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Over 60…And Getting Younger: August 25, 2011

My Cousin Hymie

My cousin Hymie died three weeks ago, at the age of 90. He was one of my favorite cousins. His given name was Herman.

Herman is not a great name in my opinion, but Hymie was a great guy. He always had a joke on his lips or a puzzle, or funny saying. He was never negative about anything.

I attended his wedding to Dorothy in the Bronx when I was 13 years old (1947- you do the arithmetic.) It was held at the Imperial Manor on Westchester Avenue, and I remember the noise of a subway train drowning out the marriage oaths.

During his life, after he returned from World War II, Hy was a taxi driver in New York City. His cabby trick, as told to his daughter Rhonda, was to drive in two lanes so you could choose either one. He also supplied a Wise Potato Chip route for many years.

The one Hymie trick that I loved was that, at a wedding or bar mitzvah, Hy would follow the photographer around. As the table pictures were taken, Hy would stand in every picture. The usual cry was “Hey, there’s Hymie.” Since he was over six feet tall he appeared quite large in every picture. Many years ago, I did a column called “There’s Hymie.”

Hymie served in the U.S. Army in England during WWII. His job was to repair the B-29s as they returned from their missions in occupied Europe. The Germans sent a lot of anti-aircraft flak into the skies to shoot down the U.S. planes; the B-29s came back with punctures all over the fuselage. Hy got many medals for his wartime efforts.

Lorraine, my beautiful wife, always speaks of Hy’s eulogy speech at Dorothy’s funeral. He said he wanted to thank the guy who married his former girlfriend during the war. She sent him a Dear John (Dear Hymie) letter and broke the engagement. Hy stated, “That gave me an opportunity to find and marry Dorothy, my best friend for the rest of my life.” Everyone in the chapel cried and laughed at the same time.

Hy and Dorothy moved to Tamarac, Florida for their last years; he became the unelected mayor of Tamarac and was included in all community events.

His grandson, Frankie, is getting married this September. There will be no Hymie to stand behind all the tables for pictures. We will miss you, Hy! You gave us much pleasure.