Sam, Esther, Sam©2011
By Dee-Dee Diamond
Esther Levine was made a widow by Uncle Sam. (Not America’s Uncle Sam, but Uncle Sam the mason), who was the father of her 6 children. Their offspring were now grown, married parents and grandparents, themselves.
All had joined the exodus of Brooklynites to the suburbs of Long Island, in the 1960’s. They left behind their aged immigrant parents in familiar, (to them Brooklyn), but into better neighborhoods.
These new areas were adjacent to Brownsville, but less crime-ridden… (at that time).
My Auntie Esther moved to East Flatbush into a first-floor rental apartment, in a brick 3- family house. With her went her Victorian -styled cut-velvet sofa, 2 heavy carved clawed footed, armchairs of overstuffed burgundy horsehair, a mirrored credenza, with electrified cranberry hurricane lamps, softly lighting each side. What a rosy glow they emitted…falling on her blown glass swan collection placed on its glass shelves.
In a corner, a mahogany English drum table held a lamp of a pair of French lovers, entwined in a forever embrace. All this ornate romantic “stuff” floated on an oriental rug.
I so loved this dreamy room as a young girl.
Now as an elderly woman, she took her precious belongings and arranged them in her new place in East Flatbush.
In her apartment, she developed a pattern of leaving her window blinds up and open, except when she undressed, or sleeping. Her lights were left on, too. This made her feel more comfortable in the strange flat…living alone.
Across the narrow driveway from her place was a twin building with an aged gent who was a widower, residing also on its first floor. He would nonchalantly watch Auntie Esther as she moved through her flat.
Their eyes would meet for a moment, then both would look away. This game went on for a month or two. Her male admirer seemed smitten. She was intrigued by the attention.
When this gent couldn’t stand this “hide and seek” anymore, he asked Auntie Esther’s landlady to introduce them. She was very shy this aunt of mine, having been married to my Uncle Sam since she was 15. Her silver-haired suitor was a bricklayer who had been married all his life. He too had all his family move from Brooklyn.
A fairy tale…
Once upon a time, Sam Watnick asked Esther Levine out with, “Maybe for a sandwich, Mrs. Levine, you could join me?”
She coyly answered, “We’ll see…We’ll see.”
It took a while before she confided her secret love story to my mother, her sister. “You go, Esther and NO you are not too old to fall in love!” urged my mom.
“Maybe a few sandwiches” later, an engagement ring appeared on Auntie Esther’s finger. Then after some afternoon teas, they wed in her parlor.
They were surrounded by many children, grandchildren, and other family members.
He was the prince, my “new” Uncle Sam…Auntie Esther was the princess.
And they lived happily ever after, while holding hands in her enchanted parlor.