Murray is my father’s brother. His death was as sudden and unexpected as an 88 year old man dying can be.
The best way to describe Uncle Murray is to say he was a character. His voice was very gravelly and VERY Brooklyn. He sounded like my Grandpa Jack. He was a loud-talker.
Murray was like one-of-the ‘guys’ Damon Runyon created for Guys and Dolls, except 100% real.
He made friends easily. Uncle Murray was well known in Sunnyside, a section of Queens where he’d run a small store. He knew the cops, pols and the crooks. They all liked him.
Hidden under Uncle Murray and Aunt Eydie’s bed was the first Playboy I ever saw. I should have thanked him.
Like my dad, Murray was a natural born comedian. He always had a joke or story.
He also always had an opinion.
Murray and I had fierce political and ideological battles with voices raised and hands flailing. Helaine worried one day we’d go too far and leave angry with each other. Uncle Murray and I knew better.
Back in the seventies I brought a co-worker home for dinner at my parent’s little apartment in Queens. Summertime. No air conditioner. Low flying planes inbound to LaGuardia every 90 seconds.
Uncle Murray, who was bach’ing it that week, came by too. My mom was a great cook. She was making broiled chicken, skin on, basted with lots of butter. We judged only by taste back then.
My work friend, stereotypically rural and gentile, was about to experience his first stereotypically NYC Jewish meal. His life would be forever changed by the Foxes.
It was like we were having dinner in the Borscht Belt. Uncle Murray and my dad told every joke known to man. We could have invented “ROFL” on-the-spot.
That night stands out 35 years later. I can close my eyes and see Uncle Murray at the end of the small table in our dinette, his arm outstretched as he sold another punchline.
We lost Aunt Eydie a long time ago. Uncle Murray was living near his daughter, Judy and her family just outside Washington.
“He liked it when you talked about him,” she said on the phone this evening.
He liked it because I always made clear how special he was. How many lovable characters do you know?
Uncle Murray be missed.