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.




Toby Stratton (1917-1986). Photo 1984.

My father, Toby, took me to a lightning-round tutorial with Cousin Gershy. (Gershy is short for Gershon.) Gershy looked horrible — three strokes and two heart attacks. My dad didn’t look any better. My dad died of leukemia two months later.

Gershy had shotguns, a steer horn and a shalom plaque over the mantle. Gershy said, “You wouldn’t believe it, but I used to be a shtarker (strong guy/bully). Now I’ve got this little curl in the tail — that little something different — that something the new treatment doesn’t cure. You’re in trouble, they say. They say, ‘We can’t straighten out your tail. You’re dead.’ That’s what the doctors tell me.”

My dad didn’t chime in. (The docs guessed my dad had another two years.)

A gun dealer had sold Gershy the steer horn for $50, and now the gun dealer wanted the steer horn back. “Gun dealers is a funny ballpark,” Gershy said. “He could shoot me, but a deal is a deal. That’s the way it is.”

Gershy owned a shopping strip center on Mayfield Road in Cleveland Heights. (The building had Gable Pharmacy and Bass Lock & Key.)

Gershy’s price was too high, Toby said.

“If the kid is interested,” Gershy said, looking at me. “I’d come down.”

“It’s up to the kid,” Toby said.

“I’ll work with him,” Gershy said.

On the drive home from Gershy’s, Toby said to me, “Gershy has mellowed.”

Mellowed?  Gershy did not seem mellow to me — not part of the Donovan, mellow-yellow ethos.

“And he’s a gonif,” Toby said. “Don’t buy anything from him.”

I didn’t. Instead I bought an apartment building in Lakewood a year later. I bought the Lakewood building because I wanted to prove to myself I could pull the trigger — buy a piece of investment property — without my dad telling me what to do. My dad was dead. I was 36. I bought the apartment building from a man named Chisling. Odd name, right? My dad’s advice would have come in handy.

Yiddishe Cup is part of the Shavuot celebration 7:15-8 pm Tues. (June 11), Park Synagogue, Pepper Pipes, Ohio. We’re doing a 45-minute concert. For more info, click here.

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1 comment

1 Ken Goldberg { 06.05.24 at 9:12 am }

You’re still just a kid, as far as I’m concerned. A “Kiddo,” too….

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