Category Archives: THE LONG ISLAND EXPERIENCE

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

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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!!

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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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I was ready for whatever career maneuverings would be necessary.

Copyright © 2016      William Sefekar

** Material will appear in book.

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