MY MEMORIES OF THE SHENKIN FAMILY
HUBERT B. "BUDDY" SHENKIN

I remember as a child a memorable trip to the Log Cabin in Armonk, New York. I must have been six to eight years old. Cousins Stanley "Sonny" Shenkin, lrwin "Bob" Shenkin, Newton Alterman and I went on a trip in Uncle Sam Aginsky's automobile. The car was a Lincoln, very fancy, with an open space up front for a chauffeur and a means of communicating with him from the rear enclosed portion of the car.

Uncle Sam's chauffeur was a man who worked for him in his construction company. The man spoke broken English and was unable to read a map. Uncle Sam could not read a map either, so it was up to us to figure out how to get to Armonk, which we did from the inside rear of the car. We gave directions to the chauffeur by speaking into a small horn that carried the sound to the chauffeur. It was a case of the "blind leading the blind." Somehow or other we arrived safely at the Log Cabin. Boy, the freshly made doughnuts and the cider tasted out of this world! We left after our stomachs couldn't hold any more, eventually returning to the Bronx.


Quite often I used to stop and visit with Aunt Bessie Aginsky. She always insisted that I have something to eat. (It did not matter that I was not hungry.) I remember one time I was eating a bowl of soup when Uncle Sam came into the kitchen and sat down to eat. He opened a brown paper bag and proceeded to eat a ham sandwich. Shortly after he started eating, Aunt Bessie came into the kitchen, took one look at what he was eating, picked up the paper and the sandwich and threw them out the kitchen window. She became very irate and started yelling at Uncle Sam in a language I did not understand. Aunt Bessie was kosher and I did hear her say the word treyf a couple of times.

The family used to go on Sunday picnics and we had a friend, John, who lived in Scarsdale and was a motorcycle policeman. Quite often he provided a motorcycle escort complete with a screaming siren. The picnics were fun. The brothers Nathan, Herman, Max, Moe and Herbert, along with other family members, usually had a game of softball. We kids played handball and stickball with a red ball called a Spaldeen.

One time we were going to a formal family function (probably a wedding). Uncle Max came by dressed up in a full-dress suit to pick us up in his Nash limo. When he went outside to leave, the car had a flat tire. Instead of jacking up the car, he lifted up the front end of the car onto the jack. For some unknown reason, the axle jack was unable to be used as designed.

Sonny Shenkin and I visited with Uncle Herbert, Aunt Rose, Beverly and Bob Shenkin at their home in Babylon, New York. One of us got the idea to smoke the large Indian peace pipe mounted on a wall. We loaded the pipe with tobacco from a bunch of cigarettes, lit it and took turns puffing away vigorously. Shortly thereafter we all became green in the face and gave up smoking. We were about 10 to 12 years of age at the time. We then decided to go outside and look for something else to occupy our time. Uncle Herb's new Lincoln Zephyr was parked in the street and was unlocked. We got in the car and one of us got the bright idea to put the shift in neutral and release the hand brake. The car was parked on a hill, so it rolled down the hill and knocked down about a 100 feet of picket fence. When Uncle Herb came home, he let us all have it and for the remainder of the weekend, it hurt like blazes to sit down.

In 1968 my wife, Lucille and our children, Bill and Liz, moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. One day we went to the Miami Boat Show and on the way home I stopped for gas. I chanced to look at the car at the next pump and recognized my cousin, Bea. I went to say hello and was greeted with "Hello, Uncle Moe." I guess at that time I looked very much like my father at a younger age.

Earlier, in New York, Bea had been married to a fellow named Ralph Landrum, whose only working experience consisted of bossing a chain gang in Texas. Bea's father, my Uncle Phil Aginsky, asked my father to give Ralph a job in his tool and die shop so Ralph could learn a trade. While Ralph was working for Dad, I used to work in the shop on school vacations, and we became friendly. He and I used to deliver heavy dies in the New York City area and as I had a learner's permit, Ralph would let me drive once in a while. I remember we occasionally ate lunch in a bar. The bar had a long table laid out with cold cuts and salads etc., and if you bought a drink, you could make a sandwich at no charge. The first time I went there with Ralph I made a heaping cold cut sandwich and sat at the bar to eat it. The bartender asked me what I wanted to drink and when I told him milk he became enraged and I thought he was going to hit me. I told him I was kidding and asked for a boilermaker (a shot of whiskey and a beer). I gave the shot to Ralph and drank the beer.

In 1947, I graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and started at City College of New York. Cousin Burt Aginsky, Bessie and Sam's son, was the Chairman of the Sociology Department and I registered for his Introduction to Sociology. He was a great teacher and I enjoyed his course. His wife, Ethel, was a professor at Hunter University. I graduated from CCNY in 1951 with a BS in Physics, continued my education at CCNY's downtown New York branch and received a Master's Degree in Business Administration in 1960. In 1982, at the age of 53, I decided to go to law school. I sat for the LSAT, was accepted to Nova University School of Law, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and went to school full time for three years. After I graduated and passed the Florida bar exam, I opened my own practice in Delray Beach, Florida.

One day a man came to see me on a family law matter: his ex-wife was taking him to court to collect back alimony payments. He gave me the pertinent facts of the matter and I agreed to represent him. He said that the name Shenkin was not very common and asked me if I had any relatives in Miami. I said I had an uncle named Nathan Shenkin. He then told me that Uncle Nathan was his ex-father-in-law. He asked me if this presented a problem in my representation. I said no since I had never met his ex-wife, Rhoda. (She was Nathan's daughter by his second marriage to Lee.) He gave me a retainer and I subsequently went to court on his behalf. In court I looked at Rhoda and could easily recognize a family resemblance. During a break I started talking to her. She knew my father, having met him on his various vacations in Florida. Her attorney became very incensed and told me to stop talking to his client. When I told him I was talking to my first cousin, he was dumbfounded. We then concluded the hearing to everyone's satisfaction.

In 1973, I decided to save some money and build my own home in Boca Raton, Florida. I found and purchased a lovely waterfront lot, one canal off the Intercoastal Waterway in North Boca. I went to contractor's school, graduated, took a test and obtained a license as a builder, (I guess I was following in the family tradition - building was in my blood.) We retained an architect and he and my wife, Lucille, designed a lovely two-story house with a colonial front. I subcontracted the exterior, dry wall, plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning and the rough carpentry. A friend of my father's (a home-builder from New Jersey) and I did all of the interior finish carpentry at night and on weekends. In addition, I was working full time in a concrete products business that Dad and I owned. I finished the house in five months - not bad for a first-time project. The house had a two-story, circular stairway in the front hall. I built the stairway from start to finish by myself and it was a labor of love. Over the years, more than one bride walked down the stairs dressed in her wedding gown.

At that point, my brother, Art, the architect and I formed a corporation to build houses. The architect designed a ranch home with four bedrooms and 2 baths. We built the home, but when it was finished, found that the bottom had dropped out of the home building and mortgage market and it took quite a while to find a buyer for the house. We decided we had our fill of the home building market and sold off the other three lots we had purchased, ending our home building venture.

Sonny Shenkin and his wife, Elaine, moved to Nettles Island, Florida in 1989. Sonny became ill with cancer in 1990, and unfortunately didn't live long enough to enjoy his retirement. Elaine is a saint; she took care of him at home, night and day, for months and would not consider sending him away for care. I used to visit him on Saturdays and it was very sad to see him deteriorate, but I know that my visits cheered him. I would arrive with corned beef, pastrami, potato salad, cole slaw and pickles. For a while, he really enjoyed the food, and later on when he could no longer eat it, said he was just pleased to see Elaine and me eating it. Sonny died on May 4th, 1992. He and I were close for many years and I miss him.

After 31 years in Florida (the last 25 in Boca Raton) we had enough of the heat, humidity and hurricane evacuations and in July of 1999, we moved to Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Liz left Florida with her three children in June 2000 and joined us in Highlands Ranch and we now have both children and seven grandchildren five to ten minutes from our home. We also have a home on 12 acres in Lake Como, Pennsylvania, which we purchased in 1981. The land is surrounded by farms that raise milk cows.

CORRECTIONS AND ADDITIONS TO THE FAMILY TREE OF BASHA AND ISAAC:

Herbert died in 1965. Mildred (Tootsie), Aunt Molly and her husband Al, Sonny Shenkin and I were there. Herbert had been married to Rose, divorced her, married another woman - divorced her and remarried Rose. Nathan's second wife's name was Lee and they had a child named Rhoda, who had at least one child, a daughter. Max died in 1942. Tootsie married Harold Klosty and they had a son named Matthew, who is alive, never married and living in Nettles Island, Florida. Max's son Stanley (Sonny) married Elaine Lowney. Elaine is living in Stuart, Florida and we speak often on the phone. They have three children. Michael married Kati: who had a son, Jack, from a previous marriage. Michael treats him as his son and they then had one child, Tonya. Dale, who was married and divorced, had no children. Glen, who was married and divorced, has two children, Bryan and Aaron. Max's daughter, Beatrice (Bebe) was married to Ellie Bender and had three children - twins Carl and Paul, and Mark. All of Max's children are deceased. Herman had a son named Bernard who married Sally and had ?? children. (I remember one child, I believe a son, died at a very early age.) Moe (who died in 1986) married Florence Lieber (who died in 1981) and had two children - Hubert (Buddy) and Arthur. They separated when I was about seven years old. I married Lucille Haber and we have two children, William and Elizabeth. Bill married Sherrie Clampert and has four children, Desiree, Zachary, Adam and Amber, who are twins. Liz was married and divorced and has three children, Justin, Kelli and Myles. Art married Gerre Willard and has three children, Diana, Sherry, and Bonnie. Diana is married and has two children.. Bonnie is married and has two children. Sherry is married, lives in Israel and has ten children (she is following in the footsteps of her great-grandparents, Isaac and Basha). Herbert's son lrwin (Bob) was married and had a boy and twin girls. I presume Bob is no longer alive.

BUDDY SHENKIN

DECEMBER 2000