***The block between Fillmore and Webster Streets was a mouth-watering andaromatic universe: the pungent dill pickle barrels of Mendelson’s Delicatessen… onnippy wintry mornings, the warmth of a bagful of Kaiser rolls from the Ukraine Bakery,exuding a tantalizing bouquet of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove…the baklava and spicy
hors d’œuvres at
Tarnoff’s Bialystok— whose vegetable bin sign implored, “Don’tsqueeze the Tomatoes!”McAllister could not have been more ideal for Mom. For holidays and otheroccasions, she made gefilte fish from the fattest carp she could extract from the DrabkinFish Market’s tank. Making a choice early in the week before the fish community waspicked over, Mom transferred her catch to the family bathtub. This arrangement causedno problem for us in that pre-daily shower era; we were in the widely prevalent once-a-week bath norm. The fish enjoyed exclusive occupancy of the tub until Mom was readyto make the delicacy. Their removal from the tub was the signal for the family bathlineup to form.McAllister’s lone ethnic commercial deviation was Ah Sing’s Deluxe Laundry. Theonly other Chinese were the yarmulke-wearing waiters in White’s Strictly KosherRestaurant. Diners were entranced by their sing-song recitation of dishes on the menu—which was entirely in Yiddish.There were only two non-Jewish residences on the street. Next door, a medicaldoctor ran a thriving practice. Our wonderment at having a goy in our midst was endedabruptly, however, when the police busted the distinguished-looking doctor for operatingan abortion mill.Further disillusion came from the three flamboyant women across the street—heavily rouged, brazenly bra-less, their legs flashing black sheer hose. Playing thesophisticate, my older brother Sam decided they were in show business. Viewing thenightly procession of male visitors, [my mother] Nettie was skeptical. When Moishetipped his hat and exchanged pleasantries, Mom said, “Don’t pay any attention to them,Moishe. They’re ‘
’ (play things).”He protested, “You’re wrong, Nettie. They’re nice family girls.”“Such a family I’ve never seen. Never a mother, sister or aunt. But plenty ofbrothers and uncles and
(grandfathers).”Soon the police removed any doubts about the trio when they made anunannounced visit. As the street buzzed, the police unceremoniously pushed thepartially dressed women into a paddy wagon and deactivated the bustling bordello.