I had lunch today with Izzy Talie. In the group picture above he's at the left, then there's my father and then UncIe Hy. I hadn't seen him since I took him to Uncle Hy's funeral last February:
"Izzy Talie was one of my father's and my Uncle Hy's best friends. He was also a favorite of mine and my cousins' because every Hanukkah, celebrated at 765 FDR Drive, he would bring us really great gifts. Talie never married and always had different, usually Hispanic girlfriends. He still has one, over 25 years his junior, even at age 85. He drove a sporty Pontiac and knew how to fix cars and other mechanical devices- an awe inspiring skill to a Jewish kid. He was truly the Fonz, before the Fonz ever existed. When I found Talie's card among the dumpster mix I was floored. I had been meaning to get together with Talie for a while. When my father died about three years ago I called him. It took some doing to track him down. He felt bad that he wasn't at the funeral and I felt guilty I hadn't been more determined in finding him. Little did I know that the opportunity to call him would come under sad circumstances, the death of my Uncle Hy."
Today we talked about many things and I haven't yet edited the tape of our conversations. A lot of time was spent driving around the Bronx being lost and looking for a particular diner in Riverdale that I wanted to go to. There was also a lot time spent by two guys with bladder problems looking for bathrooms. Thank God for McDonalds. One thing I wanted to ask him was why he was sent to a Children's Haven in Rockaway when he was 6. He said that his mother had so many kids, and one had just been born, that a social worker had come to the house and arranged for Talie and some of his brothers to go to this home. I guess it was like going away to camp for the summer since it was near the beach. The records show he was gone from June until October.
I asked him about the circumstances of his father and mother coming here from Turkey in the early 1900's. He said his father, Benjamin, was a sailor on a Turkish freighter and that he jumped ship when he got to New York. Talie didn't quite know what his father did for a living. He said that he spent a lot of his time in the Greek-Turkish coffee houses on Allen Street and that he was a good enough card player, along with other hustles, to make enough to get by. Some of Talie's brothers later grew up to be heavy gamblers. Like my Uncle Hy and a lot of the Greeks and Turks who lived around Orchard,
Broome and Allen he went to PS 42 on Hester Street.