S: HAPPY BIRTHDAY LEO!
BC: AND THE BEAT GOES ON...
FC: IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT SOMEONE SO YOUNG COULD BE 90 YEARS OLD!
1: Dear Dad, It’s hard to believe that anyone so young could be 90 years old! You still have the inquisitive, open mindset of a kid, intrigued and challenged by new ideas, embracing new technologies. While others much younger than you long ago retired into golf and couch potato mode, you continue exploring and questioning the world. You are blessed and bless us by being both interesting and interested in things and people around you. Life is never boring. | With your photographic memory, you’re a walking encyclopedia, holding your own with any “expert” in nearly any field. The expanse of your knowledge is matched only by your modesty. How can someone so smart be so low-key and unassuming? There’s a total lack of self-centered ego, so without needing to impress, you engage everyone with complete ingenuousness. Dad, YOU – your integrity - your honesty - your overwhelming generosity and kindness - never cease to amaze us! Over the years you’ve reminded us of your motto, “Never give up!” Your inherent optimistic nature fuels your persistence and enables you to persevere - finding creative solutions to life’s many challenges. The glass-half-full mentality, along with your subtle humor keep you (and us) grounded. Dad, thank you for being a guiding light and pillar of support for us and our families! Mazal tov on your 90th! Our love, Julajack and Mr. Turnpike | 1959: David and Judy captured by Ed Peskin 47 Ann Drive, Syosset, NY
2: Leo’s mother, Gerda, was born Gela Prajs (Prais) in 1896 to Samuel (Szmelka) and Mindel (Mindla) in the Polish city of Kielce. Gerda, named after her father’s mother, was the oldest of six surviving children and bore the brunt of father’s brisk nature. Szmelka Prajs, born in 1866, was 13 years older than his sweet-tempered wife, Mindla Federman. Both the Federman and Prajs families hailed from the town of Wislica, within the province of Kielce. Dad remembered this tidbit, enabling me to research the family ancestry. Without it, I wouldn’t have had a chance. The Prajs and Federman families were from the merchant class, and if a Prajs family member didn’t marry within the Prajs Clan, he found a suitable Federman. Szmelka’s parents – Haim and Gela – were first cousins; their fathers – Mechel and Meir Prajs – were brothers. Mindla’s parents – Ezriel Federman and Golda Berkowicz – were first cousins as well: Golda’s mother, Bajla Federman and Ezriel’s father, Abram Federman were siblings. | 1916: Gerda Prais Mainz, Germany | ALL IN THE FAMILY
3: 1935: Szmelka and Mindla Federman Prajs Tel Aviv | Not only that, Szmelka and Mindla’s father were third cousins: Szmelka’s mother’s mother’s father (great-grandfather) was Mindla’s father’s father’s father’s father (great-great-grandfather) – Jankiel (aka Jakob) Federman. They didn’t know about genetics in those days... Szmelka was child number eight of ten known children: three sons and five daughters. No idea whatever happened to five of the ten siblings, but three of the known married a Federman, and none were lost in the Shoah. Mindla was the fifth of eight known children: two sons and six daughters. Throughout the 1800’s, the extended Prajs and Federman families lived and wandered mostly within the Kielce region of Poland. As merchants, they capitalized on bringing goods which they found in abundance in one town and brought them to villages which were short. They were industrious.
6: Around 1911, Szmelka and family moved to the big city of Mainz, Germany, where the family name spelling changed to Prais. By 1920, Szmelka had opened a large store on Gartnergasse 11, in which he assembled, polished and sold upright, grand (“flügel”) and electric pianos. The family lived in one of the large apartments above the store. | About 1930: Prais Pianos with Szmelka and his son Bernard Mainz, Germany
7: About 1921: younger children Prais, Mainz Germany (L-R) Moritz, Bernard, Heini and Roza | Fifteen years later, Szmelka would be operating a similar, albeit smaller-in-scale piano store on 20 Allenby Street in Tel Aviv, managed by his son Bernard. The piano parts which were assembled would be imported from Mainz throughout the early Nazi era. The store closed with the passing of Szmelka in 1938. Both he and Mindla are buried in the Tel Aviv cemetery of Nahalat Itzhak. | About 1935: PRAIS PIANO SHOP business card Tel Aviv
8: In all, Szmelka and Mindla had three girls and four boys, in that order. All but the first boy survived. The two youngest, Bernard and Heini, married their gorgeous first cousins Rose and Manya Federman – their father Israel (“Sruel”) was Mindla’s brother. Rose and Bernard raised one son, Samuel (named after Szmelka). Moritz married the breathtakingly beautiful Irma Heinrich and they had one son, George. Roza Prais married Ernst Franken and had one son, Bill. And Bajla (Bertha) married Fritz Francken and disappeared from the scene. Neither Bertha nor Manya had children. All three sons died very young; all three sisters and two of three sisters-in-law survived into their 90's. | 1925: Bernard Prais
9: 1947: Rose and Bernard | Above: 1922: Siblings Heini and Roza Prais Below: 1925: Ernst and Roza Prais Franken | 1961: Manya, Fritz and Berta New York | Left: Moritz and Irma Heinrich Prais
10: Gerda married Wolf Staschower, born in 1894 in the town of Chrzanow, near Krakow Poland in Galicia. Wolf was the eldest of five children born to Moses and Miriam Ulreich Staschower. Moses was the son of Leizer Gecel (Eliezer) - after whom Leo was named - and Roza/Ruchel Weissholz. Leizer's father was Zysman, after whom Moses named a son, and Sara Laja Hatner. Archive documents no longer exist prior to 1880, although it was apparently common knowledge that the family was not from the town of Staszow, and that the name was (somehow) originally Katz (they were Cohanim). Roza/Ruchel’s parents were Szymon and Gitla Moskowicz Weissholz, and they were buried in the Krakow cemetery (registration exists, even if the burial site may not). Miriam’s parents were Wolf Solomon (after whom Dad’s father was named) and Sara Ironner Ulreich. Miriam died in 1936 and her gravestone exists; Moses was shot by the Nazi’s. | 1927: Moses and Miriam Ulreich Staschower Bad Pilsen | 1931: Miriam, Moses and Wolf Staschower Chrzanow
11: Wolf was the eldest of five children. Both he and his father served in the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in WWI, Wolf as a “top sergeant”. Moses was in military service before the war started; Wolf was drafted. His brother Zysman successfully evaded the draft; every time the army came looking for him, he would hide in the chicken coop. | (Above) about 1912: Moses Staschower (Left) 1914: Wolf Staschower
12: Gerda and Wolf Staschower married in 1921 – Gerda had just turned 25 and Wolf, 27. In their ketubah, Gerda demanded exemption from the common practice of marrying a brother of the spouse in case of spouse’s death. In the Prajs clan history, there are in fact several such occurrences. My grandmother would have none of it however (not that this bridge would ever have required crossing). | The classic Jewish wedding photo from the early 20th century followed a fixed template: the groom sits on a throne-like chair and the bride diminutively stands slightly behind the chair with one hand placed on the shoulder of the groom. In my grandparents’ wedding photo, Gerda is the one squarely seated on the royal chair, and Wolf sits on the arm of the chair, squeezing in, with his right arm around her. They are a beautiful couple. Gerda and Wolf lived in Wiesbaden outside of Mainz, before settling in Saarbrucken, the capitol of the Saar Territory, where Wolf opened a large general store. | 1921: Wolf and Gerda Prais Staschower Mainz, Germany
13: Leo Staschower entered the world on May 8, 1922, after his mother went through three days of labor. Gerda decided then and there that it was too physically painful to have children, and stopped at one. | 1923: Leo and Wolf Saarbrucken | 1922: Leo Staschower Saarbrucken
14: 1923: Leo and parents Saarbrucken | When I was born in 1922, we lived in Saarbrucken and my grandparents lived about two hours away in Mainz, Germany. My mother was sick (with what, I don’t know) and couldn’t take care of me. [Actually, I remember that we had maids who always took care of me. I’m not sure that my mother ever really took care of me.] Anyway, my parents sent me to Mainz while my mother was recuperating. But there was a famine in Germany, and my grandfather traveled far and wide to find me baby food. | REALLY EARLY YEARS
15: 1924 Leo and Wolf Saarbrucken | There were shortages in some cities and other cities would receive shipments of food, by the grace of Herbert Hoover in America. So it was a matter of being in the right place for the right thing. This was also a time of terrible inflation in Germany, so you never knew how much you would have to spend on something. It was really a messy time. Each city started issuing its own emergency money. So you can imagine. Saarbrucken was spared the inflation because it was on French currency. Finally I was returned to Saarbrucken after a period. Maybe that’s why I felt so close to my grandparents..
16: I went to Elementary School in Saarbrucken, half a block away from my father’s general store. I went to that school for four years. I remember a few things that happened. In the first grade, there was a kid sitting in the last row and he couldn’t speak – or at least, he spoke with difficulty. He just made sounds. He didn’t function. He just sat there. He didn’t do anything. He was there for a whole year. Why they let him be there, I don’t know. By the second year, he was gone. I was always worried about him. What happened to him? Why did they let him sit there? Why couldn’t they find somewhere else for him to give him the attention he obviously needed? The other thing I remember is that everyone came to school wearing a shoulder bag – a “ranzen” – and inside you had school books and a kind of slate tablet for writing on which you wrote with a graphite stick, not exactly a pencil - a “griffel”. From the slate hung a red sponge and a piece of cloth to dry it. Everyone had the slate inside the pack and the piece of cloth and sponge were swinging from the outside. | The kids who were poor had a tin cup attached to the backpack. They received hot chocolate in the morning to supplement their diet and they had to leave the class to do this. One day we had an arithmetic contest, which I won. My prize was a cup of hot chocolate. There was a big barrel with the stuff, and they gave me a glass. It was the worst liquid I had ever tasted. It must have been poor chocolate powder mixed with water. Those poor kids who had to drink this every day! | EARLY YEARS | There was a lunch period in school, and everyone brought their food prepared from home. I, however, had my lunch delivered to me from the woman who made lunch at my father’s store. Lunch consisted of a sandwich – my favorite being a chocolate sandwich.
17: One day it was raining, so the kids stayed inside the classroom to eat. Someone knocked on the door and it was the woman who prepared my sandwich. She was going to have to give me my sandwich in front of all the kids, rather than privately in the yard. I thought I would die of embarrassment. The teacher asked, “What’s going on here? You don’t take your lunch by yourself?” And all the kids snickered. Nobody had ever had lunch delivered. The teacher felt that it was spoiling me, and from then on, I brought my lunch myself with me to school. I have a picture of the first grade class, but I don’t know where it is. It’s somewhere. I actually really liked my first grade teacher. He was quite fine. But in the four years of elementary school, I was quite bored; I felt it was repeating all the stuff I already knew and didn’t learn anything. There were two forms of “punishment” in the school. Either your name was entered in a class book of wrong-doing. Or, you got smacked on the tush: in every class, there was a closet which held a bamboo stick used for corporal punishment. | This was applied if you didn’t know the answer to a question or did something “wrong” or forgot your notebook or you talked out of turn. You got hit. I remember the first grade teacher telling us that if you weren’t hit with the bamboo stick at least once or twice, you weren’t a “regular guy”. By the way, there were no female teachers, only men. Once I was sick, and when I returned to school I still wasn’t all there. I was daydreaming, and I was awakened by a slap in the face. So instead of getting mad, I said to myself, look at this stupid man who doesn’t even realize that I had been sick and am still not back to myself. I pitied him for his stupidity.
18: The public schools were either Catholic or Protestant, and got religious instruction accordingly. In the Saar Valley, most of the population was Catholic, and the Jewish kids went to the Protestant schools. The religious instruction was early in the morning before the official starting time of school, so the Jewish kids arrived later and missed this. There were only about two or three Jewish kids in any one class. The official starting time began with a recital of The Lord’s Prayer. But the Jewish kids just kept their mouths shut. I think I made up my own text in fact. The Jewish kids had religious training after the school hours twice a week – Hebrew prayers and Bible, held in a public school building taught by a Hebrew school teacher, usually either the Rabbi or Cantor. It was held in a room with a picture of Da Vinci’s Last Supper. So Jesus was with us, apparently supervising. The classes were filled and were quite good. They were mixed, both boys and girls. In the public schools, we were boys only. | SCHOOL IN THE SAAR
19: Left: 1932: Leo (not his car) in Saarbruken with a friend of his father's Above: 1934: Saarbrucken. At right: Leo with first cousins Paul Staschower, Sala and Ruth Messinger | One thing I remember, before you went into high school you had take an arithmetic exam. Anyhow, what the teacher did was to give us the problems and answers before the test, so that everyone passed the exam. I guess he didn’t want anyone left back. He was actually a nice guy.
20: In Europe, from the age of six for four years you attend public elementary school, where you start out with a slate and stylus and learn the basics. At the age of ten you go to high school. There were three types of public high schools: one, where they taught Latin; one where they taught Greek; and the third where they taught neither. My Uncle Heini went to a school where they taught Greek. I went to the Latin school. High school was nine years. The names of the classes had Latin names. Every time you started a new year you got a new cap. This was very important. You had to go to a special store which sold the caps. The color indicated the class and school. You also had to buy a rubber cover for the cap in case it rained. They were quite expensive. When I went to public school, I used to wear the caps of my uncle or cousin who were older. This was very prestigious. When I entered the school in 1932, I was only there for close to three years before we emigrated. It started out OK, but I wasn’t a good student. It turns out that I was a VERY good student in Hebrew school. I don’t quite understand the disparity, but maybe it had to do with my not liking the teachers in the high school. | My parents never got involved nor did they try to help me in any way. They never asked me about anything. I wasn’t happy in Europe. On January 13, 1935 there was a Plebiscite vote in the Saar region. The options were to rejoin Germany, join France, or maintain status quo, which was governance under the League of Nations Commission since the end of WWI. All the Jews of course hoped for status quo, since in 1935 Germany was already under Hitler’s rule and everyone knew about the Concentration Camps. In the beginning, people could escape from a nearby camp called Sachsenhausen by bribing guards, and they fled to Saarbrucken and informed all the Jews about what was going on. The people who supported status quo were not only Jews, but also Communists, Social Democrats and others. In fact, there was a public meeting in support of status quo in which a number of people showed up.
21: Prior to the Plebiscite, the League of Nations sent in troops from several countries including Italy, Holland, Belgium to supervise the elections to ensure against coercion. When the results were announced, it turned out the more than 93% of the votes were in favor of return to Germany. This was a great disappointment to the Jews and others. We realized that we had to pack up and leave. My father had closed his general store already in 1933. (The Depression was world-wide.) My mother played the Paris Bursa to make money. Since we owned no property in Saarbrucken, there was nothing keeping us there, which made things easier. | About 1932: Wolf in front of his store in Saarbrucken
22: The day after the Plebiscite, my high school held a big assembly in the main hall, celebrating the results of the election. I remember the head of the school made a big speech about “Returning Home” etc. and they all sang the Horst Wessel song (the Nazi anthem). I decided to sit with the lower classmen because if there were a physical altercation, I would have a height advantage. This was the last time I set foot in the school and never returned. I stayed at home for several months before we left the country. I later heard from others that the teachers were disappointed that I had left without saying goodbye. I felt no compunctions. The terms of the agreement were that anyone who wanted to leave the Saar Territory had one year to do so, and were entitled to take along all their possessions, including money. In contrast, in Germany, you could only take something like $2 (10 Marks) out of the country, and if you were caught, the penalty was death. | Above: 1935 passport photos of Wolf and Gerda
23: COMING TO THE HOLY LAND | After we packed up to leave, we first went to Paris. My father had pre-arranged a certificate of entry to Palestine. To do this, you had to show that you had at least 5,000 Pounds (Liras) (British and Palestinian with the same equivalence). We took the train to Paris, where my Aunt Berta, Uncle Moritz and his wife Irma lived. They tried to convince us to remain in Paris and not continue to Palestine. We somehow decided against this. At the time, life in Paris didn’t attract us. From Paris, we took a train to Nice. We stayed there for a couple of weeks before proceeding to Marseille, which I don’t remember very well. From there we took a boat to Haifa. The journey took five days. The ship was called The Sphinx. It was a 10,000 ton boat owned by Messagerie Maritime. We had a regular cabin. I had the upper deck. The moment the boat got out of port, everyone excused themselves and didn’t show up until we arrived in Haifa. Everyone was sea sick, including my parents and me. On the third or fourth day, I finally went up on top of the boat and the fresh air made me feel better. | The Sphinx
24: I remember that many of the German Jews brought huge lifts of goods, which they lived in when the arrived in Palestine. We didn’t take any of our furniture – we sold it all (and probably didn’t get much for it). The boat first docked in Cyprus and took on a whole boatload of Greek Orthodox Pilgrims. They all slept on the open deck. The next stop was Alexandria. I remember that I was standing up on the boat and I saw a bunch of kids playing on the wharf, and one of the kids only had one leg. He jumped into the water because he saw a leaf. He jumped into the water and grabbed the leaf and came back to the wharf and ate the leaf. It was very strange. We got off the ship and took a tour of the city in a horse-drawn coach. | We arrived in Haifa and were met by British guards and Arab policemen. My father’s aunts and uncles - the Buchasters and Landaus - met us at the port. Then we stayed in the Buchaster apartment in Hadar for a few days. I remember that there were two beds in which all of us slept together. Then we went to Tel Aviv because my mother didn’t like Haifa. She said that there were no sidewalks and she didn’t like that. So we went to Tel Aviv and stayed with my Uncle Bernard and Aunt Rose and my grandparents at 53 Nachmani Street. My uncle and aunt and grandparents had arrived in 1934 from Mainz. My cousin Paul and his parents – my father’s brother Zisman and his wife Sabina Berger Staschower – arrived a few months after we did and stayed in Tel Aviv.
25: After a few weeks, we rented a new apartment in a new building on Bar-Kochba 57. It had two rooms and three balconies. We lived mostly on the big balcony. The furniture was sparse. The kitchen was tiny, as was the bathroom. Then there was a bedroom and living room in which there was a cupboard, a table, and a steel bed. In the bedroom were another cupboard and two beds. No radio, no telephone, both of which we had in Saarbrucken. We had a table and chairs on the balcony, but no upholstered furniture. No dining room furniture. Quite bare. The wall paint at that time was either oil-based (very fancy) or chalk-based, which came off on your clothing if you leaned against it. That’s what we had. The kitchen equipment consisted of a Primus – an alcohol burner on which my mother made dinner. I don’t know how she managed. It was very primitive. If my mother wanted to bake a cake, I brought the raw cake over to the local bakery for them to cook it in their oven. | And then we had an icebox, into which you placed an ice block to keep things cold. There was no hot water. However, you could take a hot water bath. But the shower was cold water. We paid 5 pounds/month rent (about $25). My parents didn’t work, and it wasn’t a very pretty situation. For a kid, it didn’t have the same impact. But this was a hard come-down for my mother especially, who was used to a much, much, much higher standard of living. | 1935: Zisman, Gerda, Sabina and Wolf with Leo Tel Aviv
26: 1937: Leo in Tel Aviv | In Palestine I got the highest grades in the class. Clearly the change was due to my level of comfort with the teachers and school. Or else the other students were stupid. The first time a teacher called on me in my class in Palestine, I stood up. This is what we did in Europe. The whole class laughed. Clearly, this wasn't the Tel Aviv way of doing things. But actually everyone was very friendly and I felt good with the kids and teachers. The school was called Gymnasium Ben Yehuda on Rehov Hagalil between Ben Yehuda and HaYarkon, near Bograshov in Tel Aviv. The street is now called something else. Anyway, it was a big private building, quite nice. My first cousin Paul initially went there as well, but then he switched. We had some very good teachers. The school was organized along the German system, but co-educational. You were in a classroom and stayed there. The teachers rotated in and out. You had your fixed place and stayed put. Classes were taught in Hebrew. I somehow caught on very quickly and achieved good grades. I still have my report cards from my school years in Tel Aviv. Our music teacher was Daniel Zambursky and he was a well-known composer. He composed Shir Haemek. My physics teacher was also excellent.
27: School was from about 9am - 2pm, or something like that. When I came home I did my homework, and then went to Rehov Nachmani to see my grandparents. Every day I walked there. When my grandfather took his nap, I would mind his piano store, which was on the back end of the apartment on Rehov Allenby. My grandmother always gave me cookies, which were pretty lousy. Then I would read the newspaper to my grandfather who couldn’t read Hebrew. He spoke and wrote in German. When we left the country for America, my grandfather told me, “I’ll never see you again.” He was right. | My parents didn’t work in Palestine. They went to the café every day. My mother bought and sold stocks. There was a French newspaper which had all the stock quotations. Unfortunately, the paper was usually about six weeks old. Sometimes, I think what if I had become a radio ham when I was in Palestine? I could have put out a DAILY sheet of stock quotations to which people could subscribe. The reason I didn’t become a radio ham was because I was trained to do things according to a menu. This wasn’t on the menu. This is very un-thinking outside the box. It took me years to get out of those constraints. Only with extensive education can you start to learn how to think outside the box. | Above: 1937: Mindla, Szmelka and Bernard Prais in Tel Aviv Left: 1936: Gerda and Wolf Staschover
28: My mother wasn’t happy in Palestine and decided that America was the real “Holy Land” and we had to leave. In 1937 from Haifa we took an Italian ship, the Galilea, which landed in Trieste which was, at the time, under Mussolini. Everyone there was terrified. Before they spoke to you, they looked around suspiciously. After we landed we took a train to Paris, where we stayed about a week. We arrived in New York on May 1937 on the Queen Mary from Cherbourg. In New York, on Ellis Island, my father’s first cousin Charlie Ulreich met us. He was the only relative we had in the US at the time. It was a big culture shock compared to Palestine. First of all, the appliances were totally different. Secondly, the dress code was not what I was used to. And then there was the language... | We were with some people on the ship who had relatives in the East Bronx and invited us to stay there for a few days. At the time, I was wearing shorts, and I didn’t pay attention that no one else was wearing short pants. These people informed me that “it wasn’t done” in America to wear short pants – ever. So they bought me some long pants. On the first Saturday, I took a map and took a long walk and wound up in Bronx Park. And someone came up to me – he must have been 70 years old – wearing a flat straw hat and he asked me to show him around Bronx Park. I made him buy a guide book and I showed him from the guide book where everything was – different trees, etc. Anyhow, after we finished, he gave me $5, which was, at the time, a weekly salary. I didn’t take it, because it was Shabbat. I thanked him anyway. I thought that this was the kind of thing that happened in America all the time. And then I had another 100-block walk back home. | COMING TO THE OTHER HOLY LAND
29: 1937: Passport of Leo and Gerda | Charlie lived in Brooklyn in a fancy house and didn’t know any other places we could stay. We found an apartment in Washington Heights – it was a popular area for refugees. It was more city-like than tenement housing, and was nice. We found a place for $40/month – a one-bedroom apartment. I slept on a couch in the living room. We were there for several years [before moving to 620 Fort Washington Avenue, a nicer one-bedroom where my Uncle Bernard had been living]. I did my homework on the dining room table. My parents had bought a used dining room set for $35. It wasn’t a great period to find work. My father finally was employed by Charlie making stools with cushions. This was a popular furniture item in living rooms at the time. Charlie didn’t pay very well. When the War started, they went into producing parachutes for the army.
30: The schools at the time in New York were not set up to receive refugees. They had no idea where to place them. So they put me in 5th semester. I showed them my chemistry and math notebooks from Palestine, which meant that I would have to go to high school for two years. I was at the time 15 years old. There was another guy the same age as me who lived next door to a public school. He graduated and then he was put into first semester high school. So I suggested that he go out and come in again and tell them he had just arrived from Germany and that way could get into 5th semester. In ten minutes he skipped two years. This was George Washington High School, the same school Henry Kissinger attended. | I was reading all the text books with a dictionary. You practically memorize the text book this way which was a good way to learn. I managed to get through the classes. I had a useless grade adviser so I decided I would have to figure out myself what to do. You needed a certain number of Regents exams and points in order to graduate. So I figured out I could take a 4-year German Regents and a 3-year French Regents and could graduate a year earlier. I had to take English 7 & 8 concurrently, and didn’t do that well, but I did well in everything else. The social life wasn’t very good, but I somehow managed to get through school. Anyway, I had arrived in 1937 and graduated from high school in January 1939 at the age of 16 1/2.
31: 1938: Leo by the George Washington Bridge
32: There was an Organization of Jewish Farmers with an office in New York. We went there to talk to them and the guy took one look at me and said, “It’s not for you. You don’t want to get up at 4am. Try to find something other than farming.” So that was the end of my agricultural career. And it turned out that you could go to City College if you had “first papers” (intention of becoming citizens) and we had them. You needed a minimum 85 average which of course I had. CCNY was mostly male and about 85% Jewish at the time. I registered in Chemical Engineering. I had taken chemistry in high school and I really wanted to become a chemist, thinking that to do this you took chemical engineering. I had no idea what an engineer was. | HIGHER EDUCATION | 1939: Leo in Manhattan (not his car) | I had to decide how to go to college. The only choice I had was to go to a free college, so I went to City College (CCNY) but there was a question of whether I would be accepted: you had to be a US citizen and of course I wasn’t yet. I found out that there was a free college at Cornell – the Agriculture school – and my father looked into it.
33: I took chemistry and physics and I realized that chemistry was sort of dirty and I didn’t like it. Physics was a neat profession. Since I was in engineering school, I switched to electrical engineering – power transformers stuff. Very little “electronics” actually. And there was a course in radios – superhead radios – a big deal at the time. The instructor in the radio course left in the middle of the term. We were told that he was given the position of head of the EE department at Harvard. We thought, why would he want to go to a shitty school like that? At City College, the standards were very high; you needed a doctorate to teach. My horizons were limited because I had no mentor; no one to guide me or to help me understand what working in a profession was really all about. I had to find out the hard way. | I went to City College and graduated in 1943. | 1943 graduation from CCNY
34: About 1940: Leo with his Aunt Rose and Uncle Bernard | I had a problem getting a job however. Most related jobs required citizenship, which I didn’t yet have. One of my professors told me about an agency that took care of getting clearance for people like me. And it worked. I was first hired at The Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in their microwave division doing development work. I also found employment at the school as an instructor giving some courses. I worked many hours and never got paid overtime. But I enjoyed teaching.
35: The head of the department was Ernst Weber, the founder of the EE society and a celebrated authority in the field. One of the projects I first worked on was a mine detector for plastic mines. I don’t think it was very successful. I was there for a few years before going to IT&T in 1946. | About 1945: Leo in the Polytechnic Institute Lab showing a circuit assembly experiment to demonstrate technical principles
36: In 1946 I got a job at the IT&T Laboratories in Nutley, New Jersey. I had some friends working there and they recommended that I apply for a job. International Telephone and Telegraph still exists today – it’s a conglomerate. But at that time, they were in the phone business, mostly holding telephone operating companies, making switches. I was there from 1946-1951. Shortly after my arrival, a union came in and they wanted to hold an election to represent the engineers. Salaries were very low at the time. The union was FAETC – Federation of Architects, Engineers Technicians and Chemists. Actually, they were a local of the UOPWA – United Office of Professional Workers of America. As a result of unionization, I received a fairly large raise and promotion. Gradually, I became active in the union and was elected as a representative to the legislative council of the Local. | The union represented not only IT&T workers, but those from other companies. It turned out that the union, similar to others, was under the control of Communists who tried to use their positions in the union to steer them into the camp of pro-Communist activists. I thought that this was a terrible idea in terms of the interests of the union members, and I tried to fight against them by opposing several of the steps in that direction. For example, the union wanted to participate in pro-Soviet demonstrations. I vetoed, to no avail. At one of the membership meetings, the IT&T Local members decided to vote for disaffiliation from that union and to join another union – the IUE (International Union of Electrical Workers). At the meeting, I was asked to chair and to vote. Somehow I got involved in heading the campaign to join this new union. We received a charter as Local 400 of the IUE. | 1946: UNION ACTIVITY
37: I decided that in order to win the support of engineers, one had to separate them from the production workers who formed the majority of the IUE. There are production workers who were hourly, and some who were salaried. The latter may be have been lowly file clerks but considered themselves on a higher plane. And some of the hourly workers were actually more skilled. So I proposed to set up a professional and technical division in the IUE, so that even the hourly workers who were skilled could join. I discovered that there were unions in companies such as Westinghouse and GE with such divisions so that their members could also join this professional segment. The international union president of the IUE disagreed to this, but the regional director and I decided to set it up anyhow. All it took was to print some stationery with the letterhead “Technical and Professional Division of the International Union of Electrical Workers.” | It turned out that everybody accepted the existence of the division as a reality, including our opponents, simply by dint of this stationery! We managed to set up the new Local, and had to prepare for an election conducted by the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) for a new bargaining agent. I was elected president of the new union and had to spend a lot of time organizing for the new election. There were numerous union meetings, preparation of campaign literature, and preparation for hearings for the NLRB. IT&T wanted to separate technicians and engineers into different bargaining unions, which would have been bad for the unions since pro-union feelings for the unions on the side of the engineers was uncertain, whereas technicians were largely pro-union.
38: Ultimately, the union won and the board decided to include both engineers and technicians in the same union. In the course of the campaign, I decided to get letters of supports from engineering locals throughout the country, to demonstrate to engineers that union membership was quite legitimate, and unions were successful for raising the economic status in the field. I saved all these letters of support till the very end, when the UOPWA petered out, for a strong last-minute effort. | In the end, we were one vote short of winning. The choice was UOPWA vs. IUE vs. no union. The winner was considered the entity that had the most votes cast, not a majority. The pro-union vote was a majority, so a runoff was held between UOPWA and IUE. That time we won. Right at the time after the election, I left the company, and someone else became president of the union. [I got a better job offer from Paramount Pictures.]
39: Many years later in the early 1970’s at North Hills, a union tried to organize our employees. It turned out to be an IUE Local that received the charter directly from the international union, not the district union which would normally issue a charter. I contacted the district director, who had never heard of that specific Local. Turns out that the organizers of that Local wanted to make North Hills the initial conquest for a new union empire. The district union director recommended that I ignore this Local, and that I contact one of his amalgamated Locals to take over form the new group. The new Local started an election campaign amongst the workers, including literature from the “Technical and Professional Division of the International Union of Electrical Workers” (!!!), which claimed that my partner and I were the “recipients of bags of gold from the company on the back of the workers.” | The union turned out to be largely Italian, centered in the Bronx. Relations with the workers deteriorated overnight, and there were arbitrations over fabricated grievances. North Hills won all the arbitrations, but nevertheless it was an expensive proposition. We asked our employees to stop the arbitrations since they were costly and pointless. The union replied that it was “none of the employees’ business to interfere with the union’s decisions”! The employees got angry and decided to contact the NLRB for a decertification election of the bargaining agent. An election was held, and the vote was unanimous to decertify the union. The union initiated an arbitration saying that decertification could only occur at a particular time period, which was not met. The arbitrator ruled that while the union was technically correct in referring to the time limitations, but inasmuch as there was unanimous vote to decertify them, the union needed to pack its bags and leave. And that was the end of the union at North Hills. | EARLY 1970'S: ANTI-UNION ACTIVITY
40: 1947: WHEN LEO MET JEANNIE | Dad and Mom met on a blind date in 1947. They doubled with Dad's best friend, Ernie Wimer, and some other woman. Ernie and Dad had met while Dad was still in high school and Ernie was already working for a metal trading company. Dad spent most of his free time at the Wimer residence. Ernie was one of six sons. They nicknamed Dad, "the 7th Wimer son." Ernie was a POW during the war, shot down by the Germans. When he return to the US he became a doctor and married Daphne. Jean Wiener, age 25, and Leo Staschover, age 26, were married in New York City on April 11, 1948 in a Rabbi's study. The celebration was a luncheon at Paramount Caterers in Manhattan. Mom got gypped of being “Princess for a Day”- no white dress, no fancy bouquet. Not even a photographer, so there is no memento of the event. But as Dad says, "it lasted anyway." At least we have photos from their 50th wedding celebration. | Dad was fully embraced by Mom’s parents – Nathan and Fanny Wiener – her sisters and spouses. The same did not quite hold on Dad’s side, where Gerda and Wolf expected their one-and-only-son to marry a nice, old-fashioned, old-World German-speaking girl – and certainly not a feisty, free-thinking butcher’s daughter who was an intellectual with modern ideas. Needless to say, all holidays (Rosh Hashana, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Passover) were spent with Mom’s sisters and their families. The food was always incredibly delicious (certainly much better than the alternative would have been) and the environment warm and loving. | Above: about 1949, Jean and Leo with niece Nancy Zucker Right: 1952, Leo and Jean in Central Park (Photo by Ed Peskin)
42: At IT&T I was working on a microwave TV link for inter-city transmission of television signals. Someone I had worked with had left IT&T for Paramount Pictures, so we decided to make a test with Paramount, sending a signal from Nutley, NJ to NYC and have them record it. Syd Kramer was the engineer on theater-television development for Paramount, and I met him there. Pretty soon thereafter, Syd persuaded me to come to Paramount to help him design the system. So in 1951 I left IT&T and went to work for Paramount, where I was paid appreciably more in salary. Paramount Pictures was in Times Square in the Paramount Building on the 9th floor. I worked there with Syd in the Theater-Television Department. We designed the electronic system to pick up TV signals and record them on 35mm movie film and develop them in 60 seconds. | I got to know Syd not only as a co-worker but as a friend. One day we went to an IRE (Institute of Radio Engineers) convention to look at different products. We were highly unimpressed by the people who were in charge of sales for these products, and thought, if they can be in business for themselves, so can we (which is actually not a very clever analogy). So we decided to go into business together, while keeping our jobs of course. We knew that we couldn’t produce income for a while. | 1951: PARAMOUNT BOUGHT ABC | Syd Cramer
43: To be in business, we had to have a product, one that was generally not readily available at that time. In our own experience, we knew that if you needed an inductor, for example, (an electronic circuit) you had to have it specially made. There was only one company which made standard inductors, but only discreet samples which did not cover the whole range in sizes. We wanted to be the first company to offer a readily available range of inductors. In order to make such an inductor, you need a form, a winding of wire, and a magnetic core to vary the inductance values. So we looked for cores and core manufacturers which could supply the core materials. And we found such, made by a company in the Bronx who sent their sales guy to see us at Paramount. He of course inferred that this was for a project at Paramount, not for a start-up. It took us a long time to find ways of making the inductors and finding a manufacturing source. | The salesman became a bit impatient with us about why things were taking so long, so Syd told him the reason was that "Paramount Pictures had just bought ABC." That satisfied the guy. And from then on, “Paramount bought ABC” became the catch answer to all such questions. [In fact, in 1951, ABC merged with United Paramount Theatre, which was a divested division of Paramount Pictures by Supreme Court decision in 1949.]
44: Eventually, I was laid off from Paramount when they reorganized, though Syd continued to work there. I got another job at Sterling Precision, primarily working on government contracts. Syd and I didn’t go into business for quite a while. We had the inductors made by a manufacturing company and we set up a packaging facility in the basement of Syd’s house in Douglaston, New York, facing the LIE (Long Island Expressway). We tried to find reps and printed some literature and got a few orders and managed to generate some sales. But we did everything in a very primitive way. The salespeople came to see us in the basement “factory” in Douglaston. Once someone came to see us and we met him in the living room while Syd's kids were running up and down the stairs – not particularly professionally impressive. | A couple of years later, we finally decided to take things seriously. We quit our jobs and worked full time at our company. First of all, we needed a name for the company. We thought of the name “Port Electric”. But then we reconsidered. A week later we were driving on Horace Harding Blvd, and passed by the town of North Hills, where Bill Paley lived. We decided to name the company North Hills Electric, which later became North Hills Electronics. We needed a place to open the business, so we found something in Mineola, where the landlord was willing to customize a place for us next to his soda-delivery business. It was a few thousand square feet, with offices in the front and manufacturing in the back. To start, we each invested $75. We went into an electronics store to buy components. But it came to more than $75. So we put some stuff back and each invested $50. | STARTING UP
45: The agreement we made with him was not very good. He got 50,000 shares for free as a result of the underwriting, while the total value of the issue was $300,000. It wasn’t a big deal actually, but it was to us. It was a Reg-A Issue. Right after the issue, the stock was quoted in the “pink sheets” and the price immediately dropped. We were told that an underwriter would support the stock by bringing back the price, but of course this is nonsense. We did not have good relations with the underwriter. We wanted to get rid of the 50,000 shares which were in his hands, and we got several people to buy shares from him. Our accountant had a customer in the jewelry business, who alone bought 20,000 Family members bought the rest. Shares were bought at $1.60/ share, below the issue price of $2.00. Several later I got a call from an accountant of the jeweler who asked me if the shares were worth anything. I told him, yes, “50”. He said “50 cents?” I said “NO, $50.” I think he fainted. He had been ready to write them off as worthless! | Then we started to make the coils. We bought winding machines to make the coils and got the forms cheaply. And we started selling. The first year our total volume was $125,000. A couple of years later, we met someone from Wall Street who told us that all the little companies were going public, and that electronics was a hot investment field. He persuaded us to go ahead and find an underwriter to make a stock issue. So we found a firm willing to underwrite us and to issue the IPO. Of course, we really didn’t understand anything about going public and had some distorted ideas. We were very naive. Someone recommended a Harvard lawyer and were about to negotiate an agreement, when at the last minute the lawyer wanted us to sign over all our shares to the underwriter. It turned out that both we and the underwriter were clients of this lawyer. We fired the lawyer and found a different underwriter, Bernheimer, and he underwrote the company. But he wasn’t much of an underwriter. He was mainly a public notary. Yet he managed to sell the stock at $2 per share.
46: I was a member of the 802.5 IEEE standards committee which developed international standards for the Token Ring Local Area Network, and we were discussing “jitter” – the moving back and forth of pulse rise time when data was transmitted. Everybody was expounding on the subject with great authority, while I honestly had no clue what was going on. So I started studying the topic from scratch and derived all the basic equations. I gave the paper to a committee chairman and he asked me to present it and publish it. It’s an analysis of jitter and how jitter affects data transmission. It turned out that everyone was throwing around fancy terms but no one really understand the concept! It’s funny – you can find the paper on the Internet today. So maybe it’s still got value. | PLAYING WITH JITTER | 1980 Munich Electronics Exhibit
47: January 22, 1987: honored by the American ORT Federation, Engineers for ORT | 1975: United Jewish Appeal honoring Leo, who was president of Midway Jewish Center. Above with Rabbi Rubenstein | HONOR ROLL
49: AND BABY MAKES 3 | I was born in Queens, New York, six weeks early; my head was competing with a benign tumor growing in Mom's uterus. So a C-Section was performed on April 3, 1954 and I entered the world, changing forever the lives of my parents. My head emerged sort of concave with the imprint of the tumor, but other than looking like an alien, I was fine. The doctors assured my panicked mother that my head shape would fix itself in time, but several months passed before I was deemed "camera-ready." | Upper row (L-R): August 1954, Judy and Mom January, 1955: Leo and Jean Spring, 1956: Judy and Dad (photo by Ed Peskin) Lower row (L-R): About 1956, family 3 1954, Judy held by invisible Dad's steady hand Summer, 1956. Always loved that ice cream...
50: Clockwise: About 1957 and 1958: Judy and Dad, About 1958: Leo and Jean in Queens June 1959: David in Syosset
51: SYOSSET-BOUND | The second installment of our nuclear family arrived on December 18, 1957. After David entered the world, it was clear that raising a family demanded the requisite move to the suburbs. While Syosset seemed at the end of the earth at the time, there was a new subdivision being built and modifications could still be made to the house plan. While the two-car garage and central air-conditioning would only be installed after several years, the house at 47 Ann Drive became HOME from June, 1959, and accommodated the Staschover family for 43 years. | Above: June 1959 at the new house 47 Ann Drive, Syosset, New York 11791 Below: December, 1959, Family Staschover | June 1959, Judy and David Syosset, New York
52: Dad and Syd Cramer brought North Hills Electronics public about 1953, building the Glen Cove facility in the late-1950's. The company specialized in producing high quality components used in aerospace and telecommunications systems. Syd died suddenly of a heart attack in 1968, leaving Dad to manage on his own. Both David and I owe our first employment to North Hills; me as the company's West Coast Sales Rep after I graduated from Stanford (with a ("useless") degree in English and Art History); and David as the in-house programmer, transitioning the company from the land of manual transcription to the modern age of computers. In 1986 the company inaugurated North Hills Israel to great fanfare in the development town of Yokneam. But in 1991, with cash flow problems, the company was sold to Porta Systems. | Above: North Hills building in Glen Cove, NY, and a Christmas party from the late 1970's Right: 1986 inauguration of North Hills Israel in Yokneam
53: Porta Systems was sold recently, and the only surviving entity is North Hills Signal Processing. Dad, as the world's expert in solid state devices, today still consults to North Hills, solving technical problems and designing new product lines.
54: GROWING UP IN THE 60'S | August 1965: Judy and David at Jones Beach | About 1969: Dad's favorite form of relaxation - pulling out the crabgrass from the patio
55: September 1965 | 1967 | 1967: Family Staschover Missing: cats Nemo and Linus | There is a dearth of family pictures from the 1960's. Once we moved to Syosset, Dad was busy with the business and Mom with volunteer work.
56: THOSE 70'S YEARS | December 27, 1970: David's Bar Mitzvah at Midway Jewish Center
58: Summer family entertaining: about 1975 in the backyard with the Wiener family (L-R): Leslie, Jean, Shirley, Fanny, Laura, Ruth, Milton, Arthur, Nathan, Leo Missing: Judy (away at Stanford), Paul, and Nancy (Jimmy probably took the photos) | Leo and Jean on an annual 70's European vacation | August 1978: Family Four
59: August 1971: Judy, Jean, Leo, David, Gerda and Wolf in the backyard | December 1971: Judy' in 12th grade | Left: 1972, Judy high school graduation Above: 1976, Nemo staking out position in the garden
60: WEDDINGS AND 3G | What a relief! The kids get married and grandchildren arrive! | March 22, 1987: Wedding of Judy Staschover and Oded Golan in Palo Alto, California Right: Maya Rachel Golan was born April 29, 1988 in San Mateo, California
61: Clockwise from upper left: May 1988, California November 1988, Palo Alto April 1990, Palo Alto August 1990, Syosset
62: Top L-R across: June 24, 1990, birth of Liat Sarah Golan in San Mateo, California October 1991, Israel April 1995, Florida November 1996, Florida Bottom: L-R across September 1998, Tefen Park, Israel Pesach 1999, Florida June 2000, Bat Mitzvah of Maya in Kfar Vradim August 2003, Budapest NB: the film got exposed on Liat's Bat Mitzvah, June 1995, pre-digital camera
64: January 13, 1991: Wedding of Laurie Dushey and David Staschover in Brooklyn, New York Summer 1991: Syosset reception Susan born April 13, 1992 Allison born July 5, 1993 Max born November 9, 1997
67: COUSINS! | Left: August 1996: Allie, Susie, Liat and Maya Above: Summer 2001: Grandpa with all the grandkids, North Woodmere, NY
68: APRIL 1998: 50 YEARS OF MARRIAGE
70: Top Row (L-R): 1972 at Danny Greene's Bar Mitzvah September 1990: Jon and Amy Greene wedding reception, Mill Neck, New York 1980-something with David March 1994, Florida Bottom Row (L-R): November 1992 January 1991, Brooklyn, NY
71: JEAN AND LEO OUT ON THE TOWN
72: CELEBRATIONS | Top Row (L-R): August 1972: Leo's 70th birthday, New York (with the worst camera ever) March 6, 1995: Jean's 72nd birthday Feb 9, 1997: 50th wedding anniversary of Shirley and Milton Roth, Florida Bottom Row (L-R): Florida February 7, 2000: Ruth's 82nd birthday, June 2002: Jean, Florida March 6, 2003: Jean's 80th birthday (L-R): Sally Wollenstein, Shirley and Milton Roth, Ruth Zucker, Leo and Jean
74: STASCHOVER BAR/BAT MITZVOT | June 13, 2005: Susie November 6, 2006: Allie November 7, 2010: Max
78: left for Israel, and I don't have any memory of that time. My parents and I got to Israel several months later. Tante Gerda and Uncle Wolf welcomed us to stay with them for the first few weeks, until we found an apartment to live in. Both Leo and I were busy learning Hebrew, to be able to get along in a new country. Leo and his parents moved on to New York, and I showed up in 1946 on my way to California – leaving my parents in Tel Aviv. I remember that Tante Gerda was very firm: "flying is too dangerous!" So I was put on a train with a big box of salami, hard boiled eggs and bagels, to last me for the four-day trip to the Wild West. | I remember spending some time with Leo in New York. He tried to explain American labor unions, CIO and AFOL to me as an introduction to how-things-work-in-America. I obviously had no Idea about organized labor. But what I do remember was that he was dating, at the time, the woman soon to be his wife, so. he had better things to do... California is a long way from New York or Florida, but family ties, are a wonderful thing. I find the warmth and friendship of Leo’s personality coming through, when he phones and we have nice long chats, even long distance. Paul Staschower Los Altos Hills, California | In Saarbrucken, I was eight years old when my first cousin Leo and his parents | 1946: Paul with his Tante Gerda in NY
79: Dear Leo, | I have ever been very grateful to your family, who took me in on my arrival in New York and introduced me to bananas, Rice Krispies, Fort Washington Park, Fort Tryon Park, and many other delights. At right is a picture of your Dad with an unidentified non-English-speaking greenhorn, undoubtedly taken at 180th Street in 1946. I wonder what ever happened to the kid in short pants? With all my very best wishes, George Price Washington, DC | It’s a wonderful pleasure to wish you a happy 90th birthday. It has always been an enjoyable, and often instructive privilege to see you over the last 66 years. As the first engineer in the family, you’ve been a great role model, although I surely have not completely lived up to it, and you have many more virtues than being an engineer.
80: MEMORIES OF BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP Bea and Sam Jean and Leo We met at Camp Merriwood, located on a lake in New Hampshire. It was a former children’s camp and retained the “ambiance” of its original accommodations. We slept in camp bunks, lucky to have private baths. But don’t look under the bed. Heaven forbid! We also met Marianne and Fred, with whom we remained friends. We played volleyball, swam, ate mediocre food, and waited for the rye bread to arrive from Boston. We met a man who owned Oomphies, a slipper company, and in later years we still referred to him as “Mr. Oomphie.” Of course, the six of us became fast friends. Leo, as well as Sam, had a great sense of humor and we enjoyed many laughs over the years. When we left Merriwood, the four of us decided to stop in Lenox and go to Tanglewood. We found a guest house and stayed over. Merriwood and Tanglewood were the beginning of a wonderful friendship. One year, on December 24, we decided to go to a restaurant in New Jersey, which had been highly recommended by a friend. We arrived at the Staschover’s in Jamaica and suddenly Jean said: “Let’s pack a bag and go to Atlantic City.” Sam and I returned home to pack a bag and joined the Staschovers again. Off we went to Atlantic City. After stopping for lunch on the Lower East side, we continued on our trip. On our arrival, we found a hotel with a suite and watched Charles Laughton on TV. Jean and I embarrassed the men by complaining about something at every restaurant: dirty glasses, food, etc. Anyhow, we had a great time. On another occasion we went to Southampton with Bruce and Judy. We found accommodations with three bedrooms. Judy slept in a crib and Bruce in a bed in the same room. Bruce, already precocious, climbed in the crib. We spent many wonderful years, going out together and entertaining in our homes, as well as visiting Jean and Leo in Florida. Our last get-together was their visit to Thousand Oaks, California. We are blessed with wonderful children and grandchildren, and I still hear from Leo now that both of us are alone. Happy Birthday Leo, Love, Bea
83: Left: 1956 photo of Judy Staschover taken in Bayside, New York by Edward Peskin | Leo and Jean were best friends of my parents, Edward and Marion Peskin, throughout | my childhood. I wish I knew more about how they came to know each other, but I suppose it had something to do with Electrical Engineering, the profession which my father and Leo shared. "Electrical engineers can do anything!" was the watchword by which I was raised. Leo was a hero to my family. The story I grew up on was that he was walking home from school one day and saw a Nazi rally. On arriving home, he told his mother, "I'm going to America!" and he did. This story meant a lot to me. It said that no matter what the danger, there is always a way to overcome it, if only you have the intelligence to see the danger, and the courage to act. Here is a much more recent story: I was visiting the Staschover's and must have mentioned that I liked to play the recorder. Leo got out a beautiful wooden bass recorder of his and let me play it. I had never heard or seen one before and was enthralled by the deep, rich sound. Seeing how much I liked it, Leo gave it to me. That's the kind of person he is. Happy Birthday! Charlie Peskin Hartsdale, New York
84: Late 1950's: Jack and Roberta Israeloff at the the construction site of North Hills Electronics, Inc. Glen Cove, New York
85: Late 1950's: Jack and Rae Israeloff Bayside, New York | It was a good place to live—the park like area, the playgrounds between the buildings, the pool, the library and the school P.S. 205 was a good one. Shopping was convenient as well. You and Sid Cramer had founded North Hills Electronics, and Jack worked there for many years. David and Marcia were born there. You, Jean, Judy and David moved to Syosset. Not too many years later we did too. We joined Midway Jewish Center, attended Friday night services, and looked forward to your reading the Torah on Yom Kippur. We celebrated Bar and Bat Mitzvot together, as well as David and Roberta’s weddings. And then the world changed for me with Jack’s passing. Now Jean is gone too. But we persevere, right? “Keep on going” is our motto! Roberta, Marcia and I wish you good health, joy with your family, and only good news from now on. With much love, Rae Israeloff Woodbury, NY | Memories, memories—we met a long time ago in Windsor Park.
86: “Jean and Leo.” That was one of the first automatic name combinations of which I was aware. I was also aware of multiple connections – not only did we live a couple of Windsor Park apartment buildings away, but my father worked with you. I can’t recall how our initial connection came about, but I do dimly recollect Jean’s parents, the Wieners. I also clearly remember visiting the construction site that would one day be North Hills, and loving that and every subsequent visit. Glimpsing the men in their new identities was thrilling and surprising – they had offices, secretaries, workers It was my first peek into the exotic and intricate world of work apart from the home. Leo and Jean also told my parents that 9 Ann Drive was for sale, and within just a few months we lived just down the block from each other once again. But for all their outward similarities, the houses were vastly different inside, and I so loved visiting yours. Coming to babysit for Judy and David, the only babysitting evenings I ever looked forward to, I’d walk from room to room admiring not simply your colorful, exotic and beautiful objects but the way they were placed, the way you conceived of and used the space, turning the predictable suburban home into something much more sophisticated and much more truly contemporary than I saw in any other house of that era. You always seemed on the brink of discovering something, as if your mind never stopped working. You weren’t afraid to embrace what was new, to put unusual objects together, and all this stimulated my imagination, whispering of discovery, of a world beyond the world I knew. And how much you appreciated – we all did, of course - the sensory delights of Jean’s kitchen It turned out to be a portal to a world I was to embrace. | Dear Leo,
87: And then I see you at Midway. Your devotion to Judaism seemed as natural to you as breathing, as something that illuminated you from the inside. It was then and remains foreign to me, but I could sense it in you, and the image of you at prayer stays with me. I was so glad we had the chance to visit last year, when you and Judy came to my mother’s new apartment. Happily, she was able to bring with her many of her possessions from 9 Ann Drive, and even from 212-03 75th Avenue, Bayside 64 NY, and there we sat, sipping tea, spearing lemon with the set of china and metal spears you and Jean brought for her from one of your trips, surrounded by our shared and individual pasts – and you were talking about what you wanted to do next. The world still intrigues you, still delights and puzzles and engages you. I don’t think anyone could ask for more. Happy Birthday. As my generation says, Long May You Run. Love, Roberta Israeloff East Northport, New York
88: We are so proud and honored to be part of Uncle Leo's 90th birthday celebration. | After almost 60 some odd years we've come to know a "new" Leo. Outgoing, loving, a pillar of his time, experimenting with new hi-tech gadgets, computers and YES he is still working and creating new patents, what an achievement! Within the past 8 years or so, since owning our home in Florida, its been a family tradition to have dinner at our house on Christmas day with our visiting families. NO CHINESE FOR US!!!!!! In comes Uncle Leo, always on time I might add, dressed to perfection in shirt, tie and jacket the consummate gentleman bearing either wine or dessert and always smiling. He knows that the leftover vegetable lasagna will be his to take home for further consumption. Although this past year, 2011 pot roast was served and I took a beating about breaking tradition, 2012 we'll be back to lasagna ! Leo, you are so special to us in so many ways and we are fortunate to have you in our lives. We love you and hope to spend many more momentous occasions with you and your family. Leslie and Jimmy Ceitlin Plainview, NY and Hunter's Run, FL
89: obsession with electronics and ham radio which lasts until today, even though it waned somewhat when I got a bit older and discovered girls. But I still can remember the support and mentoring that Leo always provided me in those wonderful days. I remember the excitement I felt when we visited together and I was able to show him my various projects. He would bring me boxes filled with assorted parts and components harvested and salvaged from discarded items at his plant. I still get warm and fuzzy feelings about those capacitors, resistors, switches, relays, transformers and pilot lamps—all of which I was able to bring back to new life in the various things I built and put to use. During my college years, Leo hired me to work at his plant. Those were wonderful days, winding coils for little microwave transformers, some of which ended up in the Lunar Landing Modules of the Apollo Space Mission—wow it is amazing to think that those little match box sized devices are still up there on the Moon! Happy Birthday and Congratulations Leo!! Love, Peter Sosnow New York | Starting around the tender young age of 8, I developed a strange and wonderful | March 2012: Peter Sosnow Tel Aviv, Israel | Peter's home made answering machine
90: We have been friends of Leo Staschover for more than fifty years. | Even though we’ve lived near and far from one another, his gentle, caring, intelligent and generous nature are among the reasons why we like and admire him with much affection. Just a few vignettes: As President of Midway Jewish Center he was a successful leader who worked comfortably with the clergy and our neighbors in Syosset. He helped to perpetuate future leadership of the congregation as exemplified by Donald Lustig. Needless to say he is religious in thoughts and acts of goodness. Whether on Long Island, in Florida or Israel, Leo attends shul. We particularly enjoy the way he reads from the Torah or a haftorah. His knowledge of Hebrew stands out as recites the parashat. It is as if he is speaking to us and telling the story with conversational ease. Leo is a generous man he was honored by the Israel Bond Organization for his many contributions. When we moved back to Maryland this last time, North Hills Electronics corrugated boxes and padding protected our stereo speakers. We still use the fabulous surge protector he gave us when we received our first computer. He doesn’t flaunt his intelligence but when I used to discuss a weekly accomplishment in solving the crossword puzzle in the Sunday, N.Y. Times, in his gentle way he would show me his progress in completing the Acrostic. His quiet manner belies a person who thinks deeply.
91: Finally, we’d like to say how touched we were when Judy called to ask us to jot down a few thoughts. At that moment we could only recall with much love his partnership with Jean, whose friendship led us to Leo. Together they reared two wonderful but different, bright and creative children. We remember their accomplishments, the collaboration on web sites as well as car pools to Hebrew school. It all adds up to a rich legacy. Happy 90th Birthday Leo! Many More! Barbara and Ed Berkowitz Maryland | May, 1982: Jean and Leo, Ed and Barbara Jones Beach, New York
92: Dear Leo: It hardly seems possible that we are here celebrating your 90th Birthday today and that we have known each other for more than 40 years. That’s a lot of water under the bridge, but for the most part, for me it has always been a very positive relationship. I hope that you feel the same. I consider you my mentor in all aspects of Judaism – subtly urging me on to greater study and education, until look what a monster you have created! I credit you with my interest in synagogue affairs and the need for calmness and consensus in all endeavors. I thank you for the hours we tried to decipher Rashi in my rabbinical school assignments. You and Jean gifted me with my first tallit, and the Alkalay Hebrew-English dictionary. You and I laughed at so many things that it seemed that we had a secret means of communicating – some of which I feel not at liberty to refer to, but you will know what I mean. Of course there were things we disagreed upon, when I resented your authoritarian way – I used to call you a Hessian – and your penchant for asking your famous rhetorical questions which drove me crazy. And Leo, I am eternally grateful for your friendship, support and generous help in the darkest of my days when I really needed them. It was nice to know that there was someone I could always call on in my time of need.
93: Leo, I could go on and on listing all that I am grateful to you for, but one more thing must be said. All of the above and all of the facets of our friendship would not have been possible were it not for the trust and friendship your wonderful wife, Jean, extended to me. I will always hold her in great regard and consider her to have been a dear friend. I can still remember her saying “Leo is a remarkable man,” and I knew just what she meant. Leo – bis a hunert und tsvantzig and may I be there to help you celebrate!!! Love, Marilyn Werman Boynton Beach, Florida | Some time in the 1970's: Midway Jewish Center Event (L-R): Leo, Marilyn Werman, somebody, Rabbi Finkelstein, another somebody, Don Lustig Photo taken by a really bad photographer...
94: The highlight for me will be as always, my visit with Leo, and the opportunity to once again participate with him in Shabbos services at Temple B’nai Torah. We talk about those trying, yet satisfying days at the Midway Jewish Center in the 70’s and 80’s, when he was President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and I was his 1st Vice President, and then President. He was a great leader and a wonderful mentor to me. He taught me so much about the business of synagogue management, and more importantly, Jewish ethical behavior and values. He led by example, and taught me how to chant Haftorahs. I am still awed by his knowledge and intellect in spite of his advancing age, and I continue to learn from him every time we get together. What success I enjoyed in my professional life was a direct result of the lessons I learned from Leo. I offer him my sincerest gratitude and friendship, and I regret that our visits are so short and far between. Happy birthday, my dear friend. I pray that we both can continue to pray and learn together in health and happiness for the years to come. Don Lustig Syosset, NY | I am writing this at 38,000 feet, on my way to Fort Lauderdale for my annual “Florida vacation”. | Some time in the 1970's: (L-R): Jack Greene, Don Lustig, Leo
95: And Leo is one of these rare people. Always cool, calm, and collected, he also brings to any situation a good deal of knowledge as well. Combine all that with a dry sense of humor, honesty, and a gentle kindness and you have---LEO. And please remember, although 90 is a nice number, 100 sounds even better. WE wish you a happy birthday and many happy returns. Jack and Felice Greene Boca Raton, Florida | Some people don’t have to grow up---they are born that way! | Dear Leo, Not only do we wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY (which one would never guess to be your 90th) but we take this opportunity to pay tribute to you. Your name LEO is referenced as the fifth zodiac sign symbolized by a lion. The constellation LEO, lion shaped, is known for the King Star, the bright star. LEO, the lion is the symbol of the tribe of Judah, the regal ruling tribe. You, Leo, are our Arye, embodying those symbols and much more. You are a shining light, a scholar, a man of conviction. You do not roar; you use reason. You do not preen; your deeds prove your worth. You are not a predator; you are a caring, loyal friend. You are a mensch. Your friendship is a blessing. Love to you, Joel and Joan Davidson New York, New York
96: their home in Huntington. We immediately "clicked" and we socialized since, in one another's homes, dining out, attending concerts, etc. One lovely summer day, the Staschovers invited us for a drive out to the Hamptons and Montauk Point, followed by a delightful lunch at one of the ocean side fish restaurants. This was our first trip to that area of Long Island, made so enjoyable by being with Jean and Leo. I believe that Leo may have taken a camera along. Years later, when Fred and I decided to retire in La Jolla, where our daughter lives, Jean and Leo surprised us by organizing a "farewell" party together with our L.I. friends, at a Syosset restaurant. It was heartwarming and wonderful! We'll never forget the care that went into that evening by those two. Such good friends are hard to come by... Our son was married in Boston in April, 1989. Not only did Jean and Leo take the trip that week-end, but they offered to pick up our two friends in Manhattan, on the way (and on return.). Two months later, when our daughter was married in La Jolla, they made that journey, too. We were so very touched, when we were extended a rare invitation to visit Leo and Jean's Ft. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea home. We were aware that this offer had been made very selectively indeed. | Several decades ago, we were introduced to Jean and Leo by Pearl and Meyer Rosen at
97: Leo is as brilliant, witty and sharp as ever - no change. Similarly, our conversations throughout the many years are always enjoyable, and may they thus continue. To Leo: HEALTHY, HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY - and many, many more, together with your wonderful and loving family! Much love and hugs always, Rosalie and Fred Nichtenhauser La Jolla, California
98: Marilyn, my dear (just recently late) husband Eric, daughter Anna and son Michael, were on a long coach journey to Yosemite. I had prepared the children with various types of suitable quiet entertainment to keep them amused whilst we travelled. We surveyed our fellow passengers, as one does when travelling, we noticed sitting fairly nearby a lovely looking couple. The husband was studying from a rather large book, which from where I was sitting looked as if he was rehearsing the SEDRA of the week. We exchanged smiles. Eventually the journey came to an end. Yosemite, we had arrived. The nearby couple were just in front of us and waited until we had left the coach. The lovely lady whose name we later learned was Jean turned to me and said, "You have the loveliest well behaved children I have ever seen." Well of course I loved her immediately, and Leo had been rehearsing the coming weeks Sedra. Do you remember Leo that is how we met? Luckily we were staying at the same hotel and felt we had known each other for years. This was the beginning of a wonderful friendship where we met in Florida, New York, and Liverpool England. Leo I know that Jean and Eric are with me when I say to you, with a big hug and a kiss, "Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov" to you and all your family on your MAGNIFICENT BIRTHDAY and many, many, many, happy returns of the day in Good Health. Marilyn Simkin Manchester, England | Approximately thirty and a few years ago, the Simkin Family consisting of myself
99: Summer 1983: Simkin family meet Leo and Jean on tour Yosemite National Park
100: Dearest Leo, You are one of a kind! Founder of our congregation's web site! Often our sole Cohen on Shabbat morning, and an exemplary reader of Torah! OK, so I hear about it, but I am always told in the most glowing terms how you chant the verses without error! So you see, not only Judy, Oded and your grandchildren enjoy your visits to Kfar Vradim, but also all your friends in HaMinyan HaMishpachti are waiting eagerly for your return. We are honored to have you with us in our congregation. And now we are looking forward to your next visit so we, too, can celebrate your 90th Birthday with you. In the meantime, HaMinyan HaMishpachti joins me in wishing you all the very best life has to offer, together with all those special wishes on your personal wish list. In friendship and with admiration, Judy Jochnowitz and HaMinyan HaMishpachti, Kfar Vradim
101: Leo has been my very best friend and companion for more than three years. He is the greatest with the help I constantly need with the computer and extremely reliable, and never a minute late. Breakfast lunch dinner, yes and even dinner salmon is the meal he prefers. Before we get in the car his jacket is always put in the back seat. So Leo is the best.................and dear man in my life. Rosalyn Haber Boca Raton, Florida
104: Dear Dad, Happy, Healthy, Birthday! I want to wish you the very best birthday ever! Words cannot express how grateful I am to have you as a father-in-law and in my life! I remember so many wonderful times and so many great moments. You are a kind, warm shining example in our family. I hope you enjoy all your festivities and look forward to seeing you soon! All my love, Laurie
105: Dear Grandpa, Though we don’t see each other so often, when we do, the times we spend together are truly rewarding; I have a distinct warm memory of when me and my family were sitting on your dinner table in Florida having philosophical conversations and hearing about your childhood. We would then, no questions asked, play rummy cube and drink tea until 1 in the morning. Witnessing your knowledge, laughing at your jokes, and hearing about your experiences always leave me thinking about life, and also leaves me feeling so appreciative that I have a grandpa as incredible and kind as you! Happy Birthday! I really hope to see you soon! Love, Susie
106: Dear Grandpa, Happy 90th Birthday! I love you! I love the times when I came over to visit you and we had conversations about politics. I enjoy the wise and insightful things you say. Grandpa, you are a special kind of humble person and I wish you the best and many more great moments to come. I love you! Allie
107: Dear Grandpa, I love spending time with you in Florida, talking to you about different things, hanging out in your apartment and pool and going out to dinner. I especially remember you teaching me all about electricity and electro-magnetism. In that single car ride you made me an expert. I look forward to more talks and seeing you again soon. Love, Max
109: I have a wonderful memory of us taking one of our long walks. I remember how much you loved taking walks, and how much I loved to join you on them. Once, in Florida, we took a long walk to the dock. We came upon some fishermen, who were fishing and preparing the fish for sale. Suddenly a pack of pelicans flew in and fought with the fishermen over the fish. A pelican caught a fish, the fisherman pulled back. It was a hilarious sight! I wish you a very Happy Birthday! May you have more wonderful years of fun, knowledge, happiness and delightful and funny experiences! Always remember to enjoy life!! Love, Liat | Grandpa,
110: Dear Abale, We thank you for being such an integral part of our lives – for your support and care – for your sincere interest in our reality – for your generosity. We relish our time together, and miss you when we’re apart. As you are so, so special, we wish you an equally special birthday, with continued happiness, joy and contentment. All our love, Judy and Oded
111: We’ve been working together in different capacities for the past 30+ years. However, over the last few years, and especially the past year and a half, we’ve bonded more than we ever have. The times that I come to Florida and spend with you have been really special to me. We not only work together as partners, but also as friends. We joke around, laugh and at the same time get things done. We make a good team, and I wanted to let you know how much I value these moments. Love, David | Dad,