Solomon Simon, the Yiddish Writer, Father, and Grandfather



my relationship with my father was a as I said before was them as ambivalent and and we're in many ways difficult even though he was my life's hero but it's difficult to grow up in the shadow of someone else which is what was happening he overshadowed all of us yes this is correct yes there was much of him there was so much of him the whole house was him I mean it was all about him did we have a lot of conversations in Yiddish I think we did well this was a problem you see I was gonna talk about that at some point he would speak to me seemed you're a different generation so I don't know what went on with the Yiddish with you but he spoke to me in unison I answered in English and this this could not he could not change it and I thought a lot about this what was behind it with me because I knew I could I could have spoken Yiddish to him but I didn't I just never did never and it was terribly upsetting to him very frustrating I think mostly you come now to think about the conversations were unilateral he would speak Yiddish and I for the most part spoke English maybe throw in a few years words I think I was nervous that he would know that my Yiddish was grammatically incorrect in some way or other so and my English was better than his even though is excellent it's always mine I I think I was being spiteful I don't think I was worried about her yeah I think it's my way of having some power was that I could speak English and he couldn't stop me here I was late in life child and the missing and they didn't know about babysitters there was no such thing as a babysitter I guess when once my sister married for sure there wasn't gonna be anyone taking care of me in the house so I got slept around everywhere every meeting they went to I went to every occasion I mean things that had absolutely bored me to death but everywhere I went I was dr. Simon's daughter and so that was something I liked his stories but as my son David has reminded me I did not read his books even the children's books I was very rebellious I mean my father was a big figure and it was very hard to always you know I was I was meek and and yet somehow I managed in even with my meekness to make sure that he knew that he couldn't push me around I remember him reading his stories to me with a scotch in one hand and a cigar in the other hand he was a little bit of a kind of a fireplug kind of guy looked like the older generation of what you think of those New York Jews he always wore a suit I'm not sure I can ever remember him not being dressed in a suit and it's high so from my little boys standpoint he was just my grandfather right so kids don't really think in comparing people he was short he wore a suit she smelled of cigars and whiskey he was ancient to me of course now both my parents are well older than he was when he passed away he was energetic so loving towards he's so delighted in his grandchildren my existence was just a source of delight to him from pictures or sketches and a vague memory I'd say he had dark hair that was sort of peppery black and silver kind of stocky he chewed juicy fruit gum and he smoked cigars and it's funny because if I smell either I think of him he had kind of dark blackish hair with a mustache greenish eyes greenish gray eyes which my mom got the gorgeous green turquoise eyes he had four fingers on his left hand that's another striking thing when you're a child he was such a storyteller so I would say Zadie what happened why do you only have four fingers and every time I asked him he would tell me a different story one time he would say I was working in the fields you know I grew up in a you know a very rural place and I was working in the fields and I was using a pitchfork to shovel some hay and I dropped the pitchfork and it just cut my finger clean off and I didn't know I never knew until I think until after he died I never really knew why he had lost his finger and actually though the way he lost his finger was was also talking interesting right he lost his finger because he was a dentist and he used to hold the x-ray film in his patients mouth with one hand and take the x-ray with the other and so this hand would get exposed to the x-rays and he got cancer in his fingers and you know people didn't know that x-rays were carcinogenic when they first came out and so he got cancer and then he had to have surgeries and eventually got it amputated and you know to someone who now you know a dental office is also you've got these big machines with the long arms and then they either they put LED on you and they leave and the idea of someone sort of holding it in and taking them that's kind of cool that's kind of interesting you know that's how they used to do it and it wasn't just that the finger was missing his hands his fingers were somewhat deformed as well that he had lost the fingernails in that hand or at least on two of the remaining fingers and the little bits of fingernails still stuck on or something which was you know for a small kid was a little weird I know he was frightening to a lot of children he was booming he was very booming and I have it actually I have a cousin Barry Lampert talks about how frightening daddy was to him very frightening that because he boomed things came at unexpectedly added him and loud and it was like you know and like a little kid you know that's a little difficult you really weren't aware of what he looked like because he came across with such energy mental as well as physical power kind of radiated from them one of the things I associate with him and I think that probably everybody associates with him is an argumentative style you know he was opinionated and he enjoyed sort of intellectual jousting he took children very seriously and so he would talk to you like a person and when you were four or when you're eight or whatever it was he would talk to you like if he was interested in what you had to say he loved children he absolutely loved children and he loved to tell stories the other thing my son David remembers about him is when he got his Yiddish typewriter that was about 1960 what David remembers how fast he managed to type with like three four fingers even with this missing finger somehow he managed but wasn't touched typing by any means it would but he said he was as fast as anyone could possibly be I mean they don't stray far there's still a connection I think with dr. Simon's grandchildren there is a connection he loved children he was a very warm and loving grandfather I don't remember fighting with him ever about anything he was just a very doting loving grandfather that's how I remember him so you have to remember I guess I was 12 or 13 when he passed I think I was 12 so it's really young but he meant I remember a lot about him so he made quite an impression see he was really not like a religious Jew even though he wrote for rabbis and he studied the Bible I mean I would actually love to talk with him my interest as an adult has gotten really more into yoga and the eight limbs of yoga and the yoga philosophy and I see what comes up a lot are like the teachings of other prophets and I don't have like a Jewish yogi that I can talk with the experience of getting to know someone whom I love but who is dead is a very strange and wonderful thing it's a one-way relationship obviously he's getting nothing out of this but although you know my mother says oh he would well if he okay but we don't get to capella after we die I mean you you're sort of the collection of a lot of things right so he was a real presence he was he was a presence because he was loud at times he was a presence because he loved his grandchildren and he connected with us he was a presence because of what you know the Yiddish side of things which really came from him more than any other one person you know you don't know how much of your personality comes from who it's you know it's hard to measure but I certainly see aspects of him in me in terms of just intellectual proclivity and not so much the scholarly thing and and reading because in many ways he and I are opposites in that way I always hated school I hated school learning I don't think I was particularly good at it and wasn't particularly motivated by it which is really very different I think from from him but in terms of having a logical mind I think that he was very much that way and so I see that in myself and that he was again like this character with different dimensions like that man who was a retired dentist giving candy out to neighborhood children who would run up to him dr. Simon dr. Simon and whereas he may be embarrassed me at times by his a few syphilis others P others seem to enjoy that about him so it was he was interesting as I was it was war and it was stimulating intellectually stimulating and a lot of positive emotion there so I think about him a lot because I feel like his values that he transmitted I think he was right and I think about him all the time I just what like messages he was trying to convey you

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