Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, March 5, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 13

OPINION Mountain View News Saturday, February 19, 2022 13 OPINION Mountain View News Saturday, February 19, 2022 13 




Susan Henderson 


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello 


John Aveny 


Peter Lamendola 


Stuart Tolchin 
Audrey SwansonMeghan MalooleyMary Lou CaldwellKevin McGuire 
Chris Leclerc 
Bob Eklund 
Howard HaysPaul CarpenterKim Clymer-KelleyChristopher NyergesPeter Dills 
Rich Johnson 
Lori Ann Harris 
Rev. James SnyderKatie HopkinsDeanne Davis 
Despina ArouzmanJeff Brown 
Marc Garlett 
Keely TotenDan Golden 
Rebecca WrightHail Hamilton 
Joan Schmidt 
LaQuetta Shamblee 

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Please read this 

article while 

you are aware 

of the tumbling 

statues and re

quired name 

changes of for

mally honored 


who are today 

viewed very 

differently. My 
name is Stuart Tolchin and my father who I 
knew as Al Tolchin was born in 1910 in what 
was then Soviet Russia. My father had three 
older siblings that all lived in a village called 
Kabany which is about 75 miles Northeast of 
Kiev and is situated slightly east of the Pripet 
marshes which are adjacent to the Chernobyl 
Nuclear plant.

Russia’s bombing of the present largest 
nuclear power plant in Europe has brought 
the April 26t h 1986 Chernobyl disaster back 
into the news. By 1986 I recognized some 
personal connection to the Ukraine. Up until 
1970 I knew very little about the area within 
which my father lived with his family. I asked 
him if we were Russian or Ukrainian and he 
gave me one of those “How can you be so stupid 
looks” and said that “We are Jewish” implying 
that that was enough for me to know. I 
guess it is although, I am completely separate 
from all Jewish traditions I do take pride and 
recognize Ukrainian Jews like Irving Berlin 
who was born in the same place as my father. 
Irving Berlin actually wrote “White Christmas” 
and “God Bless America”. 

Until 1970 I knew very little about 
the Ukraine. This changed on June 14, 1970 
when I was married to Joanne Susan Bodin. 
Right after the ceremony a man came up behind 
my father and squeezed his arm, calling 
him Avram. My father, who had been without 
vision for about fifteen years, said “Who is 
there. I have not been called by that name in 
forty Years”. The man was my new wife’s Uncle 
Irving married to her father’s sister. Over 
the years I learned the history of my family 
from this man. Amazingly it turned out that 
he had lived in the exact same village as my 
father and his family. Irving’s family had immigrated 
to America and soon after my own 
grandfather came to live with them.

I had seen my grandfather only twice. 
Two separated times when he had walked up 
the fire escape to our third or fourth floor 
apartment and attempted to talk through the 
window to me. I was only about six or seven 
but I remember the old man asking in Yiddish 
if I needed more. My father heard him 
and came into the room and pulled down 
the window shade. I really never understood 
much about what was happening but I understood 
my father did not like his own father. 

My first questions to Irving were 
questions about my grandfather and why 
my father didn’t like him. Briefly Irving explained 
that in the old country people has arranged 
marriages. My grandfather was a very 
intelligent man; (after all his grandchildren 
are all Doctors and lawyers and Ph.D.’s and 

the grand children are even smarter). The 
marriage between my grandparents did not 
work because although everyone could tell 
my grandfather was intelligent he had been 
paired up with this woman who simply was 
not very bright. What was the reason for this 
arrangement I asked and Irving explained 
that my grandmother's side of the family was 
related to the Kaganovich family who were 
very impressive. In fact later the name of the 
town was changed to Kaganovich honoring 
Lazar Kaganovich who was the only Jew in 
the Soviet hierarchy and was very important.

So, what did this have to do with my 
family? Irving knew that when my grandmother 
and her four kids finally arrived in 
Chicago he was very disapproving of them. 
He wanted the boys to play violins and they 
just wanted to run around and ride bicycles. 
He had even used a belt to discipline the 
youngest boy, my father and my father still 
carried scars. Now I understood a little more 
and I was proud of my connection with Lazar 
Kaganovich, the Jewish Ukrainian hero. 
In the early 1970’s my wife and I visited the 
grounds of the Dumbarton Oaks conference 
which had been meetings between the four 
allied victors of the war which was committed 
to the establishment of institutions to bring 
about a future peaceful world and to protect 
the rights of individuals. The United Nations 
and the International Monetary Fund are direct 
results of this conference and Lazar Kaganovich 
was there as one of the representatives 
of the Soviet Union. Hooray for Lazar a 
representative, I thought of my own non-violent 
values. Alas, sometime later, probably in 
the early 1990’s I decided to do some research 
about this hero of mine. I found a book written 
by STUART (yes that’s right) Kahan, his 
nephew that included amazing assertions. 
Kahan asserted that Stalin’s third wife was 
Kaganovich’s sister which might make her a 
distant relative. 

Alas’ I read the book and learned that 
Lazar Kaganovich was undisputedly a terrible 
monster. He was known as the “Architect of 
Fear” terribly anti-Semitic and responsible for 
the death of millions. So much for my hero. 
Moving now to our present hero Zelensky, I 
am very troubled by his requirement that all 
men between the ages of 18 and 60 be conscripted 
into the army. I gather these men 
and women are all provided with guns and 
instructed to engage the Russian troops in 
battle. Of course, these Russian troops have 
been described as teenagers who don’t even 
know where they are or why they are there. 
The possible future results, arming an entire 
population and conscripting them into the 
army can quite possibly lead to horrifying results. 
There are more than enough guns in 
the world already.

Let me make one final point. Prior 
to writing this last draft I spoke with my-ex 
wife JoAnne Susan who informed me that she 
had been given the initials J.S. because at that 
time, in the early 1940’s Josef Stalin (initials 
JS) was the absolute hero of their time Need I 
say more. Times change and there are amazing 



During World War II, Americans put up with rationed gas and car tires, 
ra-tioned coal and fuel oil, rationed silk and nylon, rationed meat and 
daily products, rationed jams and jellies, even rationed coffee. 

Would today’s Americans – some of whom freaked out, during the worst 
of the pandemic, when they couldn’t get their hair done – be willing 
to endure even a minuscule fraction of the sacrifices that our forebears 
weathered 80 years ago? I’ll answer my own question with a question: 
Can you imagine what would happen if coffee were rationed, and people 

could no longer order their favorite cafe lattes? 

I pondered all that while watching President Biden deliver his State of the Union speech. He 
vowed on our behalf, and for the preeminent cause of democracy, to stick it to the murderous 
Russian thug for as long as it takes. Ukraine is fighting for its life on the front line of 
freedom, and, as our commander in chief said, we need to show our “resolve.” 

He stressed that word many 

We meet tonight as Americans, 
“with an unwavering resolve that 
freedom will always triumph 
over tyranny.” And “American 
resolve matters.” And “(Putin) 
will never weaken the resolve of 
the free world.” And this: “Now is 
the hour. Our moment of responsibility. 
Our test of resolve and 
con-science, of history itself.” 

We’ll see if his fellow citizens are 
willing to pass that test, because 
it would appear that most are not 
willing to follow his lead. Only 37 

percent say he’s doing a good job (which seems insanely low, given the 65 percent fully-
vaccinated rate and the four percent unemployment rate and the six million new jobs and 
the signing of his historic infrastructure repair law – but hey, what do I know). 

People are “tired, frustrated, and exhausted” (Biden’s words) after two years of lockdowns 
and masks, inflation has spiked, and now they’re being asked to hunker down a bit for more 
sacrifice, on behalf of a country that millions couldn’t locate on a map unless their hands 
were duct-taped to the correct coordinates. 

This is especially true among younger Americans – who, by the luck of birth, did not experience 
the Cold War and barely know what it was. Ac-cording to a new ABC News-Washington 
Post poll, only 35 percent of those aged 18 to 39 would still support sanctioning Russia 
if it resulted in higher energy prices at home. Indeed, only half of all Americans would still 
be on board. It just so happens that in our interconnected world, Rus-sia is the third biggest 
producer of crude oil. And, politically speaking, woe to any president who makes it more 
costly to fill the sainted internal combustion engine. 

Biden is releasing 30 million barrels from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve to “help blunt 
gas prices here at home,” as permitted under federal law (a 30-million barrel release can be 
ordered in the event of “a domestic or in-ternational energy supply shortage of significant 
scope or duration.”) And yeah, that could help – maybe for a while. But mostly he tried to 
mollify Americans by doing his best impression of a kindly doctor who still makes house 
calls, dropping his voice to a reassuring semi-whisper while telling Americans, “We are going 
to be okay.” 

It was some consolation that Biden’s Ukraine remarks drew actual biparti-san applause. 
There is indeed a market for high principle, as former Re-publican pollster Matthew Dowd 
wrote: “In our country and in the world, the forces of autocracy are rising in the most significant 
way since World War II, and democracies are in danger of suffering tragic harms, if 
history is any predictor. This is why the fight in Ukraine is important to us all.” 

True that. For many Americans, particularly those born after the Cold War, the fight for 
freedom was an abstraction. Putin has made it very real.
So here’s a handy tip for any American who gets whiny about pain at the gas pump: Just be 
thankful you’re not huddled with your family in some basement while killers detonate thermobaric 
vacuum bombs that suck ox-ygen out of the air. That’s real pain. 

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in 
Residence at the University of Pennsylvania 

On The Lighter Side Of The News This Week: Kind of! 




The band I am proud to be a member of…JJ Jukebox, 
will be performing “Fun Rock” from the 60’s, 
70’s and 80’s next Saturday night, March 12 at Nano 
Café here in Sierra Madre. More information at the 
end of this column. 

Languages are not static parts of society and culture. 
They are fluid. Words come and go, find use 

and then are dropped as they become obsolete and 
vanish. I remember an opportunity to view an 1898 edition of Webster’s Dictionary 
(1898!). So, just for yucks I looked up the word “computer” to see if it 
was in our vernacular in the 19th century. And folks, it was!! Can you guess 
the definition of “computer” in 1898? Easy: “One who computes.” 

Some suggestions for additions to our language have crossed my desk and I 
thought I would in-clude them for your perusal. The ones we like we will try 
to include in the next edition of Web-ster’s. 

Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it 
was your money to begin with. 

Shindig, n. The dent you leave when you walk into a piece of furniture. 
Bozone, n. An invisible substance that surrounds stupid people stopping 
bright ideas from pene-trating. 

Cannibal, n. Someone who is fed up with people. 
Portly, n. A left handed person in the Navy. 
Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high. 
Improper, n. Someone who ropes imps. 
Inoculatte’: Taking coffee intravenously when you are running late. 
Pantry, n. A place where you put pants. 
Decaffalon, n. Getting through the day consuming only things that are good 

for you. 
Glibido: All talk and no action 
Dopeler Effect, The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they 

come at you quickly. 

Beelzebug, n. Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at 
3am and cannot be cast out. 
Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs. 
Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has 

Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach. 
Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk. 
Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp. 
Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash 
Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline. 
Testicle, n. A humorous question on an exam. 
Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms. 

JJ Jukeboxes concerts are always billed as a “IN BED BY 10 TOUR” concert, 
commencing from 6:30pm – 9:30pm. We’re anticipating a good turnout, so 
if you would like to come, call in a res-ervation (626) 325-3334. Nano Café is 
at 322 West Sierra Madre Blvd. (just east of the intersec-tion of Sierra Madre 
Blvd and Lima). Come for great cuisine and beverages…and fun music with 
plenty of mistakes guaranteed. 

Tonight (Saturday, March 5th) a wonderful singer, Cheryl Barnes is performing 
with her group at Nano’s. Come by for great dinner and great music. 

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