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.



When my dad was dying, I asked him if ever thought about his mother. I said, “You don’t think of your mother much, do you?” He rarely talked about his mother, or the past in general.

“I think of  my mother every day!” She had been dead for 22 years. (My dad’s dad was out of the equation; he had been hit by a May Co. truck in 1924 and had played a lot of pool after that.)

I haven’t seen my father in 37 years. About half a lifetime ago.

Bert and Toby at father-son night at Victory Park School, South Euclid, Ohio. 1957.

“Anything within 10 feet of the cup, Toby sank,” said Hy Birnbaum, a golfer, druggist and friend of my father. Hy, in his later years, worked part-time as a pharmacist at the neighborhood drugstore. Hy told me all his friends were dead. My dad was, for sure. Hy was about 85. (This was in 2010.)

I ran into John Kelly, who had worked with my dad at the key company. I met John at a folk music festival in Lake County. He recognized my band. John said one of the “big bosses” at the key company had slept in the office overnight because he had marital problems. The “big boss” had had a slew of problems. His kids were “real hippies,” John said. I remembered the boss.  He had been a loud-mouth, know-it-all country-club Jew from Shaker Heights. I remember my dad bitching about him almost nightly at the dinner table.

My dad disliked most “big bosses.” The one “big boss” my dad liked was the company president, Manny Schor, who was a World Federalist. He was modest and smart. He came to my gigs occasionally in his later years. Manny said to me, “I can still picture your father sitting at his desk.”

So can I.

One question: why were these guys alive (in 2010) and my dad dead?

My dad’s long game wasn’t too good.

[Toby Stratton died Aug. 2, 1986, eight days short of age 69. Manny Schor died in 2009 at 91. Hy Birnbaum died in 2016 at 91. John Kelly died in 2011 at 80.]

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1 comment

1 Ken Goldberg { 08.02.23 at 10:16 am }

I like you Dad’s « hayseed » hat. That’s what my third-grade teacher wanted me to wear in a play we were in (« Pinocchio, » I think) which included a square dance scene. My father offered a real farmer’s hat, which he had worn when he had his farm, but I think the teacher got her way….

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