Sean's Maternal Grandparents
Grandpa Al Udoff grew up in Houston, graduated from Rice University, did a brief
pre-med stint at Northwestern, and then hitched to NYC to become a lawyer.
Legend has it that he simply walked into the Columbia University registrar's
office and announced that he wanted to go to law school... and that was it! Al
became a garment workers' union lawyer with a generous heart and a penchant
for pipes, jokes and martinis. From his imposing tan leather chair, he'd smile and
gruffly deliver the refrain of "Down By the Old Millstream", a song I later
performed with The High Jinks. Grandma Rose graduated from Washington
Irving High School, and then worked as a receptionist in a law office, where she
met Grandpa. Rose was dete
rmined that her expressions of maternal wisdom outlast her, so she hammered
home her choice axioms at every opportunity:
"The napkin is the most important part of the meal!" was her ode to proper dining etiquette;
"Don't be a third party" was her admonition against meddling;
"Never fight over a parking space!" was an all-purpose warning;
"Always paper the toilet seat in a public bathroom!" as cleanliness, to her, was next to godliness, especially on or around the buttocks;
"Aim straight!" lest an errant droplet of pee taint her tile floor; and "Don't pick from the pot!" No, this wasn't an anti-cannabis manifesto, but rather a stern reminder that no eating was sanctioned in Grandma's kitchen until the food was safely on the plate.
In retrospect, Grandma was a brilliant self-promotion machine of Ty Cobbian proportions. She sang the praises of her stuffed cabbage with such zeal that even we who never liked them during Rose's lifetime now treat the recipe like a valuable heirloom, our own Coca Cola. Grandma implored me to marry a refined, feminine girl. "Character above all," she'd urge, while Grandpa stood behind her, shaking his he ad and impishly mouthing the word "money." "And why not?" he'd say. "You can just as easily fall in love with a rich girl as with a poor girl." Strangely, neither of them ever mentioned cup size.
Al and Rose lived in Manhattan, but enjoyed visits to the Catskill Mountains, the once-hopping vacation haven of New York Jews. I miss them both. (1940s)
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Last updated: July 30, 1997
(c) 1997 Big Sean Music