Hi, it’s me, Phyliss. I do not know much yet, nor do I spend a lot of time yet working on this website, but am learning one baby step at a time. I have two primary interests regarding this website: 1) I want to put down thoughts and ideas I have in my blogs, which is basically journaling. I also have written my inspired thoughts in response to various scripture passages in the section called POO; and 2) I want a place to collect, archive, and display family history through photographs and stories. There are other content sections as well and more will come about as I move along on the website journey.
As for my background, I was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in Oak Park, Illinois. The first 10 or 11 years of my life I lived at 642 Harrison St. We lived in a one bedroom apartment. The “We” were my mom and dad, older brother Mark and Aunt Jean, my mom’s older sister. The apartment was in a 3 story brick building. We were on the first floor above Wallace’s Food Shop (affectionately known by all as “Molly's”. Molly and Joe Wallace ran a good old mom and pop store and lived in a couple of rooms in the back of the store). Neighborhood kids bought real penny candy there, or comic books, or Popsicles or baloney and Wonder Bread. My cousins and their family lived in the same building. The kids all went to Longfellow School (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), which was a K-8 school. There was no such thing as a lunchroom. We all walked home for lunch and back to school again, 4 trips a day. Mom made our lunch because moms generally did not work outside the home n the 50’s.
My dad was a pharmacist and had his own drugstore called Flower Drugs on the corner of Harrison and Laramie St. in the west part of Chicago. I loved going to visit my dad at his store. That was cool! His family were Polish immigrants and he was just 2 years old when they came to America and settled in Lexington, Mississippi. There, his father opened a general store. They had 6 kids and my dad was 3rd youngest. They relocated to Chicago when he was in high school so the 5 boys (the only girl and the oldest, had already married and remained in Mississippi) would have better prospects of meeting nice Jewish girls, which they all eventually did.
My mom stayed home to raise her kids and was active as a cub scout den mother, girl scout leader and in PTA. Her family immigrated from Russia and settled in Chicago. They also had 6 kids, with a boy being oldest and my mom second youngest of 5 girls.
She met my dad while working at a Walgreen’s Drugstore in Chicago and they married shortly after that. It was wartime and my dad was sent overseas to England to work in a hospital as a pharmacist. My brother was born while he was away.
I would say I had a happy childhood. Robbie, my cousin was the same age I was and a neighbor, so we were obvious playmates. We had the freedom to play outside, but not to roam too far. As young kids, the alley around the corner was a boundary. We were not to cross it. I loved to ride my bike and to roller skate, with the skate key on a string swinging from my neck. We engaged in various projects with other kids like lemonade stands and constructing “push-mobiles”, charging $.05 a ride. Playing army or cowboys and Indians was a favorite pastime and using toy guns with ‘shootin’ shells” and caps was common. In winter sledding was a much loved pastime, as was ice skating. Park maintenance folks always turned the hoses on the parks and froze ponds for skating in the winter. And there was never a lack of snow for snowball fights, snowmen or snow forts.
I also had friends from school and no one lived too far away. We could walk to any friend’s house. I also loved to walk to the little local branch of our library that was only a few blocks away and find books to check out.
In my younger years in the 50’s, summers in a small rented cottage (and shared with my cousin’s family) was home. There in Lakeside, Michigan we had a small community of women and children (dads worked in Chicago and came on the weekends or during their one allotted week vacation) who picked up where we left off the previous year and played all day. We spent most days on the beach building sandcastles, burying each other, and swimming. Evenings were spent in hide ‘n seek, red rover, Frisbee, bike riding on the grounds around the half dozen cottages. We played a lot of Monopoly and played until the bitter end. When dads were around we had special wienie roasts on the beach cooked over pits in the sand and got to stay at the beach until sunset. We took some special trips to the Warren sand dunes where we climbed up, feet burning in the hot sand, then ran, fell and rolled to the bottom. And we stopped to fill our empty bottles at the natural springs in Warren Woods near the dunes. My dad was an avid amateur photographer and took 16 mm home movies every year. that he would diligently edit, splice segments together and then show the previous years’ film at night outdoors every summer as we all gathered round to reminisce.
Our family was Jewish and belonged to West Suburban Temple Har Zion. I always had mixed emotions about my being Jewish when I was young. I lived in a Catholic Irish neighborhood across from Ascension Catholic school where nuns ruled the classroom with a ruler and wore habits. There were about 5 or 6 Jewish families at Longfellow school. More Jewish families lived in north Oak Park or River Forest, the “wealthier” parts of town. We lived in south Oak Park. On a daily basis I did not think about being a minority much but it was always there and I didn’t like it. And in my immediate little neighborhood my cousin’s and my family (or another Jewish family with only one kid) only had 2 kids. Absolutely no one had less than 6 kids, except us. I was a shy-unsure-of-myself-kid and being different did not help me any. I never liked any attention being drawn towards me for any reason.
My brother, cousins and I went to Sunday school. But when we turned 9 we started going to Hebrew School in preparation for our Bar or Bat Mitvahs, the coming of age ceremony. I really did not like this part at all. Every Monday and Wednesday after school my mom would drive my cousin and some other kids and me to Hebrew school. She always had a snack for us to eat in the car. School was from 4-6 pm. And then we went again for a half day on Saturday mornings. We would have some time in school and rest of it in the “Junior” service on Saturdays. This is where we learned to actually conduct the entire service ourselves. Afterwards (and we always were starving!) we said the blessing for the wine and bread, and got to have grape juice and our own individual Challah. While I often felt resentment at having to give up my Saturdays, I kind of got “into it” and learned how to sing the blessings and prayers in Hebrew. I guess I thought that if I had to be there I might as well try it! To this day I can read a little Hebrew and can still sing some of those blessings.
At the age of 13 I became “inducted” into womanhood in a joint ceremony, a B,nai Mitzvah, with my cousin Robbie. I had to read out of the Torah and spent weeks memorizing (reading and singing) my part, learned off a vinyl record played on our hi fi over and over again. I pulled it off OK. It culminated in a big party and lots of friends and relatives came and gave us nice presents. I never returned to Hebrew school or Sunday school after that.
I know my parents did the best they could for what they believed was the right way to raise us. My dad actually went to Sunday school and had some religious training as a child. My mom had no formal training but her mother kept a kosher house. All that generation did. And while my brother and I were “in training” we symbolically celebrated Chanukah, the Sabbath, attended holiday celebrations at Temple, etc. But I do not recall talking about God in my home or anything of a spiritual nature. My parents certainly did teach us right from wrong and had good old fashioned traditional family values. But I do not recall our lessons in morality or values being tied in any way to God’s laws, 10 commandments, etc. Looking back at my parents’ backgrounds, I am not sure why that was.
I bordered on being a “good” student. I never worked to my “potential” as they say. I got good grades in elementary school and in high school it was clear whether I liked or disliked a subject or found something too much work to put out the necessary effort for the grades. I had a combination of very good grades and mediocre grades. I even failed one subject simply because I was going to graduate anyway, it was an elective and I didn’t care, rather than care and do well because it was the right thing to do.
I went to college because that is what was expected in my family, to get a higher education. I had the same attitude in college as I did at the end of high school. Only then, my performance was worse because I had the freedom of being away from home. It is a miracle I even made it through the first 2 years. It was the 60’s and it was more exciting to get involved in the anti-war movement and also in partying.
I dropped out of college at the beginning of my junior year and moved to California where the grass was greener and also there was a guy. I loved it there and had a series of worthless jobs while I took occasional classes at the community college. Many years down the road, along with a few of life’s hard lessons, I decided to go back to college for real and I did. I finished this time, and then went on to graduate school. So I was always able to easily find a job as a speech therapist after that.
I eventually got married and had a couple of kids. I loved being a mom. We left the United States in 1981 and moved to Canada, where I lived for 12 years.As the political and economic climate worsened in Canada, we came back to the US and settled in Colorado. When my kids were teenagers their father and I divorced. Although they were mostly grown I fully believe our family dynamics and the divorce had an everlasting negative impact on them.
It was prior to my separation and subsequent divorce that I began to “seek”. Being the miserable wretch that I was, I was feeling quite alone, miserable and empty. This became a time of true soul searching. On my own I began to look for answers to questions I could barely formulate. I knew I was ready for a change and ready to face the consequences of the poor choices and wrong thinking that had guided my life until that point. I turned to God and realized a kind of peace that can come only from Him. I became a Christian and have never looked back. That was 10 years ago.
I want to be able to model for my children and grandchildren who I love dearly. I cannot make their life choices for them but pray every day that they will move closer to God and want to live lives that are spiritually driven.
Today I am on a continuous mission to improve myself. Together with my partner and best friend John, I am working on some business ventures, music ministry and life style changes that will enable me to live as spiritually-driven a life as I can, that will be pleasing to God.