I know less about Pa’s life than Ma’s. I know he came from a village on the outskirts of Odessa and apprenticed as a cabinet maker. He was about 16 years old when he got to the US, met Ma in Chicago at one of those Odessa gatherings, and had five children. Pa passed away at the age of 82 after a stroke and soon after asking me for permission to die. I gave it with love and tears.

He was a “worker bee” and, during the depression, found work with the WPA. He was a committed union man and loved FDR. Small in stature but huge in heart, he loved being with his family and friends and loved talking politics. Membership and participation were very important to him.

After the depression, he opened his own cabinet shop and created special furniture for his customers.  Hy and Joe, my older brothers, would often assist him at his shop until they enlisted in the service. Hy served in the South Pacific, and Joe fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

During the last chapter of his life Pa was alone, so we brought him to Camp Shasta, where he relaxed and enjoyed the experience so much that he took over and organized our took shack, taught about tool safety, and joined in our construction projects.  Always the participant, he never missed our evening campfire, songs, and stories. Nor did he miss any of our staff meetings, as everyone considered him as part of the staff!

 At the end of that summer, after campers and staff were gone, Lenette and I were doing some last-minute cleanup. Pa walked up behind us, placed his arms around us, and said, “When you became a child psychologist, I was so proud that I had a professional son. But when you decided to open your own camp, I was so disappointed. Now that I see what you and Lennette do, I have never been prouder than I am now of what you both do. I feel such love for you both.”

Sadly, he died that year.

They gave us our life—We owe them for this and more—Now all gone, not me.


Author: Sy Ogulnick

Sy Ogulnick received a BA from UCLA, Teacher’s Credential from Los Angeles Board of Education and completed phase I (Master’s portion) in a Doctor of Behavioral Science program at California Coast University. Sy leased and operated a summer day camp in LA. He and his wife then purchased virgin wilderness land in Northern CA, where they built and operated a coed summer camp. They moved to Las Vegas, NV, and purchased, built and operated a community children’s program for families staying in a major resort casino in Las Vegas. They have created programs for children nationwide that employed many people and in the process developed successful training programs for personnel. This led Sy to lecture on how to train staff and the creating of community within the workplace. Sy was then invited to speak at professional conferences on how best to hire and train employees, which led to his becoming a consultant in the art of improving relationships in a work environment and eventually to his epiphany that “Leaders are the primary problem and the answer to the personnel issues that arise in the workplace.” Sy has written numerous papers on the subject of interpersonal relationships, leadership and power. He has lectured throughout the United States, has been interviewed by the media and has appeared on many radio and TV talk shows

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