David Rothman has taught writing for the City University of New York for over fifteen years and has had a number of short stories published in such journals as Glimmer Train (2013 fiction prize), Hybrido, Newtown Literary, among others. A novella, The Lower East Side Tenement Reclamation Association, won the Omnidawn 2018 Fabulist Fiction Prize and was published in October by Omnidawn Publishing. David has also co-authored three national edition textbooks for college-level reading and writing, and plays in a local rock band, The Edukators (who have had the pleasure of performing at Espresso 77). He is a proud resident of Jackson Heights.
It’s high noon on a rainy, autumn Thursday and I smile as I pass a relic from another era, the fading Schapiro’s wine ad painted on the side of a grungy building. There are some Hebrew letters on the bottle of kosher wine and, in trying to make sense of the ad, I remember a few Seders I attended as a child at Uncle Sam’s on Delancey Street, all of us going through the motions, none of us believing much in God.
Not a day goes by that I don’t wake up and focus on the fact that I’ve been cheated out of my Grandma Rose’s apartment on the Lower East Side.
I walk back toward Felix’s Tailor Shop at 97 Rivington and take an awning break at Steve Madden’s boutique. I remember Grandma Rose’s apartment being somewhere on the 100-block, but this can’t be right because nothing on that street looks familiar. I scratch my head and try to conjure up the building’s facade.
The last time I’d been to the apartment was a few days before The Tragedy. I was with my sister Hester on the front stoop playing a card game Uncle Sam had taught us called Casino. I was seven that October afternoon, the autumn of Nixon’s impeachment, and she, just three years older, dealt the cards so slowly, as if she felt the expanse of a whole lifetime in front of her.
This event was funded in part by Poets & Writers, Inc. through public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.