Friday, December 23, 2022

Shining an Inside Light on Antisemitism

 As Gilda and I stood in chilly Times Square Monday evening at a rally to “Shine a Light on Antisemitism” coordinated by UJA Federation of New York, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, American Jewish Committee of New York, Anti-Defamation League New York/New Jersey and the New York Board of Rabbis, my mind kept mulling past and present discriminatory acts against Jews. 

I don’t mean by Kanye West or the Proud Boys.  Or Donald Trump. By Nazis, tsars or Communists. By a Greco-Syrian king (it is, after all, Hanukkah), by churches, by the Ku Klux Klan. By schools and businesses practicing restrictive admission policies. By landlords and real estate holders locking out housing opportunities. By the individual who has no moral compunction to attack a Jew simply because the opportunity presented itself on the street. 

They and many more antisemites are easily identified. No, what I couldn’t get out of my mind is the question, Can a Jew act antisemitically to another Jew? Was it happening even as I stood at a rally with placards proclaiming “We stand together” and “Fight Jew Hatred”?

Let’s not dodge the issue any longer—policies being proposed in Israel by a new government coalition, some already in effect from prior coalitions, are patently discriminatory against Conservative and Reform Jews, against secular Jews, against women, against Jews that do not practice Judaism in the same manner as the Haredi, the ultra Orthodox, do. 

Jewish sages taught that the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, and the Judeans conquered and exiled, because of internecine conflict among Jewish sects, the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essenes. 

Such a teaching should instruct greater understanding of differences today, but discrimination and restrictions exist. Sadly, not every Jew is willing to openly discuss this topic. 

The other day a high school classmate from the Hebrew day school I attended—it was called a yeshiva but shouldn’t be confused with the extreme Orthodox establishments of today that barely touch on secular studies; back in the 1960s my school was a bastion of liberal democratic principles and profoundly Zionistic—my classmate wished all of our classmates a happy “Chanukah” along with the hope “that we experience the true meaning of the Chag [holiday] and continue to be a shining light to the entire world.”

Never one to pass up an opportunity to express my viewpoint, I commented back to the group, “Let us all hope that we Jews continue to be a shining light to the world though news from Israel continues to display a diminishing light in terms of religious tolerance, civil tolerance and democratic principles.”


He avoided entering a dialogue “because we differ quite a bit regarding religion and politics.” Sadly, no one else among my hundred or so classmates on the email exchange voiced an opinion. How chilling that basic human and religious rights were being ignored or were thought to be too sensitive a subject to discuss. 

My wife and I, practicing Conservative Jews, as well as those who follow Reform and Reconstruction Judaism, are not accorded the same religious rights and benefits as endowed on Orthodox Jews in Israel. Indeed, all Orthodox Jews are not equal in the eyes of the new Israeli government’s ultra Orthodox ministers. The rites of conversion, circumcision, marriage and divorce are not universally recognized and respected by the Haredi across all Jewish sects, including those practiced by many Orthodox believers. Access to the Western Wall and prayer there by women are restricted by the Haredi. 

What we are witnessing is a theocracy in the making in Israel. 

Classic forms of antisemitism encompass acts of discrimination—physical, verbal, regulatory—against a person or group identified as Jewish in religious practice, physical appearance, in name or heritage. The Haredi are going one step further—they are not recognizing the inherent Jewishness of those who do not believe as they do. 

So, can a Jew act antisemitically to another Jew?  Apparently, if they don’t consider that person to be Jewish. 

What they do not realize is that the act of dehumanizing your opponent, in this case dismissing their Jewishness, ultimately dehumanizes oneself. 

I have been admittedly harsh in my analysis. But not alone. With the announcement of a new government by Benjamin Netanyahu with extreme religious and right wing members holding key ministerial positions, AJC issued a deeply reflective and hopeful congratulatory statement:

“Due to AJC’s long-standing working relationships with Israeli government officials on shared priorities, as well as our profound admiration and respect for Israel’s vibrant democracy and civil society, we trust that Israel will continue to uphold the values that have allowed it to stand out as a beacon of freedom in the Middle East, and as a source of pride and spiritual sustenance for the Jewish people as a whole.

“AJC will continue to work closely with the Prime Minister and Israeli policy-makers to help ensure that the inflammatory rhetoric that has been employed by some members of the governing coalition—rhetoric unrepresentative of Israel’s democratic values, its role as a homeland for all Jews, and its unwavering quest for peace—will not define the domestic and foreign policies of the new government.

“We firmly believe that the Jewish and democratic State of Israel will continue to embrace all Jews regardless of their beliefs or practice; that it will strive to live up to its promise of equality for all its citizens, regardless of religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity; and that it will continue to pursue prospects for peace.”

Sunday, December 18, 2022

My Kind of Town—Chicago, Even in My Dreams

Chicago was always one of my favorite places to visit, a city I travelled to about half a dozen times a year when I covered retailing, the Windy City and its environs being home to some of our most notable merchants including Sears, Montgomery Ward, McDonalds, Crate & Barrel, Marshall Field, Carson Pirie Scott and Walgreens as well as several retail industry trade shows. 

I hadn’t been back since I retired more than 13 years ago. Until I went there in my dreams last night, or more precisely, early in the morning. 

I found myself attending a citizens meeting contesting a problem with city water. It was burning children’s eyes. Always a battle to get kids to wash their faces properly, parents were vocally letting city officials know they did not appreciate the added burden imposed on their efforts. 

They were less than enthusiastic about the solution offered—free bottles with clean water laced with and an anti-stinging solution. Sorta reminded me of the “Look Ma, no tears” ad campaign Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo ran on television when I was a kid back in the 1950s. 

Now, why this imagined civic dilemma invaded my slumber is beyond me. I could easily have reminisced about interviews with retail executives, or some of the great meals I enjoyed in what is considered to be one of America’s best restaurant towns. Or my trips to Wrigley Field or Comiskey Park to watch, respectively, the Cubs and White Sox play. Or maybe I might have meandered in my dream along Michigan Avenue’s Miracle Mile of world class retailing. After all, the Chain Store Age-Lebhar-Friedman office at 444 N. Michigan Avenue was at the southern tip of the retail mecca. 

I’ve always disliked water in my eyes. To this day I keep my eyelids tightly shut while shampooing my hair. In summer camp when learning to swim as a child I wore big, round, green rubber goggles that made me look like a frog. I never learned to swim, even after goggles became more sleek, trim and plastic. 

Every Friday at summer camp the camp “mother” would be a dreaded visitor to our bunk. We weren’t trusted to wash our own hair before shabbat began later that evening. She would squeeze and knead our locks between her strong fingers as we bent over a sink. It wasn’t until a few decades or so ago that I finally realized she was checking us out for head lice. Happily, she never found any among my bunkmates and me. 

Back to my dream. It finally ended in the back seat of a taxi cab. Chicago taxis never impressed me with their cleanliness or comfort. And the one in my dream was true to my experience. Black plastic interior with no padding. No shock absorbers to cushion the impact of the choppy roadway. 

As we chugged slowly along the Kennedy Expressway in bumper to bumper traffic on the way in to the city from O’Hare Airport, I was reminded of the description one cabbie told me about Chicago’s perennial road conditions. 

“Chicago has two seasons,” he said. “Winter and construction.”    

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Connecting to A Painful Point of History

News that the suspected Libyan bombmaker responsible for blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988, is now in American custody is another example of why I write a blog that ties historical, personal and current events to incidents and people in my life. 

Among the 259 passengers who perished aboard that fateful airplane was one of my cousins, Mark Alan Rein (another 11 Scottish innocents died on the ground).

Alan, as he was commonly known, was the treasurer of Salomon Bros., a Wall Street firm. A 1965 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, my cousin was just 44 years old, married, the father of two children, Nicole, 12, and Alexander, 9. He was returning from a trip to England before going on a vacation with his wife, Denice, to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary.

In truth, though Alan was just five years older, I have few memories of him. His father, Moe, was my father’s first cousin. I vaguely recall going to Alan’s bar mitzvah, but our families rarely socialized. One memory I have is visiting their apartment. Alan’s mother suffered from multiple sclerosis. I also remember being proud I had a cousin attending Annapolis.

Alan’s funeral was held at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan. It was the first and only time I have been inside this edifice, considered the largest and one of the most beautiful synagogues in the world. Almost all of its 2,500 seats were occupied. Alan’s older brother, Bert, delivered a eulogy. Bert is a well-connected Washington lawyer who has frequently appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court representing conservative and business interests.

I am forever amazed at the single degree of separation I have to many events and people in the news.  

Friday, December 9, 2022

A Night at the Opera and Singing Along with Mitch

Many of my blogs relate my experiences to current newsworthy happenings. Today’s entry is different. It focuses on the experience of someone I worked with for nearly 20 years. 

John Donoghue was a bear of a man. Irish in demeanor and character. In other words, lots of blarney and grand storytelling. Almost always with a smile on his cherubic, fleshy face, except when he contemplated where exactly he had left the keys to his rental car (usually on the roof of the sedan), or exactly how to get the wax out of his ears (usually with one of the keys retrieved from the top of the car).  

John sold advertising for Chain Store Age so successfully that he became its national sales manager and then the regional manager of the parent company’s Los Angeles office. His family relocated to Agoura Hills, a suburb of LA.  

This reverie about John was prompted by an article in the Thursday Arts section of The New York Times. Joshua  Barone provided a first person account of what it was like as a non singing extra during a performance at the Metropolitan Opera. Specifically, being an Egyptian soldier in Act II’s Triumphal Scene of “Aida” (

During his early adult years in New York, John engaged his larger than life persona with stints as an extra at the Met. Until he served as an extra for Aida. 

Unlike many current performances of Aida, back then the Triumphal Scene was filled not just with human extras but also with creatures, some exotic, including camels. 

Standing stage right (that’s the left side viewed by the audience), John stood in full Egyptian soldier attire, his hand holding a spear. He was silent as instructed until a camel stepped on his foot. Excruciating pain sent him scurrying across the stage. 

His devotion to opera notwithstanding, his cross-stage jaunt made him persona non grata for any future stints as an extra at the Met. 

OK, Now a Story About Me: Bob McGrath died this week. 

If you ever watched “Sesame Street” before 2016 you would recognize his face. He was Bob, “reliably smiling, easygoing and polite” in the neighborhood since the inception of Sesame Street in November 1969 (

My exposure to Bob McGrath predates Sesame Street. It goes back to his time as a lead singer on “Sing Along with Mitch,” a favorite television show of my father and brother.

I, on the other hand, preferred “The Untouchables.” Problem was, both shows aired at the same time. In those pre-VCR/DVR days, with only one TV set in our household, fights were bound to break out. 

“Sing Along with Mitch” aired on NBC between 1961 and 1964. “The Untouchables” ran on ABC from 1959 to 1963. 

One particular week I was not to be denied. I screamed and yelled and cried. I made enough noise to drown out any hopes Bernie and our father had to enjoy the gang singing along with Mitch. 

Of course, by the time they finally gave in, Eliot Ness was already deep into his crime-fighting episode. Mobster Frank Nitti could have already been arrested, or better yet, machine gunned, by the time I was able to switch the TV to Channel 7.

Our confrontations lasted through “The Untouchables’” last season in 1963. After that, for the next year we all watched the bouncing ball above the words on the screen, singing along with Mitch and Bob. 

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Just Who Is Austin Pendleton and Why I Am I So Excited to See Him

Wednesday night, for the third time in my life, I saw Austin Pendleton live. 

Some, perhaps many of you, are wondering, who is Austin Pendleton? 

He is an award winning actor, director and playwright. If you’ve seen the movie “My Cousin Vinny,” he played the hapless small town Southern lawyer first engaged to defend two young New Yorkers, played by Ralph Maccio and Stan Rothenstein, accused of murder. 

“Hapless” characterizes many of the roles the 82-year-old Pendleton has played throughout his career. Imagine Woody Allen without one-liners. 

The first time I saw him I was barely 15, sitting in the mezzanine of the Imperial Theatre in late 1964 or early 1965. He portrayed Motel the Tailor in the original Broadway cast of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Fast forward 45 years. As audience members milled about during intermission of a Playwrights Horizons performance, I walked over to shake the hand of a slightly older gentleman not arousing interest from any other theatergoer. As Gilda and our friends Ken and Jane looked on, I told him I had seen him in “Fiddler on the Roof.”Austin Pendleton was grateful for the recognition so many years later, both for his acting and for being recognized and remembered.

Fast forward another decade. Wednesday night at the Helen Hayes Theatre during intermission of “Between Riverside and Crazy,” directed by Pendleton, I walked up to him and related our last encounter. 

He smiled graciously. He asked my name. He said he remembered me. I’m not naive enough to believe that, though he did suggest that “Murray Forseter” is an unusual, unique name. 

His response struck a chord. Among my first year blog postings in 2012 was the story of the only day I cut classes in high school. That day, unknown to anyone in advance, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then known as Lew Alcindor, and his Power Memorial teammates would scrimmage Erasmus Hall’s basketball team on a neutral court, the gym of my school, the Yeshivah of Flatbush. 

Power Memorial was the top parochial school basketball team in New York. Erasmus was the top ranked public school squad. Erasmus was coached by Bernie Kirsner. Bernie also coached the Flatbush team, so it was easy for him to arrange Flatbush as the neutral site for the faceoff. 

In the blog I wrote Bernie had a keen eye for evaluating player talent. He had rightfully ended my hope of playing for Flatbush. I was, and remained so throughout my basketball playing days, a lousy dribbler. He saw that right away. 

A few months after the blog story ran I received an email from Bernie Kirsner, then enjoying retirement in Florida. His daughter had forwarded the blog to him. 

When I asked how it was that he remembered me, he replied the same way Austin Pendleton did: “A name like Forseter is unique. It’s not like you were a Cohen or a Schwartz.”  

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

For Trump, Shades of "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day"

Tuesday was not a very good day for The Donald. It was, to cite the well-regarded children’s book about Alexander, a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”

The denier-in-chief was denied once more by the citizens of Georgia. They rejected his hand-picked candidate, the superbly unqualified Herschel Walker, a chance to represent them. Though the Senate no longer is a legislative body admired for its soaring rhetoric and profound deliberations, Walker was perceived as someone who could barely speak cogently or truthfully. After days of casting ballots, voters denied Trump the opportunity to place his plantation Negro in the U.S. Senate.   

Meanwhile, up in New York, a Superior Court jury found one of Trump’s companies guilty on all 17 counts of illegally evading taxes through a scheme to compensate employees with perks, including free housing and cars, instead of salary as a ploy to incur lower income taxes. 

The verdict could lead to more charges, possibly including action against Trump himself. 

Another Meanwhile: In Washington, the House Select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol indicated it would likely recommend federal charges be filed against Trump henchmen, potentially even against the instigator- in-chief. 

A Third Meanwhile: The Special Prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland issued subpoenas to Trump operatives in three states (Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin) where the insurrectionist-in-chief sought to overthrow the will of the people that Joe Biden be their president. 

All in all, not the Super Tuesday the headline-seeker-in-chief expected. 

I, for one, cannot imagine living through a second Trump presidency. Yet, in a macabre, perverted way, I embrace the prospect of his running as the Republican Party’s 2024 nominee. I’m also tight with Kevin McCarthy becoming speaker of the House of Representatives with its wildcat members including Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Paul Gosar. 

Why? Because it would put in stark relief how our citizens value America. If they choose Trump and his cadre of election deniers and blowhards they would sign onto following a cheat, a dissembler, a crybaby who has even advocated throwing out the Constitution so that he could be declared the 2020 victor and reinstalled in the White House. 

They would certify as kosher politicians who failed to forcefully defend the Constitution both in the aftermath of January 6 and Trump’s call for Constitution abrogation.    

If voters choose the Democratic Party nominee—regardless if it is Joe Biden seeking a second term or   another candidate—it would demonstrate their commitment to a government of laws and programs intended to benefit all, actions on infrastructure, prescription drug pricing, job creation, low unemployment, gun control, climate and environmental protection. 

Yes, there is some risk that Trump would be able to hoodwink swing voters in battleground states (I am not naive enough to believe solidly red state voters have enough intelligence to finally pierce his facade of caring for them).  

I am willing to take that risk so that we might finally put the egotist-in-chief out to political pasture once and for all.  

Monday, December 5, 2022

Lessons From Camp Siegfried

Can it happen here?

Gilda and I caught the final performance of “Camp Siegfried” at Second Stage Theater Sunday. It’s a provocative, disturbing play set in 1938 at a summer camp for German, or rather, would-be Hitler youths in Yaphank, Long Island. 

Don’t think for a moment this was a playwright’s creation. Such a camp truly existed, an extension of the German American Bund seeking to mold maleable minds to thoughts of Aryan superiority ( 

The camp prospered in the 1930s, closing only after America joined the Allies in the war to defeat the Axis Powers in Germany, Italy and Japan. 

Perhaps the most powerful line of the play comes near the end when the young female lead relates to her boyfriend a conversation she had with a doctor. 

“Anyone can fall into anything really. Anyone can be seduced,” the doctor told her. 

It’s too late for me to recommend the play. Yet it’s warning that, as in the 1930s, seductive forces are at play throughout our country is unmistakeable. We are witnessing an unimaginable surge of racist, homophobic and antisemitic activity by individuals including public figures, alt-right groups and government entities and officials. 

Camp Siegfried elevated bias, planting or reinforcing parental beliefs of discrimination in pliable minds of a younger generation.

Truth is, I spent my summers in the 1950s-1960s in Jewish camps that were just as dedicated as Camp Siegfried in pursuit of indoctrinating campers, not to an ideology of superiority and discrimination but rather to the values of Judaism and Zionism. No doubt, there were some who distilled the message differently. They were transformed into bigoted, egotistical ideologues. 

They were the exception, though recent actions in Israel would suggest discrimination by Jews may be becoming more common, even against fellow tribesmen who do not share their level of religious observance. 

2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the film “Cabaret,”considered by many one of Hollywood’s best. Through the interplay of characters the audience sees the transformation of German society into Nazi extremism.

A pivotal scene near the end of “Caberet” is of a blond youth singing in a beer garden about the future belonging to him. He is dressed in the uniform of the Nazi Youth. Those listening to him, it is gradually revealed, are similarly garbed in Nazi attire. 

To accommodate another couple, Gilda and I reluctantly went to an Octoberfest beer garden in Queens in 1977. Sitting at a long picnic table, nursing our beers as Germanic music played, we were stunned when the music stopped and the crowd enthusiastically shouted, “Heil.” But what was truly chilling was the smiling, nodding heads staring at us from nearby tables. In my lifetime before and since I have never felt so obviously Jewish. And out of place. We quickly departed.

Perhaps, most probably because I am Jewish, as are most of my friends, and we are mostly septuagenarians or older, we are keenly aware of Naziism and World War II. We did not require metaphors, science fiction shoot-em ups, to learn about the dangers of fascism, totalitarianism, and mass killings of innocents. The Holocaust was made part of our intimate education. 

I wonder, how much do generations later than mine know about World War II, how easy it has become to manipulate masses into hating, how susceptible our government has become to leaders who lie, repeatedly lie,  through their own words and deeds, aided by a complicit media that values revenue more than truth? 

Antisemitism is but one of the scourges affecting America and the rest of the world. Never completely eradicated, it was thought to be on the wane a decade ago. How naive we have been shown to be.

Listen to Senior Rabbi Steve Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple of LosAngeles deliver a short commentary on that unfortunate reality during Sunday’s “CBS Sunday Morning” (


Sunday, December 4, 2022

Thoughts You Might Have Missed

Liberal columnist Maureen Dowd every year around Thanksgiving gives her brother an opportunity to use her space in The New York Times to express his conservative views. I’m not that ecumenical. 

I don’t have to be. My sister Lee is as, or even more, liberal than I. She follows more left-wing sites than I do, so, in case you, too, have not signed onto them, herewith are some of her recent repostings that you might not have seen:

“Georgia voters, Hershel (sic) Walker LIVES in Texas because he doesn’t want to pay GA state income taxes. Is that really who you want to represent you in DC? He won’t support your state with his tax money, but wants you to pay him a Senators (sic) salary.” —The Other 98%

“Republican Newt Gingrich on Joe Biden: ‘Republicans must learn to quit underestimating this President. 

‘Conservatives’ hostility to the Biden administration on our terms tends to blind us to just how effective Biden has been.

‘Biden’s team had one of the best first term off-year elections in history.’

“Damn. Even Biden’s enemies can’t deny he gets shit done.” —The Other 98%

“Ron DeSantis is just as bad, if not worse, than Trump.

“Don’t be fooled by his ability to form complete sentences.” —The Other 98%

“The two richest men on the planet are laying off workers before Christmas. And you thought Scrooge was fiction.” —The Other 98%

“Elon Musk Wealth

2012: $2 billion

2022: $221 billion

“Jeff Bezos Wealth

2012: $18 billion

2022: $134 billion

“Warren Buffett Wealth

2012: $44 billion

2022: $101 billion

“Federal Minimum Wage

2009: $7.25 an hour

2022: $7.25 an hour

“5 words: Tax billionaires out of existence” —Warren Gunnels cited on More Perfect Union

“I have become more radical in the last 5 years than in all my days at college, law school, and 41 years of practicing law. They say one gets more conservative as they get older, and I say, not if you’re paying attention.” — SandaBlueDeux, Juris Doctor

“When rich CEOs brag about how many hours they work, remember that they have servants who clean their house, cook their meals, and do their shopping.

“When you have to do these things for yourself, it doesn’t count as ‘working,’ mysteriously.” — The Other 98%

“Now would be a good time to stop worshipping billionaires.” — Robert Reich

“Great leaders are not the best at everything. They find people who are the best at different things and get them all on the same team.” — The Real Fire Officer

“The gunman was stopped by two unarmed men in a gay club. He was firing and they fought him, they saved countless lives. They weren’t police. Just citizens tired of this and refusing to let their friends die. Courage under fire. Peak bravery.

“Wish they had been in Uvalde.” — @TitusNation

“Gay People aren’t shooting up straight night clubs.

“Black people aren’t shooting up white grocery stores.

“Latinos aren’t shooting up Walmarts.

“Jewish people aren’t shooting up Christian churches.

“The violence is coming from one demographic: Alt-right radicalized men.” — Leslie007 on Occupy Democrats

“If selling a gay couple a wedding cake means a ‘Christian’ baker participated in their marriage, does selling a gun to a murderer mean a ‘Christian’ gun store owner participated in the murder?” — Occupy Democrats


Thursday, December 1, 2022

A Luncheon to Remember at El Quijote

Did you see “CBS Sunday Morning” this past Sunday? Specifically, did you catch its profile of the revival underway at the historic 140-year-old Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street in Manhattan? No matter. Here’s a link to the video report:

Once home, or passing residence, to luminaries including Andy Warhol, Mark Twain, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Sarah Bernhardt, Jack Kerouac, Jackson Pollack, and Leonard Cohen, the Chelsea is a landmark of history.

I never stayed at the Chelsea but I had one of my most memorable meals under its wing, at El Quijote, the Spanish restaurant housed along the hotel’s western street facade. The eatery’s neon red nameplate sign is visible at the beginning of the video. 

The year was 1988. For reasons too painful, too disturbing, to explain at this moment, my employer (Lebhar-Friedman) chose to close down in January the edition of Chain Store Age of which I was the editor and publisher. It would be 10 months before I was reassigned to another edition of Chain Store Age as editor and associate publisher, eventually named publisher until I retired in July 2009.

During those 10 months I was essentially mothballed but kept busy starting and writing a newsletter, Restaurant Personnel Management. Aside from keeping me on the payroll until a suitable executive position opened up, I also had the exquisite task of finding ways to spend $20,000 in American Express credits.

You see, during the last year of my defunct magazine’s existence, we bartered ad space for a line of American Express credit. By the time we closed the books at the end of January we had just over $20,000 in money owed us. 

I wandered over to my business manager and offered the AmEx credit card. Accounting had no way of accounting for this money so I was told to spend it on my newsletter and other corporate expenses, one of which became a luncheon with my art director Milton, production director Stan, and head of maintenance Dominic. 

Milton had recently turned 62, Stan soon to be 57, Dominic of undetermined comparable age, who, like Milt and Stan, had decades-long service with Lebhar-Friedman. I was the youngster of the group, a mere 40 years old, just 11 years with the company. More than just inviting my friendship, they also welcomed the credit card in my wallet. 

We cabbed down to El Quijote around noon. We started with some liquid libation. Having never been to the restaurant we asked our waiter for a recommendation. He suggested a specialty of the house—shrimp in green sauce. Four orders, por favor, seƱor. 

It might be hyperbole, but never to my memory have I enjoyed a more delicious luncheon meal. Baskets of fresh bread soaked up the garlic-infused green sauce. We kept drinking. We had dessert.

All the while Milt, Stan and Dom regaled me with stories of past and some present L-F employees. Finally, around 3 pm, we determined it would be judicious to return to the office at 425 Park Avenue, not that any of us were in any form or shape to do any work for the rest of the afternoon.

El Quijote no longer serves lunch. I’ve been back just once, with Gilda years ago. The shrimp in green sauce, while good, did not match my memory. 

Milton and I still see each other several times a year, COVID permitting. He’ll be 97, Saturday. Several of his paintings adorn our home. My favorite is a self-portrait hanging in our living room. I tell him and everyone that asks about him that in his black crewneck sweater he looks like a Portuguese fisherman.  

After retirement Stan moved to Lafayette, Calif., to be closer to his son and daughter and their families. He liked nothing more than driving his grandchildren around. He passed away earlier this year. He was 91. 

Dominic died first. Before he retired he gave me some Lebhar-Friedman memorabilia—a chair and bronze pole lamp from Arnold D. Friedman’s office and a 32-inch bronze Chain Store Age nameplate from the old offices at 2 Park Avenue. It is a featured memento on our living room bookshelves.