29 May 2007

A sweet family story

Ever wonder about those little pink packets and the Jewish family responsible for them?

From the "New York Times," a review of "Sweet and Low: A Family Story," by Rich Cohen, grandson of the company's founder, Benjamin Eisenstadt.

The reviewer notes some of Cohen's relative descriptions:

"There is Uncle Marvin, "as peppy as a camp counselor," who takes over the company from Cohen's grandfather and insists on being called Uncle Marvelous. A shut-in aunt who stage-manages the family drama from her bed in Flatbush. ("Her tongue is thousands of miles of fiber-optic cable.") A grandmother so determined to shape destiny that she changes her name twice (Pessie to Bessie to Betty), "the kind of woman," as her daughter describes her, "who wanted you to think she never went to the bathroom." And on the other side, Grandma Esther, "the loudmouthed immigrant who suddenly becomes a member of your family," who takes an afternoon to tell a story better told in five minutes, then winds it up by saying, "That's it in a nutshell," who takes her grandchildren to a movie and attempts to get a children's discount — even though they are ages 22 and 30."

I think all genealogists can relate to this passage:
"Still, it takes nerve to play investigative reporter with your own family, and Cohen writes about the addictive thrill: "When you uncover the crucial piece of hidden information, the charge pops in your brain like a whippit and you cannot wipe the stupid smile off your face. . . . The more you find, the more you want to find."

Click here for the complete review

Click here to read the first chapter.

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