While it’s still in the editing process, late this summer, Jerry Rosenblum, 97, will have his first book published. Told in 97 vignettes (one for each year) it’s a memoir full of humor and poignant moments stemming from his long and rewarding life which began in 1922.
The working title of Jerry’s book is “Angel On My Shoulder,” derived from the frequent times when he escaped life-threatening danger, including in WWII. It also includes the many occupational opportunities that dropped on his doorstep at the moments of his greatest need. All of this made Jerry, not otherwise an overly religious man, feel as though an angel really was on his shoulder.
A Santa Monican since 1971, Jerry concluded, with his book due out relatively soon, it was time to learn how to use the new iPhone that has sat unopened in the box for months. For tutoring he called upon his good friend, Anthony Bvlgari, who lives nearby and is 17; or, put another way, is 80 years Jerry’s junior.
In addition to being a computer whiz, Anthony’s passion are music and dance. He’s a trained operatic bel canto singer. A baritone, his teachers advised him to start with lighter material like Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Elvis. Being an “old soul,” he loves it. He’s also a tap dancer – what a combination! And, believe it or not, Anthony has experience teaching another 97-year-old how to use an iPhone!
Who, you ask? None other than Jackie Stallone, mother of Sylvester and Frank. Another believe it or not, Anthony and Jackie met while taking tap dancing lessons. She was 89 and he was 8.
As for Anthony and Jerry, they met as performers at the local YMCA,which twice a year put on an amateur talent contest. Jerry sang Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” and Anthony sang an opera aria and “Singing in the Rain.” They instantly became friends.
But back to the iPhone lessons, Jerry’s undaunted. Having survived the childhood trauma of his father’s death in 1934 when Jerry was 12, and the stress of helping support his mother and younger brother during the Great Depression, Jerry doesn’t intimidate easily. (He’s in awe, however, of how facile Anthony is with two-thumb typing.)
In addition to being indefatigable, Jerry’s also intellectually curious. This is evidenced by the three Emeritus College classes he attends weekly, along with the lectures and movies he takes in. He’s also a voracious reader of newspapers, magazines and non-fiction books, which make him incredibly well informed for any age.
Jerry definitely relates to young people. His best friend, Katie Miller, a marketing executive, is 27. Old as I am, I’m grateful Jerry even talks to me. (That’s a joke. Not a good one, but a joke.)
Anthony, who’s so generous with seniors, stresses it’s a two-way street. “Some of my friends don’t quite understand but I learn so much from older people it’s far greater than whatever I give them.” Personally, I don’t know many teens in this social media, narcissistic society that care about seniors like Anthony, but it’s a better world that he does.
While Jerry hopes to be on a book tour this fall, Anthony will be applying to colleges for the following year. He’s hoping to go to Stanford or an Ivy League schools. Given his talents, intelligence and high character, any university would be lucky to have him.
Having known Anthony since he was 10, Jerry delights in his young friend’s accomplishments and maturity. “He has such a bright future,” Jerry says, “I only hope I stay ‘above ground’ long enough to see it.” With Jerry’s mother having lived to 102, he has every intention to fulfill that hope.
The first thing Jerry learned on the iPhone was how to do a Google search. Scanning the endless information on the screen, his first question was, ”Who typed all that?” He also learned how to post on the Instagram page that Katie created for him two years ago. (Katie also created a YouTube page “Jerry Rosenblum sings,” featuring a dozen videos of him singing, some numbers he even wrote himself.)
Jerry’s understandably proud of his 18,000+ Instagram followers, especially that freshman Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC) is one of them. He wrote a campaign song for her in 2018 which Katie posted for him and to which AOC posted a wonderful “thank you, Jerry” video.
Jerry hopes that, if there’s a book signing in her district, parts of the Bronx and Queens, AOC might attend. (He sheepishly admits he’s also hoping that his Instagram followers might buy his book.)
With each lesson, Anthony’s unlocks more doors of intriguing information for Jerry. So many that Jerry has decided to title the last vignette in his book, “Watch Out 21st Century, Here I Come.”
Anthony is at: www.facebook.com/AnthonyBvlgariMusic. Jerry’s instagram is @jerry_rosenblum and on YouTube “Jerry Rosenblum Sings.” Jack is at email@example.com,