Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Bus Trip from Central Park

Tuesday 23 September 2008
Yesterday I made a bus trip - my second with Central Park - and I must admit, approaching it with a mild degree of excitement......  Would many take  part?  Realising that relatively little time is  actually available - a mere 120 can they possibly decide on destination decisions?  Do folk tend  to "dress-up" a little?  Maybe wear something a little different from the usual choice of basic jeans dress, skirt, jumper etc?
I guess whatever the good Lord above turns on is a great determiner on that particular decision because we do tend to be greatly guided how even the day`s appearance is so important.......After writing these few lines I subconsciously glanced up to view a rapidly-darkening sky studded here and there with flashes of sable-furred silver  lightning.  It was accenting those tremendously gentle swaying and crackling creaking sturdy ti-tree limbs  lovingly-planted some 80 -100 years ago to soften the awkward asphalt on which young kids will no doubt trip or fall.   How old would some of them be now I longer be taking steps on this 2008`s soil .... this soil which is already terror-stricken in today's tempestuous world.
Just then I grabbed a glimpse of the lurid lightning, and as I looked up into the sky I saw one of the other bus passengers, a young Muslim teenager adjusting the neckline of her headscarf.  She flashed me a magnificent fervent smile and when I queried the rapid change of her expression she said everytime she looked at me I was displaying a most happy look........
It then hit me like a flash - the power we can all pass on - so simply - so easily to so many with such a minimum of effort......and how such a tiny showing of individually - enviromentally goodness could actually alter natural!
Harry Greenberg
Phone: (03) 9525 0496
Blog site:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


My Birthday Twin died during the last couple of weeks.   Over a period of years we became quite close to his family at various times and when I became aware of greater details of his life from his son's writings, it made a great impression on me and Iwanted to share it with other similar-thinking folk ....

> My Dad died on Friday evening, aged 91.  I just say here a little about
> him.  I loved him.  He was warm, sincere and optimistic.  There was joy in his
> greeting and generosity in his manner.  People said with feeling that, in
> his zestful presence, their world seemed better. Women, in particular, loved him. 
  He was courteous, dapper and unassuming.
> He appreciated beauty and could find it in an ageing face.  His eyes
> twinkled with a benign naughtiness that could source a laugh from everyday
> things.  And he always remembered important occasions and made an effort
> to celebrate them.  When aged 78, he married my stepmother on Waikiki Beach, Hawaii,
> just before sunset.  He promised her ten years.  They had thirteen years
> and were very good for (and to) one another.  I am grateful for our
> blended family.  He was a dreamer.  I'm sure he dreamed of being skilled at sport, dancing,
> food preparation - and he did courses in these things - but he lacked
> quite the deftness to excel at sport or the practical use of his hands (or
> feet).  His skills lay with ideas, his use of words and his desire and
> striving to include others in his world.  He was ever interested in current affairs and the activities of those he loved. 
  He wrote good letters and could speak well.  His strong sense of duty led to his working hard and ever striving to do
> the right thing.  He was decisive and kept things orderly (Oh where did
> THAT gene go!?).  Just occasionally, too much focus on detail affected his
> overall performance.  He had a low tolerance of frustration but, after one or two thunderclaps,
> the storm would quickly pass.  He was deeply Australian.  Through humour, a sense of fairness, and desire
> to work for communal good he would echo Henry Lawson's words: "... and I
> love the great land where the waratah grows, and the wattle-bough blooms
> on the hill".   He entered hospital on 1 August, breathless and weak with heart and
> kidneys failing.  Through his fitful speech, he talked of ordinary
> things - and the future.  He remained forward-looking and eager for a
> laugh and to know what was happening in the lives of those close to him.
> Determined to be independent, he would struggle to the toilet and shower
> himself despite desperate gasps.  I left him about 7 pm on Friday when he wanted to watch the television
> news.  He said he'd like to doze before viewing the
> Olympic opening ceremony.  He never awoke.  Dad always said he had a lucky life.  Perhaps then it was fitting that he
> died on 8/8/2008

Harry Greenberg
Phone: (03) 9525 0496
Blog site:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cousin Bert The Spirited Self-Sufficient Survivor

One of my wife`s favourite cousins was Bert  Rostkier - a bright handsome guy with a direct dazzling smile and pleasing personality - a little older than her.....he had immigrated from Poland, arriving here about 1936. H e was special to her because the 2 families shared the same house in two separate apartments. and they grew up like sister and brother until Marge`s family arrived her in 1934. In Australia he lived with Marge`s family in Brighton while becoming acclimatised and learning the language etc. before going to the country working with Uncle Sam, Marge`s family who had a clothing and drapery store at Nhill at that time.
A part of his work then consisted of hawking - initially walking ther country roads, getting lifts from farmers where possible to whom he would sell direct and take orders, carrying his tightly-packed suitcases full of sheets, pillow-cases, mens` and womens`clothing and then in time, travelling and delivering stock by car.
World War 2 broke out and Bert was accepted as a volunteer for the Australian Army after successfully cheating them about his age, but  on the way to Europe where he thought he was going the ship was diverted to Singapore where he soon became a prisoner of the Japanese in early 1942 - just a few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbour..then spending three and a half years in the hell-hole known as Changi Gaol and partly on the incredibly infamous Burma Railway including months digging the horrible Hell-Fire Pass.
During these harrowing shocking times, not only did he work on the railway but he also attended the numerous needs of  mates worse off than him as they became  extremely under-nourished and ill with malaria, typhoid fever, and terrible tropical diseases - volunteering every spare moment to nurse them thus placing his own health at risk......
Talking of tropical diseases, I`ll never ever forget when, on the first night of his return to Melbourne, sitting around our family dinner table, I asked Bert what illnesses he had suffered and he replied "Ulcers, malaria etc and VD. When he said "VD" the rest of us all looked at him first - then at each other, and those on either side of him moving slightly away........and he continued
" Everyone in the gaol had it!.........." When I enquired "How did you get VD in gaol - there were no women prisoners were there ?" He flashed a big grin saying "Vitamin Deficiency!" Like most returned soldiers he had a real reluctance to share his horror stories - in those days soldiers were not fortunate to receive debriefing and counselling assistance as thry do today...
If fact his extremely distressing experiences had a strong significant impact on his later life - both the years in Malaya and the malicious murder of his mother, sister and other families by the Nazis made him a very strict uncompromising person, but underneath the tough severe exterior there hid the manifestation of a marshmallow - much appreciated by his children and grand children,( his great gandchildren were too young).
When I think of Bert, I`m reminded of Seneca ( 4BC - AD 65) and his statement - "The most inspiring state in the world is to see a man struggling against advertisity"          Cousin Bert certainly did......
                        `till next time, in about 7 - 10 days

Friday, August 1, 2008


I was quite surprised recently when telling someone I`d been receiving  treatment for bladder cancer for sometime and their reaction to the word "Cancer!....UGH!", and, as it appeared to be spreading, the need for immediate radio therapy which was planned to end on Tuesday 22 July - after which it could take anything from 2 -3 days to a period of 6 weeks to be directly re assessed..............
Having a few medicos in my family, with my son, older daughter and younger daughter having graduated also 2 of whom having married medicos - when my granddaughter medico presented me with my great grandchild Number 10 about 6 months ago I thought it might be a little unusual if the baby didn`t become a doctor as the baby's grandparents are well-respected eminent doctors.     
When my son Peter`s first grandchild was born I became aware of my age as I wished  him "Happy 65th!" I also thought it a most opportune time to ask him if he had his time over again would he have become a doctor? He never hesitated for a second saying "Yes Dad"....when we were living in Horsham we had a little Australian Terrier called Cobber and our beloved Boba once asked Peter to cut some brains for his dinner...he took one long hard look and replied "I can`t" whereupon Marge asked  "How do you thingkyou will be a doctor?" Peter promptly replied " I suppose by then when I
have to I`ll be able.
A little while later on Tuesday the 21 July while waiting at the William Buckland Centre at the Alfred Hospital being questioned by a happy-looking smiling pretty little nurse called Emma with a Scottish accent so b r o a d she was extremely difficult to understand for some reason or other I thought of a very well known Scottish comedian by the name of Harry Lauder) (later knighted by King George).
When I was a tiny toddler my father was a keen amateur stage performer who used to quote Sir Harry Lauder, in a pitiful voice singing "Oh, I am so downhearted - paid a penny and only farted !" (This was of course in the days one had to pay for the privilege of using public sanitary conveniences.  I thought it amazing that a lovely young lass in her early twenties had heard of Sir Harry who was a world-famous stage star over 80 years earlier...... .
Well, today is Saturday 18th July - cold, windy & showery outside - close personal members of my personal family have now left me in hospital leaving me with another story just dredged up from my random family member who will not be named because of a fierce insistence on privacy which I never have or will ever understand was at a recent friend`s funeral and this family member was made aware of the fact that the words of that well-known Jewish song & dance
"Hava -nagillah"had been introduced to him  (a staunch Catholic ) by that family member when he was a little child and he knew at last from whence it came and for some reason or other why it had stayed with him and benefited him in some way ...I really regret my not being allowed to divulge any more information.
One of the doctors manning the 24/7 palliative care hospital popped in for a little chat about my plans on completion of my  radio therapy in a few days - suggestion it could take anything from 2 -3 days until possibly 6 weeks for the success of the treatment to be determined, even suggesting I might like to do newspaper crosswords!
I then realised how much I`d been blessed in my long-lasting life never having been bored.....I take a great delight in my random reflections by which I can keep closely in touch with grandchildren and great-grandchildren all over the world. Firstly, since early marriage at 22 and the needs of a small rapidly-growing family leaving little "spare" time and being fortunate to have the pleasure and ability to gather the satisfactory words together with which to express my thoughts - these random reflections.......
Harry Greenberg
Phone: (03) 9525 0496
Blog site:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How I threw away about 1 million dollars

About 50 years ago my family moved from Horsham, in NW Victoria to Croydon in the foothills of the Dandenongs after 10 happy satisfying and productive years. In Horsham my wife Marge had opened & operated a very successful ladieswear boutique from about 1947 which greatly benefitid from wartime shortages of fashionable stock., using one communal change room set up behind the clothing racks...she had lived in Horsham immediately she had immigrated from Poland and had many school-friends she knew when she opened which formed the nucleous of a thriving business very quickly after her few years in Melbourne as a teen-ager. She had "a thing" about small shops and she loved the buzz and excitement amongst the ladies when new stock arrived and after rapidly removing invoices etc. allowed them to remove them from the boxes and put them on the hangers amid choruses of admiration - "ooh`s and ah`s" etc. as some of them looked for their special orders etc. .. After we`d settled in Croydon she wanted to continue in the same way and in 1957 we opened Jolee Sports, named after our 2 daughters Jo & Lee, in a spacious shop - too large in fact, so we separated it by a unique ti-tree dividing wall and a covering of tan-bark covering the floor. Our elated enthusiasm overlooked the fact that, after a few weeks the tanbark had disastrously disentegrated into dust which was definitely not an advantage to resplendent racks of delicate, demure dresses and the tanbark  was duly dispatched to the garden.
We had no allocation for advertising in our strictly limited budget, so Marge quietly opened and patiently waited for customers and it wasn`t too long before  she happily advised of her first sale - a cardigan! She soon built it up into a thriving business and in the other half I operated a successful real-estate agency I sold after a while when it became evident there was scope for an art gallery we called Croydon Galleries - living near many artists then operating in and around the was Melbourne`s first art gallery outside the city`s CBD....after some solid searching in artists` studios I was most fortunate in persuading Arnold Shore, well-known painter and the Age art critic to do the honours  and he agreed, after which I successfully approached Melbourne`s the city`s then 3 TV channels 2, 7 and 9 to film the opening.
One of the first painters I asked to exhibit was a certain John Brack - I think he was an art teacher at Melbourne Grammar then . He had not been painting long and at that time I was beginning to form an opinion in my own mind if the style of paintings I preferred and I loved the clean-cut in which he presented his human figures..........if only I`d that I`d been blessed with foresight and held on to a few of his paintings then! I reckon I lost about a million dollars because one of his paintings recently sold for 3.2 million dollars .....
After Croydon Galleries had served us well we closed it and opened the Jolee Coffee Shop with an entrance through to Jolee Sports on one side and Jolee Junior on the other - manned by myself. Prior to the opening of the coffee shop I had visited Pellegrinis at the top of Bourke St - not then long in business which was using Melbourne`s first expresso machines. I`d previously ensured I was armed with a pencil & tape measure so I could get approximate measurements of the bar - by standing up against it noting it was just a little below nipple height - we also used a black & white checked soon became well-known because of Marge`s cooking until it justified a paid fulltime staff member.
We also had prime publicity for Jolee Junior with it`s own play area with tiny fences, toy phones etc. (another "first" for Melbourne) so while the Mums shopped and/or enjoyed coffee, the kids were happy - not touching the clothing etc.....
Talking of children, Kingsley Amis (1922 - 1955) said "It`s no wonder people were so horrible when they started life as children.......
`till next time - about 7-10 days

Friday, July 4, 2008

August Arrival of Toby Bo - Great -Grandchild No 10

OK - I know he was born on the 9th January...........this date has been something very special for me for 66 years.....It was the doleful date on which I suddenly lost my beloved father Bert at the age of 46.........I used the word "august" in meaning of special.....
On the Saturday after he was born I was able to have my first cuddle at the luxurious Park Hyatt Hotel where Mother Sally & son were being extremely well-cared for through St.Vincents Private Hospital due to Sally`s rapid the morning I had attended Temple Beth Israel and was superbly surprised to read on the weekly news sheet that the "Parsha" - that is the portion of the Torah read on that day had a special name Parsha Bo!
I was duly honoured by my attendance on the bima,( the dais from where the services are conducted) in front of hundreds of weekly worshippers by the Rabbi celebrating the safe arrival of my 9th great-grandchild.  Mention was also made of the fact that it was also the anniversary of my father`s decease. After the service concluded, I asked the Rabbi what was the significance of the word "Bo" behind "Parsha" and was told it was something very special and when I told him his birthday was exactly the day of Dad`s decease.........he said just a few of the 52 "Parshas" had special names and the word "Bo" was the proununciation of the first word meaning "Come!" In his opinion, he said that child will be a much-blessed person.....
Toby`s parents will never be accused like my wife Marge and I were - of sliding a tape recorder under our children` pillows blatantly bleating "You`re going to be a doctor - You`re going to be a doctor....." resulting in our 3 children graduating in medicine.......
Toby`s father Gabe is a doctor also his mother as well as his grandfather Ray, grandfather Peter and grandmother Vonne  - all well-respected members of the medical profession...............................I wonder how Toby Bo will fill in his 8 hours plus?
On the 7th January Sally had visited me at Ardoch and we enjoyed a precious couple of hours together and my thoughts drifted back to when, visiting, at Hawthorn, I was at an auction of Whitehall just around the corner from Peter & Vonne, opposite the park when Sally arrived and stood on her toes and   wonderfully whispered in my ear - "Go on Zayda, buy it!'  Because I did - that was the beginning of many happy strolls down Bridge Rd. together.......
Anyway, within a few hours of leaving me at Ardoch Sally began to experience a few unfamiliar feelings and after a few more hours Toby Bo met his Mum and Dad. His arrival was apparently very easy after a short labour and soon after I had a lovely surprise call from Sally herself giving me more details.......
To make sure Toby`s unique status would not not forgotten I inserted the Temple weekly news sheet in the seachest I painted for him - it may come in handy at his barmitzvah...........Toby was about 4 months in the other photo..
                          `till next time - in about 7 - 10 days

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Joy of Work

We human beings are privileged to have many joys available to us in our spans of life.....I feel that one of the most lasting, satisfying and genuine joys is that of work. However one of the most important conditions  of this statement is that it must be work you like , it must be creative, and it must embrace one`s full activities...
We`re all born with certain talents and happiness in work will follow the using of them fully. Watch little children and realise their great glee glows because they`re doing a maximum of things they can do......eyes, ears, toes, legs and tongues are boisterously busy every waking moment.....
Diseases that usually arrive later in life like alcholism, laziness, obesity, sensuality etc. only serve to make folk happy while they`re indulging.....the rest of the time they`re bothered with bouts of depression, restlessness, self-disgust, restlessness, doubts, despair and blatant boredom...
Those happy most of the time are so because they have their necessary work and where someone is fortunate to find his right work it then becomes the same to him as play is to a child. Life`s extremely pleasant when it`s functioning normally.....every faculty we have begs to be used.......the brain needs to think, to plan, to organise, to project, to imagine, to reason, to compare, to reflect, to decide.....
When the brain has no real business  with which to be concerned we tend to load it with artificial activities such as nauseating novels, dreary DVD`s, vile or violent videos. The it`s probable that the people who are amusing their brains are nowhere as happy as those using them.
Our marvellous muscles demand energetic exercise - when we forget that, they regularly remind us with  rheumatism, arthritis,biliousness and gout. Every organ - the stomach, intestines, liver, heart, lungs - all insist on regular employment. If any are not employed to their full capacity, like the unions of old, they`ll go on strike when refused employment. The eye, the ear, every nerve and tendon must have work, The soul needs work - we must have someone to love, something to suffer,  something we we have to challenge and overcome.
A perfect hell would be.......... somewhere where every sense would subside, every appetite be is a function of ardent activity - unfortunately denied to many miserable millions who, through no fault of their own, suffer every day the monotony and misery of unsatisfying work.....
I can`t remember from where I first got the gist of this but reckon it`s almost spot on......
Many and dramatically diverse are the opinons of others concerning may find some of the following quotations quite questionable......
"Every man`s work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself (Samuel Butler ) 1835 - 1902 
"Work is the grand cure of all the maladies that ever beset mankind" (Author unknown 1886)
"The working class  can kiss my arse " (Australian Labor Movement (traditional folk saying)    
                               `till next time - 10-14 days                        '