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Wellington Hill
 Wellington Hill

What fun to revisit these sites, especially the Oriental Theatre, which was always a special treat for me growing up. I just loved the ceiling. My family lived at 101 Wellington Hill Street. It was a one-family house, but my family lived on the second floor. The first floor was for many years a Hebrew School (the Herzelia Hebrew School) in which my parents (mostly my father) taught. I do remember one time when, while my paternal grandfather was still alive, that the first floor was converted into a temporary synagogue for the High Holy Days. We moved to Wilcock Street when I was about 11, but I did go to the Lewenberg. Not everyone fled when the Jews moved in. There were a couple of Christian families nearby. I don't remember their exact addresses, but I do remember them.

My parents were Irving and Rose Waldman. I, of course, had to go to Hebrew school, so that didn't leave me much time after school for other activities. In the summer we seemed to find plenty to do, though, jumping rope, playing hide and seek and similar games. Then there were what seemed like endless games of War (a card game) and Monopoly. And it was a time of war, those early years. So there was a lot of recycling going on. Never could understand why we didn't keep doing that, but of course now I can do it again.

My brothers and I went to the Martha Baker and Charles Logue elementary schools.

I'm a writer so naturally I've put some of my memories into written form. Here's one such collection of memories in the form of a poem, written for the benefit of a later generation (or two).

What have I to give you,
being old, you ask.
What I have to give
being older (I say)
is this.

An early morning house
open to the summer.
The ragman calls:
"R-a-a-a . . .a-gs .
R-a-a-a . . .a-gs!"
The climbing, climbing note
reaches for the hilltop
where I live;
the slight break of his voice
like the horse's momentary halt
when she feels the wagon
level off behind her.

The most peculiar truck
I've ever seen.
The home-made look
of its tall, square sides sets off the cry:
"The knifeman, the knifeman!"
Dull blades and blunted scissors
crowd the darkness going in;
sharp edges and fierce points
are handed singly out.
The knifeman stands at the wheel,
wearing a heavy leather apron
and a wreath of flying sparks.

The fruitman,
his truck open on three sides.
His trade in slanted boxes
spilling color, draws us
from our play.
We gather,
if not for the freshest,
at least for the closest
fruit around.

The iceman to the very last box
in the neighborhood.
He drops the back end of his truck
and, framed by the wet darkness,
chops a chunk of coldness
and grunts it to his shoulder.
He lets the weight
push him unresisting toward the house.
To his back, the boldest and the biggest
leap into the chill
and gather up the slivered chips
and toss them into our hands,
our grubby summer hands,
where they leave a trail of clean
before they vanish in our dry and candied mouths.

And bubble gum
and licorice sticks
and ice cream trucks
and war-born headlines
in the nightly paper
and baseball cards
and aggies in a ring
and mothers calling supper
and hide-and-seek
in the shadows before bedtime . . .

But you have all these
and more, you interrupt?

Well, what is yours to give
pass on in your own way.
But this is how I live
my yesterday.

Nomi J. Waldman
January, 2007

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Created: August 18, 2007   Modified: August 18, 2007