With the advent of the vhs in the 1980s, my father used to watch, “The Jolson Story”, “Jolson Sings again” and of course, “The Jazz Singer,” over and over again. I remember it so clearly how he would get so emotional during these movies.
I wondered was he crying from the songs, the realities of those times or just the sentimentality of it.
Now, I see it from a different angle…
Perhaps, I could be wrong, I believe he was crying for the time that had passed.
The people who had come and gone
The naïve youth that had so quickly been robbed of the feeling of immortality by the passing of time.
My brother, Charles (nee Carlos) and I used to joke that one day we would be watching Game 6 of the Mets/Red Sox World Series and we would be crying as our children watched along, confused with our emotions.
My dad saw Jolson several times live on Broadway, sold him newspapers on the street and knew every word to every song until his last breath.
I know them too, I have played them on my phone sometimes when I visited his grave in Staten Island. I usually end up emotional just remembering that look in his eyes when he sang, “The Anniversary Song” to my mom. The love that he had for everyone paled in comparison to the love he had for my beautiful mother.
In Ahi Ezer Shul, he made sure she would have a seat on the balcony so he could look up and see her. He would see her, his eyes would light up the temple and he would blow her a kiss or two.
As Joley says in the movies first lines, “wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet!”