When I was eleven, we moved into an apartment on Washington Avenue, right where 19th Street intersects it. Across from us was a small store, Frohman's Kosher Market, where we wound up doing a lot of our shopping; the foods, especially the meats, were wonderful, and not expensive.
Mister Frohman was a nice, kind man, always with a smile...I remember him telling me to tell my mother that, if she needed to run a tab with him, that was fine...he trusted her. We had one the whole three years we lived there, settling up the first of every month.
Behind the store was an old garage, where Mr. Frohman kept his empty pop bottles. My brother Mike discovered that he could squeeze under the chain on the garage door, and hand out the bottles to me, which we'd take to Mr. Frohman to cash in...I found out years later that he knew what we were doing, but he never told my mother on us.
One day, when I'd gone into the store with the money for our bill, I noticed a line of numbers tattooed on Mr. Frohman's forearm, something I'd never seen before. I asked him what they were, and with a sigh, he set down his boning knife, and proceeded to tell me.
When he was in his teens, Mr. Frohman, his parents, brothers and sisters, and other relatives were rounded up by the Nazis, and placed in the death camp, Auchwitz; of all that family, only he and a cousin survived.
He didn't go into details...he didn't need to. I remembered the grainy pictures of people , stacked like wood, that I'd seen in a magazine, and tried to comprehend how people could treat other people like that. I knew the Nazis were bad guys, from the movies and shows like "Combat", but this was mind-boggling. I went home, and Mr. Frohman never said another word about it.
I miss him....with all that, not to mention the Jew-baiters of then and later, and the ones who said that this man, and his tattoo, were liars, Mr. Frohman always had a smile...for everyone.