My Father’s Favorite Joke

My father was not a jokester or a comic. In fact, for the most part he was a very somber person. Growing up in Ulanow, Poland in the 1930s, as the eldest of six siblings he bore tremendous responsibility at an early age. In order to help support his family he taught himself basket weaving. Their town was surrounded by marshes and abundant reeds were readily available. His wares became so popular that he hired two men to assist him. He was thirteen at the time. In years to come, I would learn that many of the local baskets were exported to the United States (where they wound up in stores like F.W. Woolworth) and elsewhere.

His parents held him, his work ethic and his intelligence in high esteem, qualities that would persuade them to follow his advice and join the retreating Russian army in October, 1939.

Long after my father had succeeded in building a successful business in America, had purchased a house in Teaneck, NJ and a maroon colored Cadillac, the basic concerns of his childhood would reveal themselves from time to time.

“Mr. Stein falls and is laying in the road. A woman runs over to her car, gets a pillow  and lays it under his head until the ambulance arrives.

“Are you comfortable?” she asks.
“I make a living,” he replies.
About the Author
Elaine Rosenberg Miller writes fiction and non-fiction. Her work has appeared in numerous print publications and online sites, domestically and abroad, including JUDISCHE RUNDSCHAU, THE BANGALORE REVIEW, THE FORWARD, THE HUFFINGTON POST and THE JEWISH PRESS.
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