The old Jewish community center, the Beth Am, is still standing, nowadays serving some other purpose. Gone is my family’s apartment block, and others nearby, replaced by new construction. Down the way, on the other side, I see a familiar basement door with worn steps leading down from the street. It is painted blue now but I immediately recognize it as the entry to the basement shop where my father had plied his trade as a tinsmith, a blecher as we said in Yiddish.
The building owner greets us and, in response to our request, agrees to unlock the door so we can carefully descend the steps to the cramped underground chamber I remember so well. I describe to my children how the grandfather we all called Tateh once labored in this shop, making tin wares for the marketplace. He also worked installing and repairing roofs, as I did also for many years as a roofing contractor in Brooklyn, before I started buying real estate.
To my son Ronnie, who has paid his own dues working in the family business, I turn and say, “So this is the humble place where Edelstein & Sons got its big start.”