Kid Stuff #9
A Series About Childhood Memories
So Little Time...To Be
Murry Frymer with curly hair
...at his bar mitzvah
Memories of Morey (aka Murry)
& his checkered record as a kid
By MURRY FRYMER
I WAS NOT a very successful kid. Hell, why should I have been? I didn't have any kid role models. I did see Shirley Temple movies but she was tap-dancing with Bojangles while I was walking up and down Grace Street with a tree branch.
That tree branch was my "bus." Yeah, you heard right. I imagined that branch was a bus and I would walk up and down the street, pushing the branch on the ground ahead of me, stopping at an occasional house to let people on and let people off. I had a busy route.
It got so that the branch was my favorite thing. It was a bus in my mind. And, man, I loved the job of being a bus driver. So much authority! So much power! And I had the only bus route on Grace Street. I guess, thinking back, it was the best job I ever had and I have spent my adult life coming up short.
I was something of a loner as a kid, with the exception of Sidney, my best friend, who was young and very impressionable. He was younger, shorter and he had straight hair. I was older (by a year), taller (by an inch) and I had curly hair. My mother loved curly hair.
I told Sidney that I worked for the police and he was impressed. I told him that that was the reason I could not walk on the grass when I saw a sign that said: "Police keep off the grass."
Sidney and I used to go to the Saturday movie matinees at the Pylon Theater on College Street, armed with a half a dozen sandwiches each, made by our mothers, who worried we might starve over six hours of films. We spent all day at the Pylon watching various features, serials, short subjects, cartoons and whatnot.
On the way home, I would always tell Sidney that the movie didn't really end the way he had seen it end in the theater that day. In fact, it had another episode or two. And then I would tell him what happened next. I think my plot developments were pretty good and I don't know why I didn't become a screenwriter or a producer. Well, I suppose because I didn't think anyone else was as gullible as Sidney.
I was a little man, not a kid. My parents were European immigrants who spoke Yiddish, not English. I learned English and interpreted for them. I went everywhere as their parent, directing them and informing them. So I didn't have time to be a kid.
I began my miserable record with women--well, girls--as a kid. I was in love with Carole Smith, who was the daughter of a tenant family in our house. Carole was older than I and very sophisticated. I think she was 10 when I was 7 or 8. She was really beautiful and she had social graces, whereas I was very klutzy and inept and had no graces at all. I would watch Carole all the time and I imagined I would marry her when I became a man. But then we moved away and I lost track of Carole. I don't think I ever told her I loved her and wanted to marry her. Yes, I was very unsuccessful with women from that time on.
There was dark-eyed Tammy Bernstein who lived next door. She liked me, I think. She used to hit me a lot. One day, out of the blue, she kissed me and then she denied that she kissed me and told me I made it up. But she did kiss me! It was my first girl kiss and you don't mistake things like that.
I think my second girl kiss didn't happen till I was 25 or some age like that. Maybe I was even older. I don't know why I failed with girls so much, but being klutzy and having no graces at all probably had something to do with it.
As a kid, I had a surprising number of jobs. It just so happened in immigrant Toronto that little kids worked. Nights and everything. I sold programs and ice cream at Maple Leaf Stadium once. Apparently parents never worried about their kids being out at night at work at the tender age of 8. At least mine didn't. I kept working for about 55 years after that, but I think, factoring in inflation, I probably made my best money selling programs.
Dad, Mom & Murry
... in Short Pants
"My parents were European immigrants who spoke Yiddish, not English. I learned English and interpreted for them. I went everywhere as their parent, directing them and informing them."
Money was very important to us. I remember when I heard that kids rode the streetcars free on Sunday, I took Sidney for a streetcar ride. But the conductor threw us off because he didn't believe I was the parent.
I wouldn't want to be a kid again. Although, it was a heck of a lot better than being a teenager. Then things really got ugly when I was in my 20s, drafted into the Army, getting out and looking for work. And then the tough times hit in my 30s and, well, you get the drift.
I remember thinking, when I was 8, that 8 was a very good age. But I have no idea why I felt that way. I guess it was better than 7.
By the way, my name back then was Morris. That was my school name. My mother called me Morey. And sometimes Meyer, my grandfather's name. When we emigrated to Cleveland, I went to the Toronto Bureau of Records to get my birth certificate and found out that on that certificate, I was Murry. Actually "Murray," but I misspelled it then and ever since. At heart, I'm really a Morey. I hear that name and I feel it's me. "Murry" is a Neil Simon joke name.
I tried to make things different for my kids, but I think they were not very successful, either. Except I took my kids to ball games. My father never took me to a ball game, or any place else for that matter. He was a tailor who sewed all the time. He used to sew right next to my bed in the attic while I tried to sleep. But I slept well, anyway. The sewing machine made a nice rhythmic sound and I felt secure.
My own kids had their own rooms, which was a step up. But I doubt they slept better than I did or so much at one with their father as I was, late into the night, whirring whirring whirring with mine.
© 2001 by Murry Frymer. The photos are the property of Murry Frymer. All rights reserved.
You can comment on this column or contact Murry Frymer with an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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