When we were growing up, Sundays were all about family, but Sunday nights were all about 60 Minutes.
Sunday morning would find members of our family out in search of the components for the Sunday brunch. Bagels & bialys, fresh out of the oven, would be purchased by the large, brown paper bag full. A short walk next door to Tabatchnicks, to purchase thinly sliced lox; a tub of herring; a container of fresh out of the barrel half-sour, still green pickles; several containers of Temp-Tee cream cheese; and pounds of freshly sliced Swiss cheese, so thin you could read through it.
Accoutrements purchased, members of our family would convene at either my grandparents’ apartment or our house. The unpacking of the bags would commence, tables would be set, coffee set to brew, and onions and tomatoes sliced. It was like having your own version of Shangri-la. At least it was for us.
Everyone would gather around the table, and if we were at my grandparents’ I would usually get the step-stool that had the padded seat at the top for a chair. Funny, how things stay with you. When my grandmother passed, and we had the task of going through her apartment, I made sure I took that stool. It was mine after all, I had logged many hours on it growing up. I have that stool still today.
The din coming from the table was deafening. Clatter of dishes, coffee cups, orange juice glasses, and talk of football games, politics, and the latest on the State of Israel. Silence was only to be had on the rare occasion of a table of full mouths at once, which was rare. If you know anything about a Yiddish family, you know the propensity for making your point with hands waving regardless of a mouthful of food or not.
We were done when, proclaiming how full he was, my grandfather would sit back, rub his belly, and announce how wonderful the bagels were today. The men would retire to the living room to watch football, or whatever sports were on at that time of year. The women would clear the table, pack leftovers into containers, and make their battle plans to attack the various stores having sales.
Leaving the men to watch their sports, which inevitably lead to couch napping, we females would go out for the afternoon. Malls, stand-alone stores, and the supermarket were on our list of things to do.
Victorious, we would return, package-laden, and begin the task of preparing the Sunday night dinner. Usually already started in the oven and left to cook while we were out, the house/apartment would smell of roasting meat. The aroma was a mix of food, cigars, and some unknown snacks, consumed while watching sports between naps. The only tell-tale signs were usually the red-stained fingers, from consuming dishes full of pistachios.
The family would reconvene at the table for dinner, the ritual of loud conversation, peppered with compliments on the food ever-present. Dinner would end, much the same way as brunch, with my grandfather proclaiming his satisfaction with the meal and conversation. The coffee that had been left to brew during dinner was served, along with whatever sinful dessert that had been procured during the women’s outing.
Depending on the time left until 7pm, was the deciding factor in how long dessert would last, no matter the deliciousness of the dish. After all, Sunday night was all about 60 Minutes.
Television on, carob-coated Dannon frozen yogurt bar in hand, my grandfather sat in “his” chair to watch Harry Reasoner, Mike Wallace, et al. Clean up was done quickly, and everyone would come in to the living room to watch with my grandfather. You could only stay if you were quiet, talking was only allowed during commercials.
Then Andy Rooney would come on. His commentary, on whatever topic he chose that week, fell on ears all a-twitter, devouring every satirical word. His 3 minute rant would seem to fly by. Why? Everyone knew when Andy Rooney was done, Sunday family time was done, and the weekend was over. Bags were packed with leftovers ready to travel, coats would be pulled from closets, and goodbye hugs and kisses commenced.
Andy Rooney and 60 Minutes were a part of our growing up, and while I had not watched him in many years, he will be missed. He was a constant reminder of days gone by and happy family memories.