Shaindle’s Shpiel

By Shaindle Schmuckler | shaindle@atljewishtimes.com

“She loves to visit.” A recurring observation on all my report cards.

I also loved to be in all the little performances produced by my teachers for school assemblies. I almost never played the lead. I always wanted it; on occasion I even auditioned for it. But I was

Shaindle Schmuckler

Shaindle Schmuckler

always on the precipice of shy (I know it’s hard to believe) or afraid I would look silly.

So I would accept whatever role I was assigned. I loved the stage. I would take any role; after all, I was preparing myself for my dream of becoming an actress. I filled many scrapbooks with information, photos and articles about the woman I hoped would design my clothes, Edith Head, and the studio that would become my home, Universal.

I remember in second grade being chosen to play the role of a flower. My aunt Jeanette (z”l) made me a yellow-and-white-flower headdress. My teacher created the leaves and the stem. Tada! I’m a flower. I was so proud. My flower was chosen to grow front stage left, or was it stage right? Hollywood, here I come.

At home I would create little skits for my sisters. Sometimes I included my cousins. We had a piano, so many times music accompanied the action.

The lobby of our apartment building was the greatest stage of all time with fabulous granite flooring. I had no idea what granite was, but I knew we could slide all over that floor and pretend we were ice skaters or famous gymnasts or ballet dancers. We had a long, shiny staircase on either side of the lobby that worked as a perfect dramatic entrance for a bride, princess, witch or cowgirl.

In the summertime, up at the bungalow colony where we went to escape the city heat, I would create little skits for my sisters and the other children. I took on the grave responsibility of the director. After all, it was my idea!

I would gather all the kids to the space in back of the bungalow my family occupied. We sat in a semicircle on the grass, and I would dictate their responsibilities, including who would hand out the little tickets we created for entry. Could this have been what led to my becoming a camp director?

One summer, when I was around 8 or 9, my dad (z”l) built me a wood-planked stage, including the two steps leading to the stage. He installed poles so the shower curtains we used for stage drapes could be opened for a performance and pulled shut when needed. Shower curtains? Yes, of course, they did not get messy in the rain.

I loved that stage. The fact that my dad took the time to build it for me made it a special gift indeed.

My dad was pretty creative when it came to building and repairing. He spent many hours teaching me some of the tricks of the trade. Fix a lawn mower? Check. Install a light fixture? Check. Fix a plumbing leak? Check. Paint a room? Check.

Not only could I identify any tool in the toolbox, but I also knew how to use them. I was happy to play the role of the son my dad always wanted.

I knew I would need to perfect, or at least become respectfully familiar with, a myriad of talents to attain my goals. I went about the business of constructing my repertoire. Ballet, toe, tap, jazz, piano, baton twirling, sports and, of course, unbeknownst to my dad, stage building.

Now let’s move time forward.

From the time my grandbaby No. 9 was born, my daughter No. 2 has insisted this girl is a reincarnation of her savta (grandmom); that would be me. From the start, it felt as if her soul, her spirit and mine were one. We need each other’s touch; we see and respond to so much with the same intensity. There is the way she wears her clothes, plus all the activities she needs to feed all her energy: piano, gymnastics, ballet, sports. The “visiting” during school. Let us not forget the glasses she thought would look good (mine were baby blue), the braces she thinks are cool (mine were rubber bands and gum wrappers), or the skits and performances she creates. And finally, the two steps leading to the wood-planked stage her dad is building in back of her home.

Indeed, one great wood-planked stage deserves another.

But wait.

She’s only 8.

So many more stages, wood-planked or not, for us climb.