Category Archives: Grampa Mike

Card-Carrying Grandmother

First, a little background. My Grandma Eve was my Grampa Mike’s second wife. His first wife, my dad’s beloved mother, passed away before any of us grandchildren got to meet her. So Grandma Eve was the grandmother we knew growing up. If I have the story straight, my grandfather engaged the services of a matchmaker, and that’s how he met and married Eve Kaufman. Eve was my only American-born grandparent. She came from Cleveland, and had been a secretary. When she married my grandfather, she moved into the house on Turk Street in San Francisco. Eve did not have children of her own, so she became stepmother to my dad and his siblings, and just plain grandmother to the six of us grandkids.

Eve was nothing like my other grandmother, to put it mildly. She had a sense of humor, liked to play cards, and kidded around with us kids. And this brings me to card games.


My parents would occasionally drop us off with our grandparents in San Francisco, so we had some special routines: watching wrestling on TV with my grandfather, and playing card games with Grandma Eve. When we were younger, my grandfather would take us to the Palace of Fine Arts to feed the water fowl some of the stale bread he always seemed to have boxes of in the trunk of his car.

My grandparents liked to take trips to Reno every so often, and sometimes they brought back souvenirs for us. Since Grandma Eve had taught us how to play Solitaire, my sister and I each received a deck of cards after one of those trips to Reno. I have a very clear memory of those cards.

I claimed the redheads, and my sister chose the blondes. They were, as the expression goes, “scantily clad,” in a cowgirl motif: tiny fringed vests that barely covered their breasts, short shorts, boots, and hats tilted at a rakish angle. I believe they were winking. They may have been brandishing pistols or wearing sheriff’s badges. Not 100% sure about that, but I do know I’m right about the outfits, what there was of them.

Were we shocked? Were we upset? No, our grandparents gave us pin-up girl decks of cards and we thought it was cool. We showed them off to our friends: Ha! Look what our GRANDMOTHER gave us! I don’t remember baking cookies (she liked poppy seed cakes from the bakery) or any of that other traditional stuff, but I’ll always remember sitting in front of the soap operas and slapping down cards with her. She taught us another game that she called “Oh, Hell!,” but I don’t remember the rules. I did look it up, but I think she must’ve taught us something else and just called it that.

And I didn’t remember how to play Solitaire either, which I discovered just recently on a family vacation. As a dutiful grandmother, I had brought along a couple of decks of cards in case we had a non-beach day or some evening time to kill. As I laid out the cards to demonstrate the game for my granddaughter, I realized I didn’t know how to proceed. So, I did what any savvy grannie would do: I Googled it. Then it all came back to me–just like riding a bike, which I do remember how to do.

Giving young granddaughters rather risqué cards and teaching them a game that allowed them to swear may be non-typical behavior for a grandmother, but it was just her way of showing us she loved us– and she did it with a wink.



Remembrance of Pickles Past

The first time I bit into the pickles at Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen San Francisco, I was immediately transported back to the grand Victorian house where my grandparents lived. 1825 Turk Street in San Francisco. That’s where my memory took me with that first bite: my grandparents’ tiny apartment kitchen. I’m not sure where theirContinue Reading

My Passover Seder Memories: Not the long version

  The Passover Seder is a highly ritualized family event, during which children must wait patiently to eat dinner until the last plague is listed, the last bite of horseradish is choked down, the last prayer is read, and the last song is sung. Depending on how hard core the leader of the Seder serviceContinue Reading

Song for My Father

Tomorrow would have been my father’s 92nd birthday. He’s been gone ten years now. Sharing a laugh on Father’s Day My dad always told me that I was a writer. He said this with admiration, I think. He encouraged me to write and would often help me when I got stuck.  When I was taking anContinue Reading

He was the Egg Man

His obituary doesn’t say very much. It’s written in a tiny font and takes up about a square inch of newsprint. I keep the yellowed square of paper in my jewelry box, the one I took with me the day my house burned down in 1991. The obituary states when he died: June 11, 1977,Continue Reading