My Uncle Murray was the first member of the Greenberg family to buy a house. It caused a lot of consternation and a bit of crying to think that one family member was leaving the tribe and the beloved Bronx.
The time was the early 1950s. The distant place where this mansion stood was Baldwin. It was called a "Splanch," a term no one in my family understood. It bordered a canal off the Great South Bay. On my first visit to this home I was perplexed. I never guessed my Uncle Murray and Aunt Ceil were millionaires. I had never heard the word mortgage and $25,000 seemed like all the money in the world to a 15-year-old. My Uncle Murray was a WWII hero and he fought with the infantry from Sicily to Berlin.
I was reminded of the happy times we spent visiting Baldwin when the Channel News 12 relayed the story of thousands of dead fish surfacing mysteriously on the canals. It often takes a shock to bring back memories.
Eventually all the Bronx apartment dwellers forsook that wonderful borough and sought happiness elsewhere. The first one to leave deserves the most credit. They make it easier for those who follow.
Murray and Ceil raised two sons, Barry and Eddie, and a dog named Tiger in the 35 years they lived in Baldwin. My uncle automatically became a proud citizen of that town and he would trumpet its virtues to everyone and anyone who would listen. The only drawback was the daily trip into 42nd Street in Manhattan to work in the jewelry trade. Murray and Ceil were childhood sweethearts. They were also great handball players. She was a little better player and would punch the little black ball instead of an openhanded smack.
Murray and Ceil were also the first Greenbergs to have two cars in the family. One day as Ceil was driving to the station and Murray was driving home, they waved at each other and proceeded to crash into one another. They then got into one car and drove home. The neighbors were amazed. When the children became adults and the dog died, it was time to leave Baldwin. Ceil had died tragically and prematurely and the big house became too big. Florida, with its low taxes and easy lifestyle, beckoned. Three or four times the Baldwin home was placed on the market and quickly withdrawn. One buyer offered twice the price that the house eventually sold for. Murray never forgot the higher price. He would verbally kick himself in the rear end until the day he died. Such are the ups and downs of the real estate market.
Murray again proved to be a family pioneer in his move to Florida. Naturally, his condominium was superior to all others. Nicer clubhouse and better facilities, etc. Living in the Bronx, I never knew Long Island existed. So many bridges to cross, so many expressways, so much grass, so many trees. We, who followed later, owe much to those early settlers.