Received Wisdom: Monroe Kaufman
Received Wisdom is intended to capture the thoughts and experiences of older people in the belief that a lifetime of struggle, survival and joy – in other words, living – has endowed them with special insights and knowledge worth sharing.
“I would think the favorite time of life is always – always – the present. There’s no reason to believe that beautiful events that occurred in the past do not continue to occur now and in the future.”
Monroe Kaufman is the father of one of my best friends from high school. This interview took place at his home in New Rochelle, N.Y., in April 2012, a day before a joyful celebration in honor of his 90th birthday. He was born on April 18, 1922, in the Bronx, N.Y. During the Depression, he said, young people who couldn’t afford to go out on dates met in friends’ houses for “gatherings,” casual social affairs. It was at one such gathering, when he was 15 and she was 13, where he met his wife-to-be, Charlotte. “It must have worked because we’ve been married for 68 years.”
What was life like as a youngster?
I don’t have much of a recollection of the years prior to the Great Depression. I went to school and was interested in the usual sports, principally baseball. All the kids played baseball. We also played stickball, until the police came along and chased us away. You could play it in different ways. On the street the sewer covers were your bases. In addition there were many unfinished apartment buildings, because it was the Depression and there was no more money to complete the buildings. So we used the buildings as playgrounds. You could play stickball against the bare wall and . . .Continue reading →