Category Archives: Joe and the Family

RETIREMENT, MOVING SOUTH TO FLORIDA, PT. 3 * 1977-1980

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 10, 1977 – 1980 RETIREMENT, MOVING SOUTH TO FLORIDA, PT. 3

HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED IT; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!

“JOE SEFEKAR’S INSPIRING STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEALTH, WELFARE AND ARTS OF UNITED STATES.”

This is the beginning of an ephemeral work experience with the City of Tarpon Springs. I was hired as Assistant City Manager for Tarpon Springs, Florida, the next town over from Palm Harbor where we lived. A long time employee of Tarpon Springs City Hall became the new city manager. He ran the office like a GD Colonel (which he was).  And I’m really being careful in choosing these words because in almost 40 years of previous relations with people in management and government positions, I tried to deal with individuals fairly and openly whatever their rank or position. A good deal of my work experience was in military or quasi-military assignments, so this was a bitter pill to swallow to try to work out a troublesome situation.  He threatened to cut any person’s throat who spoke to the local newspapers without his permission.  There was a lot of salt water under the dock, so to speak, before it came to ahead later on in this chapter.

In October of 1978, I wrote to Mike Goyer indicating my interest in obtaining a position with him, and listing my experience as budget officer (thus putting into operation my previous plans of retiring and finding a suitable job). I was called for an interview, and we hit it off pretty well. He had no regular personnel vacancy but he said he could put me on the rolls under the CETA (Civilian Employee Training Act) Program, which was a joint program where the City and the Federal Government shared the salary cost of $ 10,000 per annum. It was exciting – I worked on the FY 1978-79 City of Tarpon Springs budget, supervised by the Finance Director, and had direct contact with the City Manager. My duties included coordinating meetings with the various city directors (i.e. Personnel, Supply, and General Services) and attending weekly Commission meetings. My relations with all the personnel and the Commissioners were pleasant and congenial, ­until the serpent reared its ugly head.

Working closely with Mike and the Finance Director, we completed the budget. Charley Barnes, the perennial old-timer, who had been with the City for over 20 years supervising construction of streets and sewers in the City, worked on the finances with us. His knowledge of all the nooks and crannies was invaluable in preparing the budget.

Then the lid blew off — the Commissioners were unhappy with Mike (something about his not keeping them, abreast of every detail of his activities), which led to his dismissal. Then the Finance Officer resigned for a better job, but probably in support of the City Manager. I found myself in charge of the City Budget and I was appointed Acting General Services Director, at $ 15,000 a year. I worked with Charley Barnes’, who was now appointed Acting City Manager. I supervised the Personnel Division; the Supply Department and the Streets and Sewers Division. About that time, a sunny day in March 1979, I was standing near an open window about 11 a.m., looking out at a bright spring day, a soft breeze blowing, and I said to myself, “What am I doing here, when I should be out there”? But this feeling of remorse didn’t last long. The sense of challenge and accomplishment replaced any misgivings I may have had, about going back to work.

There were also a number of bonuses, though not in the financial sense. Tarpon Springs is a beautiful city on the Gulf of Mexico and world-renowned because of its famous Greek sponge industry that dates back to the late 18 and early 1900’s. Every once in a while, I would occasionally do a flashback thinking about my father, Jack, growing up on the Island of Salonika, Greece. One of his early trades was also as a fisherman before they left the Greek Isle to settle in the “New World.” But back too real-time, Thelma would meet me regularly for lunch or maybe a dinner at the sponge docks – beautiful atmosphere, delicious foods and a nice way to soak up the sights and sounds of this “Greek fishing village. (Her last birthday would be spent having lunch there.)

They were also noted for their art festivals on the Bayou that attracted thousands of art fanciers and tourists yearly; Thelma would love to drag me along.

Tarpon Springs Bayou (1) Welcome 2 the Bayou

 Figures  #10.42 and #10.43 Tarpon Springs, Down on the Bayou

 Sponge Dock Restaurants Tarpon Springs

Figures #10.44 and Figure #10.45 The Tarpon Springs Sponge Dock where we would have lunch.

So I was budget officer for the Tarpon Springs Government; which was exciting, even though it was only for short time. The city manager I mentioned was ousted by the city board. The finance officer assigned to assist the newly appointed acting city manager was made; hold the phone. The new city manager was a young man, who had a similar job in Arizona, and just made the switch. His name was Mike Goyer. The City Manager became the target of the high and mighty Commissioners – usually there were 5 Commissioners, and the climate was very politically charged. Pinellas County was the most densely populated Congressional District in Florida. The Commissioners vented their spleens on the City Managers. It took only 3 Commissioners to displace any Manager they didn’t like. In October 1978, there appeared to be a personal vendetta by the Commissioners of the various small towns in my County against the hapless City Managers. The Manager of the City of Dunedin (Gehringer) was such a victim. The Manager of the City of Clearwater was also replaced. The Manager of Tarpon Springs could not escape this spate of firings – it was open season.

The City of Tarpon Springs announced that the position of General Services Director at $18,000 was being opened to applicants. The Mayor, Bill Lane, suggested I apply for it. Charley Barnes and I had been running the City with his know-how of the daily operations and my knowledge of the financial activities. I must admit that I enjoyed the relationship because things worked so smoothly. One of the Commissioners said, “I don’t think we should put Joe in the position of General Services Director until a new city manager is appointed. The Manager should have a say in selecting the General Services Director”. Not being interested in having any more responsibility, I didn’t push for immediate action, but agreed to await the arrival of the new city manager, ­right? No, wrong!! The new city manager, a veteran Colonel of the Vietnam War, took hold with vim and vigor.

The new City Manager took hold of his responsibilities. Assuming he would take some time to familiarize himself with the way of the Government operations, they were all laid-back with anticipation, and waited for him to reveal whether he was going to be a benign force or martinet.

 

We didn’t have long to wait for the answer, which had an unexpected effect on my future. One of the staff (whose identity was never divulged) innocently gave some information to a reporter of a local town paper. The story was unimportant but the city manager took it as a breach of confidence. He called staff together, which was our first meeting, and he warned us, “If I hear of anyone talking to the newspapers, I’ll cut your head off at the neck!” I realized it was all innocent rhetoric, from a soldier just back from the Vietnam battlefront, but the newspapers never got an inside story again. But it did give us an idea of what kind of supervisor we had. I became a victim of this bombastic individual. Our relationship was strictly business – we worked on a budget together. We followed the usual practice of adding and subtracting from budgetary requests submitted by the different division managers.

 

There were several changes which required retyping of the budget. Our first disagreement was my objection to redoing the whole budget over a minimal variation of some of the figures. He asked, “What authority do you have over this budget?” I said “I’m the budget officer.” He replied, “You’re not the budget officer – I am.” On that shaky basis, I continued my review of the budget under his supervision. At the next Commission meeting, we presented the budget to the City Commissioners. In replying to a question by one of the commissioners, I gave my justification for some of the figures. The City Manager claimed that he was not aware of the data that was submitted and I declared, “I told you about it.” All hell broke loose, and the city manager threatened to quit. The Commissioners would not “look good” if a man they had just hired for the top administrative spot, resigned.

 

This is the kind of situations I referred to when I listed the advantages of being in “retirement” position. Despite the fact that I knew that there was nothing to be done in the face of a “Little Caesar” temperament, I immediately sat down and wrote a letter of explanation to each of the Commissioners and Mayor, Bill Lane. The only result of the letter was to assuage my “hurt” feelings, but I left on good terms with the staff and the Commissioners. My record of countless career entries for service recognition remained intact. The City manager threatened to “quit” several times after that incident. It was less than a year later that he tried it for the last time; that maneuver again. Like the boy who “cried wolf”, he tried it once too often. The city commissioners said goodbye to the “Lt. Col. who would be City Manager.”

 

Activities with The Temple, adapting to Being a Floridian:

One day in the latter part of 1978, I got a call from a temple member friend, and he told me of a volunteer group that was working on an idea of performing arts Center in New Port Richey, a town adjoining Palm Harbor. This group had received a bequest of 50 acres on a piece of land in Pasco County. The chairman of the working committee, had organized a group of interested citizens and put their organizational talents together. They were successful in obtaining a planning document from the Frank Lloyd Corporation, which laid out the pertinent facts and figures involving construction of a Performing Arts Center. In view of my experience with the Hirshhorn Museum, it seemed to be a good prospect for me. The building committee’s mission was to raise the funds for initial operations. Inasmuch as they didn’t want to rely on government funding, it looked like a long haul. We set up some of our basic needs. Office space was set up in the Barnett Bank building, which required no layout of funds by PHPAC (Palm Harbor Performing Arts Center), except for office supplies. We were making some progress, but we were concerned with the proviso accompanying the request, “commence building in two years.” We had a small staff: director and the clerk, and myself as finance officer. Being unpaid jobs, it was no surprise when the director resigned. To get a replacement, the committee had to consider putting a paid employee in the slot. Unfortunately, the person they hired wasn’t sufficiently qualified, and was fired. Despite my efforts, we could not get a viable organization going. The failure to accept local government assistance, would be detrimental to the success of this venture. I would learn from this undertaking as the project would never acquire the public support necessary and was destined to fail from the beginning. The expansion of the plans from a performing arts center to a huge complex, including the resort hotel and residential housing, was quite a tall bill to pay. C’est la vie.

 

As a footnote, this preliminary experience in the world of “Performing Arts Centers” was invaluable in the next phase of my life that begun shortly thereafter.

Luckily, I could always fall back on my retirement activities: golf, swimming, gardening, and social functions. On days that I didn’t golf, I would ride my bicycle to our community pool, swim a few laps and then home for lunch. Thelma and I had routines and we kept ourselves busy on a regular basis I would help her with her rose bushes which she took on in a determined demeanor with awards from the Rose Society to show for it. Here she is at one of her rose shows and here we are tip toeing through the roses.

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Figures #10.46 and #10.47 Tiptoeing through the roses   Figure #10.48 Now this is a rose garden

My children were very conscientious in keeping open the lines of communication with dozens of letters filling up my cabinets and of course it was very satisfying responding in-kind also. And almost as satisfying were the updates on how the Hirshhorn Museum was progressing. I was always receiving publications, my regular monthly subscription to the “Torch” through August 1983, when Billy decided to move down here and join us. It would now be up to Bonnie and Lee to keep the lifeline open.

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   Figures #10.49 and #10.50 A little togetherness never hurts.

 

More Togetherness!!

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Figure # 10.51 Bonnie, Diana and Lee Chillin’ in Florida Figure # 10.52 Proud Grandparents with Diana Jill, Figure # 10.53 “Joe Baby” and Baby Diana Jill

We managed to keep in close contact whenever possible, especially at family gatherings which has been a trademark for both Thelma and my families. Getting them to come down to sunny Florida during the winter and cooler months up north was not a problem.

So concludes the third and final excerpt from Chapter 10 Retirement, Moving South to Florida 1977 1980.

The Chapter 11 embarks on another of my major challenges and achievements, Ruth Eckerd Hall; the wonderful world of the performing arts; and lots and lots of family togetherness.

Copyright © 2016               William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

We are always interested in hearing comments and suggestions about how the blog could be better. Sound off below with your ideas.

RETIREMENT, MOVING SOUTH TO FLORIDA, PT. 2 * 1977 – 1980

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 10, 1977 – 1980 RETIREMENT, MOVING SOUTH TO FLORIDA, PT. 2

 

HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED IT; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!

“JOE SEFEKAR’S INSPIRING STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEALTH, WELFARE AND ARTS OF UNITED STATES.”

Before getting into some of the major ventures as my post retirement career challenges began to take shape, I settled into a routine of getting acclimated with my surroundings. Lots of warm weather, lots of green and greens with some golf and something to reacquaint myself with; my writings. There were many people, friends, family and Associates that would garner my attention. I was particularly eager to continue my association with my former boss Al Lerner at the Hirshhorn (and his wife Pauline). I did the same with Joe Hirshhorn and his wife, Olga and Sen Daniel Moynihan, Chairman of the HMSG Board

 

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                      Figure #10.16 Letter Al and Pauline Lerner   Figure #10.17 Letter Joe and Olga Hirshhorn

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            Figure #10.18 Letter to Mike Wallace of 60 minutes   Figure #10.19 Letter to Senator Moynihan

I even had time to contact Mike Wallace formidable TV host of “60 Minutes,” about a news report hearing with George Carlin, the comedian from one of the listeners who heard these dirty words while he was driving with his son and was offended. The new story followed an item on the Skokie demonstration – how can Mr. Douglas talk about an insult on the senses and not say anything about a life-and-death assault by the Nazis in Skokie, Illinois? If it is only an assault on the senses could be condoned under the First Amendment, but an assault on death should not be allowed to surfaces as free speech, when what it spews forth is death.

I went on to furnish some facts if they could use the follow-up scenario: That being a native born American, with some normal religious interest – meaning like attending Friday night services, just as Catholics attend Sunday church services. By the grace of God, my parents migrated from Salonika, Greece to America in 1916. My mother left three sisters behind, they, their husbands and children were slain by the Germans; 15 in all. Four cousins survived the concentration camps – one is in Canada, one is in New York and two are in Israel. My exposure to the Holocaust was during my tour of duty in Europe with Hq. First U.S. Army. Our units liberated Buchenwald and I observed what remained before it was cleaned up. What will stay with me forever was the abattoir with hooks along the walls below the ceiling. Two survivors explained that the prisoners were impaled by their chin on the hooks. Maybe it is a sense of stoicness and the ability to bend instead of breaking that has enabled the Jew to survive throughout the generations. My cousin Haim became a bank guard in Tel Aviv; Eli owns a carpet store in Canada; Pepo is a grocer-owner in Brooklyn.

I kept writing letters, a steady flow of letters to newspapers; TV commentaries; to my family especially my children. And it was reciprocated, here’s a photo of Bonnie dutifully sending a letter to Thelma and me and Billy keeping in touch from his new position as Energy Director in Western Maryland.

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           Figure #10.20 My daughter Bonnie writing us  Figure #10.21 Son Bill as Energy Director

 

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Figure #10.22 A few of Thelma’s prize roses awards

We had a delicate life during these years. Thelma immersing herself in growing roses and community activities of the Jewish civic organization Hadassah and ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation and Training). We also were active in our retirement community, treasurer of the stock club, etc. We had on Thelma’s side of the family her sister Renee and husband Harry that lived five houses from us. Through their help was how we found this really nice home that we moved in, upon our arrival here in Palm Harbor.

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Figure #10.23 and Figure #10.24 Part of the “famous” Thelma’s rose garden

Thelma took great pride getting the roses planted and taking care of with a lot of TLC. It involved spraying, fertilizing, pruning and show presentation

 

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             Figure #10.25 Painting of daughter Bonnie in her   Figure #10.26 Rembrandt’s self-portrait

              wedding dress

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Figure #10.27 Original Wedding Photo

As you can see from the likeness of the painting of my daughter in her wedding dress, my wife had extraordinary talent in creating exact likeness of subjects whether alive or inanimate objects. The results are striking as you can see even from just photos.

 

 

 

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            Figure #10.28 scenic view of La Seine in Paris                  Figure #10.29 Morning in the Tropics

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                         Figure #10.31 Winter Harmony

Figure #10.30 Old wooden bridge, Sturbridge, Ma

Figure #10.32 Spanish Senorita 17           18

                                                                                                                              Figure #10.33 Girl with a broom

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                         Figure #10.34 Hawaiian Coastline                        Figure #10.35 Diana Jill at the beach

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                                           Figure #10.36 Flowers in a vase       Figure #10.37 Floral arrangement                                                                                                            in fancy vase

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     Figure #10.38 Fresh Cut Flowers                             Figure #10.39 Poor Artist’s Cupboard

We certainly can’t ignore the continued lifeline going with Bonnie and Billy up in Maryland. Our first grandchild would arrive on July 14, 1978 and was named Diana Jill Landau. Thelma and I would spend time up there assisting them in preparation for this blessed event. We helped fix up their house, getting things ready and helping Bonnie while working with Lee’s parents Cynthia and Irv. It was definitely a most joyous occasion.

Certain unforeseen changes took place during this time period and chapter. An important career development would occur putting a different spin on my best laid retirement plans. This would add another feature to Chapter 10 Retirement, Moving South to Florida. Post #22 Chapter 10 Part 3; excerpts to follow.

Copyright © 2016      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

 

We are always interested in hearing comments and suggestions about how the blog could be better. Sound off below with your ideas

 

 

RETIREMENT, MOVING SOUTH TO FLORIDA, PT. 1 * 1977 – 1980

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 10, 1977 – 1980 RETIREMENT, MOVING SOUTH TO FLORIDA, PT. 1

HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED IT; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!
1977 began my sixth decade. My eyes were really lit up. I had decided to take early retirement despite the fact that my job as Administrator of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, one of the Jewels of the Washington D.C. Smithsonian Institution, was a dream job. My philosophy of my previous jobs was “Take your leave, while the leaving was easy.” By making my own decision to leave, I left on good terms with everyone.
This is quite evident by a most fantastic retirement party by anybody’s standards. All the Associates of the Smithsonian Hirshhorn family and friends were in attendance. Glowing adulation flowed, there were gifts, paintings and other going away mementos. This outpouring of good cheer would send Thelma and I off with fond memories and a tinge of tears in our eyes. The following montage depicts the wonderful sendoff we received.

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Figure  # 10.1 A going away painting from the Hirshhorn.

A Retirement painting with me sitting on the Thomas Moore’s sculpture, “King and Queen” was one of the going away gifts from the Hirshhorn. Other various gifts included: Life-time subscriptions (see below), a Montblanc fountain pen and of course a tie.

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Figure #10.2 Life-time Subscription                  Figure #10.3 Mont Blanc Pen gift

 

 

Now the time had come to make my “Swan Song,” I took out my little notes and began what seemed like an eternity. Trying to remember the basic points from the Toastmaster’s speaking seminars

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Figure #10.04 Hand written notes for going away party

FAREWELL TO HIRSHHORN

Like the old cliché, this is both a sad and joyous occasion. There is no question that it is a sad time, leaving the Hirshhorn Museum, the Smithsonian, and all my friends. But, on the other hand seeing you all here is a very happy occasion, and I thank you all for sharing this fond farewell. In my 37 years with civil service, I have been with eight different agencies. Happily, my longest tour was with the Hirshhorn Museum. My seven years with HMSG were exciting, challenging and fruitful. I was fortunate to have the guiding hand of Al Lerner, whom I have found to be a tremendous human being. And of course, all of this would not be possible without the great generosity of Mr. Hirshhorn. Since my retirement coincides with my 60th birthday, I would like to read from a clipping I have called “Thoughts On Growing Older.” **

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               Figures #10.5 and #10.6, Going away Speech

There was plenty of refreshments and good cheer, even the high octane kind.

9 10 11 Figures#10.7    Party spread  Figure # 10.8 Retirement Cake- “Four” Figure #10.9 Pick your poison -Potent and Plain

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Figures #10.10 and Figure #10.11, Receiving a beautiful Hirshhorn Picture signed by Staff

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Figure #10.12 Family picture with Thelma, our son-in-law Lee, daughter, Bonnie,                                                                          Mr. Joe Hirshhorn, Joe Sefekar, Mrs. Olga Hirshhorn and son, Bill                              Figure #10.13 Cutting the Retirement cake.

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My personal friends were unhappy because they would miss their guaranteed invitations to all the opening art exhibitions hosted by the Museum. This always meant hot hor’douvres and most of the time came with an “open” bar. Of course, my wife decried the loss of invitations to the Smithsonian soirees. They covered the total intellectual orbit – the Jeffersonian awards, which honored outstanding individuals that not only contributed to the arts, but were outstanding in other fields. There was Sir Hillary, noted mountain climber who bested Mt. McKinley. We met Alex Haley who authored the outstanding book “Roots” which was converted into a mega four-part series. We can’t forget Isaac Asimov, noted scholar who was in the vanguard of the nation’s science fiction writers, a Nobel Prize winner, and the originator of the Law of Robots. At his reception, we discovered that he had lived on Herzel Street, Brooklyn. N.Y. where my wife had spent her younger years and coincidentally shared the same birthday.

Our friends at Parkside Plaza took it very hard. We developed a close association akin to the above referenced Herzel Street where everyone was close and lived one on top of each other, so to speak. We were on the fifth floor and had lovely neighbors throughout the building. We had a memorable going away bash just a tad different than the one in the confines of the Hirshhorn Museum. Gifts flowed, tears also flowed. We would keep in contact with many of these friends who would later head down the I-95 corridor, making the same trek down to Florida. Though most of them headed to the East Coast, Thelma and I’s plans were to locate on the West Coast in Clearwater, St. Petersburg near where her sister Renee and family resided.

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Figure #10.14 Going away bash with friends at Parkside Plaza

One would ask why one would leave such a challenging, interesting and self-satisfying position, at the peak of accomplishment, in exchange for a sedentary environment in warm and sunny Florida. Well, the one who would ask was our family doctor, who I went to see for an inventory-type physical exam, prior to our sojourn to the South. He asked, “Why are you leaving your job where you are enjoying your work, you’re comparatively young (60), and apparently in good health?” I replied, “I like the idea of moving to Florida, and I think I am still young enough to get a suitable job there.” After 38 years in the Federal service, my pension would be equivalent to my current salary and I could work at any position without worrying about supervisory conflict, meeting work-schedules, and other work-related hang-ups. What made it tougher was leaving behind so many dear friends, people that we came to know and love. It was very heartwarming that equal expressions of loss flowed forth. One such reminder came from Betsy Hammer, a close assistant.

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Figure #10.15 Postcard from Betsy Hammer on my retirement

Dear Mr. Sefekar – You’re as much a part, to everyone, of the Hirshhorn as the beautiful works of art, and I know everyone will miss you. It’s you who’ve kept us smiling with your kind calm leadership. I’m the one who appreciates.

Cordially, Betsy Hammer

How can you express a feeling of leaving behind such wonderful, dedicated, and caring people that Thelma and I met and were so very fond of?

And so on Thursday, the 4th of August 1977 – we loaded up our two cars. My wife always spelled me when we went on trips, but this time she drove one car and I the other. We were using the auto train, which cut out about 15 hours travelling time. Leaving Washington, D.C., we traveled approximately 2 hours to the departure point at Quantico, Virginia. The cars were then loaded on the special train, and we were seated in coach.

After alighting in Sanford, Florida population 21,500. We claimed our cars and pointed to Palm Harbor, on the West Coast of Florida. The roads were new to us and the trip was dramatic to my wife, who drove the second car. We were introduced to the weather in Florida, where every day at 4 PM everyone is drenched in a deluge of torrential rains of H2O, then the sun appears and the skies are blue. Palm Harbor is on the West Coast of Florida, near Tampa, and St. Petersburg in the County of Pinellas. Population of Pinellas County was almost 700,000 now, almost a million. The population of Palm Harbor, the unincorporated area was maybe 10,000, now almost 60,000. We definitely picked a rural, soon to be a sprawling area. This was much like our migration to Syosset, Long Island in the 50’s which saw a tremendous growth occurring. It wasn’t as bad and certainly no comparison with our family and friends that migrated to the other “East coast” of Florida near Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach.

Our address was 750 Helmsman Way, Palm Harbor, Florida. It was an area more rural than suburban, there were horse farms and pastures, a retirement community situated on the outskirts of Clearwater.

Our initial days in Florida were fun as we became acclimated to the area and our home. Adjustment was easy because my wife’s sister and her husband Harry lived six houses down the street ­the sisters got along great, and we managed to keep the in-law situation controllable. As the saying goes, “you need a brother-in-law like a bear needs golf clubs at the North Pole.”

We lived in an adult community – no children under 21, – and we enjoyed the facilities available – golf course, community pool, clubhouse with social activities, and the 242 families were all friendly. We had regular monthly dues, and each one could do whatever they wanted to do, in this best of all possible worlds. The strangest thing was seeing all the housewives put aside their domestic tasks and taking up the game of golf – and they did well. Thelma, who had never ridden a two-wheel bicycle in her life, tried her hand at it. She learned the rudiments of golf and became the treasurer of the women’s golf association. She also joined the Pinellas Rose Society, and entered many rose shows, garnering First Prizes and several Seconds and Thirds. She returned to oil painting and added watercolor, oriental and charcoal drawings to her repertoire. She also won several prizes for her paintings; which will be “on exhibit,” later on. I wasn’t as competent as Thelma in seeking additional avocations, but I pursued my golfing interests, which I had taken up in Maryland and previously on Long Island, New York.

I had time to look for that pie-in-the sky position. I registered with the U.S. Unemployment Office, to see what kind of jobs were available. I felt a budget job would be easily available. I would read the local papers to see what news items could be parleyed into a respectable vocation. In Florida you have the State Government as the top echelon; then you have the counties (many); then the cities (myriad) and then unmanageable numbers of school districts, agencies, police and fire departments.

I filed for substitute teacher, and was qualified in business administration. As a substitute teacher you called up the night before, or you could be called at 6 a.m. when the regular teacher had an emergency situation. You never knew where the school would be. My first call one morning was at a nearby High School. I was assigned as a substitute to a typing class. The pupils were rambunctious and they thrived on substitute teachers. I gave them a test but I don’t remember too much of what went on; finally, the dismissal bell sounded. I was fortunate to survive this initial encounter. I guess my son Bill has a stronger constitution than I, because upon his retirement he took on life as a substitute teacher like a heavyweight going the distance; he’s in his eighth year and surviving in the “blackboard jungle,” right here in the same Pinellas area. Luckily, I never found out how my life as a substitute teacher would be because in early 1978, the job-seeking climate sort of cleared. Reading the local paper, I read about the new Manager the City of Tarpon Springs had just hired.

The next posting, part two (2) of Chapter 10, Retirement; Moving South to Florida, deals with the trials and tribulations of adjusting in the “Asphalt Jungle,” hardly a serious comparison but still open to many of the intrigues that small-time government harbors. From working with the Tarpon Springs Government, to the birth of our 1st grandchild and the beginning rumblings of a possible life-changing opportunity in the Performing Arts World.

 

Copyright © 2016      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

 

We are always interested in hearing comments and suggestions about how the blog could be better. Sound off below with your ideas.

TRANSITIONING TO WASHINGTON DC, PT. 2 * 1966 – 1969

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 8, 1966 – 1969 TRANSITIONING TO WASHINGTON DC, PT. 2

 

HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED IT; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!

“JOE SEFEKAR’S INSPIRING STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEALTH, WELFARE AND ARTS OF UNITED STATES.”

THE HEALING POWER OF POSITIVE SUGGESTION

The next digression takes place as a result of some minor surgery that I had at the Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring Maryland. I am not predisposed to being a good patient as was recently retold by my incident at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute New York; saving the nurse who had fainted in my room. I was in a bad state of mind while recuperating at The Holy Cross Hospital. Unbeknownst to me, my son and a good friend of his, Bill Reinckens who grew up in a Catholic family in Yonkers, New York contrived to pick up my spirits. They just happened to come across one of the famous Marlene Dietrich’s poster of her with her parasol from the movie Blue Angel. Who during the war years in the second World War coincided by way of my involvement with the USO. Miss Dietrich had entertained the troops and there were some pictures in my war album of her with the first Army Headquarters, rear echelon. A couple of these pictures with her and Mickey Rooney appear in Chapter 4; The War Years.

Well if you could imagine my son’s friend in his druid outfit complete with hood from his choir days in New York and a red yarmulke presented to him by my son marched into Holy Cross Hospital beside pictures of Pope Paul the sixth in his red outfit and skull cap, “yarmulke.” They could have passed as emissaries from the Vatican and proceeded with their poster of Marlene Dietrich which they presented to the nurse as they entered my room. Unrolling the poster, they showed the signed copy that professed, “To ‘Joe baby’ (see previous chapter 7 derivation of nickname) get well quick so we can pick up where we left off”, signed Marlene. Naturally it was quite an uplift. The nurses were in an uproar and they proceeded to scotch tape the poster to my hospital room wall. Everyone seemed to enjoy this little bit of ribaldry except when my wife came into the room to find out that Marlene had added her get well soon wishes that seemed to steal the show as she did 30 years ago.

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“Figure 8-7 Actress Marlene Dietrich, Visiting troops during World War II

With that behind me, I returned to my government work and possible new career assignments. As mentioned earlier in this chapter my fortunes took an upturn with my contact at the Small Business Administration which was duly noted. Through the auspices of Ethel Maness, it turned out that her husband, Irving, was the Director of the Management Assistance Division at the SBA, so she had mentioned to Bill that there was a position available for Budget Officer for which the SBA was currently recruiting. When I was interviewed, I said that I was being considered for another position, not intending to give the impression that I had other alternatives.  He said “Joe, who are you kidding – you know you don’t have other offers.”  He was right, but I got the job. During my stint with the Small Business Administration (SBA), I was an assistant to the Administrative Officer, Morton Oppenheim, who didn’t like to do budgets.  We turned out to be the best of friends.

Our business relations grew into a personnel bond that was to continue for a long time. Edith Oppenheim, Morty’s wife and Thelma became fast friends.  Mr. Oppenheim, my supervisor, had a Secretary who was a nice, middle-aged woman.  She also performed secretarial duties for me. I thought our dealings were pleasant, and I thought that I had not made any abnormal demands of her.  But we never know what people really think of us.  One day she exploded and accused me of being a “Little Caesar”.  Nothing serious came of this outburst, but thereafter at home, I was “hailed” as “Little Caesar” ala Edward G. Robinson, and my wife took delight in taking me down a peg, if I ever puffed up with authority.  I considered this one of my better positions, although I was happy with most of my other jobs.  Mr. Maness was a jovial person and politically motivated.  He had been part of the battery of lawyers who had been assigned to the Nuremberg Trials in Germany.  When the perpetrators of the grizzliest crimes visited upon the human race were brought to justice, he was there.

In the presidential election of 1968, there was an electric feeling running thru the government agencies in Washington.  It was more so in the Small Business Administration because the SBA was a political football.  In every new administration, the chief administrative appointed head at the SBA was always of the ruling party and the division heads were always cronies of the top appointees.  1968 was a crucial election year.  The Democrats had big hopes of winning the election and retaining control of Congress. But in June their hopes were dashed when Robert Kennedy a popular candidate for the Presidency was assassinated and his death threw the Democratic Party into confusion and turmoil. As my usual flair for writing and “sending out feelers,” culminated in a letter I wrote to Sen. Robert Kennedy and the attached letter I received from his office. I hold this very dear in light of what transpired.

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Figure #8-8 LTR from Sen. Robert F. Kennedy

Senator Hubert Humphrey was the democratic standard bearer in 1968. Humphrey and Senator Edmund Muskie ran a losing campaign after the damaging 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, culminated in the election of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. I was an innocent by-stander, watching the changing of the guard.  A New Administrator of the Small

Business Administration was appointed (Mr. Sandoval) and he chose a Floridian, party supporter, who had built a strong Republican base in Florida. These were the “fortunes of war.”

This appointee was one of his party followers who had been a utilities employee at $ 5,000 per annum, and he received an appointment at a salary of $ 13,000.  This wasn’t unusual but it was the influx of appointees who were unaware of governments rules and regulations affecting work rules and limitations covered by the Hatch Act. During this transition period, we came to work one morning and there was a smiling cherubic face, ensconced brightly behind his desk with a cardboard box of buttons – campaign that is.  I know that political campaigning is prohibited in Federal buildings, and at one time federal employees could not participate in electioneering and that was the creed I followed.  There was a big hullabaloo around that desk.  The clerk was admonished and told to remove the box from the desk immediately.  He was advised of the harsh penalties for such actions.  I wonder if he ever became a permanent civil servant.

Things were catapulting in amazing changing scenes of events that seemed out of this world for a young boy/man from the teaming streets of the lower East side and Canarsie, New York. Not only would my world be forever changed shortly but from my “Vault” of newspaper clippings and other things I’ll share with you another Earth-shattering/momentous event. The moon landing of the ‘Eagle,’ July 21, 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted the American flag on the surface of the moon. “One small step for man… Giant Leap for Mankind.” This was also my giant leap of faith as you will soon see. The other astronaut of this integral triumvirate, Michael Collins, controlled the command module, would become the first Curator of the Air and Space Museum that would open its doors two years after the Hirshhorn Museum for the US Bicentennial in 1976; right next to the Hirshhorn.

          Author’s Note: Life is full of so many coincidences and unexplained happenings, creating another reason why this book is being written. As part of our regular weekly routine the blog posts are submitted on Saturday for Monday postings. This blog posting was submitted on Saturday, July 2, 2016, to be aired on Monday, July 4. On Sunday, July 3 one of the authors happen to see the just-released movie: “Independence Day, Resurgence.” It created somewhat similar feelings as the first movie exactly 20 years earlier. Yet, it was even more moving and produced a greater profound impact than was expected. It’s hard to believe that in less than three (3) weeks, the 1st actual manned moon landing will have taken place 47 years ago. The movie even shows a colony established on the moon and how it might look; one day!

The movie projects a lot of family interactions, ties that bind parent-child and bonding friendships with the main storyline showing all of the nations on the planet working together to defeat the out of space adversary. And another curious byline was that the President of the United States happened to be a woman. Do do do do do do. There are many things we all need to ponder over as we speed thru space: our values, ideals, principles, fate and faith.


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Figure #8-9 Washington Post Article Landing on the Moon.
Figure #8-10 Apollo 11 Moon Landing, Crew

      In August 1969, I was enrolled in a one week Personnel Seminar given by the Maritime Administration at Kings Point, Great Neck, L.I., N.Y., representing the Small Business Administration.


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Figure #8-11 Executive Seminar, “Management Organization”  Figure #8-12 Important Letter in file for “leap of faith,” to the Hirshhorn

This provided me my next career change that I also considered a “leap of faith.” The attached letter that was put in my file would help in my putting my ducks in line. Prior to that time there had been several stories in the Washington Post (the poor man’s NY Times) describing the ground breaking ceremonies, conducted by President Lyndon B. Johnson in Washington, D.C (** Material will appear in book). This dedication was for building a museum to house the modern art collection of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, financier and philanthropist.  From a poor beginning, living in the teeming tenements of New York’s East Side, he had lifted himself from nothing to unimaginable wealth, acquiring those magnificent works of art, worldwide investments, and Canadian uranium mines.  Books were written for him and about him: “The Armory Show” and The Hirshhorn Medici from Brooklyn.”  He rubbed shoulders with royalty and elected officials (King of Norway, Governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, President Lyndon Johnson)

The world was clamoring for his collection.  Italy offered the building that Galileo lived in, but Hirshhorn wouldn’t spring for the cost of having a road paved up the hill on which the home rested.  I read the article and I mused to myself, “this building is being built in Washington.   Why couldn’t I be considered for a job there”?  My first job, as a receptionist was with Hirshhorn (in 1933), so it could be possible that my last job (I now had 30 years’ Federal service, including military time) would be with Hirshhorn.

As a result, during the week of August 18, 1969, I called Abram Lerner, the appointed curator of the new museum and requested an interview for a possible position in his office.  We agreed to meet on Friday, August 22, 2 PM at his office, after my seminar was through.  I have to admit that I had two other big guns in my corner.  My brother-in-law, Hyman Goldstein, contacted Dave Tarlow, who was Mr. Hirshhorn’s accountant for 60 years and whom I had worked with during my first position with Hirshhorn in 1933.  I should mention that I did have some contact with Hirshhorn in the summer of 1945.  I had come back from military service in Europe in June 1945 for my 30-day furlough.   I visited my sister Lucy, who lived in Canada.  She knew Hirshhorn, through her husband Hyman and I can remember that Mr. Hirshhorn took us out for an ice cream soda.  I hadn’t spoken to him since the early 1930’s, but he must have remembered that shy, “why don’t you speak up and stand straight” kid.  At my receptionist job, I was just out of a commercial class in high school, I was folding a letter to fit a small envelope. I was engrossed in getting the right fold, as I was taught.  As he passed my desk, he said, “that’s a long process to fold a paper.  Just do it this way”.  And he grabbed the sheet of paper – zip zip and it was ready for insertion in the envelope.  That was Hirshhorn – impatient, and always moving.  He worked with 20 telephones all around him.  He traveled between New York and Canada before the planes were ready for him.  He would take the sleeper trains at night, for the long ride from NYC to Toronto, Canada and arrive in the AM for a full day’s work.  He would return the same night and be ready for the fun the next day in New York. Little did I know that fast forwarding the years preparing for the operation and opening of the Museum in 1974 that I would spend over two years commuting via Eastern Airlines on a Monday through Thursday job from Washington to New York and back while the museum was constructed on the Capitol Mall.

The first official undertaking coupled with first shovel of dirt began with official proclamation ceremony words presented by Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson, September 1969.

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Figure #8-13: Commencement of the Dedication for the Building of the Hirshhorn Museum with President Lyndon Johnson Sept. 1969; Washington Post.

Good things don’t happen fast, so it wasn’t until January 1970 that Mr. Lerner convinced Mr. Hirshhorn that I was the one qualified for the job.  I never knew if there were any Smithsonian employees considered for a job they who would have given their eyeteeth for.  Mr. Hirshhorn wrote directly to Mr. Dillon S. Ripley, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Wash., D.C.  On January 13, 1970 Mr. Hirshhorn wrote and indicated that I had been “in his employ many years ago and his experience and education in the budget and management fields qualify him to handle the many administrative and technical problems facing us.”  Mr. Ripley’s reply on Jan 26, 1970 wasn’t so enthusiastic.  It was really truly a “Yaley” response – smooth and “no.”  But a hand written postscript at the end of the typewritten letter, left the door open.  “P.S. we’ll keep him in mind if we get additional budget authority this time.  (Insert letter** Material will appear in book).

I continued my job through winter and spring of 1970 at SBA.  My supervisor, Morty Oppenheim, knew of the possible change to come, but did not pressure me in my duties.  Finally, in early June, the logjam started to break up.  I received a call to see Mr. Hirshhorn at his Park Avenue apartment in NYC.   It was a low-key interview – we easily bridged the elapse of time from our first meeting in 1934 over 35 years ago.

Copyright © 2016      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

We are always interested in hearing comments and suggestions about how the blog could be better. Sound off below with your ideas.

 

 

TRANSITIONING TO WASHINGTON DC, PT. 1 * 1966 – 1969

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 8, 1966 – 1969 TRANSITIONING TO WASHINGTON DC, PT. 1

 

HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED IT; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!

“JOE SEFEKAR’S INSPIRING STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEALTH, WELFARE AND ARTS OF UNITED STATES.”

It was after completing the consolidation of the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) as the representative of the Army Audit Agency that I was assigned to Washington, D.C. I commuted to Washington, DC for almost a year. The plans were settling on deciding whether to relocate in Washington DC or to take a job that will open at the Army Audit Division in Macon, Georgia. We had made a number of trips to Washington, D.C. as part of my assignment and the nation’s capital had many more advantages as opposed to being assigned a position in Georgia.

After discussions with my wife and the thought of being uprooted from family and close friends we decided that the benefits outweighed the disadvantages. We took the kids down to Washington for a second visit to preview possible locations to resettle. At this time my son Billy had completed junior-college coincidently enough at Nassau junior-college in Garden City which had recently opened its doors and was located at Mitchell Air Force Base where I had previously worked in the late 50s. My daughter Bonnie on the other hand was completing junior high school at Syosset, Thompson Junior High. Bill graduated in June 1965 just as I was making final arrangements with the move south. As it turned out Bill was dating this girl for over year and it seemed that they were getting serious. It meant that he was determined to stay on Long Island and to go to Hofstra University with his steady girl. To make things smoother it turns out that one of our neighbors down the street children on Lincrest affectionately called aunt Marion just happened to find out about our moving and because her grown-up son was going to be leaving their residence and getting married in New York City offered to have Bill stay there in his vacant room.

Aunt Marion had grown fond of Billy and her husband Guy were one of Billy’s landscaping clients so they offered a special deal actually were going to charge him nothing but we agreed on $75 a month which included food board and as we later found out ironing of his clothes undergarments included. This way Bill could take his classes at Hofstra University and be close to his sweetheart. In October 1965 Thelma, Bonnie and myself made our preparation to move our belongings and life to 9039 Sligo Creek Pkwy. in Silver Spring, Maryland. Our two-bedroom two-bath was situated in a very nice area, close to the Washington, DC, Silver Spring, Maryland border. It was a delightful transition, the people welcomed us and we made a complete adjustment to this new life in the Washington DC area.

We lived at Parkside Plaza and as the name implies was situated along Sligo Creek Parkway very nice park and stream. It afforded us a chance to kick back from the hectic pace of New York to the somewhat less frenzied pace we found here. This is seen from a few of the pictures of lounging at the pool and a getaway trip to some island resort with friends.

Capture

Bonnie was on the way to coming a young woman in her own right. Enrolling in high school in Silver Spring Maryland, she proceeded to establish herself both academically and socially. Something would happen while attending Montgomery Blair high school that would indelibly change her life forever.

Capture

The commute to DC and the Pentagon was manageable. The Washington Metro wouldn’t be ready for another eight years. Working with the likes of Secretary of Defense McNamara and many illustrious military personnel gave me a sense of satisfaction that would make me feel this was the right decision. The capital offered so much more in the way of culture activities and a Vista of being in one of the best laid out cities in the world. Aside from that it was more pleasant than New York even with its hustle and bustle, urban maze, and sophistication. Washington as had been said and to this day offers a special southern charm to mix with strong clash of power and politics. One of the settings that Washington offers is the idea that you could be a little fish in a big pond or a little fish in a small pond. I guess the latter prevailed for me. You always would be coming in contact with possible new contacts and new job possibilities. At this time, I was a GS – 9 and was not yet ready for a promotion as well as where the next offer agency department might take me.

Needn’t worry my son Bill was well on his way to taking care that. If we backtrack to 1966 Bill had made a pretty good adjustment with Guy and Marion Manetti. The amazing story as it unfolded was that Marion was a German war bride and shortly after World War II concluded Guy Manetti who was with the Army Corps of Engineers assigned to rebuild Germany met Marion on assignment. She had a six-year-old son named Peter and the three of them came to the United States after Guy completed his work with the Army Corps of Engineers. It was quite a story especially for my son to deal with being strongly rooted in his Judaic tradition even later be writing a book about the Holocaust but aunt Marion was very kind to him and he understood her plight. She was 16 years old when the World War II broke out and in a very desperate home situation. She married a German soldier who was subsequently killed in combat during the war and had fathered Peter.

As fate would have it Bill’s trials and tribulations in Syosset that were not going according to plan. His expectations were that his girlfriend of two years was supposed to be going to Hofstra where she would have been accepted and so they would’ve continued seeing each other. Her folks thought differently and felt that they were too young to be that serious at this point. And promptly had her apply for college at Boston University. This changed everything; all bets were off and being not yet 21, he could apply at the University of Maryland, College Park as a resident still under our supervision. So in a matter of weeks Bill made arrangements to move down to Silver Spring. This created a little bit of an uproar as Bill can do as there was no room in our two-bedroom apartment; no problem! We were able to have Bill be assigned to the dormitory on campus and to take summer classes as he graduated with an Associate Science Degree in Math–Science. I know we were in for some unexpected, actually expected happenings. Whereas Bonnie was very predictable and a model child, Bill would never be predictable.

When Bill’s engineering career took a turn south. This was a foreboding by my wife Thelma who emphatically stating that she would not ride on any bridges that he built, so he decided to transfer to the School of Government and Politics at the College Park campus. This was in the spring of 1967. Being so close to Washington DC in the center of government he would look upon this environment as one be giant laboratory from which he would be doing his observations. After completion of a seminar entitled Congressional Legislative behavior Bill felt fully competent to take a stab at being a congressional intern on Capitol Hill and so before final exams he took a breather and went down to the nation’s capital and knocked on doors to find out which Congressman might have an opening for a congressional intern. As luck would have it he received an offer to intern under Congressman Leonard Farbstein Democrat, Manhattan. Which surely surprised the heck out of us. What made this even more of a fateful encounter not only did this open up many doors and vistas for him but it provided me with a link for my next change of career in Washington.

As it turns out the executive secretary for Congressman Leonard Farbstein Ethel Maness was a very dear person for our family. Her husband Irving Maness was a super grade under Small Business Administration (SBA). Initially I was looking for a new change of assignment possibly with the Department of Transportation which was recently created under Pres. Lyndon Johnson. Fate would dictate otherwise. After Bill’s assignment as intern ended we still maintained close contact with the Maness’ socially. It turns out that Irv Maness would have a position for me in the Small Business Administration management office that I would jump at after 3 years with the DCAA.


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Figure #8-5 My Transfer from DCAA to SBA
Figure #8-6 letter of Accommodation from SBA Secretary Howard Samuels

One incident which shows how with a little quirk of fate could change everything. We know that people are dealing with this throughout their lives. With over 30 years in the `federal government retirement system, Thelma and I were putting our ducks in order for a pleasant winding down and cessation of work. As it turns out I needed to have what was considered routine surgery for a double hernia operation. All the necessary preparation was in place and I was prepared to go under the knife for what was considered a routine procedure. Don’t remember anything unusual except when I came to and could sense there was some concern unbeknownst to me at the time the doctor performing the surgery had found an extraordinary amount of green pus that was spreading around my abdomen he had never seen anything like this before and proceeded to suture up the incision. At that time, he alerted my wife and my son who had been in the waiting room of his findings. Naturally it took my wife beyond the brink, she was about ready to collapse and was beside herself thinking about all the years that we had saved in preparing for retirement and for being with our children and “grandchildren.” This was also unacceptable for my son thinking about his Dad’s condition and offered for the surgeon to consider that he’d never had any problem health wise with discomfort or anything similar. What came to mind was possibly an appendicitis attack or burst? The doctor presented us with a plan to check into the Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute in New York City where I would undergo tests to see if this was a cause for concern and whether this was malignant kind of cancerous substance. Well naturally I was taken aback and sloughed it off but still made plans to check into the hospital for the biopsy. My stay in New York would’ve been uneventful and successful if not for an incident which proved that, “I Can Handle Things.” While the tests were being taken I was outfitted with two tubes and IVs that are truly not only discomforting as you would imagine but was against my religion ha ha. So I beseeched the doctor to remove the tubes from my nose and some of the IVs. He wasn’t so predisposed and said we need to have them there for a couple more days. Well as the fickle finger of fate would have it, that night of all things the nurse on duty for the night shift started to feel some discomfort and fainted “dead on”. Saying that there was nothing I could do but come to her rescue, I ripped out the mouth and nose hoses and anything else that was inhibiting and revived her. She was most grateful and it was duly noted.

The doctor was making his rounds came to my room and commended me on my quick response and made it apparent that I can keep the nose mouth tubes out for the rest of my stay. But the most satisfying part was that the results of the test showed no malignancy and I was able to have the corrective surgery shortly thereafter. And life will go on as planned.

Copyright © 2016      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

We are always interested in hearing comments and suggestions about how the blog could be better. Sound off below with your ideas.

 

THE LONG ISLAND EXPERIENCE PT. 2 * 1957 – 1965

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 7, 1957 – 1965 THE LONG ISLAND EXPERIENCE PART 2

HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED IT; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!

“JOE SEFEKAR’S INSPIRING STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEALTH, WELFARE AND ARTS OF UNITED STATES.”

My wife Thelma decided that she would pursue a course of business as a teller in a bank. That of course was when Bonnie was old enough to arrange being left by herself with Bill keeping an eye on her.

One of my projects that I’m most proud of was the building of a barbecue grill pit in the backyard. As the family liked to spend its summer months and warmer days outside and I would always be involved with taking care of the lawn until later when I felt Billy was old enough and responsible to take care of the lawn. He was apprenticed for two years taking care of 10 neighborhood lawns and I let him practice on their lawns. Back to the grill, we had a little patio in the back on which Thelma would make her wonderful dinners. It seemed only natural that with a barbecue grill in the back we could save time and create a real nice family atmosphere outside. The project took about three months with materials from the local hardware store. I used mortar and brick and got a nice grill grate so we can cook meat, chicken and even fish. You can see a picture of me and my favorite hammock w/stand besides my prized finished handiwork “The Grill.”

Figure #7-18 Summer, back yards, pool and fun!! Life in suburbia had to include your “above ground pool,” which   sufficed during the hot July and August months.

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Figure #7-19 Thel and Me, 1961; A special time and frame

Figure #7-20 Thelma and me with her sisters    Yetta and Renee and Renee’s husband Harry.

We still managed to keep close contact with our families. Thelma was particular close with her sisters, Yetta and Renee.

We were able to enjoy many of these outings with our neighbors on Lincrest Street. Particularly Emily and Lenny Levine and in the picture below were Leila and Chick Kornhaber. What was so attention-grabbing about Chick and Leila was that Chick owned a bagel company in New York City and we were the beneficiary of this unique culinary “artform.” You see “bagels” hadn’t as yet taken the country by storm in the 50’s. Boy were they good!! And fresh!!

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Figure #21 New Year’s Eve 1958 with Thelma and me, Chick and Leila Kornhaber, Lenny and Emily Levine

We were also able to maintain our culture activities and attraction with the “Great White Way,” the name synonymous with New York City’s Mid-town Manhattans Broadway district. Thelma and I were fortunate to make periodic trips into Manhattan for a show or matinee.

The poster boards below were the result of the creativity and special talent by my daughter Bonnie as part of our 65th Anniversary Celebration for Thelma and me 42 years later in 2007. It reflects on 25 years of catching some of the best entertainment New York has to offer before our fateful move to Maryland and my job in Washington, D.C. in 1965

5 6 Figure #7-21 SOME OF OUR PLAYBILLS

Figure #7-22 BROADWAY SHOW LISTINGS

One of the things that I will never forget nor will never evade me was the nickname that was bequeathed upon me from my son’s best friend Bob Richards. Bob also had his own nickname, “buzzer Bob;” that’s another story. During the early 60’s there was a popular liqueur being advertised on the television. Its name was Cherry Kijafa. This Danish liqueur had a very popular following and the commercial lent itself according to an “Old Danish family recipe.” The commercial takes place in what was a Danish Castle and the patriarch of the family the uncle is presenting the versatility of Cherry Kijafa. He first makes his way to a sitting room with a nice big fireplace where his aunt is sipping some of the Cherry Kijafa in her glass in what looks like a wine spritzer. The uncle proceeds with his Cherry Kijafa in the glass on the rocks to a big room where a party is going on with lots of people. This is where the main event takes place in a large banquet hall. His nephew sees him and being very hip with all the partying people dancing and having a great time, yells across the room as he approaches his uncle saying the famous words “Hey Joe baby” how’s it going! The uncle acknowledges this. This has stuck for over 50 years, I even sign my cards to my wife and family affectionately, Joe Baby. (**See attachment of one of the signed letters)

“Speak When You Write,” 1961 – I recommend this 12-page book about writing that put me in good standing throughout my later life. So many valuable approaches to organizing your thoughts and making your notes, letters, reports, and documents sound better. As few samples follow:71

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Footnote 71 Speak When You Write,” Ellis Gladwin, 1961

So many of these little words of advice are notable. One of the last tidbits under the heading of POWER BRAKES stands out. “A good story has a beginning, a middle and an ending; so does a good letter. If you feel tempted to ramble on, stop right there. Step on the power brakes. Come to a fast, clean stop.” In a quote from Virginia Woolf in a portrait of her father, Leslie Stephen.

“To write in the fewest possible words, as clearly as possible, exactly what one meant – that was his only lesson in the art of writing.”

I hope that at least may be either my daughter or my son would pick up on this during their lifetime. Bonnie seems more of the astute type, better student than Billy. However, you never can tell, we’ll see what happens with the twist and turns and curves that we are dealt with. And one such twist and turns and curves took place shortly thereafter.

In March 1961, a skyrocket change, boosted my career into orbit. My recent appointment to the US Army audit agency was made because my job with the U.S. Air Force, Continental Air Command, was terminated. (See Attachments__ Letters of Accommodation**.)

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Figure #7-23 Letters of accommodation, helpful future job search.

This action wasn’t sudden – for several years the scuttlebutt was that our headquarters was being moved to Macon, Georgia. This was because of the over – flying airplanes were disturbing the sprawling suburban areas surrounding the airfield (the buzzing trainer planes flown by Air Force reservists were intruding and not acceptable in the postwar peace time). In any event, it was a decision to accompany the headquarters to Macon, or finding a new position with a government agency in the local metropolitan area, where a vacancy might exist.

Although the government promised to find you other suitable jobs, there was no guarantee you would be offered a similar position at an equal salary. The long time belief that a federal government position is assured lifetime tenure did not guarantee permanency. My experience showed periodic job changes in 13 years including my military service.

So in April, 1961, I made one effort to find my own position. Since Washington, DC was the Mecca for high grades and civil service, my wife and I decided to take some time off, and had to Washington with our two children Billy (15) and Bonnie (9). The Easter season (Gentile) and Passover season (Jewish), which usually coincides in dates of observance is a good time to visit Washington – the weather is balmy, the tourist season begins with the advent of the Japanese cherry trees blooming, and there’s a happy feeling of things to do in the air. We checked into a popular hotel near the center of activities, laid out a list of various exhibits for the family to cover, while I attended to business. (See special trips to Washington for possible career advancement**)

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Figure #7-24 Trip to our Nation’s Capital April 1961

I had my list of appointments that I had already made with several agencies, including the Maritime Administration and an interview at the Department of Defense. I knew the personnel officer at the Washington headquarters of the Maritime Administration. Mr. Markel, he had been the personnel officer in New York at the Atlantic Coast District. It was through the New York office of the Maritime Administration that I received a promotion from the Veterans Administration. I joined the Atlantic Coast District as a GS – 9, in the Management Division and served as a Management Analyst with the chief.

 

This led me to a major change of life decision. It was also time for personal advancement, one of the things going into “Speak When You Write,” was figuring how to express yourself and project what you want to your audience; whether a room full or an earful. I got involved with the Toastmasters which would afford me a chance to rediscover my self-confidence and express my thoughts better. It came in handy as attested by referencing this in my Government Personnel Form 191, as a member of the Toastmasters International at Mitchell field from 1958 in 1961; being its treasurer. Fast forwarding 30 years to 1992; after “retiring.” I had an opportunity to help with the fledgling group that was being started by Lou Polur, a member of our Temple in Clearwater, Florida. From our conversations and discussion there were the makings for starting a chapter known as the “Bagel Talk”. From what I know is still in existence for over 30 years. I recommend this organization very highly for young professionals and just about anyone interested in developing a better sense of self-assurance.

My sense of humor although I thought was impeccable left a little to be desired. I found this early on when trying to be funny and affable with my wanting to impress Thelma in our early years. This did not bode well as her brother Hymie (Hy) was funny and could have a room full of people in stitches. He needed this to keep his cool being as an ambulance driver for over 35 years. But I’m digressing, how well I know that. I was always in the company of very funny people. When socializing with friends while living in Syosset two in particularly stand out. One was our next door neighbor Len Levine and the other was Nat Garfinkel. They had a story and a joke a minute. I needed to do research to come up with some clever witticisms.  It became apparent while we would be carpooling from Syosset to Manhattan during the week when I was working with the Army Audit Agency.

We were able to have a carpool of very good friends with the kind of humor of that bellowed and was way out of my league. Indelibly, I would try to make a comical ad lib in the conversation, without much 17success.  However, on occasion I would come up with a gem.  So I thought, much to my chagrin I would hear moans and groans.  Their reaction was Joe you come out with a funny one every 100 jokes.  We now have to wait another 99 of your false impressions of humor before we can expect another reason to laugh.

One of the benefits of Billy working on his landscaping business was that he had enough saved up for a car. So that when he graduated from Syosset High decided to go to Nassau Community College, he purchased with “a little help from his friends.” This two (2) year old slick red Buick LaSabre, convertible which was fun to drive around with; without him.

Figure #7-25, Billy’s 1st Car, my “3rd” Car

By the time he had grown to real manhood as he graduated high school and went to Nassau community college and graduated there with his Associates degree in Math/Science and found a serious relationship it would keep him on Long Island and seriously considered settling down. To be continued… And subsequently had a few girlfriends one which was serious enough that kept him in New York while we prepared to move to Washington D.C. and the Maryland suburbs.


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Figure #7-26 Personnel Application; Member in Toastmasters Intl, Treasurer

Figure #7-27 Commendation award from Department of the Army, August 1965

This Commendation Award from the Department of the Army would help propel me into the next important upturn in my career. It afforded me the opportunity to make the decision to relocate to Washington, D.C. in October 1965

 

Copyright © 2016      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

 

 

THE LONG ISLAND EXPERIENCE PT.1 – 1957 * 1965

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 7, 1957 – 1965 THE LONG ISLAND EXPERIENCE PT.1

HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED IT; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!

“JOE SEFEKAR’S INSPIRING STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEALTH, WELFARE AND ARTS OF UNITED STATES.”

Having made the decision to move to the burbs was quite an adjustment. “Happy homeowner” was something that didn’t come naturally, it took a lot of hard work just like a marriage. We made a lot of nice friends, our neighbors were terrific. It was an amazing time for me and my family. Our next-door neighbors Emily and Len Levine were very special. In addition, Thelma made some very close friends that followed her throughout the rest of her life.

In my efforts to become a better parent and develop a closer bond with my children. One of the first things with Billy was to follow what was becoming a traditional path for fathers to take. The 1st was when he became a cub-scout and Thelma became a den-mother which brought together the young kids in the neighborhood. And then for me to take over when Bill tried to become a boy scout. He had all the makings to follow through but couldn’t stay in one place long enough. Little League provided such an outlet.  He was constantly on the go. I didn’t realize how important being there was until our next door neighbor Len Levine who became our resident baseball scout, saw some raw talent and offered to take him over when they were having their Little League registration. Bill was picked-1up on waivers, no he was drafted in the second round. He actually was selected even though in the initial years as a 9-year-old was pint size and had a very small strike zone. He got on the bases and created havoc. In order to make amends for not my not encouraging him I signed up to become an umpire for the League. As luck would have it Bill was tearing up the League stealing bases galore and happened to try to steal his 47th straight base while I was the umpire at 2nd base. It was a close call but I
decided to err on the side of impartiality and said “Yar Out”. Which lead to some very harsh reactions not so much from my son but his teammates who after the game came back and voiced their indignation by chiming in saying Mr. Sefekar, “you stink”.  I have spent many years making it up to him.

Billy became a Bar Mitzvah in 1959, when he turned 13. Which in the Jewish faith means that he “Becomes a Man.” Thelma and I retained lot of the memorabilia from this special event in our lives. Billy practiced religiously in spite of the odds produced a very memorable conducting of the services both on Friday night and Saturday morning. Saturday night we had a reception at Midway Jewish Center for our family and friends to celebrate this occasion. Everyone contributed something during the luncheon and even the evening gala even though we had it mostly arranged by a kosher caterer. We even have pictures to prove it (See pictures and attachments).

Thelma and I have a lot of the memorabilia from this special event in our lives. Billy practiced “religiously” in spite of the odds, produced a very memorable conducting of the services both on Friday night and Saturday morning. Saturday night we had a reception at Midway Jewish Center for our family and friends to celebrate this occasion. It wasn’t ornate by today’s standards and yet it cost a pretty penny when considering what my income was and what the costs were.

The evening gala event is another story. Arranged by a kosher caterer, it was quite an affair we have the receipts and pictures to prove it. $1,218 for the kosher event; $284 for the band, “The Suburban’s,” and $84 for the photographer; It was well worth it!!

bar1 Bar2

Figure 7-6  Old Greek tradition dancing with dollar bill on your forehead;
Figure 7-7  My oldest sister Lucy and husband Hy;
Figure 7-8  The Bar Mitzvah figurine that’s on the cake. We still have that little guy after all these years;
Figure 7-9  Even with all the festivities of the day there was still the traditional Jewish celebration dance called the “Hora.”
Figure 7-10 A wonderful evening of merriment and dancing
Figure 7-11 Quite a day for my kids!! They’re growing up so fast, “Sunrise, Sunset.” 


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One of the things that Thelma and I found so rewarding was to have Billy continuing his Jewish education remaining in the choir was that during the high holidays we could be assured that we knew where he was. Instead of gallivanting around with friends and socializing. We knew where to find him right up on the Bimah (stage), looking like an “Angel.”

In order to pay off all these expenses as well as for our home and growing family it was necessary for me to apply myself to make sure that my job and career were on track. I was able to receive regular recommendations and step increases; a few are listed below. There was however a small bump in the road or in this case on the airfield as I was to find out a reorganization and relocation of the Continental Air Command(CONAC) is being put in place. These letters of accommodation would come in handy and as I had in past encounters with finding other available government positions that usually preceded my direct efforts in contacting some of my previous colleagues in other agencies. Although not knowing where my next career challenges would emerge, I felt confident that these new changes and uncertainties will also work out and will be as rewarding.

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c d

I was ready for whatever career maneuverings would be necessary.

Copyright © 2016      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

We are always interested in hearing comments and suggestions about how the blog could be better. Sound off below with your ideas.

 

 

MOVING TO THE ‘BURBS AND MOVING UP PART 2 * 1953 – 1956

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 6, 1953 – 1956 MOVING TO THE ‘BURBS AND MOVING UP PART 2

HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED IT; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!

“JOE SEFEKAR’S INSPIRING STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEALTH, WELFARE AND ARTS OF UNITED STATES.”

dipIn 1946 I had an interesting assignment in activating a large regional office for the Veterans Administration in Brooklyn, N.Y.  Subsequently, in 1952, I transferred to the Maritime Administration, and in December 1953, I was assigned to my present civil service position with the Air Force.  It is a very challenging position, requiring travel by commercial and military aircraft, all over the country, reviewing administrative operations and procedures.  In Manpower and Organization, the key words are – manpower, materials, machines, money and methods.

A lot of work went into this piece of paper; My Master’s Degree as anyone can attest who has received their diploma. This one though was particularly satisfying as I had received a lot of help along the way from friends and family. I promised myself it would be put to good use in the coming years.

My dissertation was published in the spring 1956, Journal of Public Administration, New York Chapter of the American Society of Public Administration. It was titled: MANPOWER ALLOCATION AND UTILIZATION IN THE AIR FORCE. The thesis was well-received and the conclusions that I provided for stated: A commander can best improve the use of his manpower through efficient organization and effective application of sound management techniques. Of which is something I’ve always strived for. A function of command is to ensure that manpower is allocated utilized most effectively accomplished assigned missions. In addition to a comprehensive knowledge of established policies and applicable regulation of management techniques and procedures a balance of knowledge and understanding will contribute to successful manpower utilization as one continuously is able to review and to the best of their ability is able to perceive decreasing workload as well as increasing workload. Such knowledge and understanding will contribute measurably to a well-balanced, simplified organization, and will result in maximum utilization of personnel, equipment and funds. Little did I know that from this foundation and the basis of my Master’s Dissertation that it would put me in good stead not only in my immediate duties and responsibilities with the Continental Air Command (CONAC) but with future endeavors as with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and of course the Hirshhorn Museum charge and work on building the Ruth Eckerd Hall Performing Arts Center.

FIGURE 4: Graduation Exercises May 1956, NYU MA Degree with family
FIGURE 4: Graduation Exercises May 1956, NYU MA Degree with family

My extended family of Father, Mother, sisters and brother were located mostly in New York City. My oldest sister Lucy stilled lived in Ontario, Canada which we visited periodically.  My brother Al lived near my folks in Brooklyn as well as my sisters Becky and Sophie; my sister Bella was relatively close by in Oceanside.

 

The following are excerpts from the application that I submitted June 4, 1956 through television show “Do You Trust Your Wife,” that would be hosted “Do You Trust Your Wife,” please See Appendix 5–1.**)

19 Lincrest Street

Hicksville, L.I., N.Y.

June 4, 1956

George Stephens

6357 Selma Avenue

Hollywood 28, California

 

Dear Sir:

Thank you for the opportunity to qualify as a contestant on “Do You Trust Your Wife”.

I think my wife and I would make good contestants because I modestly believe we are the ideal couple.  She is very understanding, logical, unselfish, wonderful disposition, clean and tidy, a good manager, and never takes second best.  She is so fastidious that one night, I got up for a drink of water and before I got back she had made the bed.  She has been the guiding force in my continuing my education.  It is coincidental with this letter that, after 20 years of evening college, I am attending commencement exercises on June 6, 1956 for my Master’s degree in Public Administration at New York University.  My two children, as well as my wife and our parents will attend.

 

The many jobs I have held have been interesting.  In 1943, while in service, I was selected as cadre for the advance echelon of the First Army Headquarters which was assembled in Bristol and London, England, where the invasion plans for D-Day were developed.

My leisure time, which I did not have much of between 1935 and 1953, is now spent gardening, reading and umpiring in the little league.  Being handy around the house, I also do carpentry work, painting, laying tile, etc.  I accomplish my work without a workbench or special tools, restricting myself to a saw, a hammer and a screwdriver.

My wife’s leisure time also increased, because she had to baby sit while I went to school.  But she is catching up since we moved into our new home 3 years ago.  Monday night is scrabble, Tuesday night is movies, Wednesday night is scrabble, and Thursday night is coffee klatch.  In between times, she is a den mother with the cub scouts, and attends P.T.A. meetings.

 

I FEEL OUR FAMILY IS DIFFERENT BECAUSE:

(1)    Our friends and neighbors all admit my wife and I are the most compatible people. On one occasion a neighbor tried to precipitate an argument just to see how we would act, but they didn’t succeed.  The closest we came to it was when I taught my wife how to drive the family car.  A friend warned us we wouldn’t be talking to each other, but we wouldn’t believe him.

(2)    Our boy, Billy is considered a real boy.  None of my neighbors have ever seen him walk – he always runs.  When he was 4 months old, the doctor said he was hypertensive.  He was 3 ½ pounds at birth, and it took two people to diaper him.  He is 10 years old and in the 5th grade.  He likes snakes, insects, and girls.

(3)    Bonnie Lynn is considered by the neighbors to be sweet and gentle.  Always has a big hello for all of them.  Her responsive reflexes are remarkable.  She is five and will start school in the fall.

AMBITIONS

My wife and I have had a desire to travel to Bermuda.  That has been one of our goals since we were married.  My secret ambition is to retrace the various places I have been to during the war, with my wife, so I could live the poignant moments when all my thoughts were of home.  I would go to the places like Bristol, Feltham and London in England; St. Lo, Fuererolles, and Paris, France; Charleroi and Liege, Belgium; Duren and Cologne, Germany.

There are many items that we need, but if we would win any money we would set it aside for Billy’s education to make sure he graduates college in less than 20 years.

BEFORE MARRIAGE

My wife’s first name is Thelma.  I was born in Manhattan in 1917, and she was born in Brooklyn.  By coincident our families moved to Canarsie, Brooklyn.  We lived comparatively close to each other, but it was 13 years before I met Thelma, when a mutual friend arranged a blind date.  Even though she claims I disappointed her (her dream man was 6 ft. 4 in., etc.), she nevertheless learned to love me.  That was June 14, 1940, just 16 years ago.  I proposed in a sort of back handed way.  It was 1941 – tours to Miami were fantastically low ($59 including train fare and 7 days at a leading hotel).  I asked her how she would like a trip to Florida, she said she would, so I said marry me and we’ll go.  So she did, and we had a wonderful time.

FAMILY

An outstanding trait of my wife is that she treats everyone with the same respect and courtesy – no matter who they may be.  She gives them the same consideration, same service, and same personal attention.

Her talent is the ability to put a hat together in 5 minutes, before we are going out on a date.  She likes wide brimmed hats.  She also dabbles in oils and has not had a lesson in her life.  Her pictures are good enough to hang on our walls.

Our happiest moment was when we walked into our own home.  It’s the greatest step anyone can take.

GENERAL

We have never appeared on any other radio or TV show. Being a latitudinarian, there are no particularly great mistakes that we have made.  When my wife may be disappointed, I’ll say, “don’t worry, honey.   Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”  In the game of life I believe myself quite fortunate in being a winner more than I have been a loser.

The turning point in my life was the G.I. Bill of Rights.  Even though I applied myself to obtaining an education prior to the war, I never would have continued without a helping hand from Uncle Sam.  This, combined with the encouragement and patience of my wife, has helped to advance my career.

It has been a pleasure preparing this brief history, and we look forward with as much pleasure to seeing your interviewers.

Very truly yours,

Joseph Sefekar

 

Figure # Ebbets Field, June 1956
Figure # Ebbets Field, June 1956

One of the things that I enjoyed doing most with my children besides their homework and lawn chores was going to the baseball game and following the Brooklyn Dodgers. The “Bums,” as they were affectionately called were a lovable bunch of baseball players such as Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Pee Wee Reese and Sandy Koufax. Those were among the most popular Dodger players. they did however have to contend with the likes of the New York Yankees, “The Bronx Bombers,” and the New York Giants. I particularly remember two instances when I took them to the ballgame. The first instance was “camera day” and it allowed the fans get up close near the field. With my five-year-old Bonnie in her Brooklyn Dodgers paraphernalia she had her picture taken, with none other than the Brooklyn slugger, Duke Snider.

The next occurred when I took Billy to the baseball game shortly after my graduation at NYU in June of 1956. Sonny boy managed to wander off to get a better view of the action on the field. I honestly hadn’t realized until it was too late at it was better to get seats on the first base side than the third-base side where more of the “action” was. It was an eventful day and he and I were finally able to connect after my searching part of the game. Forty-five (45) years later I would discuss this in detail when I submitted an article, entitled “A Long Time Between Innings.” to the St. Petersburg Times (See Chapter 12, My Eighth Decade).

Figure 11 At Rockaway Beach and on Vacation
Figure 11 At Rockaway Beach and on Vacation

My career took a couple positive turns during this time.  Being on Long Island there was the opportunity to transfer from the Maritime Administration to Mitchell Air Base, named after the brilliant Air Force
Strategist, Billy Mitchell. It would be a contributing factor in my selecting my dissertation topic on Airpower and Manpower Utilization which received a letter of accommodation.

There were many vacations and trips with the children and my wife’s family to upstate New York cottages and bungalows especially in Lake Mahopac and Peekskill. On my side of the family we invariably spent a lot of time with mom and pop while they rented their place on Rockaway Beach for the summer months.

 

Figure 12 Vacationing War buddy, Irv Bagatelle and wife Lee with Thelma and me,
Figure 12 Vacationing War buddy, Irv Bagatelle and wife Lee with Thelma and me,

 

Copyright © 2016 William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

We are always interested in hearing comments and suggestions about how the blog could be better. Sound off below with your ideas.

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 5, 1946 – 1952 THE POSTWAR YEARS PART 2

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 5,    1946 1952 THE POSTWAR YEARS PART 2

HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!

On March 31, 1951, our second child, Bonnie Lynn Sefekar was born at 9:31 PM. She weighed 5 lbs. 11 oz. was delivered by Dr. Enselbery with a length of 19” and a Rh positive. This was quite an improvement from our first go around with William who weighed only 3 lbs. 14 oz. and was a preemie, see Attachment 5D

Gift to the United Jewish Appeal honor of Bonnie Lynn Sefekar’s Birth.

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Attachment 5D Bonnie Lynn’s Birth, March 31,1951

Born: March 31,1951

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Figures 5E& 5F Bonnie’s first year, smiling as she always does. Looking like either an angel or a princess.
Figures 5E& 5F Bonnie’s first year, smiling as she always does. Looking like either an angel
or a princess.

It was so wonderful finally we’d have our full complement for our family.

f

 

 

In keeping with my lifelong obsession of writing letters to the press, too friends and myself. There was a regular feature in the New York Sunday News: Ask Anybody! So my Question, addressed to: Jim Thorpe, world’s greatest all-around athlete. “What, in your opinion, was your greatest athletic feat?” It netted me 25 cool ones a nice tidy sum in those days and a far cry from 15 years ago. In 1935 on my first submissions into the wacky world of “newspaper letters” when I received $1 or $2 for each entry.

New York Daily News

 

 

 

 

 


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It was a great going away party and a lot of camaraderie showed through. This would be the first of many Thank You’s and Godspeed as I moved up the ladder with Thelma. From the VA I received a number of accolades and a large leather piece of luggage. Considering I was headed to the Maritime administration the idea of us taking an ocean cruise seemed like a distinct possibility. Actually this wouldn’t happen for another 30 years.

 

My work with the Veterans Administration, Brooklyn regional office resulted in the promotion to the Maritime Administration, (MA) on March 7, 1952 there was a going away party for me with some very catchy phrases. Like VA calling the Maritime and all the ships at sea! Sweepers! Man Your brooms! Clean Sweep Fore & Aft!

The OnGuard! That and Down your hatches, men of the Maritime, Eagle eye Joe reports to the Maritime Bridge 10th of March 1952…. Anchors away and bon voyage!!!! (See attached**)

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The picture on the left is of Thelma and me planning to head out for the Prom when I graduated from Long Island University (LIU) with my undergraduate Degree.

The picture taken in June of 1950 could actually be mistaken for a high school prom picture; boy, did we look younger then.

 

 

One of the most memorable and important assignments took place under the Maritime administration. During this period between 1951 in 1952 I was involved with preparations for the building and commission of the S.S. United States, ha ha. This magnificent ship which would become the Flagship for the SS Ocean Liners was completed on June 19, 1952. It was a great day of celebration and I was so fortunate and my wife and children attend the “christening” of the SS United States. It was a few years later that an advertisement appeared in the playbill Thelma and I attended for my fair Lady that showed the advertisement for the USS United States cruise liner. It was an exceptional assignment and part of this, the fastest cruise ship of its time. And completely air-conditioned no less.


4

My son was especially enthralled as he tried to get a complete rendering of the largest ship of its time. It fared better than the Titanic, which coincidentally Billy learned the words to, “They built a ship Titanic and when it was through…” One of his first attempts at “professional” entertainment.

 

Remembering all the nice little things that came with being a father for the first time. Little Billy was a handful, he was so energetic and got into trouble all the time it took the two of us, Thelma and me to keep him under control. I can only imagine what it must be like to raise children with a single parent particularly a single mom. I really give them all the credit in the world. But back to my little tyke. He was constantly running and falling and getting sick. At least when he was five and had his tonsils out he started a normal routine not sickly and put on weight.

One of the instances of many that I recall with endearment was when Billy would watch me get up every morning as I shaved, got dressed and made breakfast. He would watch intently as I prepared my coffee and breakfast cereal. As he watched he grabbed a cup to join me. Because he was only four or five at the time, it wasn’t good idea to give him coffee with the caffeine. He was wild enough without that. What I did was I left a little coffee at the bottom of the cup and added a third of a cup of milk. Ironically my son never required a taste for coffee when he became an adult but stayed with hot chocolate and tea until he was much older and realized the need for the caffeine.

Another lesson that was passed down during this early time was that I wore a tie to work as part of my regular attire. In keeping with his attentiveness I would show him the art of making a single and double Windsor knots. This put him in good stead his whole adult life and as it turned out 60 years later turnaround is fair play and he helps me make my tie knots look very nice.

Figure 5N Billy Upstate New York, 1951
Figure 5N Billy Upstate New York, 1951

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Figure 5O Billy’s 1st Day at School, Sept. 1951
Figure 5O Billy’s 1st Day at School, Sept. 1951

These were many memorable moments with my son Bill and then 5 years later my wife was pregnant again with our second child Bonnie Lynn.

 

During this time, we thought of adding another baby to our family however little Billy being such a handful was de-tracking from this idea. We were told by family and friends alike that the chances of another tyke like him were one in 14 million which good odds were for us. So as it turned out on March 31, 1951 our second

 

bundle of joy was delivered uneventful. Bonnie Lynn came into the world and a shining example of what a little Princess should be. Very cute and adorable and could do nothing wrong. We did find out later on the number of occasions that we administered disciplinary measures to the wrong party as my son always looked like the culprit while my daughter Bonnie sat with a smile very innocently while she kicked him again under the table.

Have so many precious memories during this time as part of life cycle, it is so endearing to newly married couples when they embark on a life together and starting a family.

My wife Thelma although completely consumed with raising our two children still found a little time to do some things not just with her family and newfound friends but things that she enjoyed throughout her life. She loved to sing along with the latest hits on the radio that she used to follow. We had a whole collection of hit Paraders and Song Hits and sheet music from the early 50s. I have always kept track of songs, artists and wrote down many of the hit songs and words that I grew up with and so did Thelma.

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Figure 9: some of the Hit Parader’s and Song Hits that Thelma collected

Looking back there were plenty of these songs we reminisce about and are still considered classics even today. Such favorites we’d hum along with the tune were: Unforgettable; Kisses Sweeter Than Wine; Because of You, Come On-A House, The Nearness of You, Silver Bells; Be My Love; Blue Velvet; It’s All in the Game and many, many more.

8

As I mentioned early on I was always enamored with words, songs and song writers and had an opportunity to meet Mr. Miller who wrote Dreamer’s Holiday. It is a fitting time in our lives and still being idealistic, just starting out and very happy with our lot in life.

It was at this time the opportunity presented itself for a life-changing decision to leave the confines of Queens, New York and move to the outskirts of civilization; Hicksville, New York. Hicksville would become indigenous to Syosset, Long Island which is how we presented our residence. It seemed to present more of a favorable ring as opposed to being from “Hicksville”. In considering the move to the ‘burbs we looked to our friends again Irv and Lee Bagatelle. The Bagatelle’s had a ready cut the umbilical cord and moved to this new concept in the suburbs; Levittown. We liked what we saw and Thelma began the financial preparation to secure a loan from her mother Bessie Abrahamson. The development that we settled on was called Country Village. It seemed like we drove forever on Northern State Parkway to exit 42 S. Oyster Bay Road hardly any landmarks were there for us. This was one of the first developments to be built in this part of Nassau County on Long Island. It’s amazing in just a few short years what sprung up shopping centers, schools even our place of prayer, Midway Jewish Center.

Copyright © 2015 by William Sefekar

 

NB ** denotes Material that will be in the book published at a later date.

THE POST-WAR YEARS * 1946 – 1952

EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER 5,    1946 1952 THE POSTWAR YEARS PART 1

HE WROTE IT, THEY DID IT, HE SAVED; TRANSFORMING AMERICA!!

“JOE SEFEKAR’S INSPIRING STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE HEALTH, WELFARE AND ARTS OF UNITED STATES.”

October 18, 1945    Discharged from Service.  Return to Duty!!

One of the biggest traumatic part of this was whether the first Army is going to be sent to the Pacific campaign to defeat the Japanese. Gen. Eisenhower and George Marshall felt that in order for the Japanese to know that we were resolute in their complete defeat, we would retool the first Army prepare for war against the Japanese islands (See top secret letter from GCM and DDE).

While Thelma and I and our dear friends Irv and Lee Bagatelle were situated in Camp Lejeune in South Carolina, we were wondering what the next plans would be for this military operation. Married life at Camp Lejeune with Thelma getting domesticated was a real trip, “learning how to cook started with boiling a pot of water.”

Evidently there are other plans in the works to bring the war to a quick and finite conclusion. The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, August 6 and August 9, 1945. As a small footnote, our little Billy just happened to be born prematurely eight months after the end of World War II; April 7, 1946.

Back to the story. This put off any speculation that they would be a land invasion the islands comprising Japan; estimated 1 million US troops either dead or wounded. Now that my civilian life was thrust upon me, I quickly regrouped and looked at where my services would be needed and made a list of departments and agencies where I would fit in.

During this time period a lot of significant changes took place in my life and the life of my family. Adjusting to the war being over meant that I would be competing for jobs with thousands of returning veterans from both wars. The war in Europe and the war in the Pacific. I was one of the fortunate ones because I had previously been working for the government and this made my easing into the workforce that much less difficult.

 

Listing of jobs and personnel decisions.

Between October 18, 1945 and July 2, 1946, I was reinstated to prior position with Jersey City, Quartermaster Department at a salary of $ 1,902 per annum.  Final Clerk Steno. $2,394. I struggled like a fish on a baited book.  After military service I was gung-ho to get into the bubbling main stream.  I went back to college at night, at Long Island University and studied accounting (LIU material).  I signed up as a clerk in Macy’s Liquor store for Thursday evenings and Saturdays.  The $ 5 per hour did not permit me to over-indulge, as I was never driven to anything other than social drinking.  Another part-time job was devoted to proctoring Civil Service Examinations for applicants aspiring to qualify for Civil Service Positions.

 

I spent some time with a colleague who was designated as being indispensable in his position with the New York General Depot and during my time in service, he had been promoted to a GS-8 (my job was classified as G-3).  He and I explored and surveyed the frozen food field.  Instead of looking for wholesale outlets, we concentrated on retail frozen food sales. We scoured the city for a suitable location to launch our commercial enterprise. While our enthusiasm was great, we were not energized to take the plunge. This was the wrong approach, so we lost out on the burgeoning frozen food industry.  Anyway, we couldn’t muster up the capital. I didn’t know where his career took him but I was finally able to make contacts through my efforts in “networking”.

 

1946 – My civil service career was at a standstill – records retirement was not a field that sounded “Gong Ho”. No holds barred included calling on any individual whose influential status in a situation was in a positive position to achieve a favorable response.

During my job – searching in 1945 and in 1946, I decided to write Gen. Omar N. Bradley, the Commander of the First U.S. Army overseas, and subsequently Deputy Assistant to Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. In Washington, D.C. Gen. Bradley was named Administrator of the Veterans Administration in 1946. He was assigned the tremendous task organizing one of the major government agencies responsible for meshing the returning veterans into a burgeoning American economy.

Army General Omar Bradley was head of the VA for assignment to Brooklyn Regional Office being activated in Brooklyn. The VA GS five branch office lower Broadway in Manhattan. I wrote General Omar Bradley, requesting consideration for the position with the Brooklyn Regional Office at Ryerson St., Brooklyn. It was previously used for a printing company, built completely of glass, and suitable for a regional office.

My letter was concise, listing my qualifications, and using my assignment to the first Army headquarters, in Bristol, England and Europe as a point of contact. I was fortunate that Gen. Bradley selected my letter and approved my request. My letter was forwarded to the manager, VA, 7th Ave., New York City, who in turn assigned me to the Brooklyn regional office, which at that time was being organized as regional office to service US veterans in Brooklyn and adjunct areas. This was a cadre position.

In a short time, the promotions started to come along. The CAF Military Schedule (Clerical, Administrative and Fiscal) had been changed to reflect a new Civil Service rating.

Civil Service grades went from GS “General Services” – 2 to 18. Effective October 7, 1946, a Personnel Action was issued upping my grade from GS – 4 to GS – 5, salary change from $2,394 annum to $2,644, annum, for Position Organization and Methods Examiner. The GS – 5 would later afford me a car, a house and other essentials, not with the job but from squirreling away savings.

The position I was recommended for was organization and methods examiner in the manager’s office. His name was A. B. Kelly, the Assistant Manager was Charles W. MacEllwin, Joseph L Krieger, Chief Coordination Management Planning, Benjamin, Budget and Joe Sefekar, Methods, (See pictures).

A DEFINING TIME AND WORD

In 1946 I fell in love with the word – Latitudinarian. I hadn’t developed any particular political philosophy but I initially drifted to liberalism. Being a liberalist entitled me to accept such principles as – everyone deserves a chance; anyone can believe what he wants and everyone should work with his fellow man. This word came up one day while working as a clerk with the New York branch of the Veterans Administration, at lunch. I had ordered ravioli and was served a plate of lasagna. I began eating my lasagna and my friend said, “Didn’t you order ravioli?” I said, but this lasagna is great”. He couldn’t understand how I could accept anything that I didn’t order. I had looked up the word, as was my wont and discovered what I was. A liberal! I read the definition of “latitudinarian”. It meant, a “liberal” view of religious thinking. Which is not really what I had in mind with any religious overtones. It was More along the lines of social and political change in order to achieve progress maybe standing for protection of political and civil liberties but probably open to new behavior or opinions. Don’t know if I was willing to discard traditional values but possibly more along the lines of broadening a person’s general knowledge and experience rather than with technical or professional training. It seemed to me that it came into conflict with the fact that I liked to do take advantage of training and program improvement keep up with the technical jargon of the day.

THE POSTWAR YEARS AND FAMILY

Upon my discharge from the Army, Thelma and I found an apartment on the Thames Street in Brooklyn, New York which was close to where my wife’s mother Bessie lived. It was so nice to be back home with my family loved ones and friends. There was a lot of changes as I got my first job working for the VA and subsequently with the Maritime administration.

After the war ended and then return to civilian life we were expecting the birth of our first born who would be my son William Charles. My wife’s pregnancy was a little bumpy at times and we were dealing with premature birth. With all the excitement and preparation Billy wanted to get a head start on things which is his trademark throughout his life. He was born four weeks early which ironically was a reverse of his being late for everything else the rest of his life.

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As a testament to motherly understanding in Billy’s birth book, Thelma’s entry (“Mother’s Message”) was, “We’re so glad you joined us son.” This was in complete Spartan patriarchal fashion my comment for Father’s Message; “Welcome son! Dad”. Needless to say I had a field day writing milestones and memories of Billy’s first this and that. One of the initial pages pertain to his “First Smile.”

 

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It was a good thing that I could help take care of this bundle of joy, let’s say energy. Right from the get-go we were 24–7 keeping an eye on him from self-destructing. That meant covering the crib so he couldn’t jump off and keeping windows close on the fifth floor apartment so he couldn’t jump out.

As a few of the entries indicated we were all able to get through this period relatively unscathed. His First birthday was a hoot.

I had it easy because I was at work while Thelma had to make sure that Bill hadn’t cut himself falling off playground equipment or out of a tree and had to be rushed to the doctors. Thelma carrying him bleeding to the doctor’s office. There was one time living at Woodside in our fifth floor apartment, with an open window Billy was able to almost climb to the window; we caught him in time.

 

On July 3, 1946, the Brooklyn Regional Office Veterans Administration, Branch offices were moved from 299 Broadway, NYC to 35 Ryerson Street, Brooklyn, N.Y.  The office I was assigned to would be the Coordination and Planning Division, headed by Joseph L. Krieger, and egghead with a PHD in Mgt. and a professor at Fordham University.  Our Division had 5 employees – Mr. Krieger, Nat Benjamin Budget, and Joseph Sefekar, Organization and Methods, and Grace Griffin, Secy. Off and on we would have management assigned but they never stayed for long.

New Management and Budget Techniques were being developed and implemented.  After the War particularly more responsibility was being delegated from Washington to offices and branches in the field.  Whereas, the number of authorized personnel and related costs was exercised from Washington, the new procedures called for funds being allocated to a facility like the Brooklyn Regional Office. The Manager would hire the appropriately qualified personnel as long as they remained within the authorized funds and accomplished their mission.  The Washington establishment was very supportive, allowed necessary leeway in administering funds and set up and educational and training network that tried to cover every facet of government operations.  Therefore, it was only natural to enfold the Coordination and Planning Division into the Managers Office.  Thus the Manager and Assistant manager (A.B. Kelly and Charles W.  MacEllven respectively) were in a position to oversee the activities of management personnel.  They directed, advised us, supported us, and were the epitome of an office family – who did their work and were happy at it.

Nat Benjamin and I were great friends.  Our promotions kept pace with each other.  There was no competition.  He was a math major a whiz with numbers, and ran the budget with a tight rein and efficiently.  I was involved with Work 12.

 

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One of my work-related assignments was Business Manager for VA Regional Office publication Glasshouse Review, (see Figure 5D above).