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PORTION OF A CHAPTER FROM 'A NICE JEWISH GIRL FROM NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY'

As an eleven-year-old seventh grade student, I discovered boys and a new friend. Sylvia had long brown hair, big brown eyes, and owned an assortment of blouses in every color of the
rainbow. Because she was chubby and had rosy cheeks, Mama naturally labeled her "the blooming rose."
My grades dropped from "A" to "B", and I lost interest in everything except clothes and boys.
With my flat chest, long skinny legs and scattering of pimples, I didn't consider myself a beauty; but when I examined my perfect white teeth, tiny nose and long shiny blonde hair in the mirror, I felt there was hope.
What helped a lot was that Mama and Daddy were so sure I was beautiful. Mama, in many respects, was very different from the mothers of that generation.
"It's time you started wearing lipstick," she said to me one day when I was twelve years old. I'll never forget the expression on her face after she had painted my lips with her bright red lipstick, clasping her hands as she exclaimed, "You're gorgeous!"
During that same period, she also decided it was time I began wearing a bra. Nobody had yet thought of manufacturing size 28 "double A" for pre-teens. In fact, in those days there was no such person as a "pre-teen."
The smallest size available for purchase was 32A, which would have been too large for me anyway -- and new bras cost money.
But Mama was blessed with initiative -- and a few of her own bras in the popular size 38D.
"Try it on," she said, handing me the bra and a box of absorbent cotton. "This should help to fill you out." I did as she said, and proudly wore the bra to school the next day.
Walking down the hallway of P.S. 44, not turning my head to the chorus of wolf whistles from about a dozen boys -- the first that had ever been directed at me -- I felt elated, but also quite embarrassed, especially when the school librarian summoned me to her office and asked me if I was having any problems.
I remember quietly returning the bra to Mama's dresser drawer. She never said a word. Boys ignored me for another year, but I secretly admired them. One Prince Charming followed another, starting with Donny Reiner, a tall, slim, dark and handsome twelve year old, who stood on the sidewalk in front of his Belmont Avenue apartment shouting "Mother!" (instead of "Ma"), and never knew I existed.
When I was thirteen, I met Stanley Kafelbaum, the first boy who kissed me. Then there was Lenny Palmieri, who also kissed me. For some unknown reason, I slapped Lenny's face. I was mortified when he slapped me back.
By that time, we had moved to l75th Street, across the street from Crotona Park, and a block up the hill from Southern Boulevard.
Sylvia lived on Tremont Avenue, which in those days was a wonderful place to stroll, with its movie houses, restaurants and stores that sold the dresses I felt would transform me into
Miss America.
My sister Shirley shopped with me on Tremont Avenue for the dress I wore to my sweet sixteen party -- a fuschia and navy beauty with a low neckline and tiny pleats, that sold for the extraordinarily high price of twenty dollars.
Poor Sylvia wasn't that lucky. I went along with Sylvia and her father (Max Schwartz, a thin man with piercing dark eyes and a miserable temper), to shop for the dress Sylvia was to wear to my party.
We went from one store to another, searching for the right dress for Sylvia, but there was nothing she really liked. Mr. Schwartz was becoming more and more impatient--until finally he
began to holler as he marched down Tremont Avenue. Sylvia and I decided not to walk along with Mr. Schwartz. So we followed a few feet behind, embarrassed and giggling, pretending we didn't know the man, who was now marching alone down the avenue, shaking his fist and yelling, "Sum of a beech (son of a bitch), dis von she doesn't like, dot von she doesn't like, sum of a beech!"
I don't remember when Sylvia actually purchased the dress, but I do recall that she looked gorgeous on the night of my party.
 

 
Annette Wexler's photo.

PORTION OF A CHAPTER FROM 'A NICE JEWISH GIRL FROM NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY'

As an eleven-year-old seventh grade student, I discovered boys and a new friend. Sylvia had long brown hair, big brown eyes, and owned an assortment of blouses in every color of the
rainbow. Because she was chubby and had rosy cheeks, Mama naturally labeled her "the blooming rose."
My grades dropped from "A" to "B", and I lost interest in everything except clothes and boys.
With my flat chest, long skinny legs and scattering of pimples, I didn't consider myself a beauty; but when I examined my perfect white teeth, tiny nose and long shiny blonde hair in the mirror, I felt there was hope.
What helped a lot was that Mama and Daddy were so sure I was beautiful. Mama, in many respects, was very different from the mothers of that generation.
"It's time you started wearing lipstick," she said to me one day when I was twelve years old. I'll never forget the expression on her face after she had painted my lips with her bright red lipstick, clasping her hands as she exclaimed, "You're gorgeous!"
During that same period, she also decided it was time I began wearing a bra. Nobody had yet thought of manufacturing size 28 "double A" for pre-teens. In fact, in those days there was no such person as a "pre-teen."
The smallest size available for purchase was 32A, which would have been too large for me anyway -- and new bras cost money.
But Mama was blessed with initiative -- and a few of her own bras in the popular size 38D.
"Try it on," she said, handing me the bra and a box of absorbent cotton. "This should help to fill you out." I did as she said, and proudly wore the bra to school the next day.
Walking down the hallway of P.S. 44, not turning my head to the chorus of wolf whistles from about a dozen boys -- the first that had ever been directed at me -- I felt elated, but also quite embarrassed, especially when the school librarian summoned me to her office and asked me if I was having any problems.
I remember quietly returning the bra to Mama's dresser drawer. She never said a word. Boys ignored me for another year, but I secretly admired them. One Prince Charming followed another, starting with Donny Reiner, a tall, slim, dark and handsome twelve year old, who stood on the sidewalk in front of his Belmont Avenue apartment shouting "Mother!" (instead of "Ma"), and never knew I existed.
When I was thirteen, I met Stanley Kafelbaum, the first boy who kissed me. Then there was Lenny Palmieri, who also kissed me. For some unknown reason, I slapped Lenny's face. I was mortified when he slapped me back.
By that time, we had moved to l75th Street, across the street from Crotona Park, and a block up the hill from Southern Boulevard.
Sylvia lived on Tremont Avenue, which in those days was a wonderful place to stroll, with its movie houses, restaurants and stores that sold the dresses I felt would transform me into
Miss America.
My sister Shirley shopped with me on Tremont Avenue for the dress I wore to my sweet sixteen party -- a fuschia and navy beauty with a low neckline and tiny pleats, that sold for the extraordinarily high price of twenty dollars.
Poor Sylvia wasn't that lucky. I went along with Sylvia and her father (Max Schwartz, a thin man with piercing dark eyes and a miserable temper), to shop for the dress Sylvia was to wear to my party.
We went from one store to another, searching for the right dress for Sylvia, but there was nothing she really liked. Mr. Schwartz was becoming more and more impatient--until finally he
began to holler as he marched down Tremont Avenue. Sylvia and I decided not to walk along with Mr. Schwartz. So we followed a few feet behind, embarrassed and giggling, pretending we didn't know the man, who was now marching alone down the avenue, shaking his fist and yelling, "Sum of a beech (son of a bitch), dis von she doesn't like, dot von she doesn't like, sum of a beech!"
I don't remember when Sylvia actually purchased the dress, but I do recall that she looked gorgeous on the night of my party.

 
Annette Wexler
Annette Wexler's photo.
Annette Wexler
 

                            MY PHOTOS: WITH MY SON RONNIE AND KAREN ON MY BIRTHDAY, MARCH 28, 2015 RIP RONNIE :SISTER MICKEY, ME AND BEST FRIEND SYLVIA, 1946

 



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