I was born on Ground Hog Day in Newark’s
Beth Israel Hospital in 1941. We lived at 15 Madison Avenue.
When I was 7 or 8, on Saturday mornings, my dad and I would drive
to a car rental agency, pick up a car and drive to the Weequahic
Diner for breakfast. My favorite was oatmeal and raisin toast. I
remember asking the waitress for “Shoofly Pie” (a popular
song at the time). I’m sort of certain she slipped me regular
apple pie, me being quite naive at that age.
Why rent a car? Well, it happened that my parents were bookies,
and dad needed to change cars to avoid detection while making his
”rounds” collecting and paying off bets. My folks were
independent operators, but that was about to change.
In some of their hushed discussions with each other, I kept hearing
only one name “Longie” (like in Zwillman) pop up. I
recall reading that “Longie“ used to meet at the Weequahic
Diner. I think he may have met my dad there on occasion.
About 1949 my dad took my older brother on a sudden (to me) exit
to Miami. My mom got a job as a steno for a social agency. Odd that.
The following winter, when the snow turned to brown slush, mom decided
to join dad and my brother. Just a guess here, but I suspect “Longie”
made dad an offer he couldn’t refuse.