Recently when I visited my brother Sam’s grave,I recalled some memories of time spent together,,when he was still around. His death on July 8, 1999 ended a close relationship.For approximately 65 years,we had shared both happy and sad times as we grew up in Washington,D.C.,and Maryland neighborhoods. The memories of our activities are intertwined with D.C. and Maryland history.
Born in Israel,when this country was still known as Palestine in 1912, Sam along with our mother, brother Phil and sister Sarah, arrived in Cheyenne,Wyoming in April 1922. My father had departed to the U.S. before World War I prior to Sam’s birth,resulting in him being around 10 years old when he met his father for the first time. .I joined the family when I was born in July 1923. Around 1927 our family moved to the Southwest neighborhood of Washington,D.C. ,where we lived in the house,recently vacated by the famous screen and stage entertainer Al Jolson’s family.At this time SW D.C. was a close-knit mixed neighborhood. Many residents operated small groceries,dry goods,variety shops,living behind or over their businesses.My Dad was in the poultry business, slaughtering chickens,and turkeys in a prescribed manner under specific regulations of the Jewish religion.He also performed circumcisions.
Sam and I both attended Jefferson Junior High located in SW,and later Central High that later became Cardoza high in N.W. D.C. We were frequent visitors to Griffith Stadium,then located at 7th and Florida Avenue,N.W,to watch the Redskin games,when there no season ticket waiting lists,and the admisission price was about $5.00. Sam received his greetings from the army n 1942. He was placed in an Air Corps recruiting location in Richmond,Virginia. Somehow the Army had overlooked that he had not received basic training,so after a year of two,his recruiting assignment was temporarily suspended as he completed his basic training.Later he was assigned to an Army Air Corps recruiting office in Roanoke, Virginia.
I received my army greetings in 1943,and was assigned to a Field Artillery battalion,of the 42d Infantry Rainbow Division in Oklahoma,Our unit was shipped to Marseilles, France in January 1945. Sam and I kept in touch,and both emerged safely. I returned from Europe two days too late to attend Sam’s wedding on March 31, 1946. After the War,Sam worked for my brother Phil,at Economy Pharmacy, 9th and U Street,N.W. In 1948,Sam branched out on his own, purchasing the Lamont 5 and 10 variety shop, at Georgia Avenue and Lamont Streeet,D.C. Sam enjoyed his job,as a small business proprietor,where he remained for about 20 years. I had purchased Smith Pharmacy, at 2518 14th Street,N.W. Occasionally Sam and I traveled to attend an annual variety wholesale show in New York City,to purchase merchandise that we both could use. It was always fun to combine business,together with visiting the Big Apple.
Tragedy hit us both on April 4th,1968,when Doctor King’s assassination triggered the DC 68 riot.Sam’s 5 and 10 was completely looted,and my drug store was burned down. Both of us decided not to rebuild.Sam eventually returned to government service,and I went into the newsstand and gift-shop business.
Both of us attended World War II veteran meetings,and remained Redskin fans.When Sam retired,he kept busy developing his artistic skills, even selling some of the portraits he painted. After a mini-stroke,Sam was longer able to drive.I picked him up to drive to synagogue services,have lunch or dinner,and occasionally enjoy a movie,or walk around a shopping mall.
As his health deteriorated,he was sometimes too weak to get out of bed. He eventually moved into a nursing home. During my frequent visits, he kept in good spirits,smiling occasionally,when we recalled different memories.
I miss Sam, a good brother, and thank God for giving us the opportunity to spend many pleasant moments together.
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