Volume 3, Number 186
'There's a Jewish story everywhere'

Thursday-Tuesday, September 24-28, 2009

Book Serialization

I'm still here ... Memoirs of Laura Simon, 103

Mannie Dies .... Read more Letters to Mannie .... Read more

Editor's Note: Today San Diego Jewish World continues the-weekly serialization of I'm Still Here by Laura Simon, a San Diego resident who is still going strong at 103. She wrote this book to mark her 100th birthday.

We will maintain a list of links to the installments of her story on Laura Simon's archive page, which can be accessed any day of the week through the "authors" pulldown tab below our masthead. Laura, who once painted canvases in vivid colors, today is legally blind, so she is unable to read e-mail. However, she says anyone who wishes to contact her may do so through the e-mail of her son, New York playwright Mayo Simon at mayosimon@aol.com The book may be purchased via its publisher's website, www.montezumapublishing.com or via Amazon or Barnes & Noble's websites.

Link to previous chapters

By Laura Simon

Manny Dies

It was the opening of one of Mayo’s plays off-Broadway. Mannie sending the telegram only a few hours earlier; still saying “You should have gone, Laura, without me – you’ve never missed an opening of his plays. I just don’t feel up to it, but you go. “ No, I didn’t want to go without him. He said he had a backache and didn’t want to see a doctor. He never wanted to see any doctor.

So I called mine. “I know that he’s not your patient, but could you make a house call anyway?

A backache.” Mannie takes the phone away and is told, “I think you should go to the hospital.”

“Now that I’m talking to you I’m feeling better.”

“Please come anyway!” The doctor is on his way, Mannie getting into pajamas and I’m puttering around in the bathroom. Suddenly running to him, hearing a groan. He’s rolling off the
bed. I roll him back, and rolling back into my arms, I don’t feel his weight. I lower him carefully to the floor trying my few lessons of heart resuscitation, patting his face, “Mannie, Mannie,” no response, he needed more help than I could give him. “Operator – Operator, my husband just collapsed. Send me help right away.”

Paramedics came running up the stairs from poolside, “When did it happen?”

“Just now, this minute, this second.” Keeping me out of the bedroom. In moments we’re in the ambulance, sirens. “Clear the way, a man just had a heart attack.” An aneurysm, I was to learn later.

I’m in the waiting room, Walter Cronkite and world news on the air, a doctor is giving me Mannie’s high school graduation ring and watch, saying, “You can go in to see him now if you like, but we would rather you remember him as he was.” As he was? From the time I was sixteen to when he took his last breath in my arms? “Always wear your hat, Laura, when you go out. You don’t like the sun.” Those were the last words he ever said to me. “Always wear your hat.” I am still here.

Someone drove me home. I was numb, worn out. I waited alone up in his leather swivel chair, remembering how he was as the doctor asked me to.

“He leaves a great legacy, his good name.” In those dreaded telephone calls to Mayo and Sydelle. “You can always remember his honesty, his kindnesses. That’s how he was, who he was.”

When I got the news, it was nine o’clock New York time, Mayo was sitting in the theater watching his play unfold, Sydelle and Norman in Florida on vacation. Just as night faded away, I
called them with the shocking news their father was dead. For Mannie and me we had six months of our new world, San Diego. Until February, 1980.

Our childhoods are stamped on us, set solid in our bones, like the scars on Mannie’s arm from when his shirt caught fire. I couldn’t escape my childhood and neither could he, born a twin, the other dying at birth. He was given away to a nursing mother for over a year to save his life, not cuddled by his own mother until he weighed enough. Florence Simon, his mother, her husband and two-year-old Mannie came to America from Poland, with bundles of crocheting and candlesticks that I still have.

Play acting a cigarette with what they called a punk in those days when he was twelve, a thin stick lit on one end touched his shirt, an episode of two years in St. Elizabeth Hospital on the
Northwest side of Chicago, skin grafts from his legs patched to his arm, leaving it terribly scarred as though chunks were taken out of it, red and raw looking. That one time errand of one block to the grocery to buy a loaf of bread changed his destiny, a fear of doctors. Not as strong physically as he
would have liked to have been. That burn made him feel he wasn’t as good as the next person.

Just when we were beginning to think that a whole new world was opening up for us in San Diego. I thought that he was finally beginning to listen to me, “Doctors will help you. You have a special place in this life.” He kind of laughed at that.

“What do you mean this life? Did I ever have a different life? Are you going into reincarnation now, Laura? Maybe I’m living the life of the twin of mine that died at birth.” He was nearly dead himself at birth. And then the episode with the burn.
Nothing would stop Mannie. Nothing stops anybody until things happen to their bodies, their minds, until the outside world comes along to interfere with wars and depressions, until the doctor, the hospital, the medications, and the aging creep up on us and suddenly we’re old and still going along with our dreams.

Letters to Mannie

Dear Mannie:
If I could, I would tell you now I have buried away the memory of the time when you turned the key, closing the door to the lumber yard for the last time. How you stepped
into the house in deepest hurt, in deepest regrets. The yard had been your life. You said that the auctioneers had their own men bidding and stole everything from you. You just stood there crying.

“Everybody was paid to the last penny. Nobody lost anything, Laura, just us.” You couldn’t keep it afloat not only for us but for your silent partners who always looked at you as inferior because they put up the money. Life is filled with mistakes. You were President of the company; they pulled the

It took strength to build that yard, and more to close it; to tear down what was left of it, of your friendships of twenty-five years, other lumber people all meeting at Kirie’s for lunch
exchanging ideas, strengthening each other through competition, which gave you the vitality, the confidence to become president of the Chamber of Commerce, a bank director, and suddenly you are thrown, punched down into a swivel chair. I understood your tears. Worst your feelings of guilt and shame. You had lost the five thousand dollars, your mother’s hard-worked-for savings that she
had left you.

Dear Mannie:
Can you believe it’s the year 2002 and I’m still here? I write another letter to you, letters that I’ve saved all these years in my secret heart. I’ve said it many times, maybe not enough, “Mannie, you’ve been my guardian angel. Only yesterday when I had to grocery shop.

Paying my rent in the office, a man paying his rent too, just said, ‘Can I give you a lift?’ I was taken aback knowing that I’m not young and beautiful anymore. For you time has stood still. You are just as you were in my mind. And believing that you are watching over me is my driving force. Believing used to give me energy. “You want adventure, Laura? Go on an adventure,” you would say, “get it out of your system.”

These days now to shop for cole slaw and pickled herring is just as strenuous an adventure.

How am I getting home? There’s no cab in the area. From nowhere a woman appears – “You only live a block away from me. I can take you home.” I climb up into the car. But rereading this letter it doesn’t sound too exciting. Maybe if I were Simone de Beauvoir, a letter writer like her, “I love you passionately, my dear little bee.” If I could only write like that, but you, Mannie, were no Sartre either, so we’re even.

“Laura, chop chop, some breakfast. It’s raining on track and the lumber will get all wet and the freight is piling up, and Fred was kidnapped last week, still afraid of his shadow, and Carla is behind in the books.”

Dear Mannie: Somehow as I sit alone in my living room tonight, I feel your hand at my shoulder. “You look gorgeous, Laura. Have a good time.” “Sure,” I am thinking. I was like a widow.

You never wanted to go anywhere with me and I had to do things alone. “You look gorgeous, Laura, have a good time.” When you bought stock and it went down, you would say, it’s never a loss, unless you sell it. I was the one then who battled the stockbrokers. I was the one who had to go finally to sell it. Maybe that was good. I learned how to battle the world. You are saying, “Things have a way of working out, you’ll see. I am always with you in some way. I love you, Laura.”

Dear Mannie: You and I used to talk about the children. Can it really show what enrichment children have in their homes in poverty? What kind of future could our children have with a mother who was still trying to find out who she was -- learning now what I should have when I was young. I saw how college graduates were digging up streets for a dollar a day just to feed their families. You always said, ‘We’ll just have to sweat out this terrible Depression; you’re surely not going out to
work. Our children are not going to wander around in the streets growing up street-wise. There’s more to life than that. There’s common law and accounting.’”

When we were married in the Roaring Twenties, I expected that the world would roar on forever. World War One and Spanish Influenza already behind us, my deaf problems still with me.

The Jazz Age jazzing it up and blinding us to the bad times ahead, now wondering if a higher income doesn’t help in our values that we pass on to our children. That stealing a few potatoes is high crime for the poor. If they don't have bread they can eat cake, or let them go hungry.

The Depression made us wary. Remember when we used to walk and worry, Mayo wanting to become a writer, and what would become of him? I wish you could see him now.

Dear Mannie: Now and then some of your words pop up and they are very precious to me. You were always trying to teach me logic, I being so naïve and all. But the world has changed.
Typewriters have become obsolete, and I now write longhand.
You used to say, “You should have given up years ago, Laura.”
That part of my book, “My History in Medicine,” digging out of my memory episodes that were put away to make place for the new, never expecting widowhood. Now I cry the tears that I should have cried a long time ago.

Dear Mannie: Instead of taking advantage of this glorious February day, I write you a letter. I’m reliving in memory some of these pictures in the double frame I’m dusting on my coffee table.

You and me sitting on our blue sofa, all laughter, all fun, you criticizing my painting above us. You’re saying, “I’m like putty in your hands, Laura. I love you. You can have anything you want but just don’t take my picture. I don’t need my picture taken.” You were more receptive when we were on top of the Empire State Building, having our pictures taken, drinking champagne. I see that picture now, touching your face. The bathing beauty of Miami Beach. A photographer on the sand
snapped my picture for two dollars. Considering that I am always saying, “We have no control over our destiny,” I could have changed mine a little then, I think. You were always sticking to your guns, “It’s not destiny, it’s just chance.” You take the chance – of course you don’t know the outcome,
your destiny.

Not all then fun and games in happiness depicted on a picture, from the blue sofa he went to sit alone, solemn, always worried about his lumber yard. Our winter vacations were usually at the Promenade in Miami Beach. At times you shortened
our stay to get back to the office.

“Wish I could be in two places at once,” you used to say. “Just enjoy yourself.” Later finding a message at the front desk, “I finally brought logs home for the fireplace, Laura. How about coming home?”

Dear Mannie: I already had my fun, as usual. Took the jitney to Collins and Lincoln Road to follow elderly people into the park toward the guitar playing familiar melodies to discordant voices of the old.

How they enjoyed themselves dancing down the path holding hands – women in colorful skirts, lace shawls and leaves in their hair, pulling the men along under a bower of trees. Superior to jumping around like that were the idealists, would-be poets, Talmudic scholars discussing ancient history of
Eastern Europe. I finding a space close by to listen until the sprinklers came on and the crowds had to disperse.

Mannie, one day you called me from the office early in the morning. “I’m taking the day off, Laura. Get ready – we’re going to the races.”

We’re up at the racing fence, programs in hand; we’re watching the horses parading by on the track. As one of the men at the community center once told me when he was in the army in
Belgium, he remembered the long line of men looking over prostitutes in their glass cubicles. Busy deciding which one to choose for their good time.

At the races, I called out, “That one’s going to win. That one’s going to win.” You thought they were all going to win. “Laura, please,” you said, “You go stand over there.” You didn’t need
me. My expertise. My intuition. To spoil your luck. You could bet your $2 without my help. In those days I wasn’t senile, not even part of the time. Standing alone in that big crowd watching the horses parade by, I see on the board a long, long shot. The name on my program – Rafty. I moved up
closer to the fence. I saw him parading by again with the others. I don’t know—he’s a horse with four legs. A shrimp of a little guy riding him. But why are they paying a fortune for a $2 bet, I thought. You can’t fool all the people all the time, so I bet him.

The race is on. As everyone expected, he lagged way behind the others. Rafty is crawling up. A woman yelling, “Hinten! Hinten! Er lauft. He is running. Hinten. Hinten. With your whip, hit him!” with her help of “hinten” this fooler Rafty won way out in front, no problem. I won! I nearly dropped dead and the people are dropping dead around me. Why didn’t they
bet him?

Going up to collect the money, there you are running toward me, remember. “You bet him?” you called out. I nodded my head. “Ahhhh. Wonderful.” Clasping his hands high in the air. “That’s my Laura.”

“How many tickets?” holding up his hand. “One? Only one?”

“No,” I said, “three.”

Well, now he really loves me even though he doesn’t know why I am so naïve anymore, coming up with a hug for me and you said, “Give me the tickets. I’ll collect it for you.”

Rafty had started me thinking about a writing career. I called the racing board. “Could you give me some history on that horse, Rafty? I am going to write an article about him. I won on three winning tickets.” The man said, “You had three winning tickets on Rafty? A dumb woman like you wants to be a writer? You should be betting the horses, not writing. I don’t want to talk about that rotten horse. I want to kill him.”

Those were fun days, weren’t they, Mannie?

Dear Mannie:
I’m thinking back to the closing of the lumberyard. Without it, there were no more trips for you to Oregon, to Weyerhauser. The talk of lumber with your lumber friends, the meetings for lunch everyday at Kirie’s. Those friendships gave you vitality. When the lumberyard
closed, it took a part of you.

Dear Mannie: I remember you sitting in your swivel chair, watching the stock market on TV with such anguish. You were stubborn, determined. Gold was going down. “Gold will go up.
Continental Copper will never die,” you said, all the while it was sinking.

You buried your head in a pillow and I tried to convince you, “Your mother would understand depression days.” She would also know that you needed medical help. You wouldn’t
hear of it. I couldn’t find a psychiatrist to come to the house to help. You wouldn’t go to one. I knew you were sick with grief, mostly over your mother and how she had suffered before she died. The lumber just piled up over your head. Many years have passed since then. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that money does not pay for everything.

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Dear Mannie: I’m telling to myself in another letter – should I have that cataract removed from my other eye?

“Don’t think about it, Laura, it’ll get better if you just leave it alone.” As you would always say.

“But I have a few years left and I’d be more assured of my independence with a little moreeyesight – I just don’t want to stare at the wall and half dream away.”

“Voted last Tuesday. I’m keeping the Republicans out, knowing how you’d fight. The Depression, remember? How guys jumped out of windows? They couldn’t start over on their remaining millions, thinking about you not being here when the stock market kept going up for years.”

“I told you so, Laura, remember? If you don’t sell, you don’t take a loss.”

“Yes, you were always right, but now, Mannie, it’s a different world, a different universe.”

And that’s what a man in our senior group said when looking up a friend from way back in his youth. When young they hit it off so great together – such good times even when they had wives.

Suddenly they lose track of each other.

When they finally met up again, hard as they tried, the friendship could not be pieced together again. They were in different worlds.

Same with us, Mannie. If you suddenly came to my door, could we pick up where we left off?

So many years. So many things have happened to me, you wouldn’t know me anymore. I am now grown up.

Dear Mannie, I’m still here in San Diego and writing you a short note. I couldn’t find a doctor then to come to the house to help you, and you wouldn’t go to one or get out of bed. Grief-stricken mostly for your mother and how she suffered before she died; diabetic -- they were going to amputate her leg, and the lumber problems on top of that – got you down. The Jewish Family Service, The Christian Science Reading Room, I brought you healing magazines, I read Mary Baker
Eddy as if to become a Christian Science practitioner, going to the synagogue every Friday evening and Saturday mornings. I’ll learn all about Rashi and his teachings with the old men Friday mornings and in one big package bring it back home at your bedside, just as I brought you trays.

“All I want, Laura, is a hamburger.” You would say, hardly eating that much.

Then when you had your heart attack, you needed more help than what my few heart resuscitation lessons could give you. And you could do nothing to help yourself. I’ll learn how to
pray in sign language, going in circles I was becoming a self-made psychologist.

Dear Mannie: As always, I still remember the apple does not fall far from the tree. You had your mother’s kindness. Remembering how she filled a big bag of rye bread for a little boy to bring to his family. Once giving fifty dollars to a long-time-no-see nephew and hearing his sad story of his
vegetable soup restaurant that needed more vegetables than he could afford. That’s why he was so fat. Not from riches.

“That was a lot of money you gave him, Ma.”

“That’s all right. Now I’ll never see him again.”

Then relating a story of how a man came in with a gun. “Open that drawer and give me your money.” Showing him the teapot he helped himself, grabbing all, a five dollar bill. “Now take your gun and go!” And he left.

“Such chutzpah!” she said, and we all laughed about it. She said to you, “I’m going to die withmy shoes on. You’ll finish college. There will be money.”

The day came when you insisted that she come and live with us, never to work again. As so many times in the past, “Laura is my string of pearls, but I am staying right here.” Always wanting to be independent not obligated.

She had worked her life away. She would get up at 5:00AM to take in the newspapers, to sell a little corn beef to people on their way to work or a cigar to a man, a package of cigarettes.
Losing the yard, now he would like to say to her if he only could, “I lost the yard, Ma. I lost your $5,000, but I didn’t lose your good name. I didn’t lose my good name. I paid everybody every penny that I owed not to declare bankruptcy and shame anybody.” That’s what you taught me from
your family, and when our children went to school I would say to them, “I don’t care if you don’t bring me honors. But whatever you do, don’t bring me shame.” And I know they remember it to this day, so that thread goes on.

Dear Mannie: I am writing you another letter, my thoughts as they come to me. Now it’s the stock market. Continental Copper. You would sit in your swivel chair facing the television and watching C-C go down. You always wanted your mother’s approval, as if she would criticize you.

She knew of defeats, how hard times took money from teapots with or without guns. She would stately say, “Look how hard you tried, you were a good credit man, trusted the right builders to build up whole communities with your lumber and then suffer through before they paid you, keeping the wheels of lumber turning. We sold our home newly-built and worried about our dreams, you went to banks to get loans to sell to others, otherwise they wouldn’t buy from you. Struggling to repay the banks without any help from your partners, too silent, all the while breaking your back to pay the
employees, Fred, everything from truck driver to office manager, Louella, bookkeeper, the yard men, juggling the stock market of lumber, buy low, sell high, suffering the consequences, planning to prefab garages, way before your time, houses, always your silent partners. What do you owe them? All adding up to the crisis.”

Dear Mannie: If not for you, I’d never know. The notes in the journal of my memory are competing now with each other, not filed properly in my head. I can’t write in a straight line.
If you only knew how hard it is to write a book. I accidentally tore up three pages of this valuable manuscript; and just as I was about to tell you about my movie camera, how I was going
out to snap up some humanity. I hear you say, “Oh, no!”
I scrounged through my trash and find two torn pages, then scotch-tape them. Great artist that I am. Artistry could not help the third one, not with a broken switch on my torch lamp. Where is my reasoning? What was I thinking of? A test for my endurance. It must be old age or something.

I want to write something profound. Eighty years ago I typed a hundred words a minute on those two decrepit Standards?

Dear Mannie: I just feel like writing to you again, as I do every once in a while. Since I don’t have you with me to relive some of our past.

One day, to my surprise, you came home driving up with a brand-new yellow convertible for me. I was to drive you back to the office to get your car. I nearly fell over. For me? A convertible – gorgeous, like a Lincoln.

“The kids in college cost so much money. Why do I need my own car? Isn’t one car enough for the two of us?”

“Now, now, Laura, you don’t understand. I just don’t want you to go around shopping for somebody else,” kidding.
“But a Lincoln? Why such an expensive car?”

“Not a Lincoln, Laura, it’s only a Ford.”

“So big, so gorgeous!”

“Now, now, Laura,” you said.

Dear Mannie: You had no idea of what was in my mind, an undercurrent of many thoughts within me, my frightening plane ride, circle in clouds above Chicago's blizzard, and then where to land? I wished for Florida’s sunshine. Happiness is when the plane lands. After a struggle to get a cab, home at last, you were there waiting anxiously. You managed a supper of broiled chicken -- most unusual -- to get logs burning in
the fireplace, and to dance of all things, you insisted, got me off that Duncan love seat and clowning a few Fred Astaire maneuvers with me in the flickering firelight, in and out of darkness.

Remember how I leaned toward you, how you hugged and held me close, and still I felt an emptiness. How long would it take to know myself? What did I want? Young people running in and out of the house joining us for dinner, Mayo and Syd away in college then, she keeping me busy – “I want a dress that floats!” -- Mayo and a talented friend composing an opera on the baby grand.

“Isabella Has A Fella” never did get on stage.

There’s something about flickering firelight, Mannie, spirits hovering about, that disturbed me, the old faces coming back in and out shadow spirits like in that paint stirring my memories. “Come on -- join us,” making room for me in their chain of dance. I was looking for someone. What ever
happened to my father? I hadn’t seen him in so many years. With them in song; and dancing clumsily, you seemingly deep in your own thoughts.

We stopped dancing, you adding more logs to the fire, sparks filling the fireplace. You and I together on the love seat.
Suddenly you’re telling me, “Real estate can go down and I haven’t got a rich father behind me. I can’t keep my money in a brick house . . I have to sell it.” Putting his arm around me as we watch the fire. “We planned this house together, I know,” watching a jumping flame.

“You sent me to the architect to discuss the plans, the breakfast room with built-ins. I’d climb the ladder to watch the carpenters, the bathroom papered walls a whole project of design – ‘a man’s success to build a home’ -- and now to move again?”

You said, “If I don’t come up with the money when I need it, they’ll treat me like a rag.”

We just sat and watched the fiery logs burn down, the high spirited embers turn into ashes.

The street lights shone through the frost on the windows, disappointment and worry in the shadows.

Dear Mannie: I never tire thinking of you. Who in this world would even love me as you did? Out of love, you made me wear a hearing aid. “It’s your hearing, Laura. In your classroom, they talk about one thing and you talk about something else.” He kissed the palm of my hand. “I love you,
Laura. You’re just so naïve. But never lose that quality because that’s what I love about you. And besides, you’re going to come with me to get a hearing aid.”

Downtown Northwestern to their hearing clinic, I wound up with a hated-more-than-anything hearing aid with a twisted cord attached to a heavy battery that I had to wear in my bosom. No way, not in my precious cleft. I held that battery in my hand, the whole world to see what the Huns had done to me, gave me Spanish Influenza, until finally discovering I could hide World War One in my hair.

Maybe someday a hearing aid without a long wire connection to a battery – or get a wig. The battery finally winning out, finding itself a nest of happiness after all.

Dear Mannie: My yesterdays are treasures. My tomorrows are intertwined in my thoughts. What will I be bumping into? What will I be learning? What are my regrets? What use have I made of all my years? What dreams have been shattered? Who would I like to have now at my side, side by side? You! What great excitement have I missed? What have I forgotten that should be remembered? Only a few days previously at the Seniors, I was listening to a woman worried that she might have Alzheimer’s. Her daughter-in-law worked in a hospital and said, “Look, if you hold a fork in front of your face and you know what it is, it’s not Alzheimer’s. It’s only when you hold a fork in front of your face and you don’t know what it is.”

Mayo would say to me, “Don’t worry mother, I’ve got three bedrooms. You can always come and live with me. Not everyone is so lucky.”

I can hear you say, “So don’t have so many fears for tomorrow, Laura.”

Dear Mannie: Would you like to know what happened today? All the wars from my beginning are obsolete. The talk now is that we’re going to have a new kind of war, different. A new world for sure and now the wars are not going to be mustard gas. September 11, 2001, suicide bombers gave
us a new kind of war, a new kind of world. Then the air was filled with ash and only talk of war. The never forgotten and painful memories still with us from a past century of wars. The disappearing of the World Trade Towers left us all devastated. We go about writing books, going to the supermarket. Rabbi is talking about Yom Kippur. Trader Joe’s talking about groceries at our senior group. I’m sitting here writing this book.

A telephone call. “Laura, Turn on your TV. Get up. It’s already 7 o’clock.” It’s Kitty talking.

“Terrible things are happening. Planes were hijacked and they bombed the World Trade Center Buildings.” At that moment, I became the town crier, calling all my friends. “Get up.”
There’s your picture on the chest of drawers. I woke up this morning from a dream—a man was wheeling me. ‘I’m taking you to a tour,’ he said. ‘Over there.’ Over there? I'm afraid. Too crowded. I don’t want to go,” I say. Doesn’t talk. Doesn’t answer. Who is he? Still wheeling me toward a big stone wall, exotic gardens all around it. But in my painting, those gardens are on a big picture hat of a woman. “ Is that me in my painting in my Spanish garden?

“Are you going to start new dreams, now?” you are saying.
“At my age?”

I’m still talking to you in my memory as though we were together now and discussing the catastrophe. What will the world be like now? I am avoiding parties now, Mannie. My heart is just not in it. We’re sitting shivah for the 6,000 dead. I don’t like turning on the television. It’s all chaos out there, very depressing. I hear we’re going to draft the young people and then I hear we are not.

And what about the innocent people in other countries? I’m thinking. A mother with eight children: ‘If you kill me and my eight children, will it help you if we are all dead? Will it hurt you if we are still alive?’ And this is of every people, of every race, of every color. “Now that I need you Mannie,” I
say to your picture, "you are gone.”

The circuits are all busy. For two days, calling Mayo in New York, calling Syd in Highland Park. Finally, I hear from Mayo.

“I was trying to get you,” I said.

“I know you were trying to get me, mother.”

“How’s everything, Mayo?”


“What about Joel?" I ask. "How did he get home in that panic?”

“He didn’t. He was with me for a few days. He was in the second Trade Tower and made his escape from the 37th floor just before the collapse.”

He and the other office workers saw debris, pieces of building flying by their windows. They started to run down the fire escape made of cement inside the building. When he got to the 15th floor, somebody was saying, “Where is everybody running? It’s the tower next door.” Some turned around and went back up. Joel and the others kept running the stairs to the subway. No train.

Running back up to the first floor exit. And debris is coming down right in front of them. Luckily, he got out.

When I called Joel Sunday morning, he said, “I ran most of the ten blocks to the subway.

Made a quick call on the way to my father. ‘I am safe.’ And didn’t know what had happened until I fell into his house.”

In this long life of mine, I have learned that first comes disorder and then order. Just as in the civil war, great disorder, then order; so as in the French Revolution disorder then order. Hopefully, out of this great disorder, will come order again.

I’m trying not to change. I still want to be me. I am still writing this book. I want to be remembered. The younger people will remember this history just as I remember mine. Just as I
remember the history of my family and friends, considering it a blessing.

Dear Mannie: Goodbye for now.
Love, Laura

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