Mosey over to me-ander or read it here:
After being released from Unity Hospital in Brooklyn my proud parents took me home to Richmond Hill a neighborhood heavily populated by Irish and Italian Catholics who were the more recent immigrants and German Protestants who were there before. Although it was never a predominantly Jewish neighborhood the there were at least 3 synagogues which thrived when my father was growing up. The buildings were still there and at least on Shabbat they still functioned.
But the Pied Piper seemed to have made off with the children, or maybe the parents of the children. In any case from the time I can remember there were very few Jewish children on our block and none of them went to our shul. That doesn't mean I had no friends. There were lots of kids around in those post WWII baby-booming years. They were just named Virginia Gallagher and Michael DeMarco and such. We all played together and in December we often got presents Santa Claus left under someone else's tree by mistake. And we gave them gifts which we said were left under 'our tree' for them too. My parents explained that we didn't want to spoil anybody else's holiday so we kept our knowledge a secret.
One of my earliest memories is of being in a pre-school group that met on Sunday at the shul. I don't remember much about the activity there but when my father came to pick me up I was given a booklet of tickets about 3 by 2 inches with a picture of a soldier with a rifle. I couldn't read what it said but the teacher explained to me and my father that I was to sell the pages for a dime (10 cents if there are any non-Americans reading) each and return with the proceeds the following week. I don't remember asking but I was told that the soldier was in a country where all the people are Jews, that has a Jewish president and Jewish soldiers.
Leapin' latkes! A whole country full of folks who celebrate the same holidays as me! On the spot I decided that was the place I was going to live when I got old enough to decide these things for myself.
I sold Grandma Bessie the book of tickets and she gave me a little black purse to hold the 20 dimes she paid me. The next week I got a jump rope from the UJA (I guess it was them) for my entrepreneurial efforts and life has never been the same.Well, I guess the guy was right, everything you know you learn by the time you finish kindergarten.