Lifestyle: Today would have been my father’s 113th birthday, born in Berlin Germany.
His life was one of intense turmoil, through two world wars, escape from the Holocaust , living in Japan and China, spying for the allies in WW2 and eventually making it to the United States in 1947.
Getting to the states was extremely difficult but he brought his wife and young daughter to at first San Francisco , Patterson NJ and eventually settling in New York City.
He had $4 in his pocket when he landed in Patterson and his first job was selling fish on a push cart going through the streets of Patterson.
He always worked in jobs that paid the bills, in a pen factory in Long Island City , Queens, owning a small sweet shop in upper Manhattan and a cigar stand in lower Manhattan.
We did not speak of the Holocaust much perhaps because I did not want to hear, or and he did not easily let it come up.
I knew some facts, but mostly ignored that life. He keep things very close to the vest, was very German in so many ways. All things needed to be be in order, if my shoes were not straight , he would come into my room and line them up to his satisfaction.
He would wear a tie to eat and on weekends wore a sport jacket in the house. I was not of that motivation. He spoke 5 languages, English, Spanish, German, Chinese/Cantonese, and Japanese.
His health was poor, with heart issues and other body parts not working well. He had a group of friends from Germany that would come over the house, a constant drone of German, cigar smoke and coffee would fill the room.
I was not exactly close to him but respected what he did and what he accomplished. He was well known in the Jewish/German community for his active lifestyle in organizations such as his lodge, fraternal organizations and political groups.
He went back to Germany several times after the war and wanted to eventually settle back in a land that tried to kill him.
He was always a German first with a feel of the country which I did not understand.
I think his life was one for the books, but for the most part he tried to keep his world very contained.
He joked that I should always have an ID with me as you never know when the authorities would be knocking on your door. To him that was a reality , it really was no joke.
Gerhard almost made it to his 70 th birthday, several months short of that decade.
He did things and saw things that most of the world could not even imagine. His life was over the top and I pretty sure this was not how he planned it.
So in my 69th year of my birth, we both share that in common.
He also enjoyed his cigars, mostly White Owls.
Keep smoking down
I was about 10 in this picture