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Session:         Page of 592

Q:

I don't know how to handle this exactly, but maybe you could say a little bit more about what becomes of your parents. Do they live long, happy, healthy, productive, lives together, or something else?

Foner:

My father -- it was not a loving -- my father did all the things a father had to do, and my mother did all the things a mother had to do. But I don't recall it as a loving relationship because I don't recall the family together very much. My father would come home at 7:30, and I remember I would be playing in the playground, I would see my father coming from South First Street. You know, he was still dirty and grimy, and he looked like Lee J. Cobb, you know, he was bowed down, because in those days a seltzer box was a heavy box. You carried it up four or five floors. You really were busting your back. My father was always bowed over from that. Later when he got the job at the garage, he was busting his back there fixing everything. Of course, his partner was a goof-off. But anyway, so I don't recall a loving relationship. I don't recall a close, warm relationship, but I recall my mother was very close to the children. My mother was very close to me, I think. I don't know why, but either I'm imagining it. I remember, for example, on Thursday nights, the big event was that at the end of the evening my mother would prepare My-T-Fine, which was a big event in itself. My mother was a terrible cook. Anyway, d I used to spend Thursday night ironing the handkerchiefs for everybody. I remember the ironing board, and I would iron the handkerchiefs and I would talk to my mother then. It was rare that you talked to your parents. I don't think we had the kind of relationship where you discussed things with your parents very much. You were always on the move, kind of thing, but my mother was a warm -- my wife says my mother gave people the sense of appearing helpless in getting things done that way, but it was like a defensive mechanism. I don't how else to describe it. I don't recall. Later on, see, my mother always wanted to learn to read and write, and we would always try to get somebody to teach her. I remember, this is past this period a little bit, Jack is already teaching downtown, and I remember getting Al Friedman to come, Al Friedman now a vice president of Kuhn Loeb and a member of the board of directors of IT&T. Al Friedman used to come and teach my mother, and my mother would laboriously try to do it and she wouldn't get it. She just wouldn't get it.

Q:

Did she speak English?

Foner:

She spoke English well, but she wanted to be able to read. She even went to school sometimes at night, but it just did not work out.



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