Author of Prose and Poetry
Photo courtesy of Vicki Mazel
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
After having two sons, Ida and Frank
Schildkraut were delighted to have a daughter,
Victoria, to complete their family in
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Both parents were
born in America but were brought up in
Yiddish speaking households on Rivington
Street on the Lower East Side.
I started to read at an early age, and survived
my childhood in books for many hours. I went
to P.S. 247 on 21st Avenue, and my mother
walked me there until we reached a crossing
intersection with student traffic monitors. Little
did I know years later, I would marry one of
those sixth grade crossing guards. School was
the focus of my life, followed by afterschool
piano lessons, Hebrew school, and time for
stoop ball and jump rope.
WHAT WAS FAMILY LIFE LIKE?
Our family values dictated that college was
compulsory, regardless of gender. I dreamed
of becoming a writer or poet.
When World War II erupted, both my brothers
were drafted. My older brother was sent
to the Philippines and my younger brother
fought in the Battle of the Bulge. I never saw
him again, as he was killed in action. I was
eight-years-old, and for the first time, I knew
real sorrow. My mother was transformed into
a tragic figure; she became distracted and
depressed. The only place she functioned was
in the kitchen, where robotic instincts were all
she needed. A few years later, she developed
leukemia and became bedridden. Her caring
brother, Leonard, was a frequent visitor.
I discovered a picture of Uncle Lenny in the
New York Post, at the head of a column called,
“The Lions’ Den” by Leonard Lyons. He was a
successful newspaper man who had entre to
opening nights in the theater and movies, as
well as free meals in fancy restaurants, where
he reported on celebrities and their doings.
He and his wife, Sylvia, lived in a penthouse
apartment and we were always invited to
Seders and dinners. At one Passover in the
40’s, an unfamiliar guest turned out to be Marc
Chagall, whom my uncle befriended when the
artist fled Vichy France to live in New York.
Leonard’s mother, Brianna Harnick, had a
nephew, Sheldon, who went on to become
the lyricist of “Fiddler on the Roof” and other
Broadway shows. Years later, Jeffrey Lyons, the
TV movie critic, and Leonard’s son, together
with Sheldon Harnick, launched the Holocaust
Museum in Florida.
After my mother’s death, when I was
12-years-old, my father paid closer attention
to me, taking me to the theater (tickets courtesy
of Uncle Lenny) and restaurants, and always
monitoring my school work. I was at Seth Low
J.H.S. working on the yearbook and going to
summer camp where I discovered I could write
lyrics for all the Color War songs.
WHAT DID YOU DO AFTER HIGH SCHOOL?
When I graduated junior high school, my
father introduced me to a lovely woman
whom he ultimately married. He sold the
house in Bensonhurst and we set off for the
Sheepshead Bay area of Brooklyn, where we
moved into a newly-built apartment house. I
graduated James Madison High School and
attended Brandeis University, where I won the
distinction of winning a contest for writing the
school’s official song.
After college graduation, I returned to
Brooklyn and got a job in the advertising
industry on Madison Avenue. A male cousin of
mine became a dentist and his mother, my aunt,
met some of his friends at a party. Concerned I
was becoming a “career woman” at the age of
20, she approached one of the young dentists
and gave him the famous line, “Have I got a
girl for you.” The cute young dentist came over
to meet me, and after a two-week courtship,
we became engaged, and married soon after at
the St. Moritz Hotel in Manhattan. Our brief
honeymoon was spent in Manhattan courtesy
of Uncle Lenny.
WHERE DID YOU LIVE AFTER YOU
We took an apartment in Queens at Parkway
Village, originally built for UN personnel when
they were in Flushing Meadow. We raised our
family, two sons and a daughter, in a neighborhood
still rich with an international flavor.
The “UN kids” came from all over the world.
My husband became an orthodontist with a
practice on Madison Avenue and 60th Street.
Soon we were outgrowing the apartment, and
set out to buy a house. Our destination was
Once there, we began an active and busy life.
I became involved with the children’s schools
and edited a local newspaper. “ Verse by Vicki”
was one of the features. As a stay-at-home-mom,
I was able to devote my efforts to local politics,
took dance lessons, tried oil painting, which
segued to a small business called, “Antiques
Anonymous.” I sold many items to decorators
and friends. I also began performing rap for
family and friends at special occasions—I’ve
even performed rap on cruise ships.
WHAT’S LIFE LIKE AT NST?
When my husband passed away, one of my
sons encouraged me to sell the house in Great
Neck and move to NST. The house was on
the market for one day, and I took an apartment
the same day. I moved in five years ago
and soon got involved in many activities and
clubs. I’m a member of the Women’s Club
and write press releases and articles for both
NST newspapers. I do movie reviews and
lead discussions for residents in the movie
theater once a month. I’m on the Political
Action Committee and find all my volunteer
work to be rewarding. I also attend the PEIR
program at Hofstra, where my poetry has been
published many times. I’m the author of five
children’s books and in the process of writing
a collection of one-liners called, “Shakespeare
on Madison Avenue.”
Although, once a gourmet cook, I rarely
use my kitchen, and instead enjoy meeting
friends in the restaurants in the Arcade. Coffee,
Mazel and husband Allen
One of the most popular women in North
Shore Towers, Vicki Mazel, is a delightful
conversationalist who often while chatting
lapses into rap. Her friends say she thinks
in rhyme. Her poetic couplets range from
the wit of Dorothy Parker to urban rap, like
Eminem. Her boundless energy is directed
at her loving family and her many activities
at NST. In addition, she is a world traveler
on land as well as on luxury cruise ships.
4 NORTH SHORE TOWERS COURIER ¢ January 2019