A Wealth of Dreams and Absolutely
due course, we faced our first logistic problem as to
where to house these, in some cases, disparate items,
and rented a loft above the Parkway Theater in Oakland.
The rent was seventy-five dollars a month, and the earliest
formulations of organizational structure were now in place.
(Since none of that interests me in the least, one would
have to look to Seymour for the specifics of the times
in this regard.) A new phase had begun, and now, merchants
began to supply our first "showcases" as they
renovated their shops. Amongst these, I remember the memorable
Harry Berger and Milen's Jewelers. Their cases, welcome
and vital as they were, were also equally large, and literally
choked the narrow corridor along which several rooms found
their entryway. We were "in business," and now,
hordes of children and adults, independently and collectively
flooded "the museum" on weekends. At last, the
Sunday schools had their first "major" outlet
for resources outside the framework of the curricula!
we stayed "at the Parkway" for about two years,
but, because all of us who were involved were such "millionaires,"
we had long ceased to be able to pay the rent; we had
"managed to acquire" months of arrears, the
weight of which was counter- balanced by the pressure
to make each visit of each person, child or not, as meaningful
as possible. So, you see, the teaching took place under
conditions of near-pandemonium, and, all the time, Seymour
and I were there. One Sunday, not unlike a host of Sundays
that preceded it, the landlord, Jesse Levin, came; the
nature of his visit was exclusively concerned with the
rent, or so he thought, but he never spoke to us that
day, and we never knew he had been there until he told
us so later on. He had burst in on a tumult of activity,
and had arrived at his own conclusions as to where the
moral obligations lay. In a discussion with Seymour, he
erased all that was owed, and allowed us to remain as
long as we chose, rent-free. His precise words were: "If
this is what you've been doing, this is the least I can
do." This act, and a myriad since, stays with me
as if indelibly imprinted onto mind. Jesse Levin's generosity
enabled us to not only remain another two or three years,
but also to consolidate our efforts so that we could chart
the next stages of development as we continued to render
was nothing rational about what we were doing in those
days; we had a wealth of dreams and absolutely no funds
apart from our salaries, but we pushed forward, confident
that reality would bend to our will. It had to. What had
begun spontaneously had taken on a form that, in turn,
informed us, and Seymour and I now gave rise to our own
private proverb: "Anyone can do it with money."
In this way, we were enabled to persevere in defiance
of all practical considerations. We were utterly mad,
you see, but we adhered to our madness with a passion.
If the Nazis with their considerable forces and empathizers
could do the unthinkable, we would do our part to push
the unseen barriers of the present into realizations of
the thinkable. In this, our determination never flagged.