I have no recollection of the first time I step into Trafalgar Towers. Like the sunrise and sunset, this place is a constant in my life for as long as I have a memory. I don’t remember life without it.
Last month I spend a few days helping Uncle John and cousin Leah pack up Apt. #1408, the Hollywood, Fla condo that has been in our family since 1973. Grandpa Benny and Grandma Yetta discover this little piece of heaven from friends and neighbors in Brooklyn who begin spending winters in Florida. They initially rent in the tower sometime around 1970. This apartment, on a low floor, is small, overlooking the swimming pool but offering some nice views of the intercoastal waterway. They fall in love with the place. When #1408, with it’s grand view of the Atlantic Ocean comes up for sale, they grab it. History and everlasting memories are made.
The original furnishings that remain, now faded, and tattered, once glistened soft blues, yellow, and silver in their prime. Upon moving into #1408, Grandma wants everything “to match the ocean.” Hints of blue are found everywhere from the wall to wall carpet, to the dining room table and chairs and assorted knick knacks. Even the white poodle statue greeting guests by the living room door has a sky blue collar.
As Leah and I sift through boxes, the best of our “Hooray for Hollywood” memories of family gatherings, vacations, and Passover holidays come to life again. We’re crammed, six cousins in one bedroom for a sleepover, but we don’t mind. This is the life! We’re giggling in bed at night, staying up late to watch Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. And tomorrow we’re building sandcastles on the beach and collecting piles of seashell souvenirs.
It feels like yesterday and an eternity we were kids roaming the halls of Trafalgar Towers. Leah and I joke about the interrogations we endured from residents demanding to know “Who are you visiting?” “How long are you staying?” “Don’t forget to shower before you enter the pool!” “Don’t run in the hallways!” But as soon as we tell these crazy, fun-sucking people we’re Benny Sosne’s grandchildren, they back off. Even in Trafalgar Towers, Benny Sosne commands respect for his strong minded, no-nonsense character.
How many times, Leah and I wonder, did we sit on the balcony for the sunrise, or to watch for Grandpa return home from his many outings to Gulfstream Park, Publix supermarket, or synagogue. How many card games did we play in #1408? If the amount of playing cards we find is any indication, it was a lot. While we empty the kitchen cabinets of the pots and pans, I can still hear Grandma clattering around, cooking up her best dishes to feed our hungry stomachs.
After two days, we’ve emptied all the closets, the dresser drawers too. Every last item has been designated to the keep, donate to Haitians, or trash pile. It’s a lifetime, almost 50 years, in those piles. We sit on the balcony one last time, sipping our mimosas. It’s a sad day, recalling all of the Sosnes who enjoyed their days here in Hollywood and who are no longer with us. Uncle John says it best, “Despite it all, and because of it all, we had some great memories in this amazing place which will surely be with us until the end of our own days.” True, true.
Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for the best memories a grandchild could ever dream of. I love you and miss you.
Click HERE for the Hooray for Hollywood photo album.