Middle Son and 6th child
Written by Marty Colchamiro
Morris Colchamiro was a great story teller. As a matter of fact, all of the Colchamiro Aunts and Uncles were great story tellers. It is a family trait that I admire greatly.
My father enjoyed children, his own and especially his brothers and sisters children. He would always engage with them in direct conversation and enjoyed telling them stories.
His sense of humor was well known within the family and a trait that I am happy to have inherited, or at least, I am told that I have.
While he retired, at the young age of 55, he decided to work for a car service (sort of a bus drivers holiday). Part of the car service business was driving children to their day nursery. Couple this with his love of driving and love of children, he made up with stories about The Butter Brothers. The Butter Brothers were based on his brothers; Jesse and Oscar.
So without formal training, just being a dad and loving children, he came up with the following that I invite you to listen to.
Back in 1983 my father sent me (Marty) a cassette tape for Ethan and Danielle, his youngest grandchildren, living on the East Coast. Since he did not get to see or visit with Ethan very often, my father sent Ethan a cassette tape to hear the famous (my words) Butter Brother stories. These are stories he made up to tell children he drove to a Montessori School in NY when he worked for a car service. The kids were ages 4, 5 and 6 year olds and were very noisy in the car. He had the idea that if he told them a story they would listen quietly. Thus began the Butter Brothers and it worked.
The recording you will hear was converted from a tape cassette to a digital format. There is hissing due to the recording medium and in the background is music and talk from a radio station my father was listening to while recording the stories.
My father loved children and was always eager to engage with them by telling stories and stimulating their imagination. He loved to make children laugh and share ideas with them. His stories stimulated children to explore the ideas he shared with them. One of most captivating tricks he was well known for was to show the children how he could make his thumb disappear. It was a repeated story told by all the cousins as they got older, about his ability to make them laugh with this trick.
Written by Jean Ellen Colchamiro Weber:
Morris Colchamiro was the 6th child of Elias and Speranza Colchamiro. His broad smile and his amazing, warm personality including a joyous, creative spirit made everyone love him. Our Dad was an entertaining storyteller, had a fabulous sense of humor and could deliver a joke, of which he told many, to compete with any of the famous comedians of his day. He was passionate, loved being with people and was a devoted, loyal ,caring and protective father. Morris loved children before it became fashionable for men to nurture children. He was a natural when it came to loving kids. Every year, our Dad would voluntarily round up all his nieces and nephews and take us on rides to Steeplechase Park in Coney Island. He was one of us, smiling and laughing . To this day when Martin and I meet our cousins they will perform his famous “thumb trick” magically putting the right hand over the left thumb, pretend to eat it and then pull the thumb out of his ear and with a closed right fist twist it back on to his left hand. Our Dad exuded warmth and a vitality for living. Morris had mottos he repeated to Martin and I everyday: ENJOY TODAY, TOMORROW NEVER COMES AND YESTERDAY IS GONE FOREVER. He taught many values to me, first the importance of life itself. When I was a little girl playing ball in the streets he would take the pink, spalding ball in his hand, kneel down and say, “never run out in the street to get the ball, because a car could hit you. I CAN ALWAYS BUY ANOTHER BALL, BUT NEVER BUY ANOTHER YOU.”
Morris exemplified devotion and respect for his mother Speranza ( Nancy), always driving her places and walking her to the door to her apartment. He always included his mother (Nona) in all our family excursions and we even traveled as a family together to Niagara Falls, Canada.
In our home, you could hear him singing all the time with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Perry Como. Our Dad loved show tunes, Volare, On a Dreamer's Holiday, Ebb tide and instilled in us a love for music. At age 5 he took me to Coney Island and made a tape of me singing Old Man River, in a recording booth, which is a favorite song of mine to this day. Our father knew what was important in life, family, music and laughter. He was a happy person and you knew it, as it radiated through his personality. Everyone loved being in his company.
Our Dad drove a bus for a living and he was one of the first to win The Best Bus Driver award in the city of New York. His picture was pasted in buses throughout Brooklyn.
I always looked forward to spending the day with him on his early morning bus route where I observed his friendly, kind behavior towards his passengers. He knew and greeted them by name; he would help women with small children with packages to get on and would give extra time to handicapped people and the elderly. He would actually describe to me the difficulty a young, pregnant woman had, holding the hand of her two small children and carrying packages. His empathy abounded. In summation, he was a model of a caring human being. He would show me how some bus drivers would hurry up, skip picking up people and just get quickly to the end of the line, calling the line of buses , the banana line as they came in bunches. If he drove a very crowded bus he would yell out humorously, BREATHE ALTERNATELY while chanting his famous STEP TO THE REAR, MOVE BACK. With teenagers getting on the bus, asking if the bus went to Lincoln High School, he would say, “no this bus already graduated.” He would tell jokes on the bus and I would watch at holiday time how many people called him by his name and handed him gifts. I was so proud of my Dad.
He lived his life by example showing me right from wrong and sharing stories . One stands out to me this day. While driving he witnessed an accident and went to court to testify, taking a stand and pointing out who was at fault. The man was very angry at my Dad . It took courage and convictions and our father lived his truth. He was an honest man, principled and a born teacher of life. Morris took my friends and I on his last bus route of the day and treated us to Carvel custard (soft ice-cream) cones. Since it was his break at the end of the bus route, he would park and let us take his seat and play with the money changer ( no longer in existence on today's buses). If he was dropping me off, he would pull up his brake, look out his window and wait until I crossed the avenue before he started driving the bus. Morris was a patient man and would help me with homework. One time he showed me how to draw the insignia of the United Nations; another time he took a straw with a glass of water illustrating the concept of air pressure. He was proud of my piano playing and told his older brother Jesse about my playing La Traviata and since Jesse loved opera, he came one evening and listened to me play. These examples illustrate how our Dad taught us life by example, showing protection, love of his fellow man and the ability to enjoy each day, living the Golden Rule, “ALWAYS DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU”.
When the Nassau Farmer's Market opened in Long Island, my Dad and Mom opened up a stand selling pajamas and children's wear. They worked from 11:00 a.m. To 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday after a regular work week in Brooklyn. He named himself “Smiling Morris and my Mom, Laughing Esther”. My Dad would have signs up: DON'T HIT YOUR KIDS, GIVE THEM SOCKS -3 pair for $1.00. It was interesting for Marty and I to see this new side of our parents: entrepreneurs and salespeople.
To give a complete picture of Morris one must look at his role with his seven siblings which was one of friendship, commitment and loyalty. He went boating with Uncle Jesse and Aunt Dotty regularly, visited Oscar and Jesse's factory in NYC and helped out and frequently walked me to Aunt Rae's home to spend the afternoon. He enjoyed taking us to Aunt Sarah and Uncle Elliot's home in Brooklyn, drove to Muriel and Oscar's home in Plainview, L.I., and to Aunt Diane and Uncle Nat's homes in Yonkers and Scarsdale. A lifelong bond was created with our cousins which was a gift of fun and enriched our spirit. All of our aunts and uncles were warm and nurturing, mirroring the loving spirit of the Colchamiros. Additionally, many cousins and friends would seek out our Dad to get advice on issues they were dealing with. As a good listener and fair man, Morris healed many with his understanding and compassion.
Did you know my Dad invented the original banana hook out of wire which he gifted to all of us? Years later we all saw it sold in supermarkets. Dad was ahead of his times. He was very mechanical and had carpentry skills, building a wooden piano bench in our Brighton Beach apartment. How many of us learned the 3 point turn and were taught to drive by Morris?
In retirement in Brooklyn he drove children and adults to schools and work. How could he keep these 4 and 5 year olds from being restless? Our Dad created a series of Butter Brother Stories with Okkie and Jesse as the main characters, narrating the danger of their being melted by the witch imploring the children to yell at the witch in unison.
His imagination and delivery of stories entertained and delighted all his grandchildren as well. Later in Century Village he drove a tram and worked part time at a golf course giving all of us rides on a golf cart. What fun!
Cooking with love, the kitchen was enticing as Pop made the best, savory hamburgers and rice one could eat. The Greek dishes my Mom learned to make for him which included bamia, baked squash , calsonias, cut-cut, bubanaza, fassoula, singatu, chick peas and spinach added to our learning about our Greek ancestry. I could picture him now putting sour cream on the spinach calsonias with delight.
Later in life Morris became very spiritual, following the teachings of Sai Baba of India. Our father even traveled to Puttaparthi, India to hopefully meet Sai Baba, a guru, an avatar and educator to find out what his purpose was while his body was fighting cancer. Our Dad read all his books, wrote his own papers to distribute to all his children and grandchildren and taught the Course On Miracles.
Morris and Esther were included in a chapter of a book acknowledging their commitment to the above teachings of Sai Baba and the special effect Morris exuded with his love of life and richness of learning.
Esther Colchamiro, first born daughter of Anna and Morris Farbman, always was proud that she was named after Queen Esther in the Bible. She liked to call herself Esther Malka.(Queen in Hebrew). At home she spoke Yiddish until she entered school. Her youth she describes as privileged, her father owning a shoe manufacturing business. Her mother originally from Russia was a seamstress for Bergdoff Goodman in N.Y. She was proud of having a car at age 19 and attended City College for 6 months to become a German language teacher. But tragically, her father who was the apple of her eye, died suddenly during the depression when his business failed and our Mom had to enroll in a business school to help support the family. Her family moved from the Bronx to Brighton Beach. Esther met my father Morris on a blind date and their marriage produced Martin 2 years later on their anniversary, and Jean 2 and ½ years after that. She quickly adopted Morris's five sisters and 2 brothers and became part of their lives. Our Mom loved meeting my Dads' cousins in NYC near her work place. It gave her great joy throughout her life which carried on even after my father died. She enjoyed learning how to cook many of my Dad's favorite Greek foods: bamia, bubanaza, calsonia, okra, lehan, singatu, fassoula and rice and we learned the Greek ways through her efforts.
Our mother Esther was heroic and stoic, hardworking, tirelessly devoted to the care of her widowed Mother who lived nearby and later her sister Miriam. My mother was a lady of devotion to and care of her family. As the oldest of the family she held them together and when further illness of epilepsy and mental illness attacked her birth family, she did whatever she could through visits and calls to help. Mom was smart, her long days consisted of working, first in Woolworths on Brighton Beach Avenue where Marty would take me to visit her. My Mom was a role model of strength because after work, she would make dinner, check on her Mother, give her injections, clean the small Brighton Beach 3 room apartment on the weekends and do whatever she needed to make our family unit economically stronger. Our fun visits to all our aunts and cousins and a trip to Lakewood, N.J. provided memorable moments.
Esther's personal aspirations were put on the back burner but she encouraged her daughter when asked to choose between a secretary and teacher, to go into education; another gift of career direction was handed down to Jean. Later on our Mom worked as a legal secretary for Yellen, Kenner and Levy commuting daily on the train to NYC at a time when stay at home Moms were the vogue. She took great pride in the legal work she did. Efficient and organized, Esther not only typed legal documents but was promoted to do the research in the law libraries aiding one partner with immaculate detailed work. She even gave Jean an opportunity to sit in on the famous Malcolm X murder trial as the son of one of the lawyers in her law firm was representing this high profile case.
Esther was inspirational in imparting culture. Our Mom was a strong component of extra curricular activities enriching us in music and providing for a Jewish education as she sent Marty and me to Shul to learn Yiddish and Hebrew and signed Jean up for Mac Levy's dance studio when it came into town. A huge gift in life was giving us music lessons, violin for Marty, and piano for me. I developed a love of classical and contemporary music. We frequented the Met and watched operas and saw Broadway shows thus expanding our musical repertoire.
Our Mom became an avid aficionado of baseball; she rivaled any man who could recite names, positions, teams and other minutia for which baseball is known. A Brooklyn Dodger fan, she would argue with our neighbor's son, a Yankees fan, touting the Dodgers were the best team. Additionally her hobbies included knitting, needlepoint and mahjong. She knit incredible sweaters: women's black and white sequence, angora , men's designs, grandchildren matching sweaters, hats and skirts; all possessing very intricate patterns. And to spice up life she was a contestant on the Arthur Godfrey TV show winning a briefcase which she gifted to Marty.
Moving to Century Village, Florida our Mom at age 55 finally in retirement began to live. She became a stay-at-home Grandma, pursuing interests of ceramics, bowling, entertaining guests and socializing with her neighbors and sister-in-laws. Her greatest love was her 7 grandchildren and she was happy to nurture and guide Randie, Tracy, Eric and Dawn in Florida, traveling up North annually to see Ethan, Danielle and Julie.
Our Mom was a proud, intelligent, independent woman, who became President of her Condominium. At age 82 she moved to Orlando, Florida after our Dad passed to be closer to her grandchildren Randie, Tracy, Dawn, Eric, and great grandchildren Sam, Race, Catherine and Jacob. They called her Gigi. A good soul, Esther was a cheerleader to all encouraging in their endeavors :Tracy in medical school and Eric in the gulf war and in his golf career. She enjoyed baking with Dawn and spending time with Randie. She had a passion to inspire them with words of wisdom. Her phrases of “it's nearer than further”, and “as it comes..so it will go” always encourage us.
Noted for her spunkiness, toughness of spirit and love of purpose she got involved with politics during the election of Bush vs. Gore. The day before she passed she introduced Al Gore's son at a meeting. What a remarkable lady!