Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 25, 2007 / 6 Shevat, 5767

A life in the family

By Paul Greenberg


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The voice on the answering machine was that of my favorite cousin — a sweet, always assuring voice I'd known since earliest childhood. It was just as slow and Southern as ever but this time you could hear the strain and hesitation in it, not just the always present consideration.


It was the voice of a woman with many calls still to make and many details still to arrange. I could see her face in my mind as I played the message again and again.


"Hi, Paul, this is Janice in New Orleans. I'm afraid I'm calling with some sad news. Uh, Dad hadn't been doing well for a while, and it was a steady decline, and, uh, this morning, he died a little before breakfast. We didn't come back from the funeral home until late this afternoon, and I've just spoken to the rabbi, and made arrangements, so I just wanted you to know, I don't expect you to come in, but I wanted you to know. We're going to have dad's funeral Tuesday at 11 here, and, uh, I'll be talking to you another time. Hope all is well with you. Bye-bye."


I can't say I was shocked. Just regretful that I wouldn't get to take Pinky to Galatoire's one more time. It's an old lesson mortals tend to forget: Never hesitate to follow up on a good impulse. We really don't have all the time in the world. We have very little, really.


The shock had come a couple of months ago — was it Thanksgiving or Christmas? — when Janice had called to say thanks for some Arkansas peanut brittle I'd sent her. (The best thing about sending holiday goodies to family is you get to hear from all of them.) When I'd asked about Pinky, she'd told me that they'd moved him from Assisted Living at the retirement home to Nursing Care — and he needed help to get into his wheelchair.


Pinky in a wheelchair? Impossible. Pinky unable to get out of bed? Outrageous. Couldn't be. Not if you knew Pinky, and I could swear just about everybody down there did. I told Janice I couldn't believe it.


"But, Paul," she said, "he's 98!"


I didn't care. He was Pinky Gardsbane! Indestructible. He's always been around. Always will be. He'll always have one more story to tell, one more sure tip to offer, one more fine vintage to sell, another steak to grill, another fund-raiser to organize for the synagogue or the high school cheerleading squad. . . . I refused to believe he wasn't the same old Pinky he'd always been.


That's when I heard Janice laugh, or maybe sigh, or maybe both.


"Paul," she said, "that's exactly what everybody else says when I tell them."


And there were a lot of everybody-elses. At the funeral, the stories flowed like the wine Pinky used to sell all over Louisiana — wholesale, retail and just for the heckuvit.


No one could think of a time when he wasn't in sales, although there was a story about his working for the Long machine back in the '30s in some vague capacity — one that required him to augment his considerable persuasive powers by carrying a sidearm. It was probably just a story, but with Pinky one never knew. The only thing certain is that no one who ever met Pinky, and a lot of folks did, ever forgot him. Or could.


It was my father who brought Pinky into the family, which hasn't been quite the same since. To an Orthodox Jew like Ben Greenberg, there was something scandalous about an eligible young man who'd reached the advanced age of 29 and was still single. Especially since my father had a nubile cousin waiting in Chicago.


And so Cousin Ann was invited down to Shreveport, there was a watermelon party out in the country at Rose Hill Lake, and nature took its course with only a wink and nudge from Ben Greenberg‹and from the womenfolk.


As I understand it, there was considerable discussion beforehand about the new, form-fitting bathing suits just coming into fashion in the summer of '37, and about just where attraction ended and impropriety began. In his late 90s in the nursing home, Pinky was still talking about how Ann looked in that bathing suit. Hence Janice and her whole row of siblings.


Some 50 years after that day at Rose Hill Lake, I would attend Ann and Pinky's golden anniversary party in a ballroom high atop the lights of New Orleans, along with their children, grandchildren and greats. My father had known it would work out. A born shoemaker, he could always find a match for a single. And he never made a better pair than Ann and Pinky.


The happy couple would spend a number of years raising kids in a small town on the Louisiana side of the Mississippi River where the fishing was good and Pinky ran what may have been the littlest liquor store with the biggest gross sales in those parts — at least until Mississippi went wet. I'm sure everything was on the up-and-up because Pinky always went by the book.


His book, anyway.


If there's anything meaner than a fellow who'll vote a town dry and then leave, it's got to be a whole state that'll vote itself wet without the least consideration for those who sell spirits just across the state line.


Which is how Ann, Pinky and family came to leave lovely Tallulah, La., and wind up in New Orleens, Land of Dreams.


My favorite Pinky story dates to his attendance at my own wedding to the daughter of an always convivial but quite proper Waco, Tex., banker. That's when I overheard my new father-in-law, Mr. Robert E. Levy, inquire of the small, rotund guest at his side: "And Mr. Gardsbane, what is it you do?"


I was interested in how Pinky would describe his friendly little enterprise by the side of the river, visualizing the long line of 18-wheelers I imagined must pull up every night to be loaded with good cheer for all those thirsty folks in only technically dry Mississippi. That's when I heard Pinky's always upbeat, confident, high-pitched, very Looziana voice respond: "Why, Mistah Levy, I'm in trans-po-ta-shun." And I have no doubt he was.


The whole extended family was there for the ride out to the little graveyard by the side of the Mississippi where we buried Pinky next to Ann.


It was much like the first part of any jazz funeral in New Orleans: slow and solemn. The rain poured down and the traffic clogged. It was as though the world were conspiring to hold onto Pinky as long as it could.


Then, with the Kaddish prayer said and all rituals duly observed, the tempo mounted on the way back — as at any jazz funeral. And every Pinky story we told topped the other. He would have liked that.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

Paul Greenberg Archives

© 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles