The Dream: A Memoir (Random House Reader's Circle)
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During the hard and bitter years of his youth in England, Harry Bernstein’s selfless mother never stops dreaming of a better life in America, no matter how unlikely. Then, one miraculous day when Harry is twelve years old, steamship tickets arrive in the mail, sent by an anonymous benefactor. Suddenly, a new life full of the promise of prosperity seems possible–and the family sets sail for America, meeting relatives in Chicago. For a time, they get a taste of the good life: electric lights, a bathtub, a telephone. But soon the harsh realities of the Great Depression envelop them. Skeletons in the family closet come to light, mafiosi darken their doorstep, family members are lost, and dreams are shattered. In the face of so much loss, Harry and his mother must make a fateful decision–one that will change their lives forever. And though he has struggled for so long, there is an incredible bounty waiting for Harry in New York: his future wife, Ruby. It is their romance that will finally bring the peace and happiness that Harry’s mother always dreamed was possible.
store for me, found a happiness that made up for all the bitter moments she had endured in the past. That dream she’d always had was surely coming true. I realized that, and because of it I did not have the heart to tell her of my architectural drawing teacher’s reaction to the first house plan design I attempted. The entire freshman class had been given the assignment, obviously in an effort to ferret out any hidden talent that might exist among them. We had spent a week working on the
looking up from his seat and seeing the sky, said, “What the bloody ’ell kind of car is this? Where’s the other ’alf?” It was explained to him that this was a convertible, with a top that folded. Sam offered to put up the top if it would make him feel more comfortable. My father chose to ignore this and said, “So long as you were getting a new car, couldn’t you afford to buy a whole one instead of an ’alf?” Sam’s reply was to step on the pedal and send the car forward with such speed that wind
who was about the only one of the brothers on speaking terms with him. He had quarreled with the others, but he had soon made friends elsewhere—including in the Romanian restaurant that he frequented most often. There they served liquor in teacups and—Uncle Saul told me this privately when my mother was not with us, saying it with a little wicked grin on his face—they also served women upon request. I did not want to hear any more, and I felt sick. More than ever I wished I could get my mother to
He had been a college professor. He had taught ancient Greek philosophy. We strolled along together for a while, talking. I was shocked when I heard what he’d been, and I began to wonder if I had lost much by not having gone to college. There was also the chemical engineer. He was a few years older than I and married, with five children, another college graduate, and he was in a worse fix than I was. There were others like these two now looking for jobs on Sixth Avenue, willing to take anything,
my request. I had taken him aside before the ceremony and whispered to him that I didn’t want any religious frills and that Ruby and I wanted to get away as quickly as possible. He was only too glad to oblige. It was Friday, and the Sabbath eve loomed ahead. He had many things to do at the synagogue. He was a short, brisk man, and he moved about quickly improvising a chuppah—the canopy under which the ceremony was to be performed. He had four poles mounted on stands, and he spread a large piece