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.



My mother, Julia, wanted herring and a third of a pound of pastrami, sliced thin. I went to Heinen’s supermarket and got it for her, and she died the next day.

I regularly shopped for my mom while she was in assisted living. She didn’t want to exist solely on the kosher food at the Jewish facility. (That’s a common complaint of the non-Orthodox.)

Occasionally my mother came with me to Heinen’s. She got the motorized Dodgem cart. She wasn’t a great driver. She had Parkinson’s.

She schmoozed with the clerks and checked expiration dates on cole slaw. She always taught me something; in the cereal aisle, she once told me, “You get the most weight for your money with shredded wheat.”

She liked Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies and Pringles potato chips. She could eat anything. I had to buy her Boost to gain weight.

I liked the snack aisle at Heinen’s, and I liked having an excuse to go there. What kind of Milanos should I get? There were seven varieties. What kinds of Pringles? There were 15 choices. I was shopping for junk for health reasons.

She once wanted me to ask for “Jewish tongue” at the deli counter, because she couldn’t attract the clerk’s attention; she was seated too low in her motorized cart.

I said, “Jewish tongue, please!” That’s the only time I ever said that.

My mother had served tongue when we were growing up. It was bad then, and it’s bad now.

Toward the end, nothing tasted good to my mom. Everything was too spicy, or not spicy enough. The only thing that worked was shrimp cocktail. She had no taste buds left. That was about her only complaint in her last years. My mother wasn’t a kvetch.

I continued going to Heinen’s after she died in 2004. But I don’t go into the center aisles often where the junk food is; I hang around the “healthy choice” perimeter.

My visits to Heinen’s are like mini-yahrzeits for my mother. Pringles: Mom. Pepperidge Farm Milanos: Mom. Jewish tongue: Mom. That last one, I still have trouble with.

The above essay appeared in the New York Times 10 years ago. I sent it to “” with the subject line “here’s one for mother’s day.”

Julia Stratton (1920 - 2004). 1953 photo. Leslie (front) and Bert.

Julia Stratton (1920 – 2004). 1953 photo. Leslie (front) and Bert.

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1 Ted { 05.05.21 at 9:38 am }

A favorite memory of her is going shopping with her at Richmond Mall, and dropping $100, and her being very insistent about getting some promo from the mall for spending $100 total at various stores. We ate at Diamond’s Deli.

A not-so-favorite memory is getting lost in Beachwood Place because I was reading Garfield comics in a bookstore somewhere, I think.

2 Ari Davidow { 05.05.21 at 10:04 am }

We stop at a great deli in Connecticut (Rein’s) on our way to and fro points south. One of my favorites is a tongue sandwich. Is it Jewish? I dunno. Theirs come from cows :-)

3 Rev Don Friedman { 05.05.21 at 11:46 am }

I tried tongue once when I was a teen. Never tried it again. But give me boiled chickens feet!

4 Dan Kirschner { 05.05.21 at 2:08 pm }

very sweet memory of your mom, bert! i remember my “ah-hah!” experience when at spike’s kosher butcher shop, on lee rd. next to roosevelt junior high, i saw the ENTIRE tongue in spike’s display case. i was intrigued by its taste buds, but never did develop my own taste for it. however, i always did salivate over chicken feet, chicken livers, and beef liver. my mother used to broil the latter sufficiently long so that i could chew & chew & chew it forever. i never discovered until as an adult, when my wife broiled the liver just enough, that it was meant to be easy to swallow after only a couple of chews! go figure…..

5 Ken Goldberg { 05.05.21 at 8:12 pm }

The funny thing is I think she looks like Alice here….

6 Various { 05.10.21 at 10:49 pm }

Awesome post….thank you. Your Mom sounds like she had a lot of spunk!

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