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[personal profile] holzman_tweed
Today we buried my Grandmother. We had a memorial project, in which her children, nieces, and nephews shared stories about her. I found that as a Grandson I had nothing to add, just variations on the same themes.

One of the stories has been kept secret for about 80 years. My Great Grandfather had a general store, back when Flushing, NY was still a farm town. Like most mobs, the one in Flushing had a protection racket, and like most shopkeepers, Great Grandpa felt he had no choice but to pay, even though he was going broke with this store[1]. Grandma -- then a teenager -- marched into the office of the mobster in charge and told him her father couldn't pay, her father wouldn't pay, and if he lifted a finger against her father she'd go straight to the police, and how'd he like them apples?[2]

The mobster backed the fuck down. The mobster cut Shiffee a deal: he'd stop collecting protection money from her father so long as she didn't breathe a word of this to anyone.[3]

Many years later, she told one of us, and now that one has told the rest of us.

Both of my Grandmothers were women with whom you did. not. fuck. Shiffie hid it better than Rose. I understand alot more about my whole family knowing this.

[1] Two of my Great Grandfathers completely missed all that Shrewd Businessman training we're supposed to get along with our Hebrew lessons and went broke running stores.

[2] "How do you like them apples?" is a phrase she'd reuse all her life.

[3] He kinda had to. A 15-year-old girl, even a Jewish one[4] vanishing or turning up dead would have brought down far more heat than any mobster wants to cope with.

[4] Remember, this was well before Ashkenazim became white.
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