A house in the country

A house in the country

When my mother learned that the New York subway system was to extend to Washington Heights where we lived, she said she would not bring up her children on the subway.

My parents visited old friends in Flushing (Queens), which was reached in ” minutes on the Long Island Railroad, and decided to rent the first floor of a two-family house on Cherry Avenue. It had a stoop, a backyard with three tulip trees, and an apple tree next door.

This was 19’7, and Flushing was "country." There were two apartment houses, streets of lovely old Victorian houses with towers and magnolia trees, farms, and grassy lots to walk through to school (poison ivy, too).

The Jewish community was small and clearly divided into a Reform congregation and a Conservative one. There was one kosher butcher and an A&P that sometimes sold challah, though my mother insisted the store was anti-Semitic.

My grandparents came every Sunday during the summer carrying full shopping bags from the Bronx. I remember the kichel. Other relatives came to see my grandparents at our house, the men playing pinochle in the backyard and the women telling secrets they had sworn not to.

One summer Sunday, as the number of guests, increased my mother worried that there wouldn’t be enough food. There was a dairy lunch but "nothing to start with."

Thankfully there was Mr. Peretz, our neighbor, who drove a cab in New York and every Thursday would go to the East Side to load up on the essentials for the Jewish families on Cherry Avenue. His cab filled up with candles, and wine and whatever else was needed to celebrate the holidays and the staples of everyday, bagels, lox, pot cheese, and large cans of sour cream. He put them in his garage on wooden tables which were quickly emptied by the waiting women.

This Sunday my mother realized that there was not enough schav to feed the guests in the backyard, and thinking quickly (you had to know my mother) she sent me to Mr. Peretz to buy some sour cream to extend the soup. He was sorry that there was no more. Then thinking quickly (he, too) told me to bring the schav to him. He grasped the two jars of soup, dumped them into the can that had held the sour cream, gave it a brisk shake and poured it back into my jars.

We served this rich creamy schav, enough to go around, and were complimented on the best schav our guests had ever eaten.

We were also assured that they would come again to the "country."

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