Mendel Letters 83 — Daughters of Jacob Nursing Home
June 24, 2022
When I was a teenager we spent Sundays at the Daughters of Jacob Nursing Home on E. 167th Street in the Bronx. Mommy’s mother, Bubba Rachel, entered the nursing home soon after my Bar Mitzvah in 1963. She fell and broke her hip and couldn’t take care herself anymore. There was another problem also. After Zayde Benjamin died she would talk to him and God all the time. No one seemed to mind until she claimed that they were talking back to her.
Your parents, Bubba Fanny and Zayde Solomon entered the same nursing home a little after. Bubba couldn’t see anymore and couldn’t manage the apartment. Zayde was resistant but agreed to enter the home because she needed to be there and they would have their own room. More on that later.
Fay’s mother was also in the home so on Sunday’s we visited with everyone. The nursing home had a small synagogue and I would bicycle to the nursing home on Jewish holidays to attend morning services with the Zayde.
The nursing home always had entertainment for residents and guests. One Sunday a local band was playing and my senior year social studies teacher was in the band.
Bubba Fanny died in April 1968 and Zayde, who was 85 years old, announced that he did not want to stay in the home any longer. He didn’t need to, he was only there for her. You and your brothers argued with him but soon after you got a call — he had run away. Somehow you found him at a single-room occupancy hotel in Far Rockaway. After he was discovered he agreed to enter a senior facility, but it had to be a different one. I was already in college so at that point I didn’t get to visit him as much.
One of my best memories was when with the assistance of Aunt Kate I interviewed him as part of my senior project on the history of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.
Hard copies of these typed letters were discovered in an old camp trunk in the basement storage facility of one of the few buildings that remain standing in this Brooklyn neighborhood. The building is quite decrepit and is scheduled for demolition. The letters were found in November 2048 by a teenager who believes they were written by his great-grandfather. The letters are addressed to Mendel, the letter writer’s father, who appears to have been dead for at least six years when his son, whose name we are unsure of, started to write him. The son appears very agitated in some of the letters. With permission from the family, we are publishing them on the date they were written, only 28 years later.
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