I visited all  the Zoos, from Prospect Park to the Bronx Zoo;   Ebbets Field, Home of the Dodgers: National Parks like the Statue of Liberty, and  my local library and Camera stores, Newspapers, Hospitals, learning all about a myriad of things first hand and on hand. 

I believe truant officers had my picture in their wallets making me numbering and creating fake field passes with clever artwork and forgery.  I admit my guilt but this was survival… I credit an insatiable desire to read,  learn and combined with great librarian friends, well, two of them, at the public library.  The Librarian at the Eastern Parkway location in Brooklyn was my mentor…almost a tutor and she loved my inquisitiveness.   

When finally I got called on the carpet, and they were talking expulsion, I was outnumbered, the Dean, the Principal, One of my Teachers, my Parents and just me.  It was about my excursions, I demanded to express my self and produced “ My Reports and Findings to the one sided jury of my peers”. 

My reports, from Earth science and pictures with my camera,  sketches, maps and charts to some new poetry and medicine, courts etc.  I blew the mind of the Dean and Principal.  Actually the Dean applauded my work saying it was college level… the Principal agreed, I believe they knew Wingate was not a great school.  And I had made a friend at the local paper… The Post… and I had a report they might not have liked.


A Better School Was All I wanted  —  I wanted a transfer…   denied… About three miles away… Erasmus Hall was a great school, reflected today with a lot of kids who made the big time, number one school today in the country.   One category entertainment alone beat the odds.  

Kevin Askland Writer Describes Erasmus Hall —  Imagine, for a second, what it might have been like walking through the campus of Erasmus Hall in the mid-1950s. You spot a boy and a girl outside of the front door and over on the basketball court you see other boys shooting hoops. Somewhere in between you spot a young man playing chess.

Now imagine that the boy and the girl out front are future singers Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand, the basketball player is future ABA standout Doug Moe and the chess player is future world champion Bobby Fischer.   Such was life at Erasmus Hall in the 1950s.

Although the school has since closed and is now home to five smaller schools, Erasmus Hall, in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn was once home to future NFL, NBA and MLB Hall of Famers, state governors, award-winning writers, Oscar-winning actors and actresses and world-famous entertainers.  Erasmus Hall leads our list of the Top 20 high schools in the US with the most famous alumni.

The list is a subjective one with no real rules or guidelines other than a variety of entertainers, athletes and other notable alumni are given preference over schools that tend to be heavy in any one category. The lists below are just a sampling of the notable alumni at each school, but they represent, perhaps, the more recognizable names on the lists.  There were hundreds in medicine, Science, Law too numerous to mention here but you get the idea.


Erasmus Hall, Brooklyn, NY Famous Graduates —

I managed to make two rapid advances (RA’s) skipping grades two and eight because I was skilled in reading, science and math, comprehensive skills way above my classmates graduating two years earlier than others of my age.   See Ya!   Have a Nice Day!   But I just turned sixteen by two months and graduated High School and became a kid in a school of higher learning… I was a babe in the woods and college girls were more fun… I was open for adoption… Wow!


Master Machinist  -  I’m Good With My Hands  — Metal Shop

As mentioned, chemistry labs, wood and metal shops were my favorite engaged hands on classes. 

I remember the first tools I made at Wingate in the metal shop on my own.  I learned to work with my hands on drill presses, welding, and basic mills. I appreciated the knowledge and ingenuity from the shop teacher.  It was the tools I designed that got me the fame I deserved…

Even today they still talk of the Jacobs Hubcap Remover, not sold in stores, originally in paint, today in new Midnight Black Powder coat.  

You too can have a career in “ Hubcap Restoration” for only $39.95.  Make it back on your first job even if you only got the front ones!   Our exclusive rear view mirror (not found on any of the competition) means you can get rid of paying your lookout and make more money for yourself.  

With twin handles it allows faster retrieval with either hand.  The mirror makes sure there are no onlookers behind you who might get hit with a flying hubcap or steal your work.

It comes complete with instructions for both domestic and foreign hubcaps.  And we’ll send you my new book “ Guide to the Great Bail Bondsmen of America” with a signed autograph by Joey Fonzini (who graduated early from San Quentin). 

 

I Diversify, I Love My America, Aviation, Food, Photography,

Our Soldiers, and What I Have Learned From Those Opportunities…

You Can Do Anything If you Accept Challenges… 


Had To Do It On My Own  —  Made it through a higher education working part time in the culinary world from a busboy to the night chef…  I paid my way working weekends as a Wedding Photographer, working from a Wedding Mill in The Bronx.  Over 450 weddings with my crew and still alive though some of the wedding got very testy, like Romeo and Juliet.

 I Have Supported My Brothers In Arms With Memorials — Thirty-five years serving on a board of directors, the troops as a military contractor, though a charitable organization as VP and served six Generals during that duration. and completed Memorials


I Made My Own Dreams Come Forth  —  I managed a few certificates in Open Water Scuba Diving… stupid enough to swim with sharks in Jamaica and smart enough to know when to quit.  So I sold my boat and bought an airplane…   I flew as Pilot in Command, I Owned my aircraft, serviced and flew my real planes for thirty-three plus something years and discovered that a boat is a hole in the ocean you pour money into … but owning an airplane proves the sky is bigger than the ocean.

I am certified Qualified as a certified Range Officer in IPSC Competition… and competed three guns, Rifle, Shotgun, the .45 Pistol and competed in State championships… never a first, facing supported and sponsored teams but not on the bottom either.  You don’t win against a $$$ factory team… with free and unlimited ammo.

This shot taken at MacDill AFB was for the trials of the shorty M-16, new scope and rails, front vertical grip, laser,  adjustable short stock, new barrel designed lands…

Worked With Sales And Business Training —  Performed lots Of Corporate Descriptive Element Work… Almost becoming a hatchet man realizing corporate ebb and flow, promotions and money are not always fair and the importance of good leadership which many do not understand and actually harm good organizations…

I Designed And Built My Own Products  —  Manufactured in house and sold my own products for the Photography industry… The Black Box has been around for almost forty plus years, I still have customers I help… And at the same time stayed in the game and 

Worked Journalism, Commercial, Wedding and Corporate Photography… went digital… And my favorite thing is mentoring  children, many from far away lands and… the kids 8-9 grade are incredible and even with minor language difficulties, you got to love them, they want to learn so bad but I have to help knowing it was two ladies who helped me.  

Food Was Part Of My Life   —  I am a foodie by choice  -  My mother was a wonderful creative chef who never used a cook book.  I learned by watching her as a kid, then fortunate to be tutored by another great person who showed me the business end of food.   It was a job,  working in a couple restaurants and going to school and I wanted more learning about food…  

Both food and weddings paid for college tuition which was a paltry eight dollars a credit.  I use those Culinary lessons today creating good food for my friends and patients with Stem-Cells transplants.  Super saturated easy to digest soups and entrees using their likes and dislike and camouflaging good stuff hidden in the food.  Results from better food does aid in recovery obviously.   After stem cell transplantation they are totally depleted underweight and those new stem cells need nourishment fast, not TV diners. 2000 calories a day instead of a 400 calorie TV diner - tough love at dinner!

Being A Critic Is Threatening  —  Foodie skills later in life working with the paper covering stories with the Restaurant Police was eye-opening. We are totally a tourist state and eating out is very popular.  We have more chains and really bad food than any other state.  

Some will not return, some should not return  —  Most fast food is fried and thats the killer…  …  FAST drop the “ S” and you got FAT food… I bring this to the surface every chance I get and I am quite well hated for my commentary…  Critics are hated because they tell the truth and if you saw what I have seen you might eat in more often. The axiom is laziness and obesity.  has a few tips and lists  you might want to read… Of places you thought were safe and are not. I take no prisoners on my food site.  Just like here…  

Refugee Learning — I thank my grandfather who spoke little English but communicated  from a great humble and loving mind.  He was a refugee from the Czars Pogroms and a tailor…  sounds like “ Fiddler on the roof”.  At seven I was repairing toasters with Grandpa and a gasoline powered blow torch soldering tool about as big as me. He taught me primitive tools, no electrics.  Persistence came from my uncles, Jesse and Hy who taught me tough wins;  they were tough, fighters and survivors of WWII in the Philippines with MacArthur, War and Hunting.

My Uncle Eddie Briggin, like Uncle Morris was an inventor who taught me electronics and creativeness.   He has and shares the original patents for inventing the Home Humidifiers by KAZ, used to treat dry coughing like Whooping Cough.

My Uncle Morris Mann, my mentor taught me Lithography, and Photography doing the color separations of printing through graphic arts and lots of Album covers for RCA, together with kindness, very forgiving, and photography after school.  The photography, a gift from the Gods became a fixture for the rest of my life. 

I was doing journey man color separation and platemaking at fifteen and way too young for the Union even though I could easily pass trials and the exams. 


Divine Guidance and Finders Keepers…

A Dose Of Divine Guidance…I have for better than sixty-four years being, creating, owning, designing, and manufacturing, doing my own Photography as a store owner, lab owner, photojournalist and a writer.  It started for me when someone left a paper bag left sitting on a park bench in the Zoo area in NYCs Central Park.  

was fourteen, a junior, and was naturally, playing hooky from school.  I grabbed the bag after eyeing it for an hour.  With no one claiming it, I stood on top of the park bench and yelled the sacred words “ Finders keepers”.  Escaping the park,  I had mischievously become the owner of an AIRES IIIL 35 millimeter Rangefinder Camera, the first of the Japanese clones of a Leica.  

It took nice pictures of the Dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History in NYC, the Statue of Liberty and other sites when I played hooky and got caught.  My school passes and a real looking camera saved my butt. 

THE PHOTOGRAPHIC INDUSTRY  —  The camera showing that I was doing something to help my education got me off easier.  Today after being involved in several photo operations:   I designed  manufactured and sold much of my own gear for forty years like battery packs, “ THE BLACK BOX” .  

I repaired and designed  flash cables, brackets and product shooting tables. I designed and built the S2D slide to digital machines that translate Kodachrome and Ektachrome into digital images suitable for use on TV ’s Computers and cellphones…

Tearfully, the little Aires either got lost (stolen) or I left it somewhere. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.   My richness came from people who got me excited and inquisitive about things that make the world go around and that was worth more than all of the things money could buy.

JOURNALISM:  The most important thing I picked up because I am inquisitive, was learning to use the five points of light in journalism.  Who, When, What, Where, and Why, they open doors…  you ask the questions,  to get answers, which were the most important thing in my world, I researched everything, still do,  and made my own decisions.  I just call it being independently nosy and secure only with truth and I am a hunter of those who lie in the food, political arena and business.


Journalism and Aviation The Two Dreams Come True  —  And aviation was a big interest, I loved airplanes playing hooky got me to airports and the Naval Air Station at Floyd Bennett Field with its Corsair fighters, Dakotas (DC-3’s) and Catalina Seaplanes.  I worked at the soda stand on weekends and I drew a love of aviation, drew pictures, and shot pics with my new found camera, and it grew.  I bummed rides on the planes there whenever I could and made playing hooky worth it. I was tall and big for my age and got away with it.

Later in my thirties, books I read about aviation came to the forefront of my goals.  I also was earning which coined an expression I wrote.

“ If you think boats are a huge hole in the ocean you pour money into, go take up flying… the sky is a hell of lot bigger”.

I made up my mind and became a pilot. It was a simple action, the library had the books,  I researched aircraft for sale, bought and paid for my first real airplane, a Piper Lycoming powered 140.  Now I need an instructor.

Photo right…Thats little bird…  I owned Cessna’s and Pipers as a Pilot In Command for 32 years… this is little bird my first, self taught, in the books at first, with my instructor, I soloed in five hours, aced the exams at the same time, no school, self taught, and had my first license at 40 hours, the legal minimum needed in under 90 days.  They got bigger and more expensive. Training got tougher and well worth it… Then middle age set in…




Quest…Training, Training, Training… Its All About Training
Now, thousands of  hours later, It was my life’s dream,  sheer enjoyment shattered occasionally by bouts of sheer terror…blown tires, rough idles, failed parts, a million things involving weather, through advanced weather training courtesy of Chanute air Force Base, and U of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, aircraft engine and airframe maintenance and emergency procedures training.

Eventually it caught up to me with three real people on board returning from Key-West and a fire trailing caused by a sinking carburetor float, impossible to detect and no notice.  Luckily I was preparing to land about ten miles from my location, checking things and then the fire and the Gods were with me… altitude and airspeed…  3000 feet in altitude, leaking gas, smoke and I followed the drill rehearsed hundred of times.

Pilots know the drill, FLY the airplane, shut the fuel system down before the fuel system enveloped the aircraft,  maintain airspeed, DECLARE radio PAN - MAYDAY  no engine,  I declared an emergency to a closer tower Albert Whitted’s tower,  requested runway six, was immediately cleared, and aimed for and dead sticked a book perfect short field landing into Albert Whitted airport ( My alternate was a water landing).  The building at the end of the displaced runway claimed I left wheel marks on their roof but I think they were kidding me…  I had no option and cut it close, the student pilots in the pattern got a free demonstration of a no engine short field and applauded.

I can talk about it today how a little twenty dollar plastic float created 3500 dollars worth of firewall fire forward damage (three maybe four times that amount today) and the paint had extensive fire damage.  I can brag about that landing today, it  was my best short field landing, and made the first turnoff after said  displaced runway.

I taxied off groundspeed and stopped ten feet from the fire cart.   In aviation you are only as good as training you have and thought process, otherwise they call you a statistic.  Pressing on to be better is critical in aviation.  Like life…I had in my mind the best instructor in the beginning, I’ll never forget Joe Dineen and I believed in the culture of his training.  

Pilots joke during an emergency, you hear your instructor telling you what to do, the mind and solid training makes your response automatic and to this day if asked I will tell you I heard his voice and performed.

Going to other crashes, was to some a lesson in harsh reality but it gets your head on right, you see what mistakes do, unprepared consequences, dumb actions and gore…But if you use the training seriously to this day I heard him coaching me in my mind going through the process and getting it perfect.  


“ Never Forget”  - Those Who Brought The Guilty To Be Judged 

When I Was Old Enough I Learned About My Uncle  —  Some time back I remembered a conversation with my uncle, tell me a story about his triumph over the evils in this world in Europe and then the Pacific during World War II and the aftermath, the Holocaust.  As a child I saw the tattoos on my cousins arms like they tag cattle, I never knew how he was involved.   I live in Tampa Bay and we have a Holocaust museam in downtown St. Petersburg…

Quite a secret since obviously there were people who would have killed him.  He died and the family met for the funeral.  I was living in Florida and I flew with my mother to NY for the funeral.  Cars were lined up block after block and the funeral home was packed.  It took up both sides of Queens Boulevard and somehow I knew this was more important than just the loss of a relative.  Many of the owners of the great garment houses in NYC were in attendance…in those days clothes were made in factories here…

We knew something different,  when we met a man at his funeral, to whom we were introduced. And I did not have my cameras. I was told leave them home.  My uncle began to appear as an important man in the community, only we knew little.  He never mentioned it to family, again for safety. 

My uncle owned several businesses in the garment center and quite a unique import business from both the Philippines and Japan.  In those days most clothing was made in the garment center of Manhattan. He was a world trader.  And a sharp business man.  

My aunt went to Europe to the prestigious fashion shows, saw what she liked, bought some, brought them home, made a few changes and weeks later the knock-offs came to the states faster than the originals but at lower prices for the masses.  It was a 60 million dollar business.  In those days K-Mart was big for the average consumer and they were one of his best customers.


Characteristics…
In her memoirs Justice Ruth Ginsburg remarked her mother worked in that garment center.  Our family came from that same area in the Ukraine…  At the same time she immigrated to the United States.  I was introduced to a distinguished gentleman who came from overseas, traveled from AUSTRIA to offer the eulogy for my uncle.  His eulogy explained things I soon put it all together…

He spoke of being on this earth is a blessing from God, and one day you will meet God and he will ask of your credentials, the most important question…“ He will ask you what did you do for your fellow man, or your people”.  Then he told me what my Uncle did, and the reason he traveled half way around the world to speak at his funeral. It was a deal they had made years ago

A very long conversation with the man ensued, I then knew who he was and of his journey, I learned of the role my uncle and his brother in law had played all these years in his support … from the garment center and who had been brought to justice… It changed my whole life… I had an exclusive with  ― Simon Wiesenthal  -  The Nazi Hunter. And  I wasn’t even a reporter yet, but it was a trigger.  There are two kinds of people in this world…those you meet and those you remember.


Mr. Simon Wiesenthal From The Eulogy… 
  “ For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.  Humor is the weapon of unarmed people: it helps people who are oppressed to smile at the situation that pains them.  God must have been on leave during the Holocaust.  

When the Germans first came to my city in Galicia, half the population was Jewish: one hundred fifty- thousand Jews. When the Germans were gone, five hundred were alive. ... Many times I was thinking that everything in life has a price, so to stay alive must also have a price.   And my price was always that, if I lived, I must be deputy for many people who are not alive.

The words are we will “ NEVER FORGET”  Many people believe “Never forget!” was first used this way in referring to the Holocaust. We can't confirm that, but we have found an example of that usage from soon after World War II. As part of Allied de-Nazification efforts, an exhibition entitled “Never Forget” opened on Sept. 14, 1946, in Vienna.


Simon Wiesenthal  — Was an Austrian Nazi hunter and writer   He was a Jewish Austrian Holocaust survivor who became famous after World War II for his work as a Nazi hunter He was born in Buchach, Ukraine on December 31, 1908 and Died On September 20, 2005.  I met him once in Queens New York and we spent a fascinating few hours together …   

  •  “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  “ For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing. (Var.)  It was his favorite quote, but it was not his.  This quote can be traced to similar quotes as far back as Talmudic times and later credited to Edmund Burke, who never used it,  including its use by John F Kennedy in a speech in 1961  — Never happened, Burke never said it…
  • — Humor is the weapon of unarmed people: it helps people who are oppressed to smile at the situation that pains them.  God must have been on leave during the Holocaust.
  • — There is no denying that Hitler and Stalin are alive today… they are waiting for us to forget, because this is what makes possible the resurrection of these two monsters.
  • —  Violence is like a weed - it does not die even in the greatest drought.
  • —  Justice for crimes against humanity must have no limitations.
  • —  I know I am not only the bad conscience of the Nazis. I am also the bad conscience of the Jews. Because what I have  taken up as my duty was everybody’s duty and many ignored it.
  • —  For your benefit, learn from our tragedy. It is not a written law that the next victims must be Jews. It can also be other people.
  • —  The combination of hatred and technology is the greatest danger threatening mankind.
  • —  The end was surely near. The Nazis killed you only when you were naked, because they knew, psychologically, that naked people never resist.
  •   Technology without hatred can be a blessing. Technology with hatred is always a disaster.
  • —  We know that we are not collectively guilty, so how can we accuse any other nation, no matter what some of its people have done, of being collectively guilty?
  • —  When we come to the other world and meet the millions of Jews who died in the camps and they ask us, ‘ What have you done?' there will be many answers. You will say, 'I became a jeweler.' Another will say, 'I smuggled coffee and American cigarettes.' Another will say, 'I built houses.' But I will say, ‘I didn't forget you.' 
  • —  The only value of nearly five decades of my work is a warning to the murderers of tomorrow, that they will never rest.

 —  Should history repeat itself, my example will repeat itself too…and not once, but fifty-fold



Elie Wiesel  — 
Elie Wiesel was a Romanian-born American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor. He authored 57 books, written mostly in French and English, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a Jewish prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. 

  • “ I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
  • The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
  • There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
  • Peace is our gift to each other.
  • Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe.
  • God made man because He loves stories.
  • Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.
  • After all, God is God because he remembers.
  • Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.
  • Some stories are true that never happened.


Anne Frank  —  Annelie’s Marie “Anne” Frank was a German-Dutch diarist of Jewish origin.
Born 12 June 1929   
Died February or March 1945 in Bergen-Belsen Stalag XI-C of Typhus and Starvation.
One of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust, she gained fame posthumously with the publication of The Diary of a Young Girl (originally Het Achterhuis in Dutch; English: The Secret Annex), in which she documents her life in hiding from 1942 to 1944, during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. It is one of the world's best known books and has been the basis for several plays and films.

  • “ If we bear all this suffering and if there are still Jews left, when it is over, then Jews, instead of being doomed, will be held up as an example.” 
  • I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.
  • How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
  • Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.
  • No one has ever become poor by giving.
  • I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.
  • Whoever is happy will make others happy too.
  • Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.
  • Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction.
  • We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.
  • Whoever doesn't know it must learn and find by experience that 'a quiet conscience makes one strong!'


― Yehuda Bauer  —  

Born  - April 6, 1926 (age 94)   PragueCzechoslovakia

Academic background:  Cardiff University and Hebrew University

Thesis:    British Mandate of Palestine

Academic work:  Holocaust Studies

Institutions :   Hebrew University

  • “Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.” 
  • “Do not be a perpetrator. Do not be a bystander. Do not be a victim.” 
  • “The horror of the Holocaust is not that it deviated from human norms; the horror is that it didn't. What happened may happen again, to others not necessarily Jews, perpetrated by others, not necessarily Germans. We are all possible victims, possible perpetrators, possible bystanders.”
  • And Thou shalt never, but never be a bystander.
  • The establishment of the state of Israel is not the result of the Holocaust. It is almost a result of the fact that the Holocaust was not totally successful.
  • The public still repeats, time after time, the silly story that at Wannsee the extermination of the Jews was arrived at.
  • The Holocaust was perpetrated by the Nazis for very specific reasons. They saw in the Jews the ultimate enemy, who was behind all the other enemies they had. And the Jews were in their eyes Satan; coming from a Christian background, although anti-Christian, if somebody was Satan you knew what to do with him. Murder him. Kill him. Annihilate him. Ultimately. 
  • Perhaps drive him out first. And then finally when this didn't work kill him. And it wasn't really directed against the Jews of country X but against the concept of the Jew. The Jew. Anywhere. Everywhere. At all times. Forever. And that is unique. That has never happened before but it can happen again. The idea of some powerful force that unless it is totally annihilated there's no chance for your survival. That was the Nazi ideology.
  • In the book of which I have spoken before, are the Ten Commandments. Maybe we should add three additional ones: “ ou, your children and your children’s children shall never become perpetrators"; "You, your children and your children's children shall never never allow yourselves to become victims"; and "You, your children and your children's children shall never, but never, be passive onlookers to mass murder, genocide, or (let us hope it may never be repeated) to a Holocaust-like tragedy."


Roza ROBOTA and SAM SPITZER

921, Ciechanów – 5 Jan 1945

HISTORY:   Much of this technical, dates and times information was gleaned from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and most importantly the story came by my personal contact and interview with Sam Spitzer, my nephews grandfather in law and my relatives during a trip to Australia.

The family pictures at the Roza Robota gate were taken with Sam Spitzer and my brother Cye Jacobson. Cye's son is married to Sams granddaughter, friends called him "Poppy".  

I had the rare opportunity to spend quality time with Sam Spitzer and learn of this story, his incredible life of survival and involvement.  I realized how really important  their lives had been, unselfishly and totally devoted to saving others during the most of horrific times.

There were things he disclosed in the too few hours we spent together that went beyond any kind of conduct normal humans are capable of.  From the depths of depravity and torture to the courage of those who fought back, it has a scope too wide to imagine.

It was one of the most remarkable conversations I have ever had. I learned things about the resistance movement during WWII that didn't show on the History channel. I also learned more about the camps and the relentless brutality and inhumanity exhibited there.

 

Ms. ROSA ROBOTA
(Referred to, variants of spelling in other sources as Rojza, Rozia, or Rosa), was the leader and one of four women hanged in the Auschwitz concentration camp for their role in the Sonderkommando revolt of 7 October 1944.

Born in Ciechanów, Poland, to a middle-class family, Roza had one brother and one sister. She was a member of Hashomer Hatzair Zionist-socialist youth movement, and joined that movement's underground upon the Nazi occupation. Roza often used her Hebrew name, "Shoshanah."

She was transported to Auschwitz in 1942, and was sent to Auschwitz-II, the adjacent Birkenau labor camp for women, where she was involved in the underground dissemination of news among the prisoners. 

No one else from her family in Europe is known to have survived. She worked in the clothing depot at the Birkenau Effektenlager adjacent to Crematorium III of Birkenau, where the bodies of gas chamber victims were burned. She had been recruited by men of the underground whom she knew from her hometown, to smuggle "schwartzpulver", a rapidly burning compound collected by women in the "Weichsel" munitions factory, transferring it to a Sonderkommando surnamed Wróbel,who was also active in the resistance. 

This "schwartzpulver" was used to manufacture primitive grenades and possibly to help blow up the crematorium during the Sonderkommando revolt. In her work she was assisted by Hadassa Zlotnicka and AsirGodel Zilber, both also from Ciechanów, whom Robota apparently enlisted in the resistance. 

Together with a few other women who worked in the Nazi factory's "pulverraum," they were able to obtain, hide, and turn over to the men of the underground no more than one to three teaspoons of the "schwartzpulver" compound per day, and not every day. The Sonderkommando blew up Crematorium III on 6 October 1944.

Robota and three other women – Ala Gertner, Estusia Wajcblum, and Regina Safirsztajn – were arrested by the Gestapo and tortured in the infamous Bloc 23 but they refused to reveal the names of others who participated in the smuggling operation. 

They were hanged on 5 January 1945 – two women at the morning roll-call assembly, two others in the evening. Robota was 23 years old. According to some eyewitness accounts, she and her comrades shouted "Nekamah" ("Vengeance!"), or "Be Strong" to the assembled inmates before they died. Some say they shouted, "Chazak V'amatz" – "Be strong and have courage", the Biblical phrase that God uses to encourage Joshua after the death of Moses.

The Sonderkommando Revolt caused some 70 fatalities among the SS and kapos, and blew the roof off one crematorium, yet the Nazis knew the advancing Russian Army was very close to liberating the camp. It was clear to the Nazis that all evidence of the war-time atrocities had to be concealed, so the Germans attempted to destroy the other four crematoria themselves.

 

THE ROSA ROBOTA GATE
Roza Robota's memory lives on, in the naming of the Roza Robota Gates at Montefiore Randwick (Sydney, Australia). 

This initiative was made possible by Sam Spitzer, a resistance fighter during World War II and now a resident of Sydney.  He named the gates in honor of his war-time hero, Robota, and his late wife, Margaret. Spitzer’s sister was in Auschwitz with Robota.  At Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, a monument was built to honor Robota and the three other executed women. It stands in a prime location in the garden.


Samuel Spitzer (1922-2009)  “Poppy”
Excerpts from Rabbi Paul Jacobson, my nephew, eulogy for “Poppy”  I remember pulling up alongside his apartment building.  He greeted me with a warm smile and a very strong handshake, introducing himself saying, “I am called Sam.”  And when I said, “Hello Sam.  My name is Paul, ” Lisa corrected me and said, “No, no, you don’t call him Sam.  You call him Poppy.  All of my friends always call him Poppy.”

I will say only that I learned early on that Poppy was a man of conviction, a crusader for what he thought was just and right.  The events of World War II were not history to Poppy; they were the moments of his life that scarred him, that tried his faith, and brought unspeakable anguish and torment to his soul and spirit. Try as he would throughout his long life, raging against and seeking to correct the injustices of the world, Poppy was never able to find healing for his wounds.

What we know about Poppy is that he was involved in the socialist underground movement, Ha-Shomer Ha-Tzair.  When the political party was banned, he was thrown in prison for two years.  During his imprisonment, Poppy recounts that he benefited from the mentorship of Stefan Dubchek, Slovakian politician Alexander Dubcek’s father.  

In August 1944, the Slovak national uprising, organized by communists, discovered that he was Jewish and relocated him to a concentration holding camp.   

Before he was sent to the concentration camp, he escaped into the mountains.  Poppy managed to arrange papers identifying him as non-Jewish.  He fought during the final months of World War II until Czechoslovakia was liberated in April 1945.  

An enormous turning point in Sam’s life occurred in 1942 when he was arrested as a political prisoner by the Slovak government of the time. In jail he spent many lengthy spells in solitary confinement as well as being experimented on with radium treatment. 

But what he managed to gain in that time was a development of friendship and mentorship with some of the great political characters of the time. Alexander Dubcheck (former president of Czechoslovakia) and his friendship with Alexander’s father Stefan who was a mentor to him during those 2 years in jail.

On his release from jail it was uncovered that he was Jewish and therefore he was sent straight to the camps in Sered. Amazingly he and some other young men managed to escape. They joined with the partisans up in the mountains where he continued to fight until well after the war ended and word finally came to them that it was over. 

He would often describe to us the fear and loneliness he felt on the mountain, coming across countless frozen bodies of families many he had known in his childhood.  

After immigration to Australia, he was involved in sports, feared by politicians and vested in real estate, he became a very successful businessman. 

If there was a cause he believed in or an injustice he was aware of he was relentless, never ceasing till he found justice. He did not care what others thought of him as he challenged Rabbis, communal leaders and organizations standing up the rights of others, especially those killed in WWII who were no longer here to speak up for themselves.

When he was young, he learned to live in a tough world, it made him tough, 
and he never altered his principles, "Poppy" rest in peace, to this day 
I enjoyed our intelligent conversation...

 

FROM MY NEPHEWS EULOGY FOR “POPPY”….
Lisa first introduced me to Poppy a couple of months into our relationship in early 2007 when we met for dinner on a weeknight.  I remember pulling up alongside his apartment building.  He greeted me with a warm smile and a very strong handshake, introducing himself saying, “I am called Sam.”  And when I said, “Hello Sam.  My name is Paul,”  Lisa corrected me and said, “No, no, you don’t call him Sam.  You call him Poppy.  All of my friends always call him Poppy.”

I will say only that I learned early on that Poppy was a man of conviction, a crusader for what he thought was just and right.  The events of World War II were not history to Poppy; they were the moments of his life that scarred him, that tried his faith, and brought unspeakable anguish and torment to his soul and spirit. Try as he would throughout his long life, raging against and seeking to correct the injustices of the world, Poppy was never able to find healing for his wounds. 

He was born on the 3rd of May 1922 in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. He had to work life out for himself in a tough, dog-eat-dog, dangerous world.  He learned his life lessons at a very young age, lessons that would stay with him until the very end.  No matter what came his way, Poppy held fast to his principles.

What we know about Poppy is that he was involved in the socialist underground movement, Ha-Shomer Ha-Tzair.  When the political party was banned, he was thrown in prison for two years.  During his imprisonment, Poppy recounts that he benefited from the mentorship of Stefan Dubchek, Slovakian politician Alexander Dubchek’s father.  In August 1944, the Slovak national uprising, organized by communists, discovered that he was Jewish and relocated him to a concentration holding camp. 

Before he was sent to the concentration camp, he escaped into the mountains.  Poppy managed to arrange papers identifying him as non-Jewish.  He fought during the final months of World War II until Czechoslovakia was liberated in April 1945.

The span of Sam’s younger years were colorful. His father remarried and two half brothers were born. He spoke of them with love and cared for them both very deeply. He also spoke of all the odd jobs he would take on to earn a few coins to help his father who worked as a tailor often struggling to provide for his family. For many years he worked in his lunch hour at school delivering meals to his teachers disabled brother and in return being given lunch and a small wage.

An enormous turning point in Sam’s life occurred in 1942 when he was arrested as a political prisoner by the Slovak government of the time. In jail he spent many lengthy spells in solitary confinement as well as being experimented on with radium treatment. But what he managed to gain in that time was a development of friendship and mentorship with some great political characters of the time. Many of us gathered today would have seen the photo in his study with Alexander Dubcheck (former president of Czechoslovakia) and heard of his friendship with Alexander’s father Stefan who was a mentor to him during those 2 years in jail. 

On his release from jail it was uncovered that he was Jewish and therefore he was sent straight to the camps in Sered. Amazingly he and some other young men managed to escape. They joined with the partisans up in the mountains where he continued to fight until well after the war ended and word finally came to them that it was over. He would often describe to us the fear and loneliness he felt on the mountain, coming across countless frozen bodies of families many he had known in his childhood. He told us of the tears he cried and the prayers he shouted to an empty mountain, his dead mother and to a g-d he feared had forgotten him.

Sam was not idle in those years, he continued his strong involvement with soccer in Australia, even acting as a selector for the Australian team. He forged many close friendships in the soccer arena and Margaret was also famous for her incredible hospitality and warmth that they shared with many of the young up and coming players. Sam was also there to lend an ear and advise to others in the business world. He always had a solution of how to find loopholes in the local zoning laws for business and developed a relationship of mutual respect and fear with the local politicians of his day.

But as close as Sam was with his family, there are many of us here today who can share stories of their friendships and connections to Sam. He was a man who was always willing to hear someone’s cause, tell them a tale or two of his own. But always willing to give advise and help in any way that he could. He was a real crusader. If there was a cause he believed in or an injustice he was aware of he was relentless, never ceasing till he found justice. 

He did not care what others thought of him as he challenged rabbis, communal leaders and organizations standing up the rights of others, especially those killed in WWII who were no longer here to speak up for themselves. 

He was young, he learned to live in a tough world and he never altered his principles.


We Were Friends, We Had Conversation  —  A Lost Social Pleasure 

PART OF A UNIQUE EULOGY FOR A FRIEND


BACKROUND
I am an avid movie fan especially, good movies with a message, and the Last Samurai with Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe brought something to bear in both quality and message.   There are tremendous story lines in most Samurai movies.  The first Samurai movies date back to the fifties in black and white and these movies do have a following.  

In the 14th -17th century, Samurai or Bushi were the members of the elite military class and trained to serve the landowners and Lords in feudal Japan.  Their fate was sealed unless they liked being farmers.  

Samurai were supposed to lead their lives according to the ethic code of bushido (“The way of the warrior").  Strongly Confucian  in nature, bushido stressed concepts such as loyalty to one's master, self discipline and respectful, ethical behavior.

In the movie the Samurai leader Katsumoto thanks Tom Cruise, whom he captures after being wounded and nursed back to health.  He was his captive prisoner after a long battle and during the winter, the two start a conversation  and gradually get to know each other. 

They had more in common than either had thought,  the two mortal enemies after leaving the field of combat find they seek the same things in life even after a years captivity, and they become friends and eventually allies.  Katsumoto thanks Cruise for his “Interesting Conversations”.                                                                                           


What Has Happened To Our “ Interesting Conversations”  —  We don't talk anymore. We are impersonal, we text, we twit, we communicate in savage tongues and burped words.  We have aliases and fake mail accounts to hide our faces.   Most of which we do is useless or worthless conversation. It reflects in our society, our children's education, and creates false empires.

My close friend and neighbor Jim Wise passed away last year, I volunteered to speak and eulogize him at his funeral and this movie story came to me… I was a nervous and confident at the same time, since Jewish people normally spend little time in Catholic Churches, but 450 weddings I photographed helped,  but I was wonderfully welcomed by Father Pat who didn’t even question what I was about to say and my pulpit is yours…  

He looked in my eyes, he seemed to know me, “You were Jim’s friend”,  I wondered if Jim had ever mentioned me.  Toward the end of the proper funeral service, and mass, the Priest called me to the pulpit.  I took out my notes, laid them on the lectern and never looked at them, the words came easy to me... after, Jim’s wife told me the Priest had on occasion fell asleep during the boring moments, she told me, he never even blinked, he was Jim’s friend also and words have meanings...

 

Eulogy For Jim Wise  —  A Friend —  

TO THE PARISHIONERS AND FRIENDS OF JAMES WISE - St. JEROME’S CATHOLIC CHURCH  2013

It is both with great sadness and celebration that I stand in front of you today in this House of Worship to remember the life of my good friend Jim Wise.  We spent many, many hours together.  I as a Jewish person rarely get to be on the dias of a Catholic Church, but it is ordained and I will follow my wishes to express my gratitude for knowing Jim Wise…

I am happy to see so many of Jim’s, friends, neighbors and relatives attending.  And I know that many of you traveled a long way to be here, and I truly believe Jim would be incredibly appreciative to see you.  He is looking down as we speak and... he knows you are here.

Almost nine years ago Jim interviewed me and my late wife Dolly when we applied to live at Country Club Condominiums. A simple one-hour screening interview turned into many hours, and many additional conversations with “the Mayor of Building Three” as he was well known by continued for years.

I believe one of the members of the Home Owners Association gave him that nickname after he served almost three terms on the HOA board.  He took an active interest in serving and knew just about everything that was going on at the condos.   He always had a word or something to talk about whether at the communal mailbox, or when he was tinkering in his garage.   When we had problems in the building, he was there, contributing his advise and problem solving.

After I lost my wife, almost six years ago, I still made a full pot of coffee every morning as I had done for decades.  I admit to being a coffee ritual, addict.   And it became a shared ritual, a morning a cup of “Jo” with JIM and continue our conversations on a daily basis. It was the 8:30 O’ clock coffee break, I start my day at 5:30 AM, unofficial but just like the Euro trains, he was always on time.  

Why waste good fresh coffee?  I had plenty and he liked coffee.  He also had a sweet tooth and liked the French Vanilla Bean, two spoons of NesQuick Chocolate and a splash of Irish Mist flavoring. It was his favorite pick-me-up and elixir.  Today they bottle it and sell it with a five-hour guarantee.  It was Jim’s pick me up, he was old school, and in a way like me.

Many days, we had breakfast together.  He was my test bed for cooking, like “Mike-ee” in that commercial, he’d try anything I made.  He liked my cooking and we had a lot of fun and a couple laughs together.  

With the onset of his Macular Degeneration, he was losing his vision, and combined with other pertinent health issues, he began losing his sight more rapidly.    I could see the importance of our time we spent together,  I was his sight keeping him in touch with the world.  His expression, “So what’s the latest news or gossip?”  

I said, “We better go to the paper, ain’t nothing going on here“.  We went through the paper together, I read he listened, and we talked about everything from football to politics, and we both agreed, college football is better and many politicians are closely related to crooks sharing the same DNA.

When he didn’t or couldn’t show, I called to see if he was OK.  He saw his world dimming but he still wanted to know what was going on.  This was his time, he knew it, and then a movie made me think .

I must digress for a moment…  I am going to refer to a movie with a message... A movie starring Tom Cruise (played Captain Algren) and Ben Watanabe (played Katsumoto) was called “The  Last Samurai”  and did well at the box office. It was the story of an American military advisor hired to do away with the Samurai rebels who were resisting the overtaking of Japan by greedy Western influence in the late 1800’s.

Our hero was wounded and captured by the rebel Samurai Warlord. After being held for almost a year, and gradually through “Intelligent Conversations” they shared their thoughts and feelings about life and situations.  They got to know and like, respect and be honest with each other.  Getting to know his captor’s culture, he embraced the Samurai Code.  He had realized the Samurai were the good guys in this story.  It started with simple conversation over a cup of tea and they became friends.   Somehow it connected. 

Where are we today, we do not converse, we technically communicate. Our electronic conversation is cold blooded, limited to texting, voice mails, twits and tweets. Some written by those who are real nit-twits and can’t spell and would be better off speaking to each other. I invented a new word, what do you call it when two nit-twits talk to each other?  Twitillation!

Just look at our position in the world in education, namely Math and Science (education wise) which has sunk to new lows. In fact being 27th and 35th, in the world is nothing to brag about.  It shows in the communication. Some messages I get are so cryptic, you would think they were done on a WWII German Enigma machine that baffled the famed British code-breakers.  I have no clue as to what some things mean or are supposed to mean.

Jim’s Legacy was Intelligent Conversation…he never twitted, tweeted or even got on the computer but he could converse and have an intelligent conversation about what was around him and it grew smaller with his vision loss.

Losing someone you respected is never easy, but when their life is taken away so rapidly, it is that much more difficult. There are many un-filled questions I would throw at him if he were here today. I will miss my friend and I hope that these words will help alleviate some of the grief we are are all feeling today.

If he were here now at this podium, he would tell us to cheer up, smile and remember all of the great memories we can all share with each other, positive thoughts.  Even though Jim may be gone, his memory will live on in some of us. I sincerely appreciated your friendship, Jim, I appreciated the “Intelligent Conversation”.  

Everyone should start their day and share their world with others and a cup of coffee is a really good place to start.  He drank out of this cup in my hand for many years.  This is Jim’s cup, the one he always used.  It says on it “Friends are the flowers of the heart”.   It is now for his beloved Geraldine to have it.

And with that I say sleep well, rest and speak well my friend, I know you are in a good place…and as entertaining as ever… Even when God spoke to Moses, Moses knew he had partaken of a good conversation, now it is your turn Jim, and mention my name to him....

 

Never Forget - My Brothers In Arms And Service To Country

I have devoted and spent a good part, about 35 years of my life, working with charities and groups, building Military Memorials at two bases and three cities.  To  this day I served and I salute those who served and those who paid the ultimate price of Freedom and I have been lucky enough to live, mingle with some very patriotic good people I have had the pleasure of meeting, working with, teaching, training and survived.  

I lost five fellow Brothers in Arms, friends in Vietnam and a few more in our latest excursions of stupidity, I was lucky, these stupid wars that never end in the name of Religion, Greed and Faith, and I will never forget them.  I served after the wars as a board member bring honor to these men and women for thirty five years.

Much tragedy has the COVID-9 running rampage through out Veterans Nursing Homes March 2020 in  ten days 145 of our retirees died from inadequate care and the latent stupidity, attitude, lieing and ignorance, of our leader… and his magic hydrochloroquionone…

5/2/2021   aljacobsladder.com