Maybe I should have named my blog Potpourri or Pastiche or simply a Savory Stew because I aim to throw a lot of different things into the pot, mostly about reading, writing and art, but many other things, too, because I’ve lived a long time and have a lot of interests. I also will include here thoughts of others I come upon who share my loves. Including those of you who care to share your thoughts and impressions.

Archive - June, 2014

My Friend Joe
posted by Ed Farber on June 15, 2014

MY FRIEND JOE

I lost one of my oldest friends this past week, Nelson (Joe) Zucker. He was 82, my age. Since his Mother lived to be 103, I naively believed that he would outlast us all—all being the group of boys who in 1943 formed a club called The Panthers at a neighborhood community center named Council House. Joe (he chose that name for himself as a teenager and it stuck) is pictured here in the top row, far right. I’m the first kid on left bottom row. In this photo of 10 kids (circa 1945 or 46) only four still survive. In the past several years, three others of that club (one pictured and two others not in the photo) also passed on. It certainly reminds me of our mortality.

Joe and I first met 75 years ago when he moved next door at 1366A Clara Avenue in a rather poor neighborhood of St. Louis. I lived at 1368. We were both skinny little kids who played marbles, Mumbly Peg, Left-foot In, Kick the Tin Can, Tippee and all the games kids played before TV, computer games and cell phones.

He was fearless then, and I remember he and I wearing capes like Superman, climbing up on the rooftop of his flat and jumping across to the next roof. He first, then urging me on. I don’t remember how we got back down. But I followed him faithfully. And we walked together every day to Emerson Elementary School.

We were about eleven years old when we formed that club, The Panthers, and remained together all through our youth. We were separated by the Korean War, serving in various branches of the military or off to college and then off to serve. But those who returned to St. Louis, quickly renewed their friendships and remained friends through marriages and raising families and pursuing jobs and careers.

Joe and I were best of friends. We played golf, went to lunch every Wednesday, met with the surviving Panthers for coffee every Friday, always reminiscing about the old days. Joe had an uncanny memory even at age 82. Just a couple of weeks ago (while reminiscing) he told me who my date was at a Panther skating party in 1946. I didn’t remember at all. He had that kind of phenomenal memory.

I know that when I meet him again, he’ll say to me, “Ed, remember that old guy who used to pull a wagon filled with old soda bottles down Clara Avenue?” He, of course would remember how he looked, his name and where he lived. I wouldn’t remember the guy at all.

But one guy I will never forget is Nelson Leonard Joe Zucker. My friend.

In the photo: top row from left: John Robert Junger, Louis Balk (dec), Jack Kootman, Jules Hartstein (dec), Nelson Joe Zucker (dec), Bottom row from left: Ed Farber, Jerry Katz, Dave Eisenberg (dec), Bill Glaser (dec), Harvey Schwartz (dec).

Top row: John Robert Junger, Louis Balk (dec), Jack Kootman, Jules Hartstein (dec), Nelson (Joe) Zucker (dec), bottom row: Ed Farber, Jerry Katz, Dave Eisenberg (dec) Bill Glaser (dec), Harvey Schwartz (dec)