Remembrances of Joanne,
daughter of Ben Lewis
Benjamin Wolf Lewis (1897-1979)
My childhood was so enriched by knowing my
aunts and uncles and spending time with them. Every Saturday I would chart a
course on my rusty old bike and end up visiting. They all made me feel
Uncle Dave and Aunt Mamie were a warm and
interesting couple. Their daughters were grown and away. Aunt Mamie had
beautiful white hair and always dressed in the latest style. She was a
quiet woman and I think a bit overwhelmed by my childish exuberance. Their
son in law, Paul Siever, married to their daughter, Babs, was a doctor with
a great sense of humor. My parents were always worried about my development
and often consulted him to "look at me"to determine that I was not sick. He
and I understood one another and once he tried to tell me the facts of life.
That was a real bust because there was no way I was discussing that subject
with a relative.
Aunt Gisella played a wonderful classical
piano and Uncle Abe smoked a pipe and read heady literature. He had a great
smile and when they kissed me goodbye after cookies and milk, they both had
whiskers that tickled. Uncle Abe was a reserved and quiet man, one of the
older uncles. He let me sit on his lap and we read magazines together. He
always gave me messages for my Dad and I think some of them were quite
Uncle Mark and Aunt Ida never had children.
He was a tease who saved his cigar band rings in a box and every time we
were together he asked me to marry him. I said "yes" and was given a ring of
my choice. He smelled clean and cigar-like and would always pick me up and
throw me in the air. Aunt Ida was a pretty, slender woman who smiled all the
time. She was a girlhood friend of my mother and they hung out together even
Uncle Jacob was the most handsome uncle I
had. He always looked suntanned. He always told me how beautiful I was
becoming. I practically swooned. Tall and well dressed, sometimes in his
military clothes, I had a crush on him. Everyone did. Aunt Sylvia was as
tiny as a mouse and talked in a little squeaky voice. They lived in an
apartment with few pieces of furniture as I remember. I wondered how they
all found a space there to call their own. I always loved my cousin, Ted. He
was known as the smart one in the family. When I went to High School, one of
my teachers, who heard I was his cousin, made an assumption that I would
also be good in math.
This was not a good decision on his part,
math was my nemesis. I remember Ted as being a very good dancer and a
cheerful and polite young man. I always wish I could have seen more of him.
Howard was like a big teddy bear. He was
sweet and gentle and tried to make jokes. Charles was bookish and good
natured and never seemed to be in a bad mood. Richard and I did not really
interact so I did not know him then.
I loved being part of this family. They were
the mainstay of my childhood. They made me feel welcome in their homes and
in their hearts. They gave me good counsel and great cookies. Perhaps I
should have gotten more of their knowledge and less cookies. The Lewis
family was filled with winners. They all had something to offer and were
uniformly productive, decent people.