I wrote the following for a school assignment in 1996, when I was 12 years old. Grandpa died two days ago at the age of 87.
My grandfather has had a very eventful and wonderful life. He is the only member in his generation of his family to go through college. My grandfather also served in the military for two years and started his own business, which has been in operation for the last thirty-six years. His life has been very rewarding to not only himself but also to all of those who were influenced by him.
My grandfather is a wonderful and caring person who leaves a distinct impression on whoever he meets. I have told his story here, as best I can perceive it from two interviews. I know that if he was the one writing it, however, this story would be very different. I have highlighted the main events in his life as best I know them. Of course, I cannot get into his innermost thoughts and cannot show key incidents in great detail, since I was not actually there, but I know that from reading this paper you will understand a part of my grandpa.
I was born in a small town in the suburbs of New York. My parents had emigrated here from Poland with my two older sisters long before I was born. We lived in Queens in an area called Ozone Park, which is today near Kennedy Airport. Our section of town consisted mainly of emigrants from Sicily, who were Italian. My mother died when I was only nine, and my brothers and sisters raised me from my youth. My father worked at a nearby cap factory, where team logo caps were produced. I enjoyed my days playing baseball and football in addition to going to school.
We lived during the Great Depression. We did not have much money, but we had lots of food since we had a large garden. To help out during the hard times, I enlisted in the army in 1943. At that same time my brothers and sisters sold our house for a smaller one, since there were now only five people living there instead of eight. This was because my mother was eleven years dead and my father had died two years earlier.
After I left the army I started working for a bakery supply company. Very soon after that I went to college. I paid for college by getting a job at a resort hotel being a waiter and a busboy. When I finally received my degree four years later, I went to work for Buckingham Wax, which was a janitorial supply company much like my company, Maintex, is today. I stayed at Buckingham Wax for thirteen years.
Backtracking a bit, I was married to Marilyn Mandel in ‘48, right after college. We were set up one night and things just worked out. We bought our first house for $14,000. In 1960 Marilyn, myself, and our two children, Linda and Stuart, moved from New York to Monrovia, California where I started Maintex. At the time of the move, Linda was in first grade and Stu was in third.
In that day automobiles were very expensive. I bought a new one for $700. Linda and Stuart had to ride the Subway or a bus for five cents a trip. I have lived in California since our move in 1960 and currently reside in my home in Dana Point, where I spend my days playing golf, reading, watching sports, listening to music, and walking around the neighborhood, in addition to going on frequent trips with my wonderful wife Marilyn and going to Maintex to oversee operations.
One of my greatest achievements since I have retired was when I started playing the piano. So far, I have had off-and-on lessons with three different teachers and after five years I can now play three songs!