Jerry Rosenblum, who'll turn 99 in January, just had his first book published, An Angel On My Shoulder. (Jerry's already joking about
a sequel, An Angel on My Other Shoulder.)
Spanning from 1922 to 2020, Angel contains 98 fast-paced chapters, one for each year of his life. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Jerry still remembers the inexplicable excitement of Lindbergh's landing in Paris in 1927 and feeling comforted by FDR's fireside chats in 1933.
The book is often touching, funny and filled with colorful characters Jerry has met. Many are famous, like Muhammad Ali, and some infamous, like mobster union official Alan Dorfman, who wound up with a bullet in his head. (Ouch!)
He also writes about his father's passing when Jerry was 12 and his having “to be the man of the house” with two or three after-school jobs to help support his family. When they were eventually evicted during the Great Depression Jerry recalls his sadness in seeing their furniture piled on the sidewalk. Jerry also remembers in vivid detail the dangers of his Navy service at Pearl Harbor during WWII. But, he adamantly feels overcoming these challenges have contributed to his longevity and wonderful life.
Jerry and I met because he was a regular follower of my columns in the Santa Monica Daily Press and hoped that maybe I would read a draft of his memoir manuscript. I'm embarrassed to say, but I was thinking of a polite way to pass when Jerry mentioned his 50 years in the men's clothing business. My late father was in the same business for 30 years, so I couldn't say no. (And, am forever glad I didn't.)
When Jerry eventually got a commitment from a small publishing company, we worked six days a week rewriting his book. A year later when we finally finished,
Jerry commented, as only he could, “Jack, what I wrote was the cloth. What you wrote turned it into a fine suit.”
Readers often ask if Jerry is still sharp. Get this, he has 50 songs, many from Broadway musicals, he knows by heart that he'll sing at a drop of a hat. (You don't even need the hat.)
For me, knowing Jerry has been nothing short of inspiring. As explained in the book, he's friends with Congresswoman Alexander Ocasio-Cortez who says, “Jerry spreads joy wherever he goes.”
An Angel On My Shoulder is on Amazon. But, to meet Jerry in person, he offers “social distance curbside service” in front of his Santa Monica apartment building. Call 310-451-5383. Jack can be reached at 310-392-2275.
By Jack Neworth