Shelstsein, 84 years old and filled with energy, reached out her bony right arm and searched for the light switch in the dark. She found it by easy habit, since it was exactly at the height of her head, and was cheered by the bright fluorescence that suddenly filled the drama club room, but it wasn’t because she was afraid of the dark. In fact, Rena wasn’t afraid of much.
Raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the early 20th century, by Jewish Communist parents, Rena, a red diaper baby from the cradle, Rena was angered by many things, but she was fearless in the face of life, and since her beloved Cyril had died, she was glad for that fearlessness. As was her habit, she spoke out loud to Cyril, as if he were still by her side in his wheelchair.
“Oy, Cyril darling, they keep this club room so damned cold, you could freeze your pupick, dear one. Why the hell do they keep it so cold in this whole damned place?”
As she arranged the chairs for the meeting of the Village Idiots Drama Club, she imagined Cyril’s gruff voice telling her to be glad for the air conditioning, and to remember when they had none, how they nearly melted in their tenement flat on the Lower East Side, when they first got married. She continued one-sided conversation“I know, I know, I should be grateful for a lot of things, husband, but right now I am turning into an icicle! And you’re not here to warm me up!, You schmendrick you. If you were here I’d knock you on you keppeleh for dying on me. But, oh well, you really couldn’t help it, I know.”
She managed to get ten chairs to the center of the room, and began to load the drama club supplies out of the cupboard. They were stored on the lowest shelves, so she could reach them. Rena was very short. Somehow she never grew to be the tall woman she always imagined herself to be, and now, with advanced age, she had shrunk even more, so that some days, she thought to herself : I’m barely here at all!
But her mind was. And so was her fierce and enormous spirit. Also intact was her deep love for all things theatrical – a love that had sustained her through the many years of being an executive bank secretary – so, once she and Cyril moved from their West End Avenue apartment into the old folks home that was called the Midtown Village at 49th and 10th, right in the heart of the NYC’s theater district, she didn’t sit still for long. As soon as all their boxes were unpacked, Rena posted a sign up sheet for anyone interested in starting a drama club.
“How wonderful,” she’d said to her beloved Cyril. “I’m gonna be playing on Broadway! Or at least a few blocks from it! How about that?”
The door to the Club Room suddenly burst open and in walked Harry, Rena’s younger man, aged 79.. He was, as usual, furious.
“Oysdarn zol bay dir der moyekh!” Harry exclaimed over his shoulder as the door shut behind him
Rena knew enough Yiddish to instantly translate, so she wondered whose
By Evalyn Baron
On December 16, 2022
Dear Reader- the beginning and end paragraphs of this were somehow edited out when printed in our Blog. Please forgive!……..Ev