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.



“Anything within 10 feet of the cup, Toby sank,” said Hy Birnbaum, a friend of my late father.

I saw Hy at the drugstore, where he worked part-time as a pharmacist.  He was about 85 at the time. Hy said all his friends were dead.  (My dad, Toby, had been dead about 25 years.)

I ran into John Kelly, who worked with my dad 30-some years ago at the key company.  John said one of the “big bosses’” had slept overnight in the key-company office because he had marital problems. This big boss, Sid, had a slew of problems.  His kids were “real hippies,” said John. Sid was a loud-mouth, know-it-all, country-club Jew from Shaker Heights, I remember my dad saying. Toby liked to kvetch about Sid almost nightly at dinnertime.

My dad disliked most “big bosses.” Who didn’t. One “big boss” my dad tolerated, luckily, was the key company president, Manny Schor, who was a World Federalist, very intelligent and not a show off.

Manny came to my gigs occasionally in later years.  (Most of the big bosses at the key company were Jewish.  The company was owned by a Jew.) Manny said, “I can still picture your father sitting at his desk.”

So could I.

Why were these old guys still alive and my dad dead?  That’s what I  wanted to know. My dad’s long game wasn’t so great.


Where are they now:
Toby Stratton  1917 – 1986
Sid  1921 – 2000
Manny Schor  1918 – 2009
John Kelly  1931 – 2011
Hy Birnbaum  1925 –

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1 Bert Stratton { 10.02.13 at 9:13 am }

Purists: The subject line on my email blast this morning (Wed.) was supposed to read “My dad had a good short game.” It mistakenly read “My dad had a good long game.”

2 Barbara Ashkenas { 10.02.13 at 10:30 am }

Hi Bert

Your blog about your dad’s long game reminded me that my dad’s long game was not so good either. He died when he was 70 … Anyway, hope you have some good memories.

Regards to Alice. Hope your kids are happy!

3 Mark Schilling { 10.02.13 at 11:08 am }

His son is still writing about him a quarter of a century after he passed, so you could say he had a good long game too. Stay well…

4 Margie { 10.02.13 at 11:31 am }

I miss him too. He was a huge role model for me. A calm island of rational thought amidst a sea of Zalk emotions. He always reached out to keep me thinking clearly as a young adult who had no idea what I was doing. The best decisions I made were because he counseled me.

5 Irwin Weinberger { 10.02.13 at 2:34 pm }

My dad died at 66. 1913-1980
It’s been many years since hearing about Herman through a friend or co-worker’s eyes. Guess my own imagination tries to put the pieces together as to who he was. Wish I could have met your dad.

6 Johanna Schor { 02.14.15 at 8:18 pm }

Reading this over I’m really touched again. Who will remember us? Well if you ever have a gig in LA give me a call. I don’t suppose I’ll get to Cleveland any time soon. My 50th Shaker Reunion is coming up, but I’ll pass.

Be well and thanks again for sending your blog.


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