My pop walked a thousand miles through a Russian winter in order to catch a boat that took 35 days to reach America. He arrived without money nor language skills. Shared a bed with a man and learned to become butcher. Had a hole-in-wall butcher shop. If a customer left a penny on the counter he would dash outside to return it. During the Depression, if people lacked money for meat, he would place their name in a book. Years later, I asked what became of the book. He replied: “I threw it away.” He never made much money, but if anyone came by the store asking for a handout, he would hand out some coins.
The Mafia controlled garbage collection. One day two men entered the store and told him they were concerned because he did not pay the increase in collection fees. All 5 ft, 4 inches responded: “I pay enough. I work hard and I don’t have the extra money.” I stood there crying, but they ignored me. They took out their guns and said: “Mr. Stopsky, pay or you will get us angry.” He said quietly: “I am a working man and work hard. I don’t have anything else to pay.” There was silence and then the two men burst into laughter. “You are one crazy Jew bastard, but you got balls. Forget the increase.”
His father was beaten before his eyes during the pogrom of 1905 and he was nearly executed during the Russian Revolution. He adored his two Christian grandchildren and gave them love. He never taught any hate. On Sundays, we would walk through the park which was filled with people speaking about everything from free love to supporting capitalism. He would say very quietly, “Freddie, America is a strange country. Here a man can say whatever he wants and no one beats him up. America, America, it is a wonderful land.”
My pop never went to school. He voted for FDR, Harry Truman, Adlai Stevenson, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson before he died. He voted for people who represented the needs of poor folk. He never made a a lot of money, he never became famous, he was simply a man who did his job, raised his family and cared about people.
Republican candidates shout praise about “job creators who have never created any jobs although we have the lowest tax schedule in over half a century. Actually, America was built by people who dug ditches, made roads, built bridges and dams and brought electricity to farmers. Republicans want lower taxes and praise the wealthy. This nation was built by people, not bankers, it was those did the jobs, not those who made money off the work of those who toiled.
Let us honor those who worked for Christ by creating jobs with good pay.