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. So maybe he’s really Klezmer Landlord.
 

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 is an occasional contributor to the New York Times, the Times of Israel, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and City Journal. He won two Hopwood Awards.


 
 

MAJOR ROOFER

I like roofs more than most people.  I even married a roofer’s daughter.

My late father-in-law, Cecil Shustick, had a roofing company in Columbus, Ohio.  He was an orthodontist prior to being a roofer.   Look it up.

Cecil was an orthodontist in the early 1950s.  Meanwhile, Cecil’s father owned a roofing company.  Cecil had a wartime neck injury, so he didn’t relish standing all day at a dental chair.  Furthermore, orthodontia wasn’t yet a big moneymaker in central Ohio.

roofer-fleet2Cecil did mostly roof estimating.  He eventually ran a 27-man, 9-truck company.

He talked to me about roofs and gutters.  Gutters are interesting: copper, galvanized (the worst) and coated.

Cecil didn’t offer me the biz.  He should have, my father said.  My dad said Cecil should have at least given me the opportunity to say no.

Dad, I wasn’t moving to Cow-lumbus to run a roofing company!

Cecil Shustick (w/ ciggy), 69. (1978)

Cecil Shustick (w/ ciggy), 69. (1978)

When Cecil retired, he sold the business to Don The Goy, his right-hand man, who ran the biz into the ground.  Cecil lost a lot of money on that, and so did I, indirectly.

If I had taken over the business, I probably would now be in a nice house in Bexley, Ohio, with a stack of workers’ comp claims in front of me.  (A lot of roofers are overweight drinkers with back problems.)

That wouldn’t be much different than the way I did wind up!

pina-coladaCecil was a bon vivant.  He kept a quart of piña colada by his bed for dry throat, due to antihistamine overuse, he said.  He liked top-shelf, like Chrysler Imperials and Chivas Regal.  And he didn’t like sweating.  Golf was his game.  Cecil said, “If man was meant for jogging, he’d have hooves.”

***

Cecil Shustick, U.S. Army Dental Corps, circa 1942

Cecil Shustick, U.S. Army Dental Corps, circa 1942

Cecil worked in roofing, went to war and raised a family.  I didn’t know that “early Cecil.”  I knew the retired Cecil, my father-in-law in the velour warm-up suit with the Marlboros.

Don Whitehead, an A.P. correspondent, filed a dispatch, Dec. 3, 1943, with the Fifth Army south of Rome:

In one large, roomy cave Capt. Cecil Shustick, Columbus, Ohio, and Lt. Samuel Clarkson, Lebanon, Ky., set up a medical detachment station.  On the little ledge, a charcoal fire was burning to take the damp chill from the air . . .

The Italians had used the caves as storage places for vegetables, fruit and grain.  When the Americans came along, they moved into them and used them as command posts, medical stations and billets.

This is a valley of hell – a man-made hell of thunder and lightning . . . The guns never cease their striking.  Whole batteries of them roar in unison with a concussion that shakes the earth.

Cecil Shustick came home a major with a Bronze Star for heroism at the Battle of Monte Cassino, Italy.

Give him the piña colada medal too, posthumously. Cecil kept things light and bright. You’d never know about Italy.

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Please see the post below too.  It’s fresh and it’s football.
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Yiddishe Cup plays the Boca Raton (Fla.) JCC Sun. Jan. 23.  3 p.m.

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11 comments

1 Mark Schilling { 01.12.11 at 10:14 am }

I was in the Shusticks’ house with you. I remember all the paintings on the walls and, for some reason, a big sunburst clock. Was I hallucinating that?

The place had a well-preserved 1950s feel and the Shusticks were friendly. No pina coladas, though.

I never worked on roofs, but I slept on one — belonging to a UCLA coop house — for about three months in 1973. I liked having the moon and stars for a ceiling — they kept moving all night, so it never got boring. But that was L.A. in the fall.

I was glad to be off by winter and have a roof over my head at last.

2 Bert { 01.12.11 at 10:24 am }

To Mark Schilling:

Yes, the Shusticks had a sunburst clock on the wall. Good remembering, old man!

My wife likes the 1950s modern look. What can I do about that?

3 Ted { 01.12.11 at 11:54 am }

There was a large painted sign on one of the buildings on Parsons Ave. in southeast Columbus that said “Geo. Shustick & Sons Roofing Co.”

The last time I was in Columbus the building had been torn down. I heard the landmark commission tried to save it.

4 MARC { 01.12.11 at 2:14 pm }

My great grandfather Ruben Adler was a roofer who worked for a local roofing company. He died from an injury sustained falling off a roof.

5 Alice { 01.12.11 at 8:21 pm }

My father, Cecil Shustick, had a regular manicure. I know you think that is sissy, Bert, but he liked having his hands look good — possibly a remnant from having his hands in people’s mouths.

Besides being a medical war hero, on the home front he would chemically annihilate canker sores from my mouth, burn off ticks from our miniature schnauzer dog, Teddy, and administer soapsuds enemas (I was the unfortunate recipient).

Besides pina coladas, he imbibed Cel-Ray Tonic, Vernor’s, and vodka gimlets. Loved to eat exotica, such as sweetbreads, halvah and kippers.

We would gallop horses together out on farms. Once we were roller skating, he fell and rolled across the rink. I was mortified. He was proud — the drop and roll move was something he learned in the Army.

Thanks, Bert, for featuring him — he was a great guy!

6 Kenny G { 01.13.11 at 9:59 am }

Our dentist in the ’70s tried the restaurant business and then went into selling carpeting, eventually becoming the manager of the Severance Home Depot carpet department. One [job] worked with the TOPS, another with the BOTTOMS….

My nephew’s father-in-law in Buffalo went from a career as a plastic surgeon to dentistry to (when he physically could not handle certain procedures) a career in law! Must have gone through about 100 years of education!

7 Teddy { 01.13.11 at 5:02 pm }

You can add this to my first comment if you want. I believe Cec’s total medal haul included 1 Silver Star (for heroism on the beach at Anzio), 2 Bronze Stars and 1 Purple Heart. You can read the commendation for one of the medals; I think I have it somewhere. I tried to retrieve his records once from a depository in St. Louis, but they had had a fire and all the records were destroyed.

8 Terri Zupancic { 01.13.11 at 5:15 pm }

What vivid memories of Alice’s father. I recognized the picture, too. Nice tribute.

tlz

9 Paul { 03.10.13 at 11:15 pm }

Im reading my grandfathers WW2 Journal listing who is who in each of his WW2 slides he took. One of the guys is named Cecil Shustic so I googled his name and found this page. Maybe its the same CeCil. Your Cecil happens to have been at the same places my grandfather took these pictures. If you happen to contact me about this mention that Cecil pictures are in box 2, and there are several of them. 417-489-5141

10 Paul { 03.10.13 at 11:36 pm }

I just pulled the Cecil pics from my picture collection. So far I have 3, all taken in Anzio, and all in color. The slides are small but it looks like maybe its the same guy. In one picture the guy is wearing captains bars.

11 howard glazer MD { 05.28.13 at 3:34 pm }

I ran into this site by accident. I was friends with Cecil’s daughter when I was at OSU in the mid seventies. I remember meeting him and I was told that he was an orthodontist. I was also informed that he had an apartment building in the Columbus area, but never anything about being a roofer. His wife was quite gracious and very lively. Alice was also a character. She was very interesting, a good tennis player, and very caring. I am sure she is an excellent wife and mother.

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