Real Music & Real Estate . . .

Yiddishe Cup’s bandleader, Bert Stratton, is Klezmer Guy.

He knows about the band biz and – check this out – the real estate biz, too.

You may not care about the real estate biz. Hey, you may not care about the band biz. (See you.)

This is a blog with a gamy twist. It features tenants with snakes and skunks, and musicians with smoked fish in their pockets.

Stratton has written op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post.



This post is for everybody who read my recent Wall Street Journal article about my dad and wants more info on him. (The WSJ article is linked here.)

My father, Toby, got a letter from a Piney Woods Arkansas man, extolling my dad’s homemade foot powder: “Mr. Lesbert: Do NOT stop making the powdor! Do NOT stop!!” Toby used to make the foot powder in the basement. The company was Lesbert Drug Co., named after my sister, Leslie, and me. My dad stopped making the powder. The Arkansas man was about his only customer.

Then Toby started selling cosmetics. Then he starting buying buildings . . . on and on.  He was the Jewish Willy Loman. (Kind of like how klezmer clarinetist Dave Tarras was the Jewish Benny Goodman.)

My dad schlepped me to banks. I remember a banker who called my dad “Teddy.” That was weird. My father’s given name was Theodore and his Jewish nickname was Toby. This banker liked to talk Tribe (baseball) and his wife’s spaghetti recipes. The banker was a “people’s person,” he said. (Maybe he was a dogs’ person too.)

My father was not a people’s person.  He was the Lone Ranger. He got the mortgage and we got out of there.

My dad owned one LP record, of the Ohio State marching band. My dad had stock records. Toby bought his first stock, Seaboard Air Line, when he was at Ohio State. Air line meant train line back then. Air line was the shortest distance between two points — the way the crow flies. My dad never made money on stocks. He was too busy buying and selling and not holding. Toby was even a stockbroker for about six months in the 1950s at Bache & Co.

He liked numbers. He was a numbers guy. Totally.


shareEmail this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on Twitter


1 Teddy { 08.19.09 at 10:26 am }

Seaboard Air Line’s (how it’s spelled, by the way, not Air Lines) stock must have split five or more times by now. Seaboard merged with Atlantic Coast Railway and then with Chessie System to form CSX (or Chessie-Seaboard-“X”), one of the largest railroads in America. Have you checked the stock lately?

2 Harvey Kugelman { 08.19.09 at 10:43 am }

Employment responsibilities have kept me from dropping in for a few weeks, but man, good stuff, Bert.

Klezmer and real estate, that’s easy. Consistently funny and interesting, that’s hard.

3 Bert { 08.19.09 at 11:15 am }

Thanks for the correction, Teddy. Just changed “Seaboard Air Lines” to “Seaboard Air Line.”

4 Irwin { 08.19.09 at 11:18 am }

I could understand if his wife was delivering a baby, or if he suddenly (God forbid) became ill. But an OSU game??!! Come on. You definitely dropped the ball on that one.

5 Bert { 08.20.09 at 2:20 pm }


A “too much info” footnote follows:

When the trumpeter agreed to the gig months prior, he assumed the OSU-Michigan football game would be on about 3 p.m., like in previous years. The luncheon gig would be over around then.

But this particular year, the TV network — a few days before the game — surprisingly announced the starting time as noon.

This hurt — the trumpeter and the bar mitzvah boy, who was a huge Buckeyes fan. The bar mitzvah boy’s friends all congregated around the TV, which a temple employee wheeled into the party room.

Made for one distracted freylekhs (hora) set.

6 Shawn Fink { 08.21.09 at 11:35 am }

I can name that trumpeter in one note!

You’ve never mentioned before that your father was an OSU grad. It must feel cathartic to have brought that out into the open ;-)

Leave a Comment