Posts Tagged ‘Queens’

Beck

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

By Jeffrey Page

One generation in the Shubinsky line has just passed away. The earth of course will abide and I suppose that this, plus my aunt’s having had far more years than most people get, should bring comfort. But I’m bereft.

She was the youngest of three sisters, the only one born here in America. Her name was Rebecca. She was Becky to most people. To me, for some reason I’ve never been able to recall, she was always Beck.

She was married once to a guy who became some big hotshot in the Army. I have no memory of him. But later she married Mickey Klein, one of the sweetest men on the planet. It was from Mickey and Beck I learned my first Yiddish expression.

Soon after they got married, they came to visit us in Queens. My father was in the process of berating me for some transgression I was unaware I had committed. I imagine Mickey sensed my terrible embarrassment, and from him came the plea: luz-em-oop – leave him alone. Beck immediately agreed and my dad’s lesson was over, and these three short sounds became a kind of mantra, the secret password among my aunt, my uncle and me.

Funny how we remember these little moments that shape our lives and bond relationships.

During the war, Beck moved to Washington to take a job with the Navy. She wound up as secretary to some VIP. The story my mother told was that Beck was supposed to type up an official order noting that submariners were to have a service patch sewn onto their uniforms over the left shirt-pocket. Or maybe it was to be sewn onto the left sleeve. Doesn’t matter. What mattered was that Beck got it wrong. Maybe it had been a late night and she didn’t get enough sleep. In any event, for a while no one noticed. For me, it was a point of pride that my aunt changed the course of history. Sort of.

Even around the age of 4 I had a crush on Beck. In the words of the time, she was a swell-looking dame, with a great smile and a soft voice. Whenever she came to see us she would bring something for me. She kissed me a lot. Hugged me as well. In one visit she stood talking with my dad outside the gates of King Park in Jamaica. She kept beckoning me to come over for the gift she bought for me. But I was too bashful and kept riding my three-wheel bike in larger and larger circles.

Later, I opened her gift. It was a record of the Three Little Pigs. Since it was from Beck I had my father play it over and over. I must have listened a dozen times before the record finally broke in two. I’d like to say she got me another, but I don’t remember.

She and Mickey finally moved to Florida and we saw less of them but managed about once a year. Distance can be a curse.

When Mickey died a few years ago, I was saddened. Beck died this week. It doesn’t matter that she was 99. I’m heartbroken.