In six days my dear friend, 99-year-old Jerry Rosenblum, who’s lived in Santa Monica for 50 years, is moving to Florida. He’s flying to Fort Lauderdale where he’s meeting 29-year-old Katie Miller, his “bestie” as she puts it, who’s flying in from Denver to help him. A marketing director, Katie’s a dynamo. She found him a beautiful senior’s complex in Boca Raton, “Stratford Court of Boca Pointe.” (Fancy schmancy, complete with a pool and Jacuzzi.)
The complex is only two miles from Jerry’s niece Heidi, his great nephew Michael and his wife Tali, and their two young children, his great-great niece, Ella, age 4 and his great, great nephew Jordan who will be 2 in August. (Both of whom I suspect are going to be getting a lot of hugs very soon.)
Every day, Jerry, with his pal Jesus, has been packing boxes to be picked up by UPS. Meanwhile, he found a home for his over 1000 video cassettes he couldn’t bear to throw out. Casey Burr was delighted as he runs a free library for movies on tape called Tapeheads in Eagle Rock. (It’s on Instagram/Twitter @tapeheadsla.)
Katie also arranged for Jerry’s car to be shipped to Stratford Court and put into his parking spot days before he arrives. (Jerry is an excellent driver given in 76 years he’s only had one minor fender-bender and “That wasn’t my fault,” he says with great pride.)
Katie has already discovered nearby furniture stores from which to fill Jerry’s new spacious abode. She met Jerry 6 years ago while, after her day job, she volunteered helping seniors at Silvercrest with their electronic devices. Jerry didn’t have one but the two hit it off immediately. (You can read what I wrote about them by going to smdp.com and searching “A Friendship of the Ages” as I’m told it’s by far my most read column.)
As for Jerry and me, we met eleven years ago as he was an avid fan of my columns. (He’s the one!) Through a mutual friend, he phoned and politely asked if I might read his memoir manuscript he wrote partially because of the deafening construction noise of two apartment buildings across the alley.
For over a year 88-year-old Jerry had been going to the library five days a week for eight hours and writing a 300 page first draft. I asked if he’d ever written anything before. He joked, “Not counting a grocery list, no.” (I laughed but inside I was saying “Uh, oh.”)
I’m embarrassed that I was trying to diplomatically turn Jerry down until he inadvertently mentioned he’d been in the men’s clothing business for over 50 years. My late father had owned a men’s store on West Adams for 35 years and, thinking of him, I agreed to read Jerry’s manuscript. He was delighted and I simply couldn’t resist his sincere charm.
So I read the memoir over the weekend and had to gently break the news to him it wasn’t actually a book, just a huge number of unconnected anecdotes. Typical Jerry, he took it positively, “Back to the drawing board,” he said enthusiastically. But we stayed close as he would often call after reading my columns, “You should be writing for the New York Times.” (In my dreams.)
Years later Jerry found a publisher who showed mild interest and, ever the businessman, he proposed if I’d rewrite the book we’d be 50-50 partners. It took a year, including twice daily phone conversations explaining what changes I was making until we finally finished. “An Angel On My Shoulder : My first 100 Years” which I hope has heart, laughs and some life lessons from a mensch who’s still living life to its fullest. (Shameless plug: “Angel” is available on Amazon or at the charming “DIESEL, A Bookstore” in the Brentwood Country Mart at 26th and San Vincente so buy it!)
Until the pandemic, for the past twenty years, a huge part of Jerry’s life has been at Emeritus College where he took three classes a week: Singing, Current Events and Film. He’s so beloved there that Scott Silverman, Ed.D, Emeritus’ Dean of Noncredit and External programs, has scheduled a much deserved zoom “Tribute to Jerry.”
Jerry will read two short chapters from his book and close by singing his version of “My Way,” which I’m guessing will bring down the house. (Or I should say, bring down the Zoom.)
In our most recent visit it became obvious that I suppose Jerry and I won’t ever see each other again. “You’re like family,” he said with a sweet smile. I held back my tears because I was in awe. Imagine, at 99, Jerry is as excited about the next chapter in his life like a freshman going off to college. I’m so lucky to have been his friend.
To join Jerry’s tribute which starts at 10 am, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, please visit this link for the Zoom event:
(https://cccconfer.zoom.us/j/98466096268). Within a few days the recording of the tribute to Jerry will be posted to (http://www.smc.edu/Emeritus-Events) Jerry can be reached at Instagram @Jerry_Rosenblum where he has 21,400 followers. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Instagram where I have 60 followers. Sigh.
Due to a management decision, starting March 12, Laughing Matters has been cut back to every other Friday. Jack is at: facebook.com/jackneworth, twitter.com/jackneworth and email@example.com