If I could plot my maternal grandfather’s life on a graph, it would start with a steady rise in his teens, skyrocket in his early 20s and show an abrupt drop by age 30, which would be around 1950. Myron Moses, affectionately known to me as “Grandpa Mike,” had an abnormally bright future prior to the Second World War. At the age of 17, he co-wrote the lyrics to “Everything Happens to Me,” a song that was recorded by many of the biggest names of his era, including Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker. In college, Mike was a pitcher for New York University’s baseball team. By the end of World War II, he had risen to the rank of highly decorated captain, participated in the D-Day landing at Normandy and in the Battle of the Bulge, and had received numerous commendations and two Purple Hearts.
‘What a drag it is getting old,” I hear Mick Jagger croon distantly in the back of my head as I exit the R train at 67th Avenue in Forest Hills, Queens. Stepping out of the dank subway air, I look across Queens Boulevard and wonder whether I will ever return to this block again — not exactly one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in the city. I still feel a vague sense of nostalgia as I take in the remaining landmarks that harken back to working-middle class Jewish New York. Knish Nosh is still there. So is the bagel place on the corner of 66th Road.