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It's Passover!

Monday, March 29, 2010
Pictured above:  Box of Matzo crackers.  Matza (also Matzah, Matzoh, or Matsah) is a cracker-like unleavened bread made of white plain flour and water. It is similar in preparation to the Southwest Asian lavash and the Indian chapati.  Matza is also the substitute for bread during the Jewish holiday of Passover, when eating chametz—bread and leavened products—is not allowed.  [Source: Wiki] QUICK FACT:  My mother is a matzo cracker addict and definitely recognizes this box.
What Angelenos call the "Pico-Fairfax" area of Los Angeles is now referred to as Little Ethiopia, but when I was a kid, it was the Jewish neighborhood where I lived, grew up and even started pre-school.  In fact, the first song I ever learned from Mr.& Mrs.  Fine - owners of Kiddie Park Pre-School - is a song I still hum to myself from time to time: "I have a little dreydl, I made it out of clay, And when it’s dry and ready With my top I’ll play. Dreydl, dreydl, dreydl, I made it out of clay, O my little top, Now with you I will play. It has a lovely body With a leg so short and thin; And when it’s very tired It drops – and then I win!"  Even after all of these years, it never fails to make me smile when I hear that song.  My neighborhood bestfriends were sisters Tina and Susan Leisner and my best (ballet) friend was Leah Klein.  In fact, it was while visiting Leah's grandmother's house that I heard someone call me Shvartzer for the very first time.  Leah and I just shrugged our shoulders at the epithet and jeté-ed giggling down the street. 
Needless to say, I have a respect for Jewish tradition and culture (among others); so when I read Jodi Kantor's New York Times article about Passover Seder at the White House, I thought it was pretty cool that President Obama continues to show the world what I perceive to be his genuine interest in culture.  I imagine that some presidential critics might think the Obama Seder is strictly a political strategy, but I prefer to believe otherwise and opt instead to shrug my shoulders and jeté giggling down the street - before sundown, of course. ;-)


Mitsu Hadeishi on: April 30, 2012 at 11:16 PM said...

Hey. I was just thinking about Kiddie Park and Mr. and Mrs. Fine, and I decided for some reason to Google them and found your blog post. I have many vivid, fond memories of Kiddie Park. I don't know when you were there; when I was there Mr. Fine liked to occasionally come out and spray us all with water; he was fond of things like saying he was going to serve us "beer" and it turned out to be root beer, of course... and there was a rusted-out milk truck in the back, etc. I often wondered how long they kept that school going. It's strange to think that the school is gone now, and how many people will remember it? I think I might write a blog post about it myself, just so there's more Internet memory of that place.

Anonymous on: May 1, 2012 at 9:09 AM said...

Hi Mitsu,

I don't remember you, but I remember the milk truck! Tracey and I were best friends, and I am still friends with Linda Posnick.

Mr. Fine died of a heart attack the same day that my father died of the same. It was November 20, 1976.

My sister Susan and I visited Mrs. Fine in 2005. She had remarried and lived in a housing community in Sylmar, which was affected by the fires. However, she passed away before those fires, so I think around 2007.

Their daughter (and only child), Leah Wolf, is a Dean at Los Angeles City College. I taught part time there for a while and stopped in unannounced to see her one day. She almost cried when she realized who I was. She remembered my family and all the kids at Kiddie Park very well and with great affection.

It's a wonderful idea to commemorate The Fines and Kiddie Park. Before anyone was talking about "multiculturalism", the Fines, the teachers (most of whom were amazing black women), and the families were living it. I am sure that experience impacted us all in many powerful ways.

Maybe even a reunion?

Keep me posted.

Thanks Tracey for talking about it!

Mitsu Hadeishi on: May 1, 2012 at 4:49 PM said...

I was there from 67-69, or thereabouts; I can't say I kept in touch with anyone from those days, though I vividly remember having a crush on one of my classmates, though I never talked to her. I also ended up with a long-term affinity for Jewish culture, I think probably to a large extent due to my days there. After I left we visited the school a few times; they had built new playground equipment, it was considerably upgraded from what we had when I was there. Oh yes, I also really remember "red rice", a recipie which I made my mom make for me many times in later years. It would be interesting to try to track down other "alums" from that place and see what they're up to these days. I have a feeling Kiddie Park did have a big impact on a lot of people, a broadening impact.

I ended up going to Harvard, getting an undergrad degree in physics, and later doing computer stuff --- now I'm doing an Internet startup, as well as putting on art shows as a hobby. I'm more curious about what Kiddie Park alums have ended up doing than my Harvard classmates, however, quite frankly!

Adam Miller on: July 20, 2014 at 2:57 PM said...

I attended Mr. & Mrs. Fine's Kiddie Park in 1964-65. When I Googled them, I found Tracey's posting. I remember the milk truck and tricycles in the backyard. I remember eating grated carrot salad with a "pushers" (a small square of a slice bread). Driving through the Fairfax today, I can never figure out where the Kiddie Park was located. Anyone know the address? Thank you so much for sharing your memories of Mr. and Mrs. Fine's school.


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