In memory of the life, love and wit of Carol Versandi
March 25, 2014
My mother was always a bit of a troublemaker.
She was by no means a "bad" person,
but she could be a shit stirrer when she wanted to be.
Mostly it was just good natured mischief for mischief’s sake.
Usually it was in a playful way.
She would do and say certain things just to elicit a response.
Sometimes it was cute.
Sometimes people laughed.
Sometimes it got her into trouble.
And sometimes her shenanigans were so outlandish, they could alter the course of history.
My mom and my aunt grew up in the Bronx.
This was back in the 40’s and 50’s when things like stickball, TV dinners and Frankie Avalon were all the rage.
Kid’s used colorful phrases like “Smog in the noggin” and “23 Skidoo”.
And the most shocking thing on television was Howdy Doody and Clarabell the Clown.
They grew up Honeymooners style in an apartment building that probably always smelled like Chinese food…because as we all know, where there are Jews, there is Chinese food….go on…prove me wrong.
And speaking of us Chosen People, living in the same building as my mom and my aunt, was a nice little Jewish boy named David Horowitz.
I’m sure he was your typical all American mid century New York kid.
Probably a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers…drinking milkshakes down at the local pharmacy…skimming through National Geographic in hopes of seeing a partially clothed native…you know, normal things.
He was also the constant target of my mom’s rabble-rousing.
The specifics of what she did or did not do to David have been lost in the fog of history, but if I were to speculate, and I will, I’d say it involved more then just verbal taunts. I know it was not beneath my mother to drop rotting fruit off the roof of her apartment building on to a poor unsuspecting passersby, so for the sake of convenience, let’s just assume it was something like this.
The point is, Carol’s consistent instigating finally caused something to come loose inside poor David Horowitz’s fragile mind.
And then he finally popped my mom with a right cross.
…relax, this was the 40’s…it was perfectly acceptable for a man to hit a woman.
in fact, inter gender fistfights were as common as decoder rings and polio.
My mom, being the biggest wuss in all five boroughs (she could dish it out, but always admitted, could not take it) ran home crying to her mother.
Now my Grandmother Sarah, my mom’s mom, was Russian.
Not by way of relatives. She was actually born in Russia. In 1913. And was raised there. She was a little girl at a time when Russia didn’t have things like electricity,
or color, or a breathable atmosphere. (I might be thinking of the moon)
That fact alone makes her tougher then anyone reading this story.
She died in 1982 and she could still kick you ass right now.
Unfortunately, my mom didn’t inherit any of my grandmother's physical strength...or ability to take a punch.
Fortunately, my Aunt Terry did.
My Aunt Terry is one of the nicest people in the world.
She’s a very caring and giving person.
She’s also a take-no-shit-from-anyone-under-any-circumstances-ever person.
And while my mom and her were growing up, she was the muscle. The enforcer.
And I mean that in the very literal sense.
Carol would start trouble.
Terry would finish the job.
When my mom’s antics dug a deep hole,
it was my Aunt Terry that had to pull her out.
And when things got physical, and Carol ran away crying,
Terry “Knuckles” Schulman was called in.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Carol came home crying.
Terry went to work.
She caught up to David Horowitz and delivered a one-two combination of take-that and what-for. Until it was David that went home crying with the bloody nose and busted lip.
Now, to put a little perspective on this, David Horowitz was born in 1937, making him 76 years old. My Aunt was born well after that. I won’t tell you how old she is, but as of this writing, she’s not yet 70. So what that means is a 12 or 13 year old boy got his ass handed to him by a girl half his age.
But the story doesn’t end there….
Time passed as time does.
Both my mom and my aunt grew up, got married, moved out of the Bronx, started families and forgot all about that day.
But I like to think David didn’t.
David moved out to Los Angeles and became a reporter for KNBC. LA.
He had a popular on air segment, ironically titled “Fight Back!” (see video)
wherein he went after less then scrupulous businesses and warned viewers about false advertising claims.…I'm guessing because the producers nixed his original idea of him walking the streets of New York, knocking over little girls at will and shoving a microphone in their face, screaming “Not so tough now, are you?!?”
But good for David.
He finally found an outlet for his years of pent up humiliation.
Humiliation that was set firmly in place by my mother.
And I for one, could not be more proud.
I miss you mom.
I miss your smile.
I miss your laugh.
I miss your mischief.
Without you, there would be no David Horowitz.
But more importantly, without you, I would never be the man I am today.