Q&A with Morrie Markoff

Q&A with Metal-Sculpture Artist and Author of “Keep Breathing”

Did you ever have an imaginary friend?

No. I am a realist.

What was some good advice your mother gave you?
“Be a man.”
In Yiddish.

What did your father do for a living?
He was a cabinet maker (a master carpenter). It took four years to learn his craft. He never used power tools.

Did your mother work outside the home?
Yes. She was a peddler selling kitchen stuff.

A nickname your family gave you and how you got it?
My father called me “schmorchts” (running nose). He had good reason, too. I used my sleeves as a handkerchief. It worked.

Were you or someone in your family in the military?
I never was in the military.

My younger brother Harry was a Ranger, an elite military group.

Something you thought was very beautiful?
“Betty.” I married her. We had 79 years together. She was the only girl I loved and had sex with. Not the prettiest girl I dated. Gentle, quiet, I loved her.

Until death did we part.

Did you go to the circus?
We never missed going to Barnum and Bailey when they came to town.

Betty was a fun person.

The closest friend you had in childhood?
“Ruby.” He lived in the same tenement.

He later worked for me. A 2-pack a day smoker, he died in his 50s of lung cancer. A “great guy.”

Your favorite summertime memory?

Going for two weeks to Tranquillity Camp in Earlton, Greene County. 

Camp registry with Morrie Markoff’s information

Do you have any knowledge of how your first name was chosen?
A semi-religious family, I was named for prophet Moses (Moisha).

The origins of your family name?
No, but I learned that my name is not Markoff but Markov (off means in Russian “son of”…used only by Russian nobility).

Did you go to college?
I went as far as 6th grade. Home conditions made it necessary to get a full-time job at 14.

I enjoyed working.

Do you have a State Fair or County Fair experience?
Betty and I, almost every year, went to the Pomona Fair.

We loved it.

Several times we took Judy and Steve.



Tell about some good advice your father gave you.
Whatever you learn to do, do it well. Learn a trade. Every man should have one.

He helped me pick a trade.


I went to trade school and became one.

More Q&A

Favorite Aunt – Aunt Lena
When first I saw her, she was a slim beauty.
When my Uncle Harry, her husband (a welder), was killed in an accident, she ate constantly.
The last time I saw her she was…200 lbs.

Favorite Uncle – Uncle Harry
Lena’s spouse was an interesting guy.
He told me many stories about his job as an undersea welder.
He died in an explosion [while welding a storage tank].
It was supposed to be free of gas.
It wasn’t.


Did kids ever tease you and why?
I was respected by my gang.
Don’t f—k with Morrie.

A practical joke or prank you played on someone?
I don’t play jokes on people.

A practical joke or prank someone played on you?
I have none to tell, people don’t fool with me.

If you could return to your childhood, what would you do differently?
I’ve often thought about it.
I always followed my conscience and desires.

Is there anything you would do differently as a teenager?
I had little to do with my family, Joe, Yetta, my father. 
Only with my mother whom I loved.

Did you ever write something that you were really proud of?

Yes. My autobiography. Read it! It was titled – “Keep Breathing