Barry Altman

"All I knew growing up was apartment living. There was always a dish-drain rack."

Barry Altman Dishdrain

A couple of weeks ago, our dishwasher broke.  In these days of coronavirus, we decided that having a technician in the house is too risky, so we have been washing dishes.

Initially we piled the dishes onto the counter next to the sink, dried and put them away.  We were soaking our way through dish towels, and water was getting everywhere.

Then I remembered something from my past: a dish-drain rack.

I trace my roots to humble Bronx, New York beginnings.  My folks lived in a three-room apartment when my big brother, Art, was born.  When we moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut, Art was 17, I was 9, and our little brother, Joel, was 5.  We had definitely been cramped, but for everyone we knew, that was life in New York City in the 1950s.

In Connecticut, we lived in a series of apartments until my folks bought a condo when I left for college. All I knew growing up was apartment living.

I recently asked Art if we were poor when we were kids, and he shot back, “Abject poverty.”

Nonetheless my childhood was a happy one. There was plenty of food, although the menu did include lots of hamburgers, hot dogs, beans, and occasionally pancakes for dinner.  Those were good days, but no argument, we were poor. And since none of the apartments had a dishwasher, there was always a dish-drain rack.

Childhood memories bring a smile to my face, although I remember desperately wanting to live in “our own house.” When my wife, Rita, and I bought our first house, a tiny 955-square-foot fixer-upper, my first project was to install a dishwasher.

Receiving that rack in the mail this week, wiping it down with Lysol and placing it on the counter, I thought, “Well, everything goes full circle in life. Here I am, back in the Bronx.”


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