Today is July 21, 2024 ()

Phillip Bloom

Phillip and Rosanne Bloom were part of the Brownsville Jewish community for many years.

Phil was a pharmacist who worked at Jerry Jokl’s Palm Village Pharmacy. Phil and Rosanne

raised two boys, Leonard and Edward. Leonard Bloom became an English professor at Pan

American University and is retired.

Phil was an avid ham radio operator. Before there was the internet, a Ham Radio used the free

radio waves to call all over the world. When Susan Holtzman lived in Venezuela, she was called

to the telephone in the lobby of her apartment by Phil Bloom calling on his ham radio with

messages from her grandmother.

Phil Bloom served in the U.S. Merchant Marine.

Phillip (1898-1986) and Roseanne (1910-2004) are buried in the Hebrew Cemetery of

Brownsville, Texas.

I asked Leonard to write an article about his parents. Here it is. Did I mention that Leonard is a

retired English professor?

 

“Phil”

 

Evening. Mom dozes in front of the TV as a turbaned Johnny Carson, in black and

white, raises an envelope to his forehead; Dad is smiling, cigar firmly clenched, as

cloudy wisps float gently to the ceiling. That cigar. His “signature look.”

Dad, with cigar, low in the cockpit of our Studebaker, drops me off at Brownsville

High. My friends say he looks like Edward G. Robinson. When I share this observation

with him, he does his E.G.R. impression: “Lishen! You do what I shay! Shee?” Mom

laughs.

The Raymond Loewy designed 1950 Studebaker Champion. A not too bright,

but substantial, blue. This time, I’m behind the wheel. My first driving lesson. My

Father, cigarless, (good thing, as you’ll see) beside me. I sense a barely perceptible

anxiety. His? Mine? The six cylinder flathead is humming. 1 st gear. Clutch. Gas

pedal. We move. Very smooth. First corner. Take a right. Hand signal. I turn the

wheel-not quite enough – I turn it more and a bit more. There are times in life when you

have to let go. This time, I didn’t. Suddenly, my passenger is desperately, frantically

unturning as the iconic bullet nose points irrevocably toward the ever widening Resaca.

These actions are not entirely quiet. There are sounds, syllables, I think, all

unintelligible.

Quietly, we change places. Quietly, we go home. In the driveway, Dad turns

and asks, “shall we try again next weekend?” I nod and, although I fight hard to

suppress it, I break into a fit of giggles. He smiles.

In the house, Mom asks how it went. We mumble an O.K. or two and she

continues setting the dinner table. Dad heads back to the garage, home to the

Studebaker and a long work bench covered with metal boxes, in black or silver, the

faces of which are appointed with knobs, switches, dials and meters – all against a

 collage-like display of postcards printed with combinations of letters and numbers.

These are the “call letters” of “ham” radio operators, foreign and domestic, he has talked

over the years.

Mom, my brother Edward, and I live in a house in the center of the universe with

a big antenna on top. And Dad, microphone in one hand and cigar in the other, is

“calling CQ” to anyone in the universe who can hear him.

Quite a few do hear him: Captain Kurt Carlsen, who was willing to go down with

his ship but, thankfully, didn’t.

Senator Barry Goldwater, who wanted to become President but, thankfully,

didn’t.

There was also a time when the Studebaker was sporting an impressive black

whip antenna! That’s another story.

There are times in life that you never want to let go.