ELEGY
by Burt Prelutsky
If you want to Comment directly to Burt Prelutsky, please mention my name Rudy. burtprelutsky@icloud.com 

(This is a year of anniversaries, among them the 70th anniversary of Israel’s birth and the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death. It also happens to be the 50th anniversary of my father’s death. As such, it seems an appropriate time to share a piece I wrote at the time.)

While my dad was alive, I’m afraid I gave him short shrift. We didn’t seem to have very much in common. We were like two friendly strangers who happened to live in the same boardinghouse. Only after he was gone did I become aware of my profound loss.

As a young man in America, Sam Prelutsky settled in a part of Illinois where the most popular organization going was the Ku Klux Klan. After the Cossacks, though, I guess a bunch of farmers wearing bedsheets weren’t such a big deal. Years later, he used to laugh about his former neighbors inviting him – him with his nose and his accent – on Klan outings. Maybe they decided to overlook the obvious evidence in the belief that Jewish people didn’t raise chickens and candle eggs.

Later, after he was married, he moved to Chicago. For a while, he worked for a cigar company, rolling the stogies he couldn’t stand to smoke. But for most of those years he was a fruit and vegetable wholesaler. He’d drive his truck to the big central market at 3 a.m., pick up his load, and spend the next 12 hours delivering produce. In the dead of winter, he’d be out on that truck schlepping sacks of potatoes. In the middle of summer, he’d be muscling crates of watermelons, just begging for the hernia he eventually got.

We moved to L.A. in 1946. At that point he came to the conclusion that the grocers he’d been delivering to over the years had been living the life of Riley, home in bed snoozing while he was up schlepping. He decided to tackle the retail end. A few months at a bad location ate up most of his savings and sent him back to the truck. But L.A., massive sprawl that it was even then, was murder compared to the more compact Chicago.

His next venture was a cigar stand in the Harris Newmark Building at Ninth and Los Angeles. Not counting the roundtrip downtown, it was still a 12-hour day, spent mostly on his feet. But at least the lifting and hauling was limited to soft-drink cases and trash barrels. On the other hand, you had to learn to live with the goniffs who swiped candy bars during the noon rush and the merchant princes of the garment industry who’d run up good-size cigar bills and let you stew until they were ready to pay up. And my father would stew because he couldn’t afford to offend the potbellied, cigar-chewing, fanny-pinching, sweatshop aristocrats.

My dad was not an educated man. He couldn’t correctly spell the names of those sodas and candy bars he sold six days a week. I don’t know if he read two dozen books in his life. He loved America, Israel, pinochle, FDR and the Democratic party. He liked Willkie, Kuchel and Warren, but he could never bring himself to vote for a Republican.

He wanted me to get good grades, a college degree and have a profession, something safe and preferably lucrative like medicine or the law. He couldn’t imagine someone’s wanting to write for a living. Still, when I sold a poem for 50 cents, he cashed the check for me -- and much, much later I found out he always carried that undeposited check folded up in his wallet.

The other day, we went to the mortuary. We went through the ritual of selecting a casket. “They start out at $300,” the salesman informed us, pointing at something that looked like an old Thom McAn shoe box, “and go up.” We passed on the coffin that cost as much as a new Cadillac and settled on an oak box you could swap for a ’65 Chevy.

Then we had to sit there while some woman gathered data for the cosmetician. We tried to explain that it was to be a closed-casket ceremony, but she had not been programmed to receive such information. “Did he wear clear nail polish?”  Did Sam Prelutsky wear clear nail polish?! No, he never wore nail polish. But if he had, safe to say it would have been clear as opposed to purple or fire engine red.

It was finally spelled out for her that they could save their rouge and polish and stupid questions. She turned pale at our impertinence. Her shock was reassuring; she was not a robot, after all.

We buried my father the other day. I didn’t think I would, but I shed tears. I cried because he had worked too hard for too long for too little. For many years, I had resented him because he had never told me he loved me; now I wept because I’d never told him.

The rabbi’s speech was short and simple. What is there, after all, to say at the funeral of such a man? Had the responsibility been mine, I would have said the following: Sam Prelutsky, who was born in a small village 7,000 miles from here, 67 or 68 years ago, was a remarkable person. He was not a great man or a famous one, but he was the best man Sam Prelutsky could be.

Now, let there be no more tears today, for we are laying to rest a man who’s earned one.
If you want to Comment directly to Burt Prelutsky, please mention my name Rudy. burtprelutsky@icloud.com 

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we never do see all we could when the people love are alive we do not stop long enough to appreciate we are alive and living.

your dad seemed to be a great man in his own way we all are.  it just may take us time to see it.

God bless

Bonnie

Yes indeed...

You can also reply to Burt. He would love to hear from you.

I am sorry for your loss. Your family was not the only one, where emotions were not shared. As long as you knew inside that both you loved him and he loved you, do not mourn any more for that. That generation was stoic, not emotional, and you are your father's son, after all. God bless.

I had many problems with my Dad, while my  Mother was my stoic soul mate. Hindsight memories have made me exceptionally grateful for being born to the two who I was born to. The silver linings from their strengths and weaknesses, and the extended family's silver linings, have provided me with the knowledge that those same problems gave me later strength———MUCH later, that finally, as someone over 60 and teaching, that I can use to help my students, especially those with similar traits as I have.

Believe confidently, that this was God's plan, and it included His plans to bless you and grow you through the journey you have walked, with your Dad, Mom and others, to make you someone, who through grief, can console someone else. Who through joy, can share joy with and for someone else. Through trials, to learn patience, persistence, and hope. Just look at how shallow the left is, how cold, how murderous, how duplicitous, and contrast that with who your Dad was, and you are, and the rest of your family, because I bet they are just as good as you are. God says we are beautiful, perfect, righteous, and holy.

It cannot get any better than that.

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LIGHTER SIDE

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ALERT ALERT

Romney Handed Shock
Defeat By Own State’s GOP

Mitt Romney is back in state politics, this time in Utah instead of Massachusetts. However, conservatives in The Beehive State aren’t exactly warming up to the 2012 Republican standard-bearer quite the way many people expected they would.

After finishing second in votes at the state GOP convention, Romney will now face a primary in his run for the Senate seat being vacated by Orrin Hatch, Fox News reported.

At the convention in West Valley City on Saturday, Romney polled just behind state lawmaker Mike Kennedy.

Kennedy captured 50.18 percent of the delegate vote compared to Romney’s 49.12 percent.

That means the two will face off in a primary on June 26 to determine who will represent the GOP this fall.

Romney, the first Mormon to head a major party ticket, is considered an extremely popular figure in Utah and was widely expected to have an easy path to the upper chamber.

In a hypothetical matchup with Democrat Jenny Wilson, at least one poll showed Romney up by 46 percent. That’s, uh, slightly more than the margin of error.

However, among party loyalists, Romney isn’t exactly viewed with unalloyed fondness.

The 2012 presidential nominee was always known for being decidedly moderate, particularly on issues of immigration and global trade. There was also the fact that he ran a campaign so bumbling that it almost made Michael Dukakis look good.

And then there was Romney’s war of words with Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign, which likely led many to perceive he secretly wished Hillary Clinton would take the Oval Office.

Trump would later consider Romney as a secretary of state pick, although how serious the president-elect was about appointing him is something we’ll likely never know.

While your average Utah Republican is unlikely to let these slights affect their vote, hardcore party activists probably don’t want another RINO who isn’t exactly known for his rapport with the president in the upper chamber of Congress, no matter how famous he may be.

For his part, Romney tried to put a good spin on the humiliation.

“I’m delighted with the outcome. Did very, very well,” he told KSTU. “On to a good, important primary ahead. This is terrific for the people of Utah.”

Dude, you just lost to a guy nobody has ever heard of. However, Kennedy was happy with the results, and unlike Romney, he had good reason to be.

“I’m a candidate with a compelling life story and a unique set of life circumstances I’d like to use to serve the people of Utah,” Kennedy said.

I have no idea what that story or those circumstances are, but I think the key point here is that he’s not Mitt Romney. If he wants to win, that’s pretty much what he should be focusing on. I can see the billboards now. “Mike Kennedy: Not Mitt Romney.” “Mike Kennedy: He didn’t borrow Ward Cleaver’s haircut.” “Mike Kennedy: Because Utah deserves a senator whose favorite food isn’t buttered noodles.”

Utah’s electorate tends to be less conservative than convention-goers, so it’s unlikely that Romney won’t be the GOP nominee for Senate. However, that’s not a 100 percent certainty — and it wouldn’t be the first time he’s lost to a Kennedy.

What do you think?

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