Susan's Blog

Friday, November 23, 2007

Adaptive Living

Typing on Precious’ keyboard is a zen-like experience, because half of the letters are completely gone, rubbed away from so much sweaty use. I find I have no problem with accuracy, however, because I learned to touch-type while in high school, a skill that earned me many an unsatisfying temp job as a young woman. It is my acrylic fingernails that get in the way of perfect typing, far more than the lack of letters.

Ned, Max, and Laura often laugh or exclaim over my odd keyboard and my ability to use it anyway. It is a small but satisfying example of how well humans adapt to their surroundings. I also understand increasingly how much I have adapted to living with Nat, and how easy it is to know him, while others feel mystified by him. Does he find it easy to live with us, who obviously adore him, or is it easier for him to be at school, where his day is full and regimented into predictable time blocks? These days I am able to understand his “silly talk” and interpret it, and he always looks startled and yet happy. He is so happy in general these days, knock wood, it is a joy to see. He is in a peak right now, eminently adaptable, flexible, talkative, charming. It is a growth phase, where I can learn more and more about him, and he can take in more and more around him, effortlessly it seems.

At Thanksgiving the other night Dad told a story of a Polish woman whom some relatives knew who had hidden dozens of Jews during the Holocaust. For years they had hidden in her house, and because she was friends with the Chief of Police, he would warn her whenever the Nazis (“those Devils,” as my Polish Grandma called them) were coming, and they would travel through tunnels that had been dug, out into the woods. This enabled them to survive.

I was thinking about conditions that people have to adapt to. Sometimes I wonder how (God forbid) I would do in a situation like the Holocaust. Would I have figured out a way to survive those camps? Apparently a relative of mine (whom everyone always thought of as crazy) Joe Glotzer, a Provincetown artist, survived a mass execution during the Holocaust. He hid under several dead bodies and lay there for a while until it was safe to burrow out. (When I asked in what way was he crazy, Mom said he made inappropriate remarks, often asked women if he could paint them nude. I wondered out loud if perhaps he was always inappropriate, and that maybe it was not the Holocaust that did it to him but genetics? But of course, who could blame him for being “inappropriate” anyway? Imagine surviving such a horror!)

And yet also, in the same family (Dad’s side, the Senators), his parents and sisters remained in Warsaw rather than come to America with Irving (Grandpa), Nathan, and Jerry. They perished in the camps. Unbelievable. Why would they stay?

I often wonder if I would know, were something terrible like the Holocaust to come here, (God forbid). Would I feel that this was the time to leave, or would I fall back on hope and optimism and remain behind?

Why am I thinking about this the night that I got back from Thanksgiving? You decide.

5 comments

Allow me to be your armchair psychiatrist (I hope you forgive me for this) and say that I think it is because of the spirit of Thanksgiving that you pondered on the lives of those who died and those who survived the Holocaust.

We are all grateful to be alive, to be whole, to be free. Wish that these were given to them, the many innocents whose lives were cruelly extinguished. We can only pray and hope that we continue to stand up and fight for everyone’s right to exist in this world.

We don’t have Thanksgiving in this part of the world, but we share your sentiments for a world without prejudice and for a world of acceptance.

Best regards!

— added by Okasaneko on Saturday, November 24, 2007 at 12:56 pm

I came across this blog as I was searching for visual memories, having lost many of my photos in a house disaster. Growing up I had the honor of meeting Mr. Joseph Glotzer. Every summer for 15 years my parents and I would go to the Cape…this included visiting Mr. Glotzer at his studio in Yarmouth,every year…to this day I will remember his zest for living and precocious sense of humor. I am saddend by the the fact that he is gone and not listed as a predominant American artist…it is a great loss. I manage to rescue one picture of Mr. Glotzer, my mother and myself…it is a basket of memories and laughter I will cherish.

— added by sandra pabrezis on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 6:46 pm

I knew Joe Glotzer when his studio was in Yarmouth. I was 19 and he loved having me stop in and spar with him. He was delightful. I have one of his seascapes. I remember him well.

— added by Ellen Woodruff on Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at 2:37 pm

I bought a 24″x36″ oil painting in 1968 for my parents as a gift just be fore I went into boot camp. The painting was of a marshland with ducks flying off. The painting still remains in a place of prominence in my parents home. Brings back a lot of memories every time I go home.

— added by Bob Chaves on Sunday, June 5, 2016 at 6:25 am

From 1980 – early 1990’s, my family went to Cape Cod every summer. As with Sandra and Ellen, we got to know Joe Glotzer very well. Our family became close with him on a personal level. I don’t like the perception that he was crazy. He was definitely tormented as a result of his situation earlier in life. Anyone would be. And yet, here was this little artist of a man that always kept our family laughing. We’d spend hours on our vacation evenings inside the little studio in South Yarmouth listening to the stories. He would call himself “the little weasel” and continuously made jokes. Over the years our family purchased over a dozen original Joe Glotzer works. because of the relationship we established with Joe, these are priceless momentos of a great great time in my life. No, Joe Glotzer wasn’t crazy. He was just trying to suppress all of the hate, all of the torture that he and his family endured. And he did it in the best way he knew how – through making everyone laugh – even if it meant self deprication. Joe was a very talented artist. a once in a lifetime person that comes into your life for just a snapshot in time, but yet leaves one of the most indelible, permanent, happy marks on one’s life – forever. in 2005 I was back in South Yarmouth eating a place that had Glotzers hanging all over. I told the manager I wanted to purchase two of them, but he woulnd’t allow it. I asked the manager if he had even heard of Joe – he had not. But I did, for a little over a decade. Each summer for 7 nights in a row spending time at the gallery. Dinners we treated Mr. Glotzer to. Countless laughs he gave us. But no sale for that manager. I’m happy to say that I’ve “inherited” now a couple of J. Glotzer originals. over 30 years later – a dream is realized…

— added by Bob on Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at 9:27 am

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