Written by Rhoda Elison Hirsch
Aunt Rae has always been there for each one of us, in her own very special way.
When I think of Aunt Rae, I feel her warmth, and envision her kitchen conversations and wonderful cooking over the years. In elementary school, from Kindergarten on, it was always special when Audrey and I would walk through the narrow courts near P.S. 253 to Aunt Rae’s for lunch. While we ate, she would tell us stories about the family, about her childhood, about her wonderful sisters and brothers who as children weren’t always so wonderful to each other! We laughed and ate, and only recently we found out that at that time, she told Aunt Jean, not to worry, “I can get Audrey (who was really skinny then) to eat.”
It was always a treat to go with Aunt Ray to Bay 2 in Brighton Beach instead of our usual Bay 3 or 4. Jeanne, Marty, Uncle Morris and Aunt Esther swam off of Bay 3 while those of us on Brighton 4th Street walked out of our building onto Bay 4. After swimming, we would run back to the blankets when Aunt Ray would pull out sandwiches. We would sit at her feet and ask her to tell us stories that would have us howling with laughter or listening with eyes wide open.
...and it was not always to the beach. Aunt Rae took me, Elliot, and the cousins to our first real baseball game at Ebbets Field in Northern Brooklyn to see the Brooklyn Dodgers play. Aunt Rae took us there several times over those years---we would all ride the BMT together to the ball park in northern Brooklyn.
As we got older and felt the problems of adolescence and young adulthood, Aunt Rae was always there for us…to listen, to console, and to give the wisest advice. …And this continued into our adulthood --- visiting Aunt Rae in Florida, to just be with her, to hear about her travels, and at other times to get her advice or opinion, but always with the perpetual hope of finding fresh Calsonyas or her Cassatas waiting for us.
Aunt Rae was an amazing woman. How she surprised us when she decided to take up painting and produced works reminiscent of Utrillo’s. She gave me one and it has been hanging in our home for decades, reminding me every day of Aunt Rae’s specialness.
Aunt Rae did not have a bad bone in her body. She was all about goodness, love, and giving. Aunt Rae was the hub of the family after Nona passed. Aunt Rae leaves us with a legacy of love and giving. Her stories and her life are all about love and family, and being their for each other.
Rachel meaning - Woman of purity
Aunt Rae and Uncle Jack, cousin Carole and Elliot lived in a little Shack like house, in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.
I would love visiting Aunt Rae, she made me feel very special.
Aunt Rae was a great story teller. Her soft spoken manner intensified as she spoke and told me many stories about the family, and all the interesting things that their lives encountered..I was amazed and listened with great enthusiasm.
There would always be a pot of coffee brewing in the kitchen. The aroma would float through the air and give you a homey feeling of love and family. I felt like I was in "Magic Cottage."
On our way home from the beach, after spending some time on Bay 2, which was a popular hangout for younger people, we would stop in "Mrs Stalls Knishes" which was very close to her house.
Aunt Rae would always welcome us in with an open heart
She was the Mother, of all Mother's. Her kindness and caring ways, made me feel happy that she was my aunt. I knew I was special to her.
Years later, I realized all my cousin felt the same way about her. She made us all feel that we were the special person in her life, in this beautiful magic cottage, that she called home.
Another thing about her was that she told the truth in a most profound manner. She would say what was on her mind whether you wanted to hear it or not. I think it was one of the Colchamiro traits which many of us inherited. I know I did !!
When she moved to Florida, she took a place in Coral Springs All her sisters and family were living down there. They would get together once a week and meet at a restaurant
She was happy down there and to top it all she became a great grandma, baby sitting few times a week. What more could one ask for.
I came down to visit my mother in Florida few times a year .All of the the sisters would get together and I would get a chance to see them all.
I was especially glad to see Aunt Rae. She was only one in the family who knew how to cook, especially the Greek dishes. "Thank God for her.''
The recipes have become part of our family heirloom ...
As time moved on, so did Life. I called her in Florida, for I heard she had been very sick.
She had Cancer and refused treatment, and decided she was 93 and it was time.
She said to me, and I remember it as if it were the other day.
With abstract of feeling in her voice, she spoke, "If you want to see me you better come now"
How bold she was, how realistic.
As tears came to my eyes, I decided I would go down to Florida and say my last goodbye.
Aunt Rae was my mentor. A woman of strength and truth.
I will always think of her, and always remember what a great woman she was, and how accepting she was of Life.
Love you forever.
Written by Eve Rook
Written by Rhoda Elison Hirsch
My first memories of Aunt Jean are on Brighton 2nd Street
When Audrey and I were very young and my Mother would take me to their apartment and I would wake Audrey with kisses at 11:30AM!
Then Aunt Jean would make us all flat eggs and homemade French fries – the best tasting egg and French fries I have ever had!
Aunt Jean taught us about love and forgiveness – with our little girl squabbles, she would say, “Now kiss and make up.”
Aunt Jean taught us about wastefulness and recycling – many of you heard the story that she bought an ice-cream cone for little Audrey. The ice-cream ball fell to the sidewalk and without any more money (things were tight them), she picked up the ice-cream, wiped it off, and said, “A little dirt never hurt.” So, she was ahead of the current immune research of the 1950’s!!!
We walked the avenue; we went to the park; we went to the beach; we had lunch after kindergarten and early elementary school…We laughed and ate pizza at Andrea’s on Brighton Beach Avenue.
Aunt Jean taught us honesty – we were probably about 5 years old and Aunt Jean took us to the fruit store on the Avenue. Audrey and I took a brown paper bag thinking it would be fun to play with. A few stores down, Aunt Jean noticed the paper bags. “Where did you get those?” We just looked at her. She made us go back into the store, return it to the fruit man and apologize to him.
Then to my great distress, in 4th grade when Audrey and I were to be in the same class again since Kindergarten, Aunt Jean and Uncle Murray moved to Plainview. So, the sleepovers began and I learn to catch grasshoppers and go to the Farmer’s Market where they sold children’s goods. …and I realized that no matter where Aunt Jean was, she was always my loving Aunt – there for us at all times…
Time flies and the move to Century Village with my Father and Mother happened in 1971. The love and support Aunt Jean gave to my Father, Mother, and us during the wonderful times and during the grave challenges they faced was natural to her – for it was all about the love and devotion to family.
Aunt Jean is poetry – did you ever receive her letters – they read like poetry…
Aunt Jean is grace – she is beautiful, deep, illuminating all kinds of life’s moments with her unique touch of understanding, love, tenderness, lightness with her wonderful smile and sincerity.
Dear Aunt Jean,
We thank you Aunt Jean for warming our hearts on this beautiful day, August 4, 2013, an historical day for the entire family gathered here today. We honor you today for this amazing milestone of longevity. There is a feeling of great joy and pride that our beautiful Aunt Jean is now one hundred years old. Imagine: ONE HUNDRED YEARS OLD: You have lived during WWI & II, the Korean War, the Vietnam war, many Israeli wars, and voted during the presidencies of Truman, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Nixon, Kennedy, Ford, Carter, Regan, Bush, Bush and Obama. While the world evolved, and at times in chaos, you managed to live through the depression, inflation, recession, and near depression again and raise your loving family: Philip, Roberta, Audrey and Eddie through it all. Your gifts of inner peace, steadfastness, resilience and joy kept everyone going forward. Jean, you have the gift of connectedness; everyone in your presence feels that buddhaesque quality of calmness and serenity through which your love shines.
For many years Aunt Jean, I along with many of my cousins and friends, have been watching Willard Scott’s and the Smucker’s segment on the news with the photos of many centenarians . As I watched it and listened to their special advice it always felt good inside to realize that some lucky people made it to 100 years old and it offered hope and inspiration. But I didn’t personally know anyone and it seemed a bit remote, almost like a fairy tale . And now I can proudly say that a special Aunt in my family holds that distinction. I always thought you deserved the title of Mrs. America and now you earned an even greater tribute: the title of Ms.100 Year old, the first of the Saltzmans and Colchamiros. Thank you Aunt Jean for getting our family on the right track. I almost feel that this achievement makes us as proud as someone going up in space. And surely you must tell us your secret. Was it Uncle Murray making a bet with Eddie, Philip, Audrey and Roberta that you would win that ultimate race? Was it working in the farmer’s market? Was it the move to Century Village with all your brothers and sisters that gave you the ultimate feeling of love and security? Was it the cut-cut, bubanaza or your Calsonia’s and Cludia?
Along, long time ago Nona had 9 amazing children and each one was blessed with amazing creativity. Jesse, gifted in business and navigation, Rae, the muse of wisdom and cooking, Terry, the muse of writing and dancing, Morris, the gift of storytelling and humor, Sarah the gift of writing and adventure, Diane, the gift of decorating and cooking and Oscar, the gift of painting and sculpturing and on his journey to be the first male Colchamiro to achieve Centenarian status. All the Colchamiros had the gift of compassion and creativity. I would like to share some personal reflections at this time illustrating your many, artistic, creative ways. When I think of Aunt Jean I see a beautiful woman with a sculpted smile etched into her soul. Her external beauty was enhanced by her inner calm and warmth which immediately struck you when you entered her home whether in Brighton Beach, Plainview, Long Island or West Palm Beach, Florida. You were welcomed with a cup of coffee and ,if lucky, a cheese calsonia. As a young girl the siblings Jean, Jesse, Morris and Rae lived on Brighton 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 8th street. Our dynasty and tribe of cousins populated Brighton Beach which gave us a great sense of security . We knew everybody. And of course we had supplemental homes in Planview , Yonkers and Scarsdale. My father knew of his sister’s talents and they became supplemental mothers to me. For beauty, he, of course, would walk me over Aunt Jean’s home-the big walk of one block. When I sat in the tiny kitchen Aunt Jean sat me in a chair, gave me a big smile and off she went on a journey to transform me from Jean with the curly mop to Jean with a smooth hairdo with a side pony and a barrette. I walked out of Jean’s kitchen –an odd name for a beauty parlor- feeling special and glowing. Aunt Jean you made me so happy. Years later when Jean and Murray worked at the farmer’s market and my father and mother also sold Uncle Oscar and Uncle Jesse’s pajamas, Aunt Jean opened her Long Island home to me. It was the first time I stayed in someone’s home and at times she entertained me playing the piano by ear- the Monkey song was one of my favorites. Aunt Jean was always the same-happy, mellow, even and loving. She let us play with baby Eddie, sat with me and Audrey telling us stories of her and Uncle Murray and the family. One time my father was so incredibly happy as Aunt Jean wove her magic and she reupholstered my Dad’s car. In our Century Village visits she would show me all the outfits she knitted for Roberta and Audrey and they were works of great skill. Her patience, love and devotion to all she did made her the special woman I am proud to honor today.
So Aunt Jean, as a party or personal favor can you pass out a bottle of JEAN’S GENES or at least give us your tips so we can follow the trail you so wonderfully blazed for us? Congratulations, this is like a graduation ceremony, where you have earned a special degree, a PHd in managing LIFE.
With much love,
Written by Eve Rook
Well when aunt Jean moved to Wynmoor in Florida she was 90 years old. I mean who moves at 90? Only a laid back woman, who smiled and laughed at everything, would do that. Never thinking of packing and moving all her things etc.
Her sister Sarah moved there and Terry and she wanted to be therewith them .
They had some good years there, playing cards " Spite and Malice" was a favorite of theirs. They loved playing that. They would play till the death. Sarah loved wining and was always challenging Jean.
After my Mom and Aunt Terry had passed, only Aunt Jean was alive, even though she was the oldest. She said to me, I am on borrowed time."
Now we were buddies. We spent many times together going shopping and going out to lunch.Sh e even went to Starbucks with me.
As one of her favorite things to do was going to these small gambling casinos. They had 5 cent machines; we would spend a whole day there, eating lunch there and having a few laughs.
Aunt Jean was still driving so believe it or not she drove me everywhere.
Yes time went by, I had to head back to New York with Gene. Never realizing this would be the last time I would see her.
Going back to N. Y. and encountering several hardships was a rude awakening.
Gene being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer . Jerry Weber's death, and the unusual, and unforeseen death of Roberta, was a shock to all of us.
Meanwhile. Back in Florida, Aunt Jean started getting disoriented. She was put in nursing home surrounded by her Florida family.
Unfortunately, I was never able to back down there to say goodbye to her.
I was busy taking care of Gene, going back and forth to hospital for his treatments.
But in a way, I'm glad to remember her the way she was. Smiley, laughing with her beautiful sunglasses, sitting in the sun by the pool.
Her great spirit will always remain with me. Her charm her beauty and her love.
In my heart she was my favorite Aunt, and I know I was her favorite niece.
Kisses And goodbye to you.
Written by Marilyn Riba
Look out pedestrians, here comes Aunt Jean
She's flying down the road in her driving machine
The penny machines are at our beckon call
We will return with a big haul.
Our ride back is scary, but we're happy as can be.
Jean won 50 cents, and I saw her glee.
I remember you lovingly, how much fun we had
Sneaking out of the movies, we were so bad.
Your calzones were so tasty, I liked the cheese
Are you baking them now? Save me one please.
I miss you Aunt Jean, you were so very dear.
I always felt love when you were near.
You had a great life an interesting one too
See you on the flip size, I love you!
Written by Jean Weber Colchamiro
which she gave at Aunt Jean's 100th Birthday Party
Written by Rhoda Elison Hirsch
My earliest memories of Aunt Terry begin with my Nona, my Mother, and Nancy as an infant, all of us driving to Manhattan Beach to visit with Terry, and Larry and Elliot, a toddler, while Uncle Sidney (a well-respected Chiropractor with a thriving practice in Sheepshead Bay) was at work. Sometimes Aunt Jean and Audrey would come with us. And we always got lost amongst the Quanset huts,strings of apartments where the veterans lived on the peninsula of Manhattan Beach. Aunt Terry would open the door and greet us with a big smile and laugh. If we were lucky, Larry would play piano for us.
I will never forget the day that the Landaus drove off to live in Burbank, California. Nona was unusually solemn that day and the house felt sad. We waited. Aunt Terry rang the bell, came up, left her coat on, and Nona and I walked down to their car to bade them farewell. The Landaus were always going and coming, or I would visit them. In between, there were special days in the 1950’s when Uncle Morris or Aunt Rae would come over as we sat around waiting to hear the telephone operator return the call after connecting to California. A long distance call was a special event: the family would gather in our apartment. My father would place the call with the operator. He hung up and we eagerly sat, staring at the phone, waiting for it to ring, speaking softly with anticipation, so as not to miss the call! Nona’s eyes would light up speaking to Terry. Eventually every one got their turn as the phone was passed around.
Then they came back East - to live in Bennington, VT. Aunt Terry visited and with the family around, offered to take me and Aunt Sarah back with them to Lake Placid and then I would go on with them to Bennington. In Lake Placid, their combo of Larry on piano, Elliot on acoustic bass, Sidney on drums and Terry, singing, fascinated me. Aunt Terry had a beautiful voice and sang songs in French, Spanish, and Greek. She was impressively multilingual. Uncle Sidney even let me sit at the drums for two songs (but of course when there were only 1 or 2 people left at the bar). So, they gave me my first professional music experience! We crossed the lake by ferry to VT on a cold grey day. The Landaus were always doing something fascinating and creative! Aunt Terry encouraged Larry to give me my first driving lesson on their red MG coupe --- a stick shift! Aunt Terry proudly showed me the “one room” schoolhouse where she taught one class of children at different grade levels. She was the only daughter who went to college, a graduate of Brooklyn College, majoring in French.
Nancy, Jeanne and I visited with the Landaus when they were living in Rutland, VT. There was a major snowstorm and Jeanne could not get back to work. We froze there and in the cold mornings, Uncle Sidney would wake us up to fresh hot boobanatza! We tobogganed for the first time down steep hills. In the evenings, they would play music and Aunt Terry would sing. Aunt Terry was worried that us city girls---still in high school and Nancy in 8th grade---would be bored. So she found an announcement in the newspaper about a Cotillion Ball. She thought it a great idea but all we had were warm snow clothes. Well, with a big smile, she went to her closet and got Jeanne, Nancy, and I dressed in her skirts and dresses. We did not know what to say and could not say no. So, Uncle Sidney drives us to this hall and Larry, Elliot, Nancy, Jeanne, and I walk in and there is quiet with all eyes upon us. About a hundred young people, dressed in the finest organdy dresses and formal suits, stared at us with grins of amazement. We looked at each other, burst out laughing, and joined in the dancing until Sidney came back for us!!! We have not stopped laughing about this. Those were our Maybelle memories!
In college, I was also fortunate to visit twice with the Landaus when they lived in Oakland. I was in high school and another time in college. On one trip, we drove down the California coastline to Tecate, Mexico where Sidney and Terry were masseuses and at night, they played in a band. We all slept on cots in this big room for the workers. Uncle Sidney gave a lecture on chiropracty and cancer. I did not know how he was going to handle it but I remember being quite impressed by his knowledge and discussions of what manipulation could and could not do.
And with each visit, I can picture Aunt Terry’s big warm smile and how her eyes lit up when asking about the family back in NY. Aunt Terry’s eyes expressed a yearning for family. The visits were always filled with fascinating discussions, music, song, ideas, interesting outings, and much family love… with shared stories of family, their work and their hobbies. In all the years that I knew her, she never spoke of her feelings. We knew her through her songs, stories, and creative spirit. The last several years, joining her sisters Sarah and Jean in Wynmoor, must have finally felt to her like ‘coming home’.
With Aunt Terry in Wynmoor, I had an opportunity to see her more often then I did in the 20- year gap that we more or less lost contact. We had delightful phone conversations as she worked on the “From Boots to Iwo Jima”. The book is a classic, not only the private letters of a man in the Pacific during WWII to his beloved wife, but a tale of the life of a soldier during WWII, and a psychological insight into the thoughts of a soldier at war. The letters are articulate and vivid. The one or two by Terry show her brilliance. (Unfortunately, her letters to Sidney were lost.) She was rightfully proud of the book and I kept urging Aunt Terry to put together the collection of her poems. So, in the last several years, I found a few hours to visit with Aunt Terry during brief trips to Florida. She sent me a wonderful video of Sid and her teaching folk dancing when they lived in Miami. With telephone service and unlimited calls of this era, Aunt Terry and I communicated by many warm telephone conversations. I would always be touched when, in the last few years, she would phone me to talk about the book or simply to say that she just called because she was thinking of me.
Written by Rhoda Elison Hirsch
It feels strange to write something about Aunt Sarah, knowing Aunt Sarah is the writer of our family. I then wondered “What would Aunt Sarah be writing now?”
The image of my Aunt Sarah ---the beautiful, radiant, loving woman with that playful twinkle in her eye that embraced you with her special love and understanding of what you shared with her.
Just early last week, she told Audrey to change the illustration for the cover of her latest book – a collection of her poetry. Audrey told me she had drawn three faces, the middle one had a tear. Aunt Sarah told her, “Take away the tear. I had a very good life.” Hearing this, I felt a wave of relief ---her words, for me, erased her struggle of the last few months. Her words leave me with
Aunt Sarah embodied the spirit of the Colchamiro Family---her love of life and family. Her passion and her goodness. Her sensitivity that changed tears to smiles and laughter. Her adventureous spirit, fearlessness, her creativity.
What would Aunt Sarah say now? She would be telling us a story to make her point, and we would listen intently until she came to the end with her smile and laugh. So, I will relate a story. In the summer of 2004, Jonathan had a show in downtown Manhattan at CBGB’s in 2004, Aunt Sarah flew in that day, and as tired as she must have been, insisted that Eve take her to Jonathan’s show that began at 9PM. I was thrilled that she came and so very touched. She sat right up front, listening to the rock tinged with jazz and blues; and after the show, she was beaming, and her eyes moistened when she said to me, “Jesse would have been so proud.” And then went on to insist, “Why doesn’t he go on American Idol!”
Aunt Sarah loved dancing, and we are all so lucky to have danced with her on each of our own special paths.
MEMORIAL FOR SARA BURAKOFF
Written by her niece Jean Ellen Colchamiro Weber - 2008
Dear Aunt Sara,
I so missed coming to see you this year and being with you one more time. I never thought this would be my goodbye letter. But it is filled with a lifetime of good memories for which I deeply thank you. Now, as this room is filled with the whole family and friends who as I did loved and admired you, I am writing this letter to tell you and everyone all that you meant to me.
Aunt Sara, when I was with you I would always admire your beautiful face with your high cheekbones and radiant smile. I felt your vivaciousness emanating from your soul. You were always so happy, fun loving and full of life. You had an intense honesty, a deep warmth and a sense of excitement bursting from within with a story ready to be told. You were such a role model for me. Your personality had so many facets. My Aunt, the author, of whom I was so proud. I bought your books for all my friends and would give them out as birthday and holiday gifts. I learned so much from reading them. My Aunt Sara, the pioneer, the modern woman, ahead of her times, as illustrated in her first book, Dates and Nuts, where she shared her personal struggles as a single Mom raising her children and yet she had a sense of humor and a positive attitude throughout. My Aunt, the adventuress, who traveled and held her memories in photo albums which she would take out at holiday gatherings in Queens. My Aunt, the quintessential dancer, as Jack's partner, dancing the mambo, so in sync with each other's moves. My Aunt, so proud of her family and so close to each of her children, Eve and Gene, Marilyn, Steve and Linda. Only Aunt Sara, achieved Uncle Jesse's dream of the whole family living in the same development Wynmoor. Not only did her children Eve, Steve and Marilyn have apartments nearby but Aunt Sara also recruited Aunt Terry, Elliot, Aunt Jean and Nancy and Richie to own apartments nearby. She proudly held the keys and gave me a tour of their apartments on my last trip to Florida. Aunt Sara, the nurturing mother, had the love of her devoted children Eve, Marilyn and Steve with her throughout her life. Aunt Sara, the caretaker, the loyal and devoted wife of Jack and sister to Jean, Oscar and Diane, the proud grandmother of Lauren, Jesse, Jeffrey, Alexis and Alex. Every time we were together there would be a story about her Susan or Gayle's theme party, Alexis' book, visits with Jack at Robert and Steven's house. My Aunt Sara and her life at Grenefelde in the Catskills with all her friends. Each one had a story of importance in her life. My Aunt Sara embraced life and lived life to its fullest. I often called her the female counterpart of my father Morris. She had that twinkle in her eye and a compelling desire to entertain through story telling and writing. While brother Morris was the Muse of laughter, Sara was the Muse of Creativity and Story Telling. My Mother Esther loved Aunt Sara as a sister and called me to tell me that Aunt Sara had sent her a present . Aunt Sara would think of everyone and had a kind heart and a giving spirit. At her daughter Eve's engagement party she had wrapped a present from Eve's grandmother who had passed away. I always remember how touched I was by Aunt Sara's idea to do that. And I am grateful that the weeks before she passed, everyone came to see her, ALL THOSE SHE LOVED GAVE HER THE GIFT OF LOVE BACK. I am grateful for the many memories I will cherish:
• visits to the Grand Mountain Hotel as a young child reveling in her huge room and the arcade with jukeboxes for kids
• laughing at Aunt Sara's description of trying to feed her kids and all they would eat would be peanut butter
• her visits to my home in Staten Island, and bringing a ball to play with my daughters
• attending the Bat Mitzvah services with Jack and beaming proudly at Danielle and Julie, instilling the values of love of family within me
• sitting at Aunt Diane's Barrington Road home and beaming that smile of hers as I watched the siblings banter
• visits to Grenefelde in the Catskill mountains, her bungalow summer home
• our last trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art across the street from Susan's NY home and you raising your hand to ask a question about the statue....
• My favorite story of you as a little girl pulling down the window shade at Nona's home and telling your 7 siblings that you were the teacher and that they needed to look at the map you were showing them.....
• THANKS FOR YOUR ADVICE TO WRITE ABOUT WHAT I KNOW BEST BECAUSE IT IS WITH LOVE AND JOY THAT I WRITE ABOUT YOU........
Wait, who is calling me??????
PSST.....PSST......AUNT SARA....IS THAT YOU?????? WHERE ARE YOU?????
Aunt Sara’s response from heaven:
“I'M AT SKYMOOR......a new development....you see it all began a week ago , when Murray Saltzman who works for two wonderful partners Jesse Ellison and Nat Warhit asked Morris Colchamiro to pick me up in the SKYMOOR BUS and transport me to SKYMOOR . It's a heavenly place with palm trees and endless clouds. They told me that Jack Burakoff wanted to see me and that I could live next door to Rae and Jack Eisenstark, Terry and Sidney Landau, Dotty and Jesse Ellison, Esther and Morris Colchamiro, and Muriel Colchamiro. SKYMOOR is very much like WYNDMOOR and guess what? Sidney Landau, the chiropractor, gave me an adjustment and I can walk, hear and talk and write again. I will write to you all SOON…….”
A Story by Jean Colchamiro - February, 2009
A Story about Aunt Diane which contains the Memorial I read at Aunt Diane's Florida Memorial. The story has an ending which helps me cope better. I hope no one takes offense.
Once upon a time, Nona, having raised 9 children, decided to go back to school to learn. In her readings, Nona came upon a Greek mythological character, Diana, the huntress, and she decided to raise her last daughter Diana differently than the rest. After all, Diane would have to face a more modern world and she would have to be the strongest, bravest and the least sensitive. The world demanded it. Diane would be at the hub of modernization. She would still nurture, cook and love as deeply as Jesse, Rae, Jean, Terry, Morris, Sarah and Oscar, but she would have thicker skin, never mince words, and would be daring, decisive and courageous. BAKALASHAM. THIS IS HOW IT MUST BE.
The thread that weaves the fabric of Diana's character withstood the test of time; Diana was the first of the family to move to Yonkers( unheard of by the Brighton Beach clan); she was the first known female to challenge her father who wouldn't let her go to college, she was the first female to open her own business in the family, the first to add jeweled rooms to her homes and the list goes on....
(Memorial begins here)
What a family we have. The Warhit/Colchamiro clan. My father Morris gave me one biological mother Esther and five motherly Aunts and two fatherly Uncles as my life's gifts. To each of us DIANE WAS VERY SPECIAL.
Aunt Diane was very fond of her brother Morris. She embraced our family in what seemed to be weekly visits to 66 Barrington Road, Yonkers. I knew the way. We didn't need GPS. My brother Martin and I were excited and happy when we stopped for goodies to bring Aunt Diane at Andy Delicadandy. We knew we were near. I would long to see my baby cousins Ellen, Janice, Barry and later Paul. Aunt Diane gave me unconditional love and guidance throughout my life. I called her, visited her, loved her stories, enjoyed her delicious recipes, listened to her book reviews, saw shows with her and reveled in her love. After her visits, I would not only walk away with bubanza, baked squash but I would walk away inspired and stronger. I took her confidence, her decisiveness and became a stronger person that day and always. She was at my father's side when he passed away and in the last 15 years since his death, told me family stories which eased the great pain the the loss of my parents. She always told me her point o view and when she was brutally honest I could always accept her words because of the buffering of love it was built upon. I longed for her stories. About Ellen, Janice, Barry and Paul. About her siblings and her grandchildren. Her pride was abounding. She told personal stories about her childhood with Nona, Grandpa and of course, her husband Nat. She also took a special interest in my husband Jerry and gave me enormous comfort over the years.
As I think of the Muses I know Diana embodied the qualities of the huntress in Greek mythology. She was beautiful, earthy and had an incredible smile, punctuated with dimples. She was verbally skilled, walked proud and straight. An artesian in her cooking, she welcomed you with open arms. I always tell everyone about Aunt Diane who took pride in her role of being an Aunt. Her yearly June gatherings were legendary to all the cousins from the warmth of the most hospitable hostess, to the fun of the pool, the swims at the lake and the treat of seeing family movies in her basement. Her home was your home for the moments you were there. She was soooo real. Real in her confessions of her wish to go to college. Real in retelling me stories of her childhood. Real in her story of being teased for bringing Jesse the Hot Cow drink. Real in her shopping with Eve, Margo and Jackie. Real in her zest for bridge. Real in her passing on her strength to all of us.
I am eternally grateful for the gift of Aunt Diane. And I will remember her always. I will take her strength for the rest of my life. I will remember how she talked, cooked, entertained, lived and died. With great strength and courage. With determination. And I will remember how she did things in a grand way. Entertaining, traveling, donning jewelry, giving opinions and advice. And in a grand way, she exited the stage holding Ellen and Janice's hand with Paul and Barry flying in, with Jackie visiting her and knowing that her newest great grandchildren Zeke and Zoe were continuing the life's cycle .
(End of story)
Janice told me that she heard her mother saying, "What do I have to do, What do I have to do?" I believe she was talking to her brother Morris who said his Skymobile was waiting to take her to her husband, sisters and brothers. Nat missed his life partner. Murray wanted to consult with her re: his new business venture, Sidney wanted to "adjust her", and Uncle Jesse would love a hot cow. Morris needed her decorating touch in their cloud home. Rae, Esther Dotty, Terry and Sarah needed help with their cooking and a fourth for bridge. And Nona and Pop agreed to send her to Sky University. They all lived together. So Diana, the huntress, with artesian skill aimed her bow and hit the target and lifted herself to be with her family once again. BAKALASHAM
by Marty Colchamiro
My memories of Uncle Jesse are many. The eldest child and oldest brother, he loomed large among the family. He gave an allure of stoic stature but whenever he smiled he gave it all away. A kind and loving man with a fondness for all of the family, from his brothers and sisters to his children and the children of his siblings.
From the time he bought me this amazing 6 shooter cap gun, which was almost too heavy to pick up. It was so realistic because, unlike most cap guns, this one had individual bullets (exactly like a real gun) where you placed paper caps into the bullet itself. The gift was a celebration of my being elected class president in the 2nd grade. The family gathered at our apartment and he presented the gun on behalf of the family with a big smile and a cigar in his mouth. He made a speech acknowledging my presidency and how proud the family was for this accomplishment. It was the first and only one time I was president.
Then of course the the trips on The Ella. His boat harbored in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. A source for the many rides he gave to all of the family. I remember his captain’s hat and of course, the cigar. It was special when we got to go on the boat and he would take the helm and head out to sea. It was the scene where I almost drowned, see my Blog post about it.
Another memory was when I was 17 or 18. Uncle Jesse was a season ticket holder at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. He talked with such enthusiasm about the opera. It was clear that he loved the opera. He said he was going to give me a ticket for me to attend so that I may learn about opera. He bought a libretto for the opera I was going to see and asked me to study it so I would understand the different parts of the opera as I was seeing it. It was quite an experience.
I also remember his retirement in Florida and on my visits there getting to see him with Aunt Dotty.
I remember his enthusiasm when talking, just like all of his brothers and sisters. It is a family trait I so admire and he was the leader in that regard being the oldest.
When you look at this website and see the link to Uncle Jesse you will see the writings and passions that so inspired him. He was multifaceted and another testament to being a Colchamiro.
Written by Marilyn Riba
I can't say enough about Uncle Oscar and Aunt Muriel.
Oscar was so caring. I'll never forget the inspiring letter he sent me when I was floundering, wondering how I would survive after my divorce, Jeff was only 12 years old. I had some money saved, but it wouldn't last forever. I had been in business for many years. I now needed a profession, but felt I was way to old to go back to school at 46. That was when he straightened me out. He told me you're never too old to learn. You can do anything you want to do. I know you'll be a success. After-all, you are a Colchamiro. And so I went back to school. I owe him so much. Such an amazing man.
Aunt Muriel was always the hostess. She was always fussing over her guests. I remember delicious meals and great get togethers with the family. She was always fun to be with and she made her guests feel very special. Another wonderful person added to the Colchamiro family.
Uncle Oscar and Aunt Muriel
Uncle Morris and Aunt Esther
Written by Marilyn Riba
Uncle Morris was my cool uncle. He was always making me smile. He had a great sense of humor.What I remember most was his disappearing thumb. He always got me with that trick.He was so loving. I always wished I could get on his bus. I know he would have made me feel special.Aunt Esther was a firecracker. She was always on the go. I remember coming to NY for a visit and Eve and I arranged to meet Auds, Rhoda and Jeanie in the city for dinner. The best surprise was that Aunt Esther showed up. She was so feisty, and I loved her dearly. She was sharp as can be, and quite beautiful. Always trim, always fun. Mo and Esther, a wonderful couple. So happy they found each other, and so fortunate for the Colchamiro family.
Cousin Roberta Tepperman
Written by Jean Ellen Weber
July 15, 2015
Our Beloved ROBERTA TEPPERMAN
I would like to honor my cousin ROBERTA and celebrate her wonderful joie de vivre spirit, strength and wisdom that she infused us all with. Yesterday when the phone rang
every cousin echoed the same sentiment about Roberta : she was a lifeline to all, a best friend, a wise soul, a go-to person, the glue that held everyone together. She was always with a smile, interested in your life, and she shared good advice, with a level head and was practical and non-judgemental. She cared about everyone. Her Mom. Eddie, Lorie, the two Marks, Philip and of course baby sister Audrey. Audrey in her grief relayed that Roberta would always call her every two days saying Where are you? Where are you little sister? And Audrey chucked and said Who else but Roberta would be looking for me and call? Everyone here is shocked and in disbelief that Roberta passed so suddenly. Our helping angel, our matriarch our “Aunt Rae” has journeyed to join the others and it seems way too premature for all of us.
My memories of Roberta span a lifetime: as a kid living in the crowded Brighton 2nd street apartment, as a teen tomboy with her jean jacket on , hanging out with Roberta going to the movies in Plainview . Then she met the perfect guy and transformed into Mickey’s radiant, happy bride-the perfect couple. As years passed I would bring Danielle to hang out in her Commack home where Roberta always welcomed me. And we shared intimate conversations about being a Mom and a grandparent. I will sorely miss her. My gift was to share an afternoon with her only last week at Audrey’s barbecue. Roberta spoke with pride about David and how well he was doing and showed me pictures of his new kitchen. During this time Helene joined in, in between serving, a daughter who was just like Roberta, always helping - and we spoke to Jason about how he interviewed for his acting gig in Scotland. Roberta was so proud of Jason and Randy and her new career path with Joan as a mentor. Roberta was all about family. How she loved Annette and Alan and her children : Jared and his new career at school, James and Ben. And Aunt Jean; how she cared for her and adored her! And Mickey was always at her side, her best friend; they were inseparable. And we all held sweet, delicious Drew who will be the antidote to the shadow of death hovering way too close to our family.
And for that reason to chase away some of the pain I wrote a fantasy story about what seems to be happening. It all started with our parents, the first generation to experience the journey. The counsel of the elders headed by Jesse who chaired the meeting and said “I beat my cancer with a heart attack and Quick is the best way”. No dissension in our wonderful family. Rae, Terry, Morris, Sarah, Diane, Dotty, Muriel, Jack, Sidney and Murray agreed. NO small feat that they all agreed. Richard’s short wave radio picked up the Quick Way signal and as a pioneer journeyed first, dying quickly after attending a wonderful party with Nancy. Oscar, being an artist and businessman slightly modified Jesse’s Quick plan and said I have an alternative plan and journeyed in his sleep after being lucid and saying goodbye to everyone. Now the heaven club needed new members to launch their new world. They had an engineer, an artist and businessman and they needed an administrator, a social worker, a consultant and people person and drafted Jerry who really journeyed after seeing all the cousins the day before- partially following Oscars plan, though modified. Then Danny sadly was drafted as the counsel needed youth and a manager – he did adhere to Jesse’s Quick plan. Us earthlings were starting to get annoyed with all of this. But finally a matriarch was needed and Roberta was drafted. Being so affable, and pleasant she did obey Jesse’s Quick plan. But now we earthlings are rebelling against the draft. “We want no more of this recruitment - counsel of elders”. We say STOP .
On behalf of everyone here I ask the old and new counsel of heaven as you embrace our beloved Roberta: NO NEW MEMBERS FOR A LONG TIME…..PLEASE.
The pain of loss can only be assuaged by banding together and connecting . Let’s do a lot of what Roberta did and care for each other as we carry on.
Written by Eve Rook
As an 8 year old, I remember I only wanted to be with my older cousin Roberta. When she would come over my house, I would brag to my friends about her "Roberta is the fastest runner in the world" I would say.
When she came over all the kids would line up to race against her. AND AS ALWAYS Roberta would be the champion.
So when I had a chance to sleep over her house in Brighton Beach, I was thrilled.
I walked into a small one bedroom apartment. Not a lot of room for 6 people, but nobody cared.
That night I ran out with Roberta to play on the rooftops of Brighton Beach. But I noticed Roberta was with a lot of boys. I was a little disappointed. I think she was starting to like boys. I was a little younger so I wasn't interested. The next morning Aunt Jean took us for haircuts in a barbershop!
But before I knew it all my beautiful long hair was on the ground. "OMG" I thought, I look like a boy! I ran out of the barber shop as quickly as I could. I was crying so hard my aunt Jean came running after me, she hugged me and said, don't worry. I'll fix it. It will be ok!
When we went upstairs she quickly ran a bath for me. She washed my hair and styled it in a special way. Her comb went this way, and that way, to make beautiful waves. After my haired dried, I looked in the mirror and saw a beautiful hairdo.
From the best aunt anyone could have. Then I ran out with Roberta to play.
Written by Marilyn Riba
Roberta was everyone's rock. She was always there when you needed her.
When we were young she was Audrey's older sister, but when we got older I felt really close to her
We would see each other at Wynmoor where she would help Aunt Jean make us dinner. I came there often with Steve and Mom.
I always thought of my Mom holding the family together, and when Mom passed Roberta took over that role
I was so excited and happy when my son got married and Roberta came to the wedding. Not sure if she was the organizer but my cousins were all there. She danced the night away. Such a beautiful person. When she was taken from us I could not accept it. I truly miss her.
Gone way to young.
Cousin Roberta Tepperman
Cousin Roberta Tepperman
Cousin Steven Kraus
Written by his sister Marilyn Riba
I loved my brother so much.
He had the biggest heart of anyone I've known. He would help anyone in anyway he could.
I recall a story he told me. He was driving his car and a woman walked out between 2 cars in the middle of the street and he hit her. You can imagine how he felt. He got out of the car and carried her to the hospital that was close by. He stayed with her the whole time and checked up on her until he knew she was fine.
I also remember when we were driving down the freeway and he saw a car on the side of the road. Immediately he pulls over and offers help. I was so pissed cause I didn't want to stop.
That was Steve. Caring, loving, and warm.
He loved his family and he was very close with cousins Audrey and Pearl.
Had a great sense of humor like most of the Colchamiro's.
I miss him terribly and think of him every day.
He was one of my best friends.