BY PAUL NETTLER
Photos by Arnie Rabinowitz
It was a presentation which
mirrored life. Its happy times
and its tragic ones. There were
jokes and moments of tragedy.
Such was Jack Bilello’s presentation
to us on November 11. It was
obvious Jack thoroughly enjoyed
speaking to us. His topic was
“Italian and Jewish Americans in
Peace and War” and was an excellent
choice for Veterans Day. Jack
reminded us of many things. For
instance, FDR did not want the
world to know he was crippled,
Brandeis was the first Jew to serve
on the Supreme Court, contributions
Italians and Jews made to
the world of music and comedy
and Italian and Jewish gangsters.
Then there were things not so
well known. At one time, Italians
were held in contempt. Both Teddy
Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson
had nasty things to say about them.
Once Italy entered the war in 1941,
many Italians were rounded up and
placed in internment camps, much
like the Japanese on the West Coast.
Anti-Semitism was also as blatant
as it is today in some quarters. Jews
were actually lynched.
Jack also told us some apocryphal
stories. To wit: FDR was to
address Congress on December
8, 1941, and asked a state of war
be declared. There was concern of
how he would be transported, as
no one knew what might happen
next. There were few if any bulletproof
cars. Someone did remember
Al Capone had one such vehicle,
which had been confiscated when
he went to jail, and that’s how
the President was moved to the
On December 6, there was a
contest in Hawaii between the
several Navy Bands whose ships
were stationed there. The band
from the Arizona won the contest.
As a reward, the Captain allowed
them to sleep a half hour longer.
They all went down with the ship.
There was some pressure to move
the graves of American Jewish
soldiers to separate cemeteries
because the Star of David tombstones
disrupted the symmetry of
the gravestones. Those in charge
would not hear of it.
Jack’s presentation was peppered
with famous Italian and Jewish
names. I would be remiss in not
mentioning some of them: John
Garfield, Edward G. Robinson,
Dolph Camilli, Joe DiMaggio, Ruth
Bader Ginsberg, Arthur Goldberg,
Julia Child and Joe Berg to name a
few. I should also mention Jack’s
presentation was seasoned with
jokes, some produced groans and
some laughter. Lastly, on a more
somber note, Jack pointed out a
sobering statistic: War is for children.
The average age for soldiers
in WW2 was 17!
Our speaker on December 14,
Dr. Miranda Smith, is an expert in
the field of Physiatry, a medical sub
specialty which focuses on non-surgical
rehabilitation of such common
ailments as lower back pain.
Dr. Smith graduated Magna Cum
Laude from Macalester College,
with a degree in biology, and
received her medical degree from
New York Medical College. She is
board certified in Physical Medicine
and Rehabilitation (Physiatry) and
Pain Medicine, as well as in diagnostic
Dr. Smith has maintained a strong
interest in teaching and clinical
research. Her talk will focus on
the field of Physiatry. In addition,
she will discuss one of the most
common ailments she treats, low
back pain. Could she have a more
Our meeting of the Current
Events Group, which was attended
by 16 members, was a lively one to
the point some voices were raised
in anger, and not just about the
New York Giants football team.
This month, in place of Lee Hiller,
the meeting was chaired by Gary
Darche, who has an excellent
understanding of what is going
on in the world. He made sure
everyone had an opportunity to
express his opinions in a “fair and
balanced way,” many of which were
Naturally, the recent election,
both local and national, held
centerstage. Di Blasio’s landslide
victory was touched upon. Nobody
well known ran against him and
his feuding with Governor Cuomo,
who may have national aspirations,
was mentioned. Much time was
spent discussing how Trump won
and the Democrats lost the presidential
was one factor. The request for a
donation to Hillary’s campaign
which arrived after the election was
deemed inexcusable by the recipient.
One member pointed out when
he lived in a Democratic town, he
never got a knock on his door from
a Democratic worker. But when he
moved to a Republican area, he got
many visits from the Republican
workers. There’s an old saying,
“All politics is local.” Evidently the
Democrats ignored that.
In getting back to Trump, a straw
poll of those in attendance, 12 said
Trump would not be the nominee in
the next presidential election and 3
said he would. Much concern was
evident regarding how he is running
the country. For example, his relationship
with Putin, his diminishing
of the roll of the State Department,
the indictments and his seeming
envy of dictators. Does he want
to become a dictator? Judging by
the comments made at our meeting,
many members are very much
afraid that is his goal.
October’s gourmet delight was
a buffet lunch at La Baraka in
Little Neck. Its cuisine is French
Moroccan which added an international
“flavor” to our dining experience.
Some of the staff spoke with
French accents. Very sophisticated.
Nobody left hungry.
As of this writing, we now have
a total of 117 members, the most
we’ve ever had, and we expect
more shortly. We must be doing
something right. And among those
things are our weekly breakfasts at
Buffy’s every Tuesday, Wednesday
and Friday at 9:15 a.m., although
most members arrive earlier. They
don’t want to miss the latest gossip.
For new members especially, it’s
a terrific way to get to know one
And speaking of socializing,
there’s BINGO the last Sunday
of every month at 7:30 p.m. in the
large card room on the lower level.
It’s open to all, so bring a friend or
two. All are welcome.
If you want more information
about us, call our, President Arnie
Rabinowitz, at 516-317-6705 or our
Events Committee Chairman, Jerry
Siegel, at 347-235-4513.
If you would like to join our
club, please call our Membership
Chairman, Joe DiGiovanni, at
Jack Bilello Men’s Club reporter Paul Nettler
30 NORTH SHORE TOWERS COURIER ¢ December 2017