Twilight Years

I know I am winding down. The things I had a passion for, photography and long walks, I can no longer do.

My knees won’t let me. 

My love of photography included not only taking pictures, but the collection of photo equipment.

Every Saturday Betty and I, after a most filling breakfast at one of our two favorite restaurants, would follow the directions to neighborhood garage sales. What bargains we saw and couldn’t resist buying. 

Once, I pulled an old Contax camera out of a pile of old ones being offered. 

“How much?” I asked a young girl running the sale. She took it out of my hand, looked at it and said, “How about $5?”

I smiled and said, “You’ve got a deal.”

The camera was perfect. It had a leather case that was torn and needed stitching. The camera had an F2.8 Tessar lens.

I played with the camera for a while. I took many photos with it. 

I had built my own darkroom in the basement of my house. I bought an old Zeiss enlarger from a guy who ran an ad in a local newspaper. I bought large trays and sundry equipment that enabled me to do developing and processing. I bought many books of photography.

I became an expert in the field of photography. It enhanced my (our) enjoyment of travel…Our travels were well documented.

At home, our bookcases are filled with photo albums.…Regretfully, I no longer have the all consuming interest I had in taking pictures. I leave that to my children and grandchildren.

Only Judy has the desire to take pictures. Maybe someday she will have albums of her travel pictures alongside mine in our bookcase. She and her attorney husband, Raymond, before the horrible affliction hit him, traveled widely. Like Betty and I, she has many memories. 

* * *

Last night I got into bed but couldn’t fall asleep. My mind raced with thoughts of Betty.

Finally, I did fall asleep but spent a restless night tossing and turning. When I got out of bed in the morning, the bedclothes were a jumbled mess. Danny, who makes the bed, didn’t say a word. Good at it, in about a minute he had a tidy looking bed. Rarely do I sleep through the night without getting up at least twice to go to the bathroom.

One night I got up almost every hour. I don’t give this problem much thought or importance.

I’m not sleepy during the day. I’ve always done my job well. I think every individual is different. We each adjust our lifestyle and habits to a way that allows us to function.

* * *

So, my life candle is flickering. It won’t be long before it goes out. Is there anything I want? Is there more I can do? I thought about those questions, and the answers, long and hard. My answer is – No.

If I were to die tonight, it would be as a happy man. I and my wife Betty were in love till the end. We traveled all over the world. We raised a wonderful family whom we loved. We lived a long healthy life.

We can only hope everyone is as lucky.

(August 26, 2020)

Biden for President

I’ve just returned from a visit to the apartment of Danny and his wife Gloria. I enjoyed the visit, Gloria is a great hostess.

I was happy to get home to do some writing.

We have one of the most important elections in our lifetime coming up. I listened to the election speeches by Trump and Biden. Biden is a good speaker, clear and forthright. He warned us about the dangers to our democracy faced if Trump is re-elected.

He promised, if elected, to protect and fortify the socially beneficial laws we now have and are in effect solely due to the sacrifices of caring and involved people, many at the cost of their lives. He spoke of the need to keep a vigilant eye on Trump and his avowed promise to rescind and destroy many of the hard fought benefits we now have. Truly frightening.

Biden is the guy I am voting for. He has devoted his entire adult life to public service. He lost his wife and daughter in a tragic auto accident, and his son Beau to cancer.

Despite these gut and heart-wrenching losses, he carried on. 

His liberal and forward looking views I truly believe will make him one of our outstanding presidents.

He speaks from his heart, clearly and convincingly. I feel sure he will be our next president, and a great one.

Trump, a womanizer, a real estate speculator, a casino owner, is not the man I want to lead our country.

“Dump Trump”

August 20, 2020


I can’t help think, “Who decides these things?”

The last time I saw Raymond was at Garden Crest in the dining room. Sitting down next to him I said, “Hi, Raymond, how are you doing?” He looked at me and a broad smile of recognition crossed his face. He grabbed the hand I was holding out to him and with a firm grip squeezed it. I often wonder if he really recognized me. 

Life is not fair. Here is a guy at the prime of his life. His mind filled with legal knowledge he will never use. A wonderful wife (Judy). Great kids from a previous marriage.

Raymond died recently.

Death of a loved one is often a good thing. Judy loved Raymond. She devoted her life to him. She loved him with a deep passion. They spent the early years of their marriage traveling extensively.

Like me, she will have many memories.

August 24, 2020


Norman developed cancer and was hospitalized for treatment.

One day I went to see him. He was sitting up in the bed. His cheerful wife Ann was holding his hand. They deeply loved each other.

“Hi,” I said to him, “how are you doing?”

“Fine,” he said, “when you have a doctor like Dr. French you don’t have to worry.”

He was wrong. On the way out of the building I met his doctor.

“Morrie,” Frank said sadly, “Norman’s cancer, despite everything modern medicine can do to stop it, is spreading. Norman is dying.”

I choked up and said, “Frank, you did your best, have you told Norm?”

“I’m on my way to do so. It won’t be easy but I’m a doctor. I have to tell my patient the truth.” 

I couldn’t stop thinking how Norman would feel when he heard it. I couldn’t keep tears out of my eyes. I never saw Norman again. He died a few days after my visit. 

He was in his early fifties, a great loss to his family and friends. We will miss his infectious smile, his optimistic view of life.

Goodbye Norm, Rest in Peace

August 12, 2020

The Explosion

The Explosion

We were living at the “Project” at Avenel Street. I was in the appliance business with Ben Zelonka (Freeway Appliance).

The gas stove Betty was cooking on was a Gaffers and Sattler, a top of the line stove, with four-burners of different sizes and a large griddle in the middle. Betty enjoyed cooking on it. On Saturdays, I did the cooking of making waffles.

I was happily making one of our favorite dishes, bacon and eggs, when suddenly there was an explosion. 

The front first side of our porcelain-topped stove flew up. It happened so quickly I didn’t have time to be scared. Acrid smoke was in the room.

Then it was quiet. Momentarily stunned, I settled down and wondered what happened.

Soon everything became clear. The constantly lit gas pilot had gone out and was filling the room.

If I had the power I would outlaw all gas-operated appliances.

I tore out my built-in stove and put in an electric one.

Betty was unhappy at first, but soon, to her friends became an advocate.

No longer does she have to wash the scorched bottom of her pots. Cooking using electric burners is cleaner and faster than cooking with gas.

The only disadvantage is that the burners stay hot for a while.

I don’t remember the last time I read of an unexplained appliance explosion that killed people.

Our society has made some progress, I’m happy to say.

August 11, 2020

In Better Shape Than My Doc

I was never a good sleeper. When I get out of bed in the morning, I leave a mess behind me from my tossing and turning. I don’t nap during the day yet I function well.

At the completion of my last physical exam, my doctor at Kaiser said, “Morrie, I don’t know what you are doing but whatever it is keep doing it. You are much older than I am but in better shape.”

The last time I saw Dr. Hersch was when, to my surprise, he was a patient at Kaiser. Walking down the hall, I saw him in a bed.

“Dr. Hersch, what are you doing on the wrong side of the bed?”

He laughed and harangued me with a barrage of words. I don’t hear well and understood little of what he said. I just kept nodding as he was speaking. After about 10 minutes, I said, “Dr. Hersch, I’m leaving. I wish you well and hope that soon you will be back to your former job.”

He smiled and waved as I was leaving. 

I never saw him again and to this day don’t know what happened to him. He had a reputation of being one of the best doctors. 

Betty and I felt lucky being assigned to him. 

I will always remember his saying to me after that exam.

August 12, 2020

Betsy Doll

Eighty years of marriage does not seem very long.

Thoughts of you inspired a song.

I sang of our travels, our family, our friends.

Our love for each other until the very end.

Our joys, our quarrels, the traveling we did.

The castles we saw that we dreamed of as kids.

We saw wealth and poverty side by side, impossible to hide.

Like the New York tenement I lived in.

Vermin, rat ridden, it had Italian marble steps as you went inside.

My thoughts wander, from near to far.

“And the band played on.”

* * *

Perfectly at ease with my thoughts while lying on the living room couch, Danny comes over, nudges me.

“Let’s go.”

I have never said no.

With some difficulty, I get up and follow him.

He leads us to the elevator, which debarks us into the underground garage to his car, which we get into. 

Prior to leaving our apartment he puts a mandatory mask over my face and like everyone else on the street, I look like a bank robber.

He puts it into gear and we are on our way to Boyle Heights for a visit to his wife.

* * *


It took me a while to accept Betty’s death, September 31, 2019, with her beguiling smile on her face. 

I had leaned close to her and said, “Betsy doll, I love you.”

She squeezed my hand and deeply exhaled. It was her last breath. I bent over close to her mouth and said, “Goodbye, Betsy my love,” and kissed her. Betsy doll opened her mouth into a distorted “O” and died.

As the rabbi had said 80 years ago – in death we parted.

Overwhelmed with tears, I left the room, went to bed, unable to sleep.

As my friend and longtime employee Ruby said, “Boss, that’s the way it is. That’s life.”

August 12, 2020

Mae West

Swiveling my desk chair, I have some odd thoughts.

Who would have thought that I would be here, in fairly good shape, at the age of 106, writing this? Certainly not me.

I think of the many times I escaped death ,which by sheer luck did not happen. 

I think of the poverty I was born into, the 14 years I lived in a lice, cockroach, rat infested tenement. The 80 years of my marriage to Betty.

The world traveling we did, the highly respected two children, Judith and Steve, we raised and their accomplishments.

My brain jumps from one thought to another. I can’t stop it. What a lucky guy I have been. I often sit and watch television and I see the tragedies that befall innocent people. It’s heart wrenching.

Who decides what happens to whom. I am an agnostic, but I well understand why people are religious and believe some God or supreme being watches them, directs their lives.

They believe that at death they will be judged. Who can say they are wrong? I can’t.

Is life but a game of chance? Do we humans have any control or is everything pre-ordained?

Morrie, stop thinking, it’s pointless. You will never find the answers, no one well.

Someone asked Mae West, a wise and well-known entertainer who had nine husbands and lived to the age of 94, “Would, if you could, live another life?”

 “Absolutely not,” she answered, “if you’ve lived your life as I have, one life is enough. Come up and see me sometime.” 

I feel as Mae West does. I’ve had a wonderful life. I may not be as lucky the second time around. It’s prudent to stop while you are ahead.

I wish all people will be or have been as lucky as I’ve been. The best of wishes, Morrie

August 5, 2020

“Sweet dreams”

I was on my way to my room at Garden Crest when some guy I didn’t know said to me, “Morrie, you are a national treasure.”

Very flattering. I thought about what he said and what he meant. I am not an egotist, but not blind to my accomplishments that are wide-ranging. A kid born in a vermin, rat infested tenement in East Harlem, New York, a multi-national neighborhood replete with warring gangs and crime.

I am no angel. I participated in activities with my gang that I’m not proud of. I sometimes shudder when I think of how close I was to becoming a murderer.

I was on the roof of my five-story tenement building when looking over the edge I saw a guy leaning against my building. I went to a half demolished chimney, pulled loose a brick, went to the edge of the rooftop and with two steady hands ,aimed it at him and dropped it. It landed with a crash and disintegrated.

Fate had stepped in. At the last second, the guy moved away. It is a certainty my good aim of the brick would have hit him on the head and killed him. I would have been a murderer. 

People on an adjoining roof saw me. Denying it would have been stupid and futile. It was a thought out and deliberate action. I would have been arrested, tried and found guilty.

Because of my age, I would not have been executed in the Sing Sing electric chair, but placed in some corrective institution not eligible for parole until the age of 21, a long time in the future.

Is it any wonder I have nightmares? I am one lucky “dude.”

At the age of 106, I am still functioning and have all my “marbles.”

I miss my late wife Betty very much. I have so many memories of the 80 years we spent together. 

We traveled the world, we saw man strange lands, but happy to come home holding hands.

The two children we had, Judy and Steve, that we are proud of. Every morning I wake up, look at her picture beside my bed.

She is smiling at me. I look at her often, holding back tears and often say, “Betty Doll, I love you.”

Thanks for the memories. I think of you often and always will as long as I live.

Good-bye my love.

“Sweet dreams”

August 5, 2020

Camera Show

I read in the L.A. Times that a photographic show was going to be held in Pasadena. Photo equipment dealers were coming from all over the country. They rented space on a table and displayed their wares, and were going to buy and sell.

Knowing Betty had no interest, I went to the show alone. I took the Contax camera I had bought with me. I arrived at the show early, and paid the admission price of three dollars.

The place was jammed with people, buyers, sellers, alive with activity. I immediately tried to sell the old model Contax camera I had brought. Optimistic at first, after about an hour trying to peddle the camera, I got discouraged. All the dealers who looked at it with seeming interest said, “Sorry, buddy, I pass,” and handed it back to me. Then, my good luck stepped in. On my way out I showed it to a dealer almost at the door.

He looked to a dealer almost at the door, who also looked at my camera carefully.

“It may be worth more, but the best I can offer you is $1,300 dollars. Suppressing my happy feeling, I said casually, “O.K. if you throw in that light meter.”

He picked it up and handed it to me. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a large roll of $100 bills, peeled off 13 of them and handed it to me. I gave him the camera and went out the door. Suddenly, curiosity overcame me.

I went back in and spoke to him. He was a camera store owner on a buying spree for a photo store in Milan, Italy. He had a roll of $100 bills that would “choke a horse.”

I left that photographic show a happy man. My wallet was stuffed with $100 bills.

My buying and selling cameras is far in the past. An avid photographer, I have lost interest.

* * *

I took hundreds of pictures of Betty and me as we traveled around the world. 

We loved to travel.

Seeing new countries, historic places, filled us with excitement. We traveled when traveling was inexpensive. Our first trip to Europe via S.A.S. airlines in a propeller plane took 26 hours, our route was over the South Pole. We flew right after the war in an old converted Douglas plane, in bucket seats that were strapped to the sides of the plane. 

The food we were served were sandwiches lathered with about an eighth of an inch of butter. The first and second were delicious; the third was nauseating.

When we reached our destination, Copenhagen, our stomachs were aching. It took a few days and many trips to the bathroom for our systems to settle down.

Betty and I never forgot our first trip to Europe. 

August 12, 2020