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 New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.



The minute I landed at Palm Beach airport, my dad, Toby, hocked me about investments. On the drive from the airport to his condo, Toby would expound on the tremendous real estate growth in Florida. “This was a two-lane dirt road when we got here. Now it’s six lane.” Glades Road, Boca Raton, 1980s. With a bagel store on every other block.

We have Bagel Nosh in Cleveland too, Dad, and it’s crap! My parents watched the kids while my wife and I biked around the condo development, watching for golf cart X-ings. Toby said, “Whatever you do, don’t kock the money away.” Also, did I need a new car? And how about a bigger house? “You never ask for anything,” he said. My kids asked for stuff — swimming noodles. No problem. Every grandparent had a storage closet of noodles.

One grandpa — a friend of my dad — didn’t sleep well, so he did midnight bowling. The man owned a furniture store in Cleveland and worried a lot because his son was destroying the store, the man claimed. Another old-timer was Jackie Presser, who had a villa — a stand-alone house — unlike my folks’ pad which was an attached unit. Presser was the national president of the Teamsters and knew mobsters. In his later years, Presser moonlighted as a snitch for the FBI. His wife drove an antique car around the condo development.

My dad met Mel, a low-level municipal employee from the city of Sunrise, Florida. Mel needed a “few presents” for his inspectors. Mel inspected commercial properties for Sunrise, where my dad owned a small shopping-strip center. The shopping center was a just hobby for my dad — something to keep his brain cells firing between rounds of golf. Toby was always in let’s-make-a-deal mode.

Toby met Mel at Sambo’s, where Mel explained that presents meant $100 for each of his inspectors. Toby paid Mel — in a car, not in the restaurant. Mel said, “This is not for me. This is strictly for my inspectors.” Then Mel drove Toby to see vacant land. The city wanted a developer to put up a motel. The city would take a cut.

Toby sold his Sunrise strip center shortly after that. He didn’t cotton to the Florida heat, so to speak. He returned to golf with his high school buddies, and marveling at electric orange juice squeezers.

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1 Kenneth Goldberg { 05.20.20 at 12:03 pm }

I’d venture to say Jackie Presser more than “knew” the mobsters…. I hope Toby patronized the bagel shops when back here.

2 Dave Rowe { 05.26.20 at 10:00 am }

Down here it’s the Cheokees making the killings re: real estate – revenge against us palefaces.

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