A 1977 four-door Cadillac Sedan comfortably holds four passengers. Five, if none of the passengers play on the front-line for the Bulls, or at least
the old Bulls. But in 1978, on a gray, blustery, Fall day, my grandfather tried -- no, actually broke -- the record for the largest number of living
human beings ever stuffed into a General Motor’s luxury automobile by squeezing seven children, all under the age of thirteen, two under
five-years-old, and two adults, including himself, into his maroon boat-like, fun-mobile. This record would be duplicated each successive Sunday
and actually broken a few times as my cousins increased and then invited friends on each of my grandfather’s famous Sunday day-trips.
A few years after my oldest son Kagan was born, and I began to understand what it meant to care for one child, let alone seven or eight, I tried
explaining to my wife Debra what a remarkable feat it was; my grandfather loading up each and every one of his grandchildren each and every
Sunday, without fail, and with Ripken-like dedication whisking us all off in his Caddie to the Circus, the Ice Capades, the movies, or whatever
local happening was worthy of his great energy and spirit -- and yes, jewelry.
My grandfather handed out jewelry wherever he went. I was always suprised that there was never a movement among local jewelers to arrest him.
I mean, here he was handing out “Majorca” earrings, “Tahitian” pearl necklaces, rings, broaches, you name it, for free and jewelers were actually
charging for the stuff. You could tell my grandfather had been somewhere by the trail of shiny trinkets and smiles that he left behind.
Stewardesses, waitresses, nurses, hostesses...my grandfather knew how to brighten peoples’ day.
I grew particularly close to my grandfather during my freshman year in college. I was living in Los Angeles, trying to forge a career as a basketball
player at Occidental College, and he and Mary were living in nearby Palm Desert. He would come to several of my games with his dear friend, and
former Professional basketball player, Mickey Rottner. Because of my attitude and height, or lack of, (I discovered a 5’9” White, Jewish guy is not
meant to excel in the world of hoops) I didn’t play much. After about the third game watching me sit on the bench, my grandfather suggested I
consider focusing on something other than basketball. “Like what?” I asked. “Like girls.” My grandfather quickly offered.
Upon quitting the basketball team, I began visiting my grandparents almost every weekend at their home in Palm Desert. It was a short drive from
L.A. and they always made me feel very welcome. Each visit brought the same question, “Are you dating any one? Any cute girls?” Each week
prior to the visit I had the same poor results, so the answer was always the same, “No. I wasn’t dating anyone and, in fact, I didn’t even have a
prospect .” The truth was, during my freshman year in college, when it came to girls, I was in the biggest slump of my life. Understanding this,
my grandfather led me into his den/office and handed me a small plastic bag of earrings. “Come on,” he said, “I’ll show you how to get a date.”
Off we went to the clubhouse at his Country Club. Now anyone who knows the retirement community of Palm Desert probably knows that the
clubhouse of any one of the well-groomed country clubs is not the greatest place for a 19-year-old to pick up girls. But nonetheless we charged
forward, my grandfather and I, determined to get me a date. If nothing else, I figured I might meet some wealthy widower, drop out of school and
hang around with my grandfather all day handing out jewelry and playing golf. Not a bad life.
Upon arrival at the clubhouse, he immediately spotted a young, and yes attractive, girl cleaning up a table at the outdoor restaurant. “Here’s what I
want you to do,” he said reaching into the small plastic pouch of zirconias. “Notice her hair is pulled back and yet her earrings are dangling.
That’s because they’re too long for her face. Hand her these.” He pressed two shiny, nugget-shaped jewels into my palm. “Tell her, her face is too
pretty to be distracted by long earrings and that these studs will better highlight her beautiful face and features.” He leaned in close, looked
around, cocked his head and mouth to the same side and whispered in a low, conspiratorial tone, “Remove the earrings she has on and replace them
with these.” “Actually, take the earrings she has on off and put on these earrings in their place?” I asked incredulously. “What if I rip her ear off
and she bleeds to death?”
“No wonder you haven’t been able to get a date, “ he said, “Do it gently. You won’t make her bleed. Go.” He urged me toward the girl.
A few minutes later I returned with her phone number in hand. She had been waiting for me all week. My grandfather had her prepped well in
advance of my arrival that day.
Because of my grandfather, we had fun. I have a feeling I’m not the only who can say that. Fun was certainly his gift, if not his specialty.
He will be missed, loved, and never forgotten.
Grandpa, thanks! I love you!