the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Childhood Clues to My Adult Personality

I was dependent on women from an early age.

This print has been hanging over our TV for decades.  I used to stare at this women for hours.  Since it was painted by Marc Chagall, I assume that this woman is supposed to be a Russian Jewish woman with dark hair and big, round breasts, probably very similar to that of… holy s**t!

WTF am I doing in this photo?

When Sophia first saw me trying to use a coupon at Olive Garden, she asked me, “Is your whole family so frugal?”  I told her that our couch was wrapped in plastic for decades (see the couch in the first photo), so today it is still in perfect condition.  The lamp is the original, too.   Does Architectural Digest ever make it to Queens?


  1. Keyruh

    THE Marc Chagall? Holy moly!

  2. miguelina

    I kinda love that lamp.

  3. Neil

    Keyruh — Don’t get too exciting. It is not the original. Every other Jewish household in Queens has some sort of Chagall in their home.

    Miguelina — Me too. I love that lamp.

  4. laurie ruettimann

    I had a therapist tell me that you don’t move forward if you’re always looking backward.

    I don’t know how that guy made any money.

  5. Dagny

    Thanks. I am now deeply disturbed by that third photo.

  6. Annie

    You made me laugh out loud-again :-).

  7. Christine

    You have your mom’s smile.

    That third photo…clearly Little You was setting Big You up. Now you must make the most of it. Do Little You proud.

  8. Judy

    This explains everything – and I mean everything.

  9. kristen

    Your mother photographed you with a plunger?

  10. Neil

    Kristen – I honestly don’t know what that is. I have a feeling it is some type of simple Playskool-type toy where you put circular wood disks on a wood stick.

  11. LVGurl

    Awe, Neil! That picture of you snuggling with your mom is really sweet! That’s not dependency… that’s a good little boy!

    Yeah, I thought that was a plunger, too.

    That living room is retro fantastic! It didn’t occur to me that it’s in original condition! What’s old is new…

  12. gorillabuns

    I love the living room. After having children, I now understand why one would have plastic on their furniture.

  13. holli

    I wish my mother would actually put plastic on her furniture to protect my Great Grandmother’s couch.

    These pictures were so sweet and silly.

  14. kanani

    Love, love, love the sofa. I cracked up when I saw the plastic covering in the first photo– I remember an aunt who had everything covered in plastic as well. In the summer we’d stick to it as we wore shorts. Did you also have …oh…darn… no you’re Jewish so you wouldn’t have had the Aluminum Xmas tree with the circulating lamp.

  15. Robb

    Loving the whole living room. My mom did the plastic thing for about a week one summer. Then she got a really bad sunburn and sat on the sofa. An hour later, off it came. All while she was shouting words that I once repeated, resulting in me snacking on a bar of Dial.

    Did your mom also have the plastic floor runners?

  16. angellee

    I think that couch could make it on to Apartment Therapy.

  17. Kathy

    WTF am I doing in this photo?

    I thought “Plunger?” too. Granted it’s really early in the morning and it almost made sense to me.

  18. SAJ

    That first photo melts me. The others I love too! I wish I grew up in such a groovy house!

  19. better safe than sorry

    you were a sweet little boy, so yeah, i kind of see where that went. i thought you were holding a plunger as well.

  20. Sheryl

    Look at that livingroom! It just goes to show if you keep something long enough it comes back in style. Very retro chic.

  21. brettdl

    My grandma had the SAME couch in plastic. When wearing shorts in the humid summer, we’d STICK to the thing, ripping off flesh — or so it seemed — when we got up.

    My grandma also loaded her purse with ketchup, mustard, sugar and salt packets whenever we went out to eat. “Never know when these will come in handy,” she used to say.

  22. V-Grrrl

    Therapy has been worth the money, Neil.

  23. Memarie Lane

    I wonder what my mom’s tambourine collection says about me?

  24. Avitable

    Did Sophia really make a “frugal” joke to a Jewish guy from New York?

  25. Lynda

    Not only do I see the couch in the first picture, I can see the plastic. lol.

  26. Finn

    You mother’s living room is like a time warp. Now I want a Manhattan and a cigarette.

  27. Nance

    Are those Cheez Doodles in the bowl on the table? Because if they are, then I am even more impressed.

  28. Neil

    Nance — Sorry, I haven’t eaten cheez doodles in years! They get all over your face. That is some design in the middle of the bowl that matches the couch.

    Do they still make cheez doodles? Now that is old school!

  29. Lady Jaye

    I totally want that lamp.

  30. Miss Britt

    That living room is consider the height of fashion now!

  31. Noelle

    I think that photo is a preview of the way you’re going to look when you’re an old man. Also, I love the way the couch fits right into the corner.

  32. mp

    NOW that couch is awesome.. If you asked me in 1984 I would have said something else.
    Ours was wrapped in plastic too, we’re Catholic. I think it’s the WWII generation

  33. By Jane

    The Ross’s across the street did the whole plastic thing. So did the Binstock’s and they added plastic runners leading to the sofa and matching chairs. Did you have plastic runners?

  34. churlita

    I’m in love with you mom’s living room. It’s awesome.

  35. natalie

    we never had plastic on our furniture. of course my parents don’t have the same furniture they did years ago either. i kinda wish they did. i love the looks of things in those old pictures!

  36. Turnbaby

    That third photo should have a caption along the lines of “Dream Big” 😉

  37. kanani

    Come to think of it… we did have plastic over a sofa. When I was about five, I remember my aunts getting excited because my mother had some kind of new ‘textured’ plastic. I remember that it left a pattern embedded on my legs.

    We didn’t have plastic runners on the floor, but we did use MELMAC plates that my Mom bought in a set from the Centro-Mart.

    All this is in such sharp contrast with how we live today. I think I’ll drag out the crock pot later.

  38. Alice

    my next door neighbors had plastic on the “fancy” sofas in the living room, but no plastic on the “regular” sofas in the tv room. the plastic ones were crap to sit on in the summer.

  39. anymommy

    I adore childhood photos. These are priceless. Is that an award on the right hand wall in the last picture? If so, I love your parents. My Dad thinks these types of wooden plaque awards are the highest form of art. I received one once when I left a job and when he saw it in the trash he wanted to take it home and hang it. Weird. Also a Manhattan raised Jew. Hmmmmm.

  40. Jane

    I loved this comedy sketch, Neil, and thank you for making me smile today.

    I’m fairly certain Chagall’s woman is French, though. She lacks the hips to be Russian.

  41. Non-Highlighted Heather

    It’s a pretty cool room, I have to agree. But the tags on the pillows need to be ripped off.

    Hi, Neil.

  42. Danny

    Damn, you chose these images very wisely, they are SUCH a window into who are today. I agree with V-Grrrl, therapy is working! (Either that or it will drive you insane as you being to really understand what makes you tick.)

    Wow, that couch looks fantastic today, and to think of how much I made fun of my parents for covering everything in plastic!

  43. barbetti

    God, I love the look on your face in that third photo. The hand placement just adds to the effect.

    And that couch is bangin’.

  44. mr_g

    Absolutely love the couch!!

    And I didn’t have a lot of friends as a small child. Sometimes the plunger and the garden hose were the only ones who would play with me! (That’s not unusual, is it?)

  45. justrun

    Wow, that couch is sweet! The entire living room really.

  46. kenju

    I like the living room, even with the plastic-wrapped couch! My husband’s aunt and uncle had white couches with plastic covers – and they lived in Queens, too….LOL

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