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



Louise Stevenson, an elderly tenant, plastered 3- and 4-cent stamps on her rent envelope.  This was in the 1980s.

Miss Stevenson was an old maid and very old school.  She patrolled the building  in a nightgown — a house coat — whatever women wore in the 1950s.  My mom wore one too.  Yes, a house coat.

Miss Stevenson didn’t like the custodians.  These workers never met her standards.  One custodian showed off too much butt crack when he scrubbed the floors.  Another manager supposedly broke into Miss Stevenson’s apartment and stole a book.  A third custodian went barefoot “like a hillbilly” in the hallway.

Miss Stevenson could guess whenever I was coming by; she stood guard by the building’s front door.  I listened to a lot of her diatribes about the decline of the West (Side).

I had a stamp collection too.  I should have talked stamps with her.  But I didn’t.  Miss Stevenson was a bit frightening, and my dad had always taught me: Don’t get personal with the tenants.

Miss Stevenson claimed she was related to Robert Louis Stevenson.  (The stolen book was an autographed Stevenson, she said.)

She carried a shopping bag and took the bus downtown every day, wearing her house coat.

Miss Stevenson died in 1992.   That year a first-class letter was 29 cents.

I hope I get a letter today with eleven 4-cent Lincolns on it.  I won’t, unless Miss Stevenson sends this . . .

Postage goes to 45 cents Sunday (January 22).  Add:

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1 Irwin Weinberger { 01.18.12 at 11:38 am }

Bert, I also was a one-time philatelist. I still have my stamp collection and hope to return to it when I retire.

As a boy it brought me great fulfillment to search for stamps and fill in the missing stamps in my album. Do you still have your collection?

2 Bert { 01.18.12 at 12:27 pm }

To Irwin Weinberger:

Yes, I still have my collection.

I have a bunch of UN stamps that are only usable at the UN. I should go to the United Nations (in NYC or Geneva, Switz.) and pay some gas bills, I guess.

I’m not attached to my collection, so to speak.

3 don friedman { 01.18.12 at 2:00 pm }

Stamps used to take such a licking before the self-stickers came out. They are hard to stuff into those wax envelopes.

I miss the taste of the old stamps.

4 Jessica Schreiber { 01.18.12 at 7:50 pm }

Personally, I think self-sticking stamps are the best invention since sliced bread. No more painful paper cuts to the tongue — yuk!

5 alice { 01.19.12 at 7:50 pm }

We visited the Postal Museum in DC. Very fun. Learned that the lickable glue on the back of a stamp had to be kosher.

6 The kugeler { 01.23.12 at 3:14 pm }

I miss you ALL. L’shana Tova. Your Best and VERY appreciative fan

7 Claudia { 02.29.12 at 5:00 pm }

That housedress is usually called a schmata (sp?) in NYC.

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