The Red Moustache Manuscripts

The Red Moustache Manuscripts contains vignettes chronicling over a half century of adventures. Some of the stories are amusingly funny while others can be seriously enlightening. So come in and enjoy a truly unique experience!

Alive and well...

In 1963 my family sold our small ranch house and we traveled to Johnstown, Pennsylvania so my father could get a better job as an agent in the ILGWU (International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union). I remember spending two weeks there, house-hunting and site-seeing. We went up the side of a mountain in an 'Inclined Plane', a glass elevator of sorts. I was just seven years old, but living in Massachusetts had already turned me into a loyal Red Sox fan . This move to Pittsburgh forced me to consider other options. I liked Bill Mazeroski , I remember his walk-off home run in the 1960 World Series.  I could easily embrace the Pirates with their yellow and black baseball caps...

Just when I had gotten excited about our potential new home, my father announced we would be driving back to Massachusetts and that he would not be moving us to Johnstown...

On the way home there was plenty of time to stare out the car window at the passing scenery, or just sleep. Even after my eyes closed from fatigue, I listened to my parents talk. We hadn't embraced the move because the people of Johnstown had been pretty vocal about not liking Jews. I remember  opening my eyes briefly and seeing my mother's face during the conversation. She was upset. What began as a journey to improve our position in the world turned out to be a great awakening...

When we returned to Massachusetts after a long, tiring road trip, it was too late to cancel the sale of our house in Sharon and so, at least for the time being, we were homeless. For a while we stayed in my Uncle's house, in his basement. I remember having trouble sleeping there because of the chirping crickets who never seemed to quit.

We rented an apartment in Foxboro. At the time the New England Patriots were not playing there. The Boston Patriots played at different fields around Boston as members of the AFL (American Football League). There was a small theater in the circular area in the center of town where we went during Christmas vacations to watch Three Stooger Marathons. Going from a house, albeit a small ranch, to an apartment, was quite a change, but my parents assured my sister and I that it was temporary and that we'd find another house in Sharon very soon.

While living in Foxboro I hung around with other kids living in the apartment complex. That was where I first heard the word "kike". They called me a kike. Since I hadn't attached a meaning to the word yet, I didn't know how to react. When I went home I asked my mother what it meant. She looked unhappy and disappointed while she explained it was a term used by people who hated Jews. She said it was not a nice word and told me to stay away from those kids.

Not long after that incident John F. Kennedy was assassinated in a Dallas parade. We sat in that small apartment, on our couch just a few feet from a sixteen inch black and white TV and watched the funeral procession. We wept as a family. My father was a Democrat and an active member in the Democratic Party. We had a picture on our wall of my father shaking Kennedy's hand. We were devastated...

Within months we found another house in Sharon and I spent most of my childhood living in the town of Sharon which had a large Jewish population. It was there where I would get my nickname "Vinnie".

Occasionally one of my good friends would call me "Vinnie the Jew". I knew his dad was prejudiced against various minorities and so I overlooked it and we somehow remained friends.

I spent two years living in Connecticut ('69-'71), eighth and ninth grades, and I found the kids there very accepting of people's differences. I played Church League Basketball as it was referred to, and on Beth Jacob, one of two temples in the league. There was one black church and a bunch of white churches as well. We all got along just fine.

While playing freshman football at Norwich Free Academy one of my teammates, a rugged Italian kid who started at tight end, heard about Yom Kippur and that Jews fast while atoning for their sins. Nick knew I needed nutrition to play football and so he packed me a lunch that morning and brought it to school. When he found me in the morning he tried to hand me the brown bag lunch he made and packed himself, explaining that he didn't want me to go hungry. I explained it was a choice and he understood, but assured me he'd hold onto it if I changed my mind. It was a very kind gesture made by a legitimate 'tough guy' who obviously had a heart of gold.

Over the course of my life I've experienced plenty of anti-Semitism. Usually it's the expression "Jew you down" that finds its way into conversation by those who don't believe it's hurtful. While working as an Apprentice Plumber in 1983, one of my co-workers used "Jew Boy" once too much and he found himself being called out and offered a hammer to use in a hammer fight. He soiled himself and declined in front of no fewer than eight others. He never used that term in front of me again. Although I was willing to let him have the hammer to start the fight, I knew I'd end up using it on him. We're both very lucky he acted sensibly. I could still be serving time...

As a self-employed Plumber named 'Vinnie' I've heard many of my customers speak poorly about minorities, including Jews. As a teacher I've heard my students use racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic terms. The one incident that I found shocking happened at a friend's son's graduation party. While in the basement of their home small groups gathered and everyone was involved in their own conversations. I was just moving around the room and not limiting myself to any one group when I heard it. The host's best friend was preaching to a small attentive group when he made this statement "Hitler should have finished the job!" It was shocking, but not surprising. I never felt the same way about the host or any of his friends ever again...

As recent as two years ago I told my youngest son that anti-Semitism was alive and well in America. He disagreed and told me I was crazy. My wife was very quick to agree. I did the research and experts believe anti-Semitism is not only a powerful force in the United States, but all over the world. My son and wife read the articles, but still had their doubts.

When Donald J Trump won the Republican primary and was running for President I immediately identified his strategy. He could not steal the Liberal vote, but he could pander to the haters and secure their votes. When he got the support of the KKK, White Supremacists, and Alt-Rights, he did nothing to disavow their racist dialogue.

Extreme hatred had been hiding in the weeds, but the coals were still hot. What Trump did was splash gasoline on the coals and he ignited that hate and fueled his campaign with it. From a political standpoint it was brilliant, but any other way you look at it, he divided the country and invoked fear in the hearts of all minorities. (Jews, Muslims, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Latinos, LGBTs, the Handicapped, and women). Even after his victory he has been slow to step in and stop his supporters from acting on their hate with violence.

Swastikas with the message "Heil Trump" have been spray painted on both private and public buildings and monuments. Women, Muslims, Mexicans, Latinos, African-Americans, LGBTs, and Handicapped individuals have been harassed, spit on, and generally disrespected, and this is occurring in elementary schools too. Donald Trump has made hate acceptable behavior and he's done nothing to prevent it. If this is a sign of what a Trump-America will look like it's not good.

'Hate' is out of the weeds and alive and well in the election year 2016. Donald J Trump may have won the Presidency, but Americans of all denominations may have lost their freedoms and civil rights in the process.

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