Growing Up Red

Growing Up Red

At the age of six, I already knew that capitalism was in crisis. In the summer of 1930, as my father, Yosef, and I were sitting on a large glacial rock in Bronx Park, our favorite spot for reading and “serious discussions,” he informed me without apology that he could not buy me the porcelain doll’s dishes for which I had been pining and whining because, like millions of other members of the American working class, he was unemployed, “out of work.” “I can’t even pay the rent,” he sighed, turning his pockets inside out to reveal only a few coins—not even one dollar bill. In a solemn, professorial, yet seductive manner, he explained that there had been a crash, of what I couldn’t make out, and that all of America was in trouble. We were facing an economic krizzis, he declared as if he were addressing thousands, and because of the krizzis we would soon see millions of workers standing in lines waiting for a piece of bread. “Thousands upon thousands of families will be evicted from their homes,” he predicted. I sensed that he was warning me that our own family, all three of us, would soon have to leave our sunny apartment facing Bronx Park. I could already see my bed and dresser on the sidewalk. Where would we go?

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Lima