Family History Research Leads to Priceless Find

Discovering Altman’s Deli by Mitch Altman

There was always a family story about Altman's at College and Brunswick. Famous customers legend says:­­ ­­the Three Stooges, Myrna Loy, inexpensive meals, and a friendship with Sam Shopsowitz. My great grandfather Herman Altman owned it. It was later briefly run by my grandfather George Altman before he sold it. His brother-in-law was Hans Fread of Sign of the Steer fame; “Hans Fread's Folly,” as I learned recently. He and my grandfather bought the building at Dupont and Dufferin that is now South Hill Home Interiors, where they moved the wildly successful Sign of the Steer. They couldn't keep up and it closed quickly after opening.

Bellevue Theatre

I have often searched both the Ontario Jewish Archives and the City of Toronto Archives for “Altman's Deli,” as I always knew it. I found scant references but definitely a few mentions. My mother sent me an article about long-gone Toronto restaurants, and there was a mention of Sign of the Steer. Well, that got me started on my search again and I spent the entire weekend exploring archival records. As, I was looking at architectural records of College Street I found a series on old theatres in the city. The Bellevue on College was a very crisp image. When I noted the address, I looked closely at the storefront next door—the image I had found was very blurry—but the sign clearly showed Altman's. What a lucky coincidence, as there was no individual cataloguing of the businesses that appeared on either side of the theatre, so the name wasn't noted.

Caption: Bellevue Theatre (Toronto), [1937?]. Ontario Jewish Archives, Harold S. Kaplan fonds 27, series 1, file 8.

I cannot tell you how joyful I felt all weekend—and even still today—to finally see a picture of it. Such a wonderful, truly priceless find. I felt like a detective who had finally cracked a decades-long case.

Caption: Mitch Altman’s grandfather, George Altman (right) with Ed Sullivan. George Altman was the Chief Barker (Chair of the Board) of the Variety Club that year. "We always used to do the Bike-a-Thon".   Courtesy of Mitch Altman.


"One of my most cherished possessions is one of the two remaining Altman's knives that have somehow survived". Courtesy of Mitch Altman.


I was born in Cincinnati but grew up in Thornhill while it was still farmland. Spent some years in Tokyo, New York, and Los Angeles before finally returning in 2004. I work with my wife, Interior Designer Shirley Meisels. Lousy golfer, decent husband, and good dad. I love to cook, BBQ, golf and play guitar.

Practicum Experience: Yujia Wu

Photo: Yujia Wu
Photo: Yujia Wu

Last September, I joined the Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA) as a practicum student and started my first digital preservation project in an archival setting. First, please let me introduce myself. I am a master of information student at the University of Toronto, studying archives and records management and human-centred data science. As an emerging information professional, I have always been excited about applying all the knowledge and skills that I have learned at the university to real-world practices. Fortunately, the OJA offered a practicum project, and I was able to join the OJA team and contribute to their Digital Preservation Project. This practicum project also gave me an opportunity to get hands-on experience before I start my professional career in archives management.

Over the past few months, I have been working to preserve the digital versions of thirty-five oral histories. The world has accepted the digitalization of various services and items that we use in everyday life, and digitization is becoming one of the standard forms for preserving the information contained within organic and fragile materials in archives to ensure that valuable information will be viewable and retrievable for future reference. Therefore, the preservation of digital materials has become one of the main responsibilities of archival repositories in the twenty-first century. The oral histories represent a small but significant part of the OJA’s digital assets and need to be uploaded to and preserved in a cloud-based digital preservation system (Preservica) to ensure that they remain accessible to future generations for decades to come.

My work procedure included the following key actions: first, preparing the digital files by editing and tidying up the entries, transcripts, and interview logs; second, ingesting all digital files of each oral history into Preservica and creating descriptive metadata; and finally, updating the database and catalogue in DB/Textworks (a database management system).

I tried to pay more attention to details and be as cautious as possible, especially when assigning descriptive metadata to each oral history. Descriptive metadata can be vital for digital assets because they describe the resources for identification and discovery purposes; one mistake can make the digital assets unidentifiable, thereby decreasing their accessibility. The transcripts editing was also a fun part of this project. I will have to admit that it can be a bit time-consuming sometimes, but I found my way of enjoying it. By going through the interview logs and transcripts, I was able to read the life stories of people in the Jewish communities, some of which concerned refugees who immigrated to Canada during the Second World War. I got to know more about Jewish history, traditions, and culture, as well as the world situation in the early twentieth century. It became a great way of broadening my knowledge.

The most rewarding part of this project was not only about completing it. It safeguarded these oral histories and preserved the memories of Jewish people in Ontario. Besides, it also enhanced the accessibility of the OJA’s digital assets and allowed users to reach oral histories in a more flexible way. More importantly, the completion of this project can help foster the recognition of Ontario’s Jewish community and enhance the multiculturalism of our society.

It has been my pleasure to participate in this wonderful and meaningful project. I gained a deeper understanding of the sociocultural responsibilities of archival professionals and the critical role that archivists played in supporting the social and cultural development of society. It was a great experience, and I will continue developing my professional knowledge and skills and go further in this career.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to my supervisor, Michael Friesen, for helping and supporting me throughout this project; and I would also like to thank Donna, Dara, and Faye, for having me as part of the team. Unfortunately, I was not able to work in the archives due to the ongoing pandemic situation, but I do hope that I can visit the OJA someday after the pandemic ends and meet each of you in person.

Researching the Contributions of Jewish Servicewomen through Archival Resources

by Saundra Lipton

Over 250 Jewish women served in the Canadian Forces during the Second World War. These women, ranging in age from late teens to late 30s, served in various roles, including as military police, secretaries, wireless operators, and drivers.  They were posted across Canada, and some served overseas—some right behind the frontlines.  Until the 2017 publication of my article,  “She Also Served: Bringing to Light the Contributions of the Canadian Jewish Servicewomen of the Second World War” and Ellin Bessner’s 2018 book Double Threat: Canadian Jews, the Military and World War II, little had been written about their contributions.

Portrait of Norda Bennett, Nov. 1943. Photograph by Sylvia Schwartz. Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 80, series 2, item 2.

Norda Bennett

Portrait of Norda Bennett, Nov. 1943. Photograph by Sylvia Schwartz. Ontario Jewish Archives, fonds 80, series 2, item 2.

I am a recently retired librarian and currently the President of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta.  In 2012, I became involved in a project of the Society to honour Jewish World War II veterans from southern Alberta.  In my research, I discovered, to my surprise, that some Jewish Albertan women had also enlisted. Like many others, I had assumed that only Jewish men signed up for military service.  This discovery spurred me on to uncover the names and stories of Jewish Canadian servicewomen.

Archival collections, such as the Ontario Jewish Archives, have been critical sources in locating oral histories, documents, newspaper clippings, biographical information, and photographs for identified servicewomen, and for finding new names to research.   While the various local Jewish archives across Canada provide a wealth of information on servicewomen from their areas, the Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives is an incredible centralized resource for anyone researching Canadian Jewish military contributions.  I am grateful to Ellin Bessner for sharing with me her discoveries from this rich resource.

Portrait of Esther Mager, 1944. Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2010-5/14.

Esther Mager

Portrait of Esther Mager, 1944. Ontario Jewish Archives, accession 2010-5/14.


Visiting the various archives in person is challenging. However, their online resources have been most useful, and their staff have been most accommodating in assisting me via email.   I am grateful to the Ontario Jewish Archives, particularly Faye Blum for her research help.  Fortunately, the Ontario Jewish Archives had collected the photographs of Airwomen Norda Bennett and Esther Mager.  I encourage servicewomen’s family members to donate photographs, documents, and other material to the appropriate archive so that this essential primary historical information is preserved for the future.

In addition to the 2017 article, my work on Jewish servicewomen has also resulted in a recently unveiled website,  She Also Serves:  Jewish Women in the Canadian Armed Forces.   The website, which currently features the stories of 36 servicewomen, has been created as part of a project with Art Curator and Educator, Dr. Jennifer Eiserman.  

My First Trip to the Manor

Andy Réti recently contacted the OJA eager to share his Bathurst Manor story. Although Andy never lived in the Manor, he quickly realized that he has been connected to the neighbourhood throughout his Toronto life. Andy’s story begins with his reminiscences of the first party he attended in the Manor in 1960, shortly after his arrival to Toronto from Hungary, confessing “we were all car- and girl-crazy—but not necessarily in that order”, to his present-day volunteer work as a Holocaust survivor speaker at the Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre.

By Andy Réti

I was invited to a house party in the Overbrook and Wilmington area. The year was 1960, and I didn’tknow that I needed two tokens to get there. The bus stopped at Eglinton and Bathurst, and I had to pay a second token before the driver moved on. I didn’t know that my destination was in a new development called the Manor.

Photo: Courtsey of Andy Réti.

Andy Réti on the dance floor, Central Tech dance contest, 725 Bathurst Street, (Toronto, ON), ca. 1958.

Photo: Courtsey of Andy Réti.

I was such a “greener,” and there were so many other things I didn’t know yet, including the fact that we Jews tend to migrate a lot. The time I am reminiscing about is 1958–1960—just after my mother and I arrived in Toronto. The Manor was only the first of many new destinations for Toronto’s Jewish community. Years later when I was a father of two young children, I too moved to another new suburb at Leslie and Greenlane.

In 1960, I also didn’t know that three institutions located in the Manor—the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre (formerly YMHA or Y), Bnai Brith, and the Holocaust Centre—would become an integral, almost central, part of my life. My connections to the Y at Spadina and Bloor started in 1958, where my fellow Hungarians and I met the young ladies who already lived in the Manor or were in the process of moving there. I started my thirty-year volunteer swimming instructor and lifeguarding career at the Y and continued at the BJCC. Years later, I became a survivor speaker at the Holocaust Centre located in the Lipa Green building, right next to the BJCC.

Photo: Courtesy of Andy Réti.

The Hungarians parked behind the Bloor Street Y, Major Street, (Toronto, ON), 1960. Individuals identified in photo: Julius Batori, Peter and Ervin Dan, David Greisman, Miki Andradi, David Greisman, Tom Arandi, Peter Landeszman, Mike Weisz.

Photo: Courtesy of Andy Réti.

The street was Pannahill, and the home had a recreation room in the basement with a wet bar. I had no idea that homes had anything other than an apartment in their basement. Everything was new and exciting: the house, the furniture, the people, the food, the music, the dresses, and, of course, the cars on the driveways and in the streets. We were all car- and girl-crazy—but not necessarily in that order.

Over the years, the friendships and relations changed but the memories are still vivid; it was my first impression of suburbia. Julius, my classmate from Hungary, was the first from our group to get married. He married Drora, a Manor girl. I was the best man at their wedding. That wedding was the beginning for all of us on our way to become adults and to have our own families.

Although I never lived in the Manor, I spent a lot of time there. Until I saw the invitation to contribute to the OJA’s project to collect the history of Jewish life in the Manor, I didn’t consider how much of my life I spent there. It was not the geographical location that mattered or made a difference; it was the people and what we did.

Photo: Courtesy of Andy Réti.

Birthday celebration in Bathurst Manor, [Pannahill Road], (Downsview, ON), ca. 1960. Individuals identified in photo: Julius Batori, Drora Meghori (m. Batori), Tony Alexander, Pam Applebaum, Andy Réti, Mary Citoyen Cohen.

Photo: Courtesy of Andy Réti.

I became a volunteer and eventually a Holocaust survivor speaker after my dear mother passed away in 2005. This is my twenty-second year as a Holocaust educator. I speak to hundreds of people annually. In each presentation, I make it a point to announce that I live in the Bathurst and Sheppard area, which is still a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood.

Since I live on Alexis Boulevard, the first street south of Sheppard, I firmly believe that this makes me an honorary Manorite.

Headshot of Andy RetiAndy at 78; Husband, Father, Grandfather, Survivor Speaker, Writer, Author, Motorcycle rider, and taxi industry veteran. He tells his kids that he has a Phd. in life skills but they don’t listen.

Growing Up in the Manor: The Box

Bathurst Manor LogoIn response to the OJA’s call for Bathurst Manor stories, Allan Rosenfeld contacted the OJA eager to share his memories of growing up in the Manor. He had a story to share—in fact, he had several. Rosenfeld’s short story The Box, is set at Cedar Grove Public School. The drama unfolds as a young Allan is challenged to a game of Leaners where he risks losing his entire bubble gum trading card collection, including his prized Gordie Howe all-star card.

The Box

By Allan Rosenfeld

The kids of Bathurst Manor loved collecting bubble gum trading cards. All kinds of cards. There were hockey cards, and TV show cards like Batman and the Beverley Hillbillies. It didn’t matter what kind of cards you collected, although most of the guys liked the hockey cards. Every guy that was cool collected cards.

You could buy them anywhere, but we often went to the Cigar store to get them. Kids clamored to purchase the 6-card pack with a stick of bubble gum for a nickel. The more cards you had, the cooler you were.

I was in grade 3 and went to Cedar Grove Public School at the very north end of Bathurst Manor. There was another public school in the Manor but it was far to the south and was called Wilmington Public School. Every now and then, the guys from our school would compete in an organized sporting event against Wilmington, but usually we never ventured south of Overbrook Street.

Courtesy of Allan Rosenfeld.

Allan Rosenfeld, 10 Terrydale Drive, (North York, ON), 1972.

Courtesy of Allan Rosenfeld.

I loved going to Cedar Grove. There was a huge field behind the two-floor school that housed 2 baseball diamonds and behind the field was a ravine where a small creek ran and sometimes after school we’d going hunting for frogs and tadpoles. The school had portables that some kids had to make their permanent classrooms. Those were the heady days of childhood were nothing was ever wrong in the world, and every day you’d wake up with a sense, of newness and adventure. Days where life was full of wonder and excitement, whether it was exploring the creek in the ravine, riding your bike to a friend’s home to watch Get Smart, or just collecting more and more bubble gum cards.

There were all kinds of games we played with the cards. There was a game called Shootsies where you’d face off against an opponent, and flick your card at wall, with the card that landed closest to the wall being the winner. The loser had to give up his card, so if you had a really precious card, you’d be an idiot to play it unless you thought you were going to win for sure. I played a lot of Shootsies, because the stakes were small and I wanted to keep my cards.

There was game called Kissies, where you’d keep shooting your cards against a wall, and when you landed on your opponent’s card, you won, and would take all the cards that had been played. Sometimes, this was one card if you landed on it right away and sometimes you could win several of your challenger’s cards. You really only played Kissies if you didn’t care if you lost some cards, or you were pretty confident about your flicking abilities. Kissies rarely resulted in you being skunked, where you lost all the cards you had in your hand.

The card games got even more competitive, with Knockdowns, being the next game in the skill hierarchy. In this event, you’d put a card leaning up against the wall, and the goal was to shoot one of your cards at the leaner card and knock it flat. Sometimes this happened right away, but more often than not, it would take several cards on both sides to knock down the standing card. This could result in a big loss or big payday! This was my favorite game. I just seemed to be pretty good at it for some reason.

The final game was Leaners. This was the game with the biggest potential stakes. The quest here was to shoot your card at the wall and get it to land so it was standing up on the wall. This was really tough to do, especially if your cards were new or you kept them in mint condition. Everyone had their special leaners card, that was worn in and usually a little bent.

Sometimes, you’d take a card and try to bend it or crumple it a little bit, to increase the chance that the card would float to the wall and settle in to a standing position. However, it didn’t always work that way. Sometimes these worked over cards were too soft and worn in and would just flop to the ground and not even make it to the wall. Leaners was a tough game and you could easily get skunked. It took a lot of guts to engage in leaner’s showdown.

There were other factors to consider when engaging in a battle of cards, depending on the game being played. Distance to the wall, ground surface, wind and rain were all variables that one had to consider in any given match. As a kid, you didn’t consciously think about these things. You just kind of knew. Probably, the most important factor that could influence a match’s outcome was wind. Maybe not so much in Shootsies or Kissies, but wind could wreak havoc with Knockdowns or Leaners.

We were fortunate at Cedar Grove though. We had “The Box.”

The Box was a large rectangular area at the back of the school that was sheltered on 3 sides from the elements. It was really the back door out of the gym, but was deep and long enough, that it was sheltered from the wind and rain. It became the main ring for any card duels, but there was a hierarchy to its use. You see, in the school yard, dominance was determined by aggression and grade, and in that order. Failing to comply, usually resulted with a punch in the face or worse. I was in Grade 3, and was low on the pecking order. To make matters worse, I was a pretty gentle kid, who shied away from confrontation. So, my friends and I rarely got to play in the box unless it was after school. At recess or lunch, there no chance in hell, that we’d get near it. The older grade guys would monopolize it as they engaged each other for bubble gum card dominance. The box always had crowds of kids looking on to see who was battling. The guys in my grade, usually played against the back wall of the school or against the portables, but that really sucked, especially in the late fall when it started to get cold. The box provided some shelter from the wind, so it wasn’t nearly as cold. Some of us even tried playing with gloves or mittens, but that was pathetic. You couldn’t control anything you shot. As fate would have it, I did get a turn at the box one late October day, during an afternoon recess.

I happened to get a Gordie Howe all-star card in my most recent purchase of cards. I was ecstatic. The Gordie Howe all-star card was a limited edition. There were hardly any of them around. If you looked at guy’s checklist, it was almost always the only card remaining to complete a full list. I was never sure why it was so important to have your checklist completed. It was just one of those things that kids kind of knew without having anyone tell them. When you played card games, the checklist card had almost no value, but everyone wanted their checklist completed! Well, I couldn’t help but show off the card when I got to school. My friends couldn’t believe my luck, and soon word got around the school that a Grade 3 kid had picked up the Gordie Howe all-star card. I become a celebrity of sorts, and reveled in my new-found popularity, until Tanzer approached me at lunch break.

Tanzer was a grade 6 kid. I had never met him, but he and his gang monopolized the box almost all the time. He was part of the cool, older guys, that wouldn’t ever even look at a grade 3 kid. Long, straight black hair, surrounding a thin, angular face, Tanzer was King of the Card games. He always had cards in his hands, and I wondered if he even brought them into class. He hung out with some other guys, that I’d heard had been in some trouble with the principal, Mr. Brown. I think they’d all been caught smoking near the ravine, but they never bothered with the little kids, unless it was to clear us out of the box.
So when Tanzer approached me at lunch, I was a little surprised and a lot scared. He didn’t say hello, he just said, “You the kid that got the Gordie Howe card?”

His gang stood behind him looking kind of bored, like what the hell was he doing talking to me. I noticed that his eyes shifted back and forth and his hair looked a little greasy from this close.

“Ya”, I answered hesitantly, worried that if I said too much, he’d smack me. I’d seen his gang in fights before.

“Lemme see it”, he gestured with his pointy chin towards my cards.

I pulled out the card and he looked at with ferocity of a lion about to pounce on a lamb.

“I’ll play you for it at this afternoon’s recess.”

I pulled the cards away. I didn’t want to play him. I’d seen him play in the box before, catching a peek, between torsos and legs. He was really good. I’d seen him skunk guys almost at will, at any of the games.

“I’m not sure”, I stammered. His gang behind him seemed to grow taller.

He looked at me for a moment. His eyes narrowed and his face got a little red.

“One way or another, I’m getting that card kid.”

I knew he meant it. I simply nodded my head slowly. He began to walk away, and turned to me again. “Leaners in the box at afternoon recess,”, then Tanzer and his gang disappeared behind the portables.

Leaners! I was beside myself. I wouldn’t just lose the Gordie Howe card. I’d lose all my cards.

My friend Larry had watched the exchange from a distance. I explained what had transpired.

“What are you gonna do?”

“I don’t know. I gotta play him or he’ll kill me.”

“Shit, the Gordie Howe all-star card”, he whispered in disbelief. “Maybe tell Principal Brown."

“If I do, I’m as good as dead”, I said. The lunch bell went off and I reluctantly trudged my way back to class. The afternoon dragged by and I couldn’t focus on long division or capital cities of the provinces. I thought about telling my teacher that I was getting sick and had to go home. Mrs. Bates was a kind, matriarchal woman and would probably let me go as I only lived around the corner from the school. But I figured there was no good away out of this and I’d have to play Tanzer sooner or later now that he knew I had the card.

The 2:30 afternoon recess bell reverberated through the halls and reluctantly I made my way to the box. Larry and a few friends followed me, as the crowd of onlookers parted way for me. Tanzer stood in the box, and his buddies gathered around him.

“Ready kid”, he said and smirked at one particular guy with long, greasy brown hair, who I always saw smoking near the far baseball diamond. That guy scared me. There was a funny look in his eyes, like he wasn’t really all there, and he was always getting into fights with Grade 7 and 8 kids.

“I guess”, I stammered and moved into the box with Tanzer as his cronies took their places on the periphery.

“Leaners kid”, he chortled, “and you shoot first."

I realized that he didn’t even know my name. I was some punk ass grade 3 kid who he would skunk and get the Gordie Howe card he so much coveted.

I pulled my cards out of my jacket pocket, grabbed the first card, gave it a little bend so it would have a higher chance of leaning up on the wall. I wondered if I’d get lucky, and my first shot would finish the game. I was gonna save the Gordie Howe card. The card sailed up to the wall, and settled in a horizontal manner. If we had been playing shooties, that would have been a great shot.

Tanzer flipped an old beat up card at the wall, that also slipped into a flat position.

His buddy with the crazy eyes, looked at the card I had thrown. “Tell him to play the card you want. He’s holdin out!”, he growled.

Tanzer looked at me and pointed at my cards. “Play the Howe card.”

Reluctantly, I pulled out the card. I couldn’t bend the Howe card. That would-be sacrilege. Carefully, so as not to damage the card, I flicked it ever so gently towards the wall, and the Howe card settled in close to the other two.

Tanzer shot next and we went back and forth for a few rounds with no leaners. I realized after 5 rounds and no winner, that he wasn’t that good. For some reason I had thought he was the master of shooting card games. But he wasn’t. He just hung with a tough crowd and acted like he was. The game went on and cards began to pile up on top of each other. A couple of times, he got close to getting a leaner, and the crowd oohed and awed. Soon I was down to my last couple of cards and so was Tanzer. The big guy with the greasy, brown hair kept whispering in Tanzer’s ear, like he was giving him suggestions on how to shoot his cards. I looked out beyond the box into the school yard and it seemed like the entire student population was watching or trying to find out what was happening. I swear there were even some Kindergarten kids poking around.

Finally, we were down to our last card each. I had started with around 40 cards. Tanzer shot next. He bent his card and flicked it at the wall. The card floated up to the wall, flipped at the last second and landed horizontally on the wall, on top of the already played cards. The crowd began to disband as I felt tears begin to roll down my cheeks. I had almost been skunked. I had lost the Gordie Howe card.

“Wait”, Tanzer shouted and pointed to the last card I was holding on to.

“I’ll give you a last chance if you want.”

I wiped away my tears and looked at the card. It was a Ron Ellis card, some guy who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and wasn’t worth much as it was a common card. What the hell, I thought to myself. Why not? Might as well be skunked.

I stepped back into the box, and took my shooting position. The crowd which had partially disbanded returned to their previous spots. I pinched the top left corner of the card, flexed my wrist, took aim at his card leaning on the wall and quickly extended my wrist firing my card.

The Ron Ellis card took off from my hand like it was shot from a cannon and careened into the mass of cards 3 to 4 inches in front of Tanzer’s leaner. What a crappy shot I thought to myself. It was short of the mark. It skidded along the floor of cards and struck the leaner at its base, knocking it down and flipped up on the wall.

For a moment there was only silence, and then the crowd roared in disbelief. Tanzer’s eyes went wide, and he kept looking from the cards and then to me. His buddy looked pissed, and brushing Tanzer aside, started to pick up the cards like Tanzer had won. I wasn’t sure what to do next. I was scared of Tanzer and more frightened of his friend.

“Hey asshole put those cards back. The kid won fair and square. Tanzer locked eyes with his friend, who hesitated, dropped the cards he had already picked up and stepped closer so they could have a further discussion.

“You won Tanz. You gave the kid an extra shot.”

“Doesn’t matter. I’m good for my word. Kid got lucky but I ain’t cheating him.”

I listened to the exchange immobilized by disbelief. Tanzer had a soul. He was more than a chain smoking punk that preyed on little guys.

“Then just take the Howe card”, said greasy hair and fished the card out of the pile.

“Nope Levi. Give the kid his cards and let’s get outta here.” Greasy hair had a name. He dropped the cards, glared at me for a second, brushed his hands through his oily scalp, and they wondered off into the school yard.

I moved to gather my winnings with Larry right behind me.

“Holy Shit!. You skunked Tanzer”, Larry said incredulously and looked at me like I something out of the Mod Squad.

“Sort of”, I said and began to gather up the cards as the bell shrilled through the school yard. Carefully, I sought out the the Gordie Howe and Ron Ellis cards. These two cards, I put in my back pocket and the remaining were placed in my jacket.

The afternoon slowly evaporated into the end of the school day, and I made my way home, on the lookout for Tanzer and Greasy Hair. I took the Ellis and Howe cards out of my back pocket and hid them in my drawer at home. A drawer where I only put the most special things like my diary and special report cards.

I didn’t see much of them for the next few days, and when I did, Tanzer kind of looked at me like I was just another kid. He never bothered me or tried to play me again. I kept playing cards and every now and then, I’d get a chance to play in the box, but only for small stakes and against kids my own age. Eventually we moved onto to other recess and lunchtime pursuits like handball and yoyo challenges and playing cards moved to the wayside. But I never forgot beating Tanzer in the box.

Photo of Allan RosenfeldAllan Rosenfeld grew up in Bathurst Manor. He is a physician, writer and author of several award winning medical short stories. He recently adapted his self-published book Holocaust Lumber, a story of growing up as a child of Holocaust survivors, into a play that finished third nationally in the 2019 Miles Nadal Jewish Playwright contest. His current project is entitled "Tales of Growing up in the “Manor.”