Charles Lessing Polacheck, R.I.P.

by angeliska on February 29, 2012

Charles Lessing Polacheck, R.I.P.
born January 19th, 1914 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – died February 27th, 2012 in Austin, Texas
Charles Lessing Polacheck
How do I begin? How can I possibly encapsulate a life so broad, so full of incredible achievement,
tragedy, drama and joie de vivre? The scope and breadth of his life is too large for me to even attempt
to limn, in faint chicken-scratches, cobbled together from all the years of stories I wish I’d recorded –
though I did manage to get some of them… It’s just too much, and I’m overwhelmed by my grief at
knowing he’s gone, truly gone. I feel so small next to his memory, his legacy – I can’t manage it,
can’t do him justice with a ledger of dry facts and dates, people known and places lived, traveled to.
Charles Lessing Polacheck
How to tease out the fiber of his story, to draw out that cord that connected this blue star-eyed baby
to the man I only began to know when he was already old? I can only tell you what I know.
Grampa Baby
He told me once when I asked him what animal he would be, if he could be any at all, that he would be a dolphin.
He told me that his favorite color was heliotrope, but then changed his mind, and said it was really aquamarine.
Charles Lessing Polacheck
Charles Lessing Polacheck
Charles Lessing Polacheck
Hilda and her children
What if instead I tell the story of how when he was little, his nickname was Pips, which stood for
“Pig-Iron Pete”, a character from a Unionist play his mother Hilda wrote – and that people also
called him Chas, and Polly – for Polacheck, but that later in life, everyone who knew him well
called him Charlie. To me, he was always Grampa. To my littlest cousins, he was Baba.
William and Hilda
William and Hilda, my great-grandparents.
When William and Hilda were courting, he would recite
“The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, by W.B. Yeats to her.
Or what if I tell about how Carl Sandburg, the beloved American poet and author of our family
favorite, “The Rootabaga Stories” was friends with my great-grandfather, who was also a poet, and Charlie
used to find him asleep on the sofa in the parlor. Once there was an assembly at the school, and Sandburg
came and read his stories. Those stories my great-grandfather read to my grandfather, my grandfather read
to father, and my father read to me. One day I’ll read them to my children too, I hope. Those tales, a golden thread.
Obituary for William Polacheck, my great-grandfather
William Polacheck, Charlie’s father committed suicide when my Grandfather was fourteen years old.
It was his second attempt to end his life. The first was foiled when Charlie, then twelve, found his father
suffocating on exhaust in the family car. Charlie dragged him out, and saved his life. A few years later,
William planned better, and there was no one around who could save him. It was this tragedy that shaped
who my grandfather would come to be: for half his life, an alcoholic who drowned his pain in drink,
an actor, a collector of masks. Charles didn’t learn to drive until he was forty years old, and moved to
Los Angeles, where not driving is an impossibility. He overcame his fear of automobiles, and after
many years of subjecting himself and his family to the vagaries of his alcoholism, he discovered
Alcoholics Anonymous. There is no doubt that this program saved his life, and my grandparent’s
marriage. Through AA, my Grampa came through the tempest of his anger, his loss, and the void
left by his father’s death, to become one of the most serene and wise sages I have ever known.
In 1978, he founded We Agnostics, one of the first AA meetings for atheists and agnostics in Los
Angeles, and helped hundreds of people by becoming their sponsor. Years later, he told me about
visiting his father’s grave, and how he had finally forgiven him for succumbing to his depression.
This past September, he celebrated his AA birthday, with 41 years of sobriety. Those two decades
will stand as a testament to his belief in a Higher Power as he understood it – “The total of all energy
in the universe.” My grandfather once told me that he was not a religious person, but that he was a
spiritual person. I thank him for showing me, and many others, the freedom of that distinction.
I hope to live by his tenets of “rigorous honesty, unconditional love, and consistent responsibility.”
Dena, Hilda and Charles
Dena (his little sister, and now, the only living sibling of four), with Hilda and Charles.
Charles Lessing Polacheck + Hilda Satt Polacheck
It’s crazy how much Charlie looks like my cousin Caleb here. It could be a photograph of him, instead.
Charles Lessing Polacheck + Hilda Satt Polacheck
Charles Lessing Polacheck
Wasn’t he the handsomest? Very dashing, indeed. This is my favorite picture of him.
Charles Lessing Polacheck
Charles and an old flame, Betty Newman
Charles and an old flame, Betty Newman.
“Under the lime tree
On the heather,
Where we had shared a place of rest,
Still you may find there,
Lovely together,
Flowers crushed and grass down-pressed.
Beside the forest in the vale,
Sweetly sang the nightingale.”

–Under the Lime Tree, Walther von der Vogelweide
Jean Celia Goldstick Polacheck
He and my grandmother Jean met when she came to take a photograph of his folk-singing band.
In that moment where she focused her lens on his face, the first green tendril of our family tree
unfurled. Jean’s father called him a “troubadour”, but they married anyway, in a traditional Jewish
ceremony. When the time came for the sheva brachos, the seven blessings said for the couple over
a glass of wine. The groom drinks, and then passes the glass to the bride – but Charlie gulped it all
down instead. Despite all the trials and tribulations his drinking brought to their marriage, they managed
to survive, and stay together until she died in 2003. I remember vividly him holding my hand, and reciting
to me Wilhelm Müller’s Der Lindenbaum, barely able to get the words out through his tears:
“At wellside, past the ramparts, 
there stands a linden tree. 
While sleeping in its shadow, 
sweet dreams it sent to me.
And in its bark I chiseled 
my messages of love: 
My pleasures and my sorrows 
were welcomed from above.
Today I had to pass it, 
well in the depth of night – 
and still, in all the darkness, 
my eyes closed to its sight.
Its branches bent and rustled, 
as if they called to me: 
Come here, come here, companion, 
your haven I shall be!
The icy winds were blowing, 
straight in my face they ground. 
The hat tore off my forehead. 
I did not turn around.
Away I walked for hours 
whence stands the linden tree, 
and still I hear it whisp’ring: 
You’ll find your peace with me!”

I know he is now under his Linden Tree, with Jean.
Charles Lessing Polacheck in the New York Times
He made it into the New York Times, as an actor playing an actor in Elmer Rice’s “Two on an Island” – I think it was while working on this play that he had the opportunity to meet one of his heroes, Kurt Weill. He attended the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago, and was a member of the agit-prop Repertory Theater Group in Chicago with Studs Terkel and Lou Gilbert. He and Studs remained friends until Studs died in 2008.
Charles Lessing Polacheck
Charles was a folk-singer, and member of “The Detroit Almanac Singers” — the road company of the Pete Seeger’s original Almanac Singers, with Baldwin “Butch” Hawes and  Bess Lomax Hawes and Cisco Houston. Pete and Woody Guthrie once helped Charlie move, back when he and Jean were living in Greenwich Village. “As their name indicated, The Almanac singers specialized in topical songs, mostly songs advocating an anti-war, anti-racism and pro-union philosophy. They were part of the Popular Front, an alliance of liberals and leftists, including the Communist Party USA (whose slogan, under their leader Earl Browder, was “Communism is twentieth century Americanism”), who had vowed to put aside their differences in order to fight fascism and promote racial and religious inclusiveness and workers’ rights. The Almanac Singers felt strongly that songs could help achieve these goals.” I come from a long line of lefties and political activists!
Charles Lessing Polacheck
My Grampa was a voracious reader of everything: history, science, fiction, mysteries, crime noir, and erotica. He subscribed to the New Yorker, Discover, Scientific American, and The Sunday Times – and he always did his crossword with a pen. It was so strange when he lost interest in reading, in the last year of his life. It had always been such a big part of who he was. I remember clearly the moment when I was old enough to appreciate the variety of his literary tastes – I would spend hours combing his shelves, and exclaiming with delight over what I found there. So many interesting books. I asked him once if I could borrow a paperback copy of Hubert Selby, Jr.’s Last Exit to Brooklyn, and he mentioned offhandedly that “Cubby” was an old pal of his. He was constantly popping out with tidbits like this, as if it were no big deal that he had known various luminaries like Weegee and Stieglitz, over the years.
Grampa giving my father David his first haircut
Grampa giving my father David his first haircut.
Charles Lessing Polacheck + his son, David
Charles + David
My Grampa also worked for CBS, NBC and DuMont, as television director and producer, and he directed, produced and translated the first televised operas for The Voice of Firestone, including productions of The Magic Flute, Salome, and Kurt Weill’s Down in the Valley. He was a pioneer in the early days of television, and had many stories about pissing off Arturo Toscanini, Louis Armstrong, and W.H. Auden, among many others. He was an early champion of Leontyne Price and Sal Mineo. During his work on Captain Video, one of the first science fiction television shows, he inadvertently became inventor of the opticon scillometer, an electronic telescope that could see around corners, which he constructed from a spark plug, a rear-view mirror, an ash tray and some wires and a bent pipe from a vacuum cleaner attachment, because DuMont had no prop department!
Do all these things make up a life? Do they paint a picture of who a person was from, birth to death?
There are no neat bookends here, from this date to that date: there are only the stories, the memories, the love. How can I neatly tie a knot in that golden thread, bite the end off in my teeth? I can’t. It’s not mine to do, but instead I can tell you all the things that amazed me about him, that made me love and admire him so much.
Or, what if I tell you about all the things that made him happy?
He loved music, especially opera: his favorite was Gianni Schicchi.
He loved this aria — he said he considered it one of the most beautiful,
if not the most beautiful, in the repertoire:
Pisen Rusalky O Mesiku (Song of the Moon) – Rusalka’s aria from Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka
O moon high up in the deep, deep sky,
Your light sees far away regions,
You travel round the wide,
Wide world peering into human dwellings
O, moon, stand still for a moment,
Tell me, ah, tell me where is my beloved!
Tell him, please, silvery moon in the sky,
That I am hugging him firmly,
That he should for at least a while
Remember me in his dreams!
Light up his far away place,
Tell him, ah, tell him who is here waiting!
If he is dreaming about me,
May this remembrance waken him!
O, moon, don’t disappear, disappear!

He liked sweets: cookies, pastries and candy.
His favorite cake was Hungarian Dobos torte.
He took his coffee black, and he drank lots of it.
He used to go get a hot fudge sundae every weekend.
He loved pantomime and Commedia dell’Arte.
He loved puppets and used to work in a marionette theater.
He was a magician, and a lifetime member of the Magic Castle.
He loved the circus, and used to have circus posters hanging in his bathroom.
He always smelled good: he wore Crabtree + Evelyn’s Mysore Sandalwood,
Tilleul, 4711 Kölnisch Wasser, and Zizanie, by Fragonard.
Back when he drank, he liked Akvavit and Cherry Heering.
He loved to play chess and gin rummy, and almost always beat me.
He liked to watch Antiques Roadshow, and Jeopardy.
He loved dim sum, Chinese barbecue, and crab and asparagus soup.
He was an excellent cook. I’ll forever miss his latkes and his buckwheat pancakes.
He loved to travel all over the world, with my grandmother, and with me.
He loved the grotesque in art, but not the morbid.
So he probably wouldn’t approve of this photograph.

I’m grateful for it, though. Grateful to see his strong hands at peace, at rest.
Grateful to know that he’s no longer uncomfortable, frustrated, or sad.
Grateful for the time we were able to have sitting with him, with his body.
It’s a long hard road I’m walking to get closer to accepting his loss with grace.
I was afraid to go and see him like this, but now I’m so relieved that I was able
to, to have that vigil until the Neptune Society came to take him away. I’ve long
thought those rituals were important, but I never really knew until I saw for myself.
It looked like him, felt like him – but he wasn’t there anymore. He wasn’t there at all.
He is gone. The body is only a shell, and all the things that made him who he was
have flown on beyond. Touching his hand, knowing he can never hold mine again.
Everyone is telling me that he’ll be with me always, and I hope that in some way, that
can be true, because I don’t know what I’ll do without him. He was my favorite person
in the world, and I know how lucky we were to be blessed with such a close bond.
I don’t know how to stop writing about him, so maybe I’ll just stop for today. I still have
so many stories about our adventures to share, and more photographs from his life.
In more ways than one, my grandfather has made me the person I am today.
He always encouraged me to pursue my dreams, and told me,
“You should be a writer. You should write books.”
When I asked him once what he thought of my writing,
he said, “It’s like dragons and turtledoves.”
The grape-lilac scent of mountain laurel blows in the open windows.
It’s a windy spring day, and the birds are making a joyful chorus.
I feel him in that wind, and hear his voice. He shared this with me
years ago, and luckily I had the presence of mind to scrawl it down:
In the midst of a meadow - a skylark singing - free from everything. - My Grampa's favorite haiku. Charles Lessing Polacheck - January 19th, 1914 - February 27th, 2012
In the midst of a meadow
a skylark singing
free from everything.
– My Grampa’s favorite haiku.
Charles Lessing Polacheck
January 19th, 1914 – February 27th, 2012


this is a beautiful tribute to your grampa!

by claude on February 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm. Reply #

dropping a few tears in brooklyn for Charlie. What a fascinating fellow and a gallant Grampa. It’s remarkable to see traces of his shining eyes and also of your grandma in your own face. And to have all the lore. Weather this well, my friend.

by alita on February 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm. Reply #

This is a beautiful tribute. Love to you.

by Stephanie on February 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm. Reply #

Fuck the NEW YORK TIMES, Angel. This is remarkable. he would be so proud. Thank you from the bottom of my tear-stained face and heartfelt heart. I love you.

by Jennifer Sheridan on February 29, 2012 at 5:35 pm. Reply #

This was a very beautiful read and I am extremely sorry about your loss. I enjoyed all the photographs especially the one of him and Betty, he was rather dashing.
I though, know how you feel, my grandfather passed away a few years ago. I can still remember, when I was really young, he always smelled like pomade, liquor and the rose scented rosary he wore around his neck.
A few weeks before he passed away, he sat me down for coffee and Pan Dulce, He held my hand cross the table and lovingly touched the spots on my skin *He and I are the only two people in the family that have Vitiligo* And said “You know Mija, These spots, they always have looked more beautiful and exotic on you, than they ever did on me, you are amazing.”
This is something that I still remember, as not only was it one of the last conversations we ever had, but it meant to much to me, since my Vitiligo caused me much distress when I was in my early teens.
I love you Grandpa Jesus.
I am sending loving thoughts to you and your family in this time of grief.

by Celery on February 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm. Reply #

What a wonderful, fascinating man. Thanks for telling us about him and sharing so many wonderful pictures of him. I know someone who was very glad to find We Atheists and probably knew your grandfather.
(I came her from LiveJournal.)

by Lizzie on February 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm. Reply #

I am sorry for your loss. Your grandfather is someone I would have loved to know, and you were truly most fortunate to have this amazing and handsome man in your life.

by Margaret on February 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm. Reply #

Thank you for sharing him. His was a truly remarkable generation, for so much more than the much vaunted WWII association. Sadly, our children will only know them through our stories and our example. You have done your part well.

by Vida-friend of April on February 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm. Reply #

Ohhhh, Grandpa Charlie! You were as beautiful in youth as you were in old age, and I am honored to have known you.
Angel, I love you so much, and this is so so lovely. You could tell he was ENAMORED with you, & you made his life so good.

by tamera jane on February 29, 2012 at 6:59 pm. Reply #

Yes! Dragons and turtledoves! It’s TRUE.
Love you, sweet Angel. Love, love, love. And I’m so honored that I got to spend a little time with Charlie.
Thinking of you all the time.

by Mer on February 29, 2012 at 7:21 pm. Reply #

What an amazing life, and such a worthy tribute. Thank you for sharing him with us; I understand so much better now, how you came to be You.

by Jane Clarke on February 29, 2012 at 8:08 pm. Reply #

Thank you so much for sharing with us. I love you, and Grandpa Charlie although I’ve never had the good fortune of being graced with his presence. What a remarkable man who in turn played a part in helping you become the remarkable woman you are. I’ve said before that your writing has a lot of power and beauty. It’s true. The stories and images you share at times has the power to break hearts, to provide a balm to spirits, to inspire. Your grandpa saw that gift in you.

by April Violet on February 29, 2012 at 8:30 pm. Reply #

Your grandpa lived a thousand lives and raised a family with love, wit, and an overabundance of culture. Reading your eulogy has made me cry a bit but it has also made me happy seeing that a life can be so meaningful, so expressive, so appreciative – an adventure to be sure. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your memories and your loss.
With love,

by Jeffrey Wengrofsky on February 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm. Reply #

What an amazing and poignant story you have told to honor you Grandfather.Frankly I have never read a eulogy which tells such a GREAT STORY of “Life”. The pictures are so beautiful and tell another beautiful story in itself. Thank you so much for sharing his story and your memories.
“When he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars and he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.”
William Shakespeare
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your entire Family.
Sincerely, Fran Estrada ( First Cousin to Karen )

by Fran Estrada on February 29, 2012 at 9:16 pm. Reply #

Ohhhh Angel: this is such a beautiful tribute to your Grampa, and made me think of my Grandpa, who I lost way back in 1994. I, too, loved and adored my Grandpa and knew that adoration was justified because of the amazing person that he was. Thank you for sharing all of these stories of your Grampa, and bringing back memories of mine to me, late at night tonight. Love you so much and I will see you soon…….Love, P

by Patience on February 29, 2012 at 9:26 pm. Reply #

Angel – I am overwhelmed with the beauty of your writing about your grandfather! There are layers and layers of beauty and I will be re-reading it. I am good friends with your father and Karen, and I met Charlie once. It is good to read about that Golden Thread that connects you through your dad to him. You and he had a rich history together, a deep and abiding bond, and death has no power to break it. ELKA

by Elka LeFevre on February 29, 2012 at 9:42 pm. Reply #

Oh, Angel, thoughts for you and Grampa. So blessed to have spent an afternoon rambling through the redwoods and speaking of books. It’s one of those crystal clear memories for me, the kind you’re sure you have because something in you brain whispers, “this will be important, so remember.” I’ve told this part dozens of times: We were walking (and wheeling!) through Muir woods, and you found a great hollowed out stump. “Grampa,” you exclaimed, “can we move into this tree trunk?” Grampa, without missing a beat, “yes, and we will sleep on beds of pine needles and drink our tea out of acorn cups!” I remember thinking: what luck. What luck these two have each other. Thinking of you both.

by Melissa on February 29, 2012 at 9:51 pm. Reply #

My dearest cousin, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your tribute to your Grandpa was beautiful; well-said. Bless him as he transitions into his new journey, and bless you as you love him and grieve.

by Donna Bergren on February 29, 2012 at 10:28 pm. Reply #

I am glad I got to meet him one sticky summer afternoon at Spiderhouse. We played cards (what was that curious deck?) and sat outside. Must have been in 2004… he was a dear.

by charity on February 29, 2012 at 11:28 pm. Reply #

Tears fill in for the words I can’t find to describe how and where this touches me. You have a way of holding a magnifying glass to love. The bond you two shared has created a chain reaction which will continue far beyond the end of your days. Bless you and your family. I lost my own grandfather this fall, and his first birthday on the other side was the day after your grandfather took flight. Thank you for opening a window into all of our hearts.

by Seed on March 1, 2012 at 12:34 am. Reply #

I only knew Charlie as a member of the Fellowship to which we both belonged. Your writings have helped me to know him, at least a little, as a human being. Thank you for that…..CR

by Clint Ritter on March 1, 2012 at 3:41 am. Reply #

He is shining through you. Such a grand testament. Thank you for sharing this with us.

by Mary Botkin on March 1, 2012 at 6:44 am. Reply #

I dream about my father regularly. I’ve dreamed of him on Easter morning, on the equinox, the first Sunday in advent. And it doesn’t matter to me whether it’s “really” him or my heart throwing out a little lifeline: I treasure those conversations.
I hope you will find a similar comforting way to continue your relationship with your grampa. What a wonderful soul.

by Virginia on March 1, 2012 at 7:30 am. Reply #

this made me cry.

by Nica on March 1, 2012 at 12:21 pm. Reply #

this made me cry, too. such a beautiful tribute to an amazing man. thank you for sharing it with us all.

by lau on March 1, 2012 at 3:26 pm. Reply #

The ones we love live in our heads and hearts until we finally join with them forever. I truly believe this with my whole heart.

by Lin on March 1, 2012 at 10:18 pm. Reply #

I am sorry for your loss, but I am so glad to hear such a person has ever lived. Just reading your account of his life has impressed upon me the desire to be more. Thank you for sharing.

by Gabriel on March 2, 2012 at 7:04 pm. Reply #

I never had the pleasure of meeting Charlie, but many who knew him have shared so deeply their great respect of him that tonight when I heard of his passing, I was brought to tears. Getting to read your personal stories has given me a greater insight to a man who started a wondrous momentum here in L.A., one that is the most accepting and warm fellowship I could never have known if it weren’t for him. He is missed but will not be forgotten.

by Pam on March 3, 2012 at 1:17 am. Reply #

Dear Angeliska,
While it might be impossible to sum up a person’s entire life, I think you’ve achieved the impossible. This is such a heartbreakingly beautiful, “pure of heart” tribute to your grandfather, and to echo the previous well-wishers, Charlie will always be with you. Your grandfather was an extraordinary individual, and I’m sure he was so proud to have such an extraordinary granddaughter as part of his legacy.

by Kylie Cumming on March 7, 2012 at 9:00 pm. Reply #

He was Grampa to many. Only a few lucky ones could claim the officaial title. He was a man of few words, but they were precious. Thank you for sharing a part of him with us.

by Jerry Buchanan on March 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm. Reply #

You were lucky to have had him in your life. I loved the old post about you and him in Europe or Poland? and you pushing him up a hill in his wheel chair. What a cool relationship you two had. Two creative spirits.

by SimpleSue on March 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm. Reply #

Dear Cousin,
I am like sisters with your cousin Barbara Young…I want you to know that my Grampa was for me what yours was for you and I am crying with love for you and your love for him…I hug you. He will be with you always…Mine left the planet in 1984 and I still talk to him all the time…

by Nora Roman on March 20, 2012 at 10:18 am. Reply #

My daughter and I enjoyed your tribute to your grampa. Your grampa is my daughters great uncle. We have enjoyed the stories of him shared by her father, William Polacheck. Sorry for your great loss. Judy & Curstynn

by Judy Marks on April 22, 2012 at 9:04 pm. Reply #

Thank you so much for this tribute. I was privileged to know your grandpa for 24 years. His loving kindness saved my life, like so many others. And he made me laugh again. A great gift from the sum total of all the energy in the universe, now reintegrated with the whole.

by Sherril Nell Babcock-Wells on April 23, 2012 at 9:14 am. Reply #

Thank you for the fine tribute. I enjoyed reading about my Uncle Charles and the full life that he lived.

by William Polacheck on July 4, 2012 at 12:24 pm. Reply #

I teach American history at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO. Each year, we have the students in our survey course read “I Came A Stranger.” Your tribute to your grandfather will add immeasurably to our understanding of some remarkable people. I am deeply sorry for your loss.

by Steve Gietschier on October 17, 2012 at 6:51 am. Reply #

Hi Angeliska,
Guess what? We must be cousins because Hilda Satt Polacheck was my great aunt. I’ve often visited with her daughters my cousins Jesse and Dena. Also I read Hilda’s book, I came a stranger, the story of a Hull House girl. I remember her from when I was little. Thanks!

by Annabelle Echo on October 23, 2012 at 11:38 am. Reply #

Lovely tribute. I am currently reading Hilda’s book “I Come a Stranger: The Story of a Hull-House Girl.” An amazing and lovely family story.

by Kathy H. on December 30, 2012 at 10:57 am. Reply #

Hi Angeliska,
I am your father’s cousin. Your grandma Jean was my aunt Jean, my father’s oldest sister. And I knew your grandfather as Polly, or uncle Charles. Growing up in Detroit, we weren’t so close with your family, but I do remember visits over the years. Like your grandpa, dad & uncles, I’m also a musician (violin, viola & fiddle).
My last visit with Polly & Jean was especially enjoyable. I was traveling to LA on business in 1997 and arranged to arrive early so I could visit them at their house on a Sunday afternoon. I enjoyed our delightful time together – pizza & talking about music, life, and our families – I had 2 children of my own by then. Jean was suffering from recurrent pain from her polio at this time.
Thank you for your tribute & good luck to you.
your “cousin”, Donn Goldstick

by Donn Goldstick on January 10, 2013 at 12:08 am. Reply #

Charlie was a wise, and although a bit gruff, a funny guy. He had a way about distilling ideas down to their essence. He liked… Bach. He helped me out and I love him.

by Doren Garcia on March 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm. Reply #

Those who did not have the honor of talking with him, missed out on a very special experience. He will be missed. Thank you for this memorial.

by Charlene on December 14, 2013 at 11:21 pm. Reply #

I did not know Charlie well in LA in the 1980s, but my beloved friend, Debra, and I still repeat some of his sage lines with laughter such as “MYOB” or “mind your own business” and “If your spouse says the moon is made of bleu cheese simply say, ‘It very well may be.'” When asked how he had remained married for so many decades, was there a secret to be garnered, how did he do it? He said, “I let my spouse do whatever she wants and she the same for me.”
Here’s to you, Charlie! Wherever you are I know it’s good.

by elizabeth barraclough on January 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm. Reply #

Met my sponsor Charlie in We Agnostics group in L.A. He was a living Mitzvah, a real Blessing. Will love and bless his memory forever.

by RICHARD NAGLE on May 3, 2014 at 3:21 pm. Reply #

Angeliska, Charlie was Jewish thru & thru and Agnostic thru & thru, so the Vatican won’t canonize him any time soon. But to me he will always be SAINT CHARLIE, Savior to so many of us at Hollywood We Ags AA. God bless and keep him.

by RICHARD NAGLE on November 29, 2014 at 5:13 pm. Reply #

Hi, Angeliska, we must be cousins; Jean was my first cousin. I remember being about 4 years old and visiting her and Polly in a walk up, cold water flat in New York, and knowing that he was a folk musician. We lived in Detroit so saw them seldom. This is a wonderful biography and tribute; I am so glad I chanced upon it! I would never have known so much about him.

by Mary (Rapaport) Phillpotts on January 19, 2016 at 5:59 pm. Reply #

– superatheist ‘SAINT CHARLIE, Savior to so many of us at Hollywood We Ags AA’ – right, Charlie really helped me in 1981/82/83 and still remember him with love and gratitude for helping me get 35 years – english Jim

by cjfitzjames on September 29, 2016 at 9:45 am. Reply #

I’m researching the Almanacs in New York, 1940-42.
Can you tell me when (exact dates) your grandmother, Jean Polachek, was involved with them?
I know she sang. But do you know whether she played the banjo?
When did she and your grandfather Charley meet, and what date did they marry?
Many many thanks for any help you can provide.
Or if you can give me the email of anyone who might know.

by Shelagh Weir on February 26, 2017 at 11:27 am. Reply #

When you see my family name you probably guess that, in a way, I’m a far uncle of yours. You are seventh generation of Jacob Satt and his first wife – Gittel, while I am the fifth generation of that Jacob and his second wife – Friedl Henka who lived in the vicinity of Lodz, Poland in the early 19th century.
I am 78 years old, live in Kibbutz Gadot, Israel. Today I worked on the family tree of your G. grand parents Wiliam & Hinda (I ordered her book), when I found this enchanting page in your book. Thank you.
If you are ready to assist me to collect the details about your family I’ll be grateful. You have my E-Mail here .
Eli Sat (I’m writing it with one “T”).

by Eli Sat on July 25, 2017 at 7:02 am. Reply #

Delighted to find your moving blog when searching for Jean and Charles Polachek.
I am writing a biography of someone who might have known and sung with them and the Almanacs in 1941-42. Her name then was Jean Rogovin (or Rogers when performing).
I would love more information about their time in NY and Detroit then, if you have it. I also need to distinguish your grandmother Jean from `my’ Jean in archived papers.
Do you have any samples of her handwriting and signature?
I’ll be in NYC 19-27 Oct. Many thanks for any help.

by Shelagh G Weir on October 8, 2017 at 6:07 am. Reply #

Forgot to ask, did Jean Polachek play the banjo?

by Shelagh G Weir on October 8, 2017 at 6:11 am. Reply #

Leave your comment


Required. Not published.

If you have one.