Written by Stanley Greenberg Friday, 11 January 2013 00:00
Six months after my wedding in 1962, my father handed me an ultimatum that stated “You are a married man now…you must join the Lodge so you can have a burial plot.” The Lodge was called the “First Kopyczyncer Young Men’s Independent Lodge.” It was formed by the landsmen from my father’s village in Poland.
I tried to put it off as long as possible because I was just married and had opened a dental practice on Parsons Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens. My father persisted, so I joined the group for their monthly meetings at Ratner’s Restaurant on Delancey Street on the Lower East Side.
As far as I could see there were no “young men” in the Lodge, and I appeared to be the youngest. I was 27 years old at that time. Ratner’s vegetarian restaurant was a famous New York eatery (which has since closed), famous for delicious onion rolls heaped in a basket and blintzes. I was surprised at their borscht and cherry soup, which I had never eaten before. Very tasty, indeed!
One of the celebrity members of the lodge was Guss of Guss’s Pickles fame. He had a world-famous pickle store on the Lower East Side. Because of the pickle aroma, I jokingly asked not to be buried too close to Guss’ plot.
The cemetery or final resting place was on Staten Island. In those days, pre- Verrazano Bridge, the Staten Island Ferry was the only way to get there. The founders of the Lodge must have received a good buy on the Staten Island real estate.
My parents and most of my uncles and aunts are buried there. Those that passed away in Florida were buried in Florida. It still takes a good car trip for my sister and I to visit and tend our parents’ gravesites. Keeping the weeds out is quite a chore.
This story began for me in 1962 and it is still ongoing. Hopefully, I have no immediate plans to use the burial plot, but due to my father’s insistence, it is one less thing to worry about.