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.



Ted Budzowski was my dad’s favorite building manager.  Maybe because they were both Teds.

My dad was “Ted” at work and “Toby” at home.  Ted Budzowski was “Ski” at his day job (crane operator at Republic Steel) and “Ted” around the building.

Ted Budzowski could have treated me like a silver-spoon son of a boss, but instead he invited me down to the mill on family day.  I didn’t make it to the mill for some reason.  Everything was air-conditioned at the mill now, Ted said, including his crane cab.

I eventually caught a tour of the mill with the Society for Industrial Archeology.  The slabs of molten steel coming from the furnace looked like creamsicles.  Big red melting blocks.

My dad and Ted talked in a clipped cadence, like telegrams.  Ted would say, “The kid [tenant] is hanging on by the grace of God.”  That meant pay up.

“That tenant is a troublemaker,” my dad answered.

“The kid better not raise a rumpus.”

“He’s thinks he’s cute.” Toby said.

“Yeah, tell it to the judge,” Ted said.

“Give him an eviction notice.”

Ted had two Stratoloungers in his living room, an Okinawan mongoose-and- cobra souvenir, and a tree-stump occasional table, which his son had made. The son lost $8,000 on tree stump tables, which never caught on big in Cleveland.  The good news was the son also was a retired career solider.

Ted Budzowski, 1978, age 63

Ted Budzowski, 1978, age 63

Toby and Ted were about the same age.   Toby was from Kinsman Road, and Ted had grown up in Youngstown, Ohio, near Cowshit Hill (a real place).  Ted’s kids had made it out, just like Toby’s.   Ted’s second son worked for the phone company.

When Ted retired to Texas to live near his military son, I hired Buck, a hard case who had grown up in a Tennessee orphanage.  Buck didn’t like certain people, particularly sons of bosses.  Buck thought many routine tasks — cleaning up after tradesmen, watering outdoor plants — were not part of the job.

Buck frequently got “porky” with me.  (That was West Side talk for “argumentative.”)  Ted, on the other hand, had always been helpful.  Ted would tell me when my tire pressure was low.  He could sense low tire pressure.  He thought about tire pressure.  

For his last 15 years, Ted’s HQ was probably his Stratolounger in San Antonio.  He didn’t check back with me, except for an annual holiday card.

Meanwhile, Buck was raising prices unilaterally on odd jobs.  He never asked what I thought the job was worth. Who was bossing whom?

I had a hard time bossing around people older than myself.

That changed. I got older.
1 of 2 posts for 8/25/10.  Please see the post below too.

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1 Don Friedman { 08.25.10 at 12:00 pm }

At least they could have named it “Cowpie Hill.” It would have digested better, as I was eating breakfast and reading the blog.

2 "Kenny G" { 08.26.10 at 10:36 am }

I used to think of myself as sort of “silver spoon” among my father’s tenants and my mother’s cleaning women. We used to sort of joke about how old and decrepit the tenants were (some were, some not)….

Regarding the name of that #&*@% hill in Youngstown, hope there was no restaurant there (just not that appetizing a concept….).

As for the “fake” Bert Stratton, did I send you my “Hall of Ken Goldbergs” website?
Note how many illustrious types we are!

3 Mark Schilling { 09.02.10 at 12:33 pm }

I was a “silver spoon” kid too when my father was managing J.C. Penney stores (1963-1988). Whenever I walked in I’d get the friendly, but ever so slightly deferential, treatment from the associates (JC-speak for employees). When I was a 13-year-old I expected it as my due. I should have wised up by the time I was pushing 40 — but no.

4 Juanita Budzowski { 10.01.22 at 6:37 pm }

I just came across this and surprising Ted/Ski is my Grandfather

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