Tuesday, October 28, 2014

David and Helen Goodman

At the end of the movie Schindler's List they show a line of people passing Oskar Schindler's grave.   The people are the remaining present day survivors of Schindler's list.   As they file past his grave each person places a stone on his headstone/marker.   When I saw the movie Schindler's List for the first time I didn't understand why this placing of the stones on the grave was done.
There was a couple whom I knew by the name of David and Helen Goodman.   They were an elderly couple who I use to see in our local Walmart.   They would sit and talk with people, either on a Walmart bench or usually in the dining area of a small restaurant within the Walmart.   Everyone knew them, both employees and customers, and people would gather around them to join in their conversation.   It was as if they were a king and queen holding court.   They were absolutely delightful to talk to and that is why the people would gather around them, including me.   Here is Helen making "bunny ears" with her fingers for David and herself.   Notice the pin on David's cap?  Answer:  Navy officer.     And the printing on the left side of his jacket?   Answer:   Disabled American Veterans.
Yes, Helen was the lively one and so full of life.   She would talk a mile a minute.   David was more on the quiet side.   They were always together.   I never saw one without the other.
As time passed Helen seemed to become more frail.   But she always "kept court" with her legion of friends at the local Walmart.   The picture below was taken 3 weeks before she passed, and yet she is always happy and smiling.
Helen passed on first and then David followed six weeks later.   This seems to happen when the husband and wife are very close and have been together a long time.   I guess that one can't survive without the other.   A friend attended their funeral and visited their grave later and sent me a picture of their marker.   And there, on their marker were some small stones that had been left behind by visitors, just like in the movie Schindler's List.
I became very curious about this placing of the stones on a grave.   So I did a search on the internet.   I found several similar versions of its meaning: 
   a stone is placed as a sign of respect
   a stone is placed to participate in the marking of the grave
   a stone is placed to let the deceased know that you were there.
All are very good versions.   I visited their grave and left my own stone, for all three of the above reasons.     I hope that this blog will give an idea of what these two individuals were like.  These biographical sketches were taken from their eulogies.  Many thanks to whoever wrote their eulogies.   It is good to remember our friends and not let them just pass into obscurity.   I have always liked people and I consider myself lucky to have shared some moments with these two individuals, David and Helen.   The first part is about Helen since she passed first.
Helen (Bazar) Goodman
January 3, 1926 – October 22, 2012
Helen was born in Brooklyn, New York.  Her  parents, Henry and Fay Bazar, were immigrants from Poland.   Her father worked as a presser in the garment industry, and her mother, Fay, tended to her keeping a traditional Jewish home.   Helen came of age during the Great Depression.   Helen was able to graduate from high school during these difficult times.   Typical of a teenage female student of the time, Helen took a secretarial curriculum in high school and for a time after graduation she engaged in secretarial work.
   On a blind date set up by her sister Selma, Helen met David Goodman, a Navy radioman, who had been a prisoner of war, and a survivor of the Bataan Death March.   Acquaintance turned to friendship and then to romance and a wedding on February 20, 1946.   A marriage of mutual love, care, and support for well over 65 years. 
David Goodman
May 27, 1920 – December 3, 2012
David Goodman was born in Brooklyn, New York on May 27, 1920.    His parents, Benjamin and Sarah Goodman were immigrants from Lithuania.   His father was a laborer.   David graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School but could not afford to go to college.   Instead, David wanted to join the Navy and see the world.   But David was only 17 years old and needed his parents consent to join up.   When he didn't get his parents consent he went on a hunger strike and quit eating, finally forcing a reluctant agreement that he could become a sailor if he would eat his dinner.    David became a radioman 2nd class in the Navy and served on a torpedo boat (PT-34) in the South Pacific.   In World War II he was captured by the Japanese and was held in a prisoner of war camp for 2 1/2 years.   He endured a living hell working as a slave laborer in a stell  mill, incurring malnutrition, disease, and tortuous medical experiments.    He was released from the POW camp in 1945 and returned to Brooklyn.   He met Helen on a blind date and they were married on February 20, 1946.   David graduated from Officer Candidate School and rose to the rank of Commissioned Warrant Officer (CWO2).    This is a picture of David as a Commissioned Warrant Officer.   Yeah, I know it is blurry but it is the best that I have. 

David was stationed in the Philippines when war with Japan broke out in 1941.   David was a radioman on a PT boat (boat PT-34).  He was captured in 1943 and spent the duration of the war as a prisoner of war.   He endured a living hell working as a slave laborer in a steel mill, incurring malnutrition, disease, and tortuous medical experiments.   He was liberated in 1945 and returned to Brooklyn.   He married Helen on February 20, 1946.
          In the late 1950's he was given orders to Germany without family.   David did not want to leave his wife and children so he decided to retire from his last duty station which was the Naval Air Station in Sanford, Florida.    He finally settled in Ocoee where I had the pleasure of talking with him and Helen.    David received numerous medals for his military service.   His medals include:
The Silver Star indirectly awarded by General MacArthur.   There is a small silver star located in the center of the larger gold star.   I guess that is why they call it the Silver Star medal.
On the reverse side is the inscription "FOR GALLANTRY IN ACTION".   I guess that speaks for itself.
WWII Victory Medal
And the reverse side of the WWII Victory medal.
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
Military Service Medal

SECNAV Commendation (Letter or Medal?) under the hand of then Sec’y of the Navy Frank Knox;

Philippine Defense Medal

On the reverse side it says
Good Conduct Medal
  Navy Presidential Unit Citation ribbon
Prisoner of War Medal
Awarded for actions during World War II
Radioman Second Class David Goodman NSN 2234320, United States Navy was captured by the Japanese after the fall of Corregidor, Philippine Islands, on May 6, 1942, and was held as a Prisoner of War until liberated by U.S. Military forces after the end of hostilities in August, 1945.
David was held as a Prisoner of War in the Kawasaki 5D POW camp until that camp closed on June 4, 1945.   Then he arrived at the Niigata 5B POW camp where he stayed until the Rescue Team arrived on September 5, 1945.   Both of these camps were in the Tokyo area.
Did you keep count on the total number of medals and citations that he received?   I counted 8.   How many did you count?   Please let me know in the comments section if I miscounted.   What a chest full of medals he must have had on his uniform.   Quite a feat.
      After leaving the Navy, David and Helen eventually settled in Ocoee, Florida.   He operated a radio repair shop for a while but eventually went to work for the Florida Department of Transportation, repairing and maintaining communications equipment.
    After the war until he died, David suffered from what we now recognize as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.   We us to say some military came back from the was "shell shocked".   When he might wake up at night in terror, Helen was always there to comfort and reassure him that everything was alright.   She devoted herself to him completely.   They were devoted to each other.   David died six weeks after Helen on December 3, 2012.
     Shopping at Walmart just doesn't seem to be the same without Helen and David there.   I hope that this biographical sketch has given some insight into this remarkable couple.   Thanks for reading this.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


A long time ago (circa 1978) in a place far far away (San Diego) there was a beautiful park.   (I couldn't resist borrowing that phrase from the first Star Trek movie.)   This beautiful park in San Diego is called Balboa Park.

It was a huge park with many museums and buildings incorporated into it.    Even the San Diego Zoo was included in magnificent this park.   On weekends there was an endless variety of street performers from mimes to guitar strumming singers.   I enjoyed going to the park on weekends.   It was a great place to relax and have fun.   There was a club of people who grew bonsai plants.   I think that it was called the San Diego Bonsai Club.   They would periodically have shows and plants on display in one of the buildings in the park.   In addition to having small bonsai plants on sale they also had their large treasured bonsai plants on display.    These plants were amazing to see.

One day at the Bonsai show I talked to an oriental woman who was exhibiting bonsai plants.   She told me that these plants are passed down from generation to generation.   She showed me a bonsai plant that she treasured and had been passed down through four generations in her family.   She told me that she was so nervous that the plant might die while under her stewardship.   She was afraid that her relatives might blame her for the plant dying.   She told me that she would be so glad to pass the plant on to a younger generation and then the plant would be their responsibility and a heavy burden would be lifted from her shoulders.   I was sympathetic to her plight and her nervousness about the family bonsai plant.   That has to have been a really heavy responsibility.
     I don't have any bonsai plants but I do collect commemorative stamps.   Especially stamps that have never been used.   The unused stamps are nicer because they don't have any cancellation marks on them to mar the image on the stamp.   Everything is so crisp and clear on the unused commemorative stamps.

Can you see the difference in eye appeal between the unused stamp above and the used stamp below with the cancellation marks on it?   That is why I prefer unused stamps without the ugly cancellation marks.

I recently acquired one of these Alaska commemorative postage stamps which was issued by the post office in January 1937.   Currently it is August 2014.   So how old is it?   Excuse me while I do the subtraction.................I'm back.   I calculate 77 years old.   Do you come up with the same numbers?   Go ahead and do the calculation, I'll wait.  LOL!    But 77 years is truly a very long time ago.   Unused stamps still have the glue on the back of the stamp.    An unused stamp is rather unique and rare since most people who bought the stamp used it to mail a letter.   An unused stamp is not found on an envelope in a trunk in someone's attic.   Used stamps are found on those letters in the trunk.   This particular unused stamp has been faithfully saved and probably passed from person to person for those 77 years.   Perhaps from stamp dealer to stamp dealer or from collector to collector.   In a sense we don't really own the stamps.   We just hold them for a while and then we die and someone else has the stamp.   Someone had to be the guardian of this stamp making sure that it did not get harmed or damaged until it was passed on to the next guardian.   And so it went from guardian to guardian for 77 years.   Once I obtained one of these stamps I was now the guardian of the newly acquired of Alaska stamp.

Unfortunately, I did not keep it in a sealed container and some insect found it and ate the paper (probably to get the glue on the back of the stamp).   What a mess the stamp is.   I consider the stamp as ruined and useless.   Obviously I failed as guardian of this stamp.   After all those 77 years of this stamp being passed along from guardian to guardian and the chain ends with me.   You might say that I am like the woman who had the family Bonsai plant that she must carefully care for.   I hope that she had more luck with her Bonsai plant than I did with my 77 year old stamp.   I feel bad about the damage to the stamp from the standpoint that all of the work and care that my predecessors have done has now been for naught.   77 years down the tube.   It is only a stamp but now it will no longer be passed on.    Perhaps I could donate it to a local stamp club for them to show-and-tell of what not to do when caring for very old stamps.

Fortunately I have a spare stamp.   It is fine.   I now store my stamps in tight containers as well as my stamp book which is in a sealed ziplock plastic bag.   I learned my lesson.   By the way, the mountain in the background on the stamp is Mt. McKinley.
     Stamp collecting is fun but as I have learned it does carry a certain amount of responsibility with it.   As an example, there are only just so many of the unused Alaska stamps in around.   Each time one is destroyed then there is one less stamp left.   Of course that makes the remaining stamps a little bit rarer and worth a little bit more.   In my stamp collecting I like the commemorative stamps because of the stories that they tell.   I guess that is why they call them commemorative stamps.   And yes, sometime in the future my stamp collection will be passed on to someone else and they will eventually pass it on to someone, and so the story goes.    We all have our hobbies to make life interesting.   Have a great day.   Lew