Re­mem­ber­ing Ar­lene Bron­stein

Forward Magazine - - Contents - By Chana Pol­lack Chana Pol­lack is the For­ward’s ar­chiv­ist.

To speak of the quo­tid­ian in Yid­dish we use the term yedn mon­tik un don­er­shtik, mean­ing lit­er­ally, every Mon­day and Thurs­day. Ar­lene Bron­stein took the folksy say­ing and wore a new groove in it; she spent the last nine years of her mon­tik un don­er­shtiks here at the For­ward cat­a­logu­ing photos, re­search­ing queries and gen­er­ally help­ing us iden­tify and or­ga­nize our maze of archival ma­te­ri­als.

When she died of a heart at­tack in late Septem­ber, her sur­viv­ing sis­ter Patricia said she was dressed and ready to walk out the door for her work here, hav­ing fin­ished read­ing that other pa­per of record in this city. Ar­lene was that sweet­est of New York com­bi­na­tions — deeply well in­formed and, there­fore, opin­ion­ated — while at the same time mod­est so that she fre­quently ap­pealed to me to please not in­tro­duce her to more staff mem­bers. She knew enough of them al­ready.

Be­fore “and she per­sisted” was ever a meme, Ar­lene owned it. She was a long-term lung can­cer sur­vivor, and a raging lover of life who trav­eled — be­tween PET scans — to Lon­don for the the­ater and Santa Mon­ica for the sun­light. But re­cently she had another in a se­ries of in­fec­tions and also de­vel­oped water in her lung. So, while wait­ing for her pul­mo­nolo­gist to have time to see her, she con­tin­ued to come to our of­fice and un­cover archival items. Her last en­tries were a se­ries of car­toons signed by the for­merly uniden­ti­fied artist known as Mark— that was all any­body knew of him (see Dan Fried­man’s ar­ti­cle on page 88 of this is­sue). Us­ing some of our ex­tant em­ployee tax forms along with an in­ter­net no­tice of a car­i­ca­ture draw­ing class at a JCC some­where in Boca, Ar­lene man­aged to find the last known For­ward car­toon­ist, whose full name was Paul Mark­i­son.

A de­tail ori­ented for­mer dancer­turned-records man­ager for the law firm Davis, Polk & Ward­well, Ar­lene was an iron-willed cor­rec­tor of his­tor­i­cal im­bal­ances, as far as our im­ages were con­cerned. If ever a woman was cap­tioned merely by her hus­band’s name, i.e. Mrs., she would end­lessly re­search to find the woman’s per­sonal

FAITH­FUL RE­SEARCHER: For nine years, Ar­lene Bron­stein vol­un­teered in the For­ward’s archives depart­ment. name to en­sure his­tor­i­cal ac­cu­racy and more im­por­tant — yoysher, jus­tice.

Yedn mon­tik un don­er­shtik, no­body was lost to his­tory — not on Ar­lene Bron­stein’s watch.

Here’s to Ar­lene, who loved us so much she came for nearly a decade, rain or hail, air con­di­tion­ing or over­heat­ing, to our of­fices on 33rd Street and on Maiden Lane, pa­per or dig­i­tal. She faith­fully served us all, Yid­dish and English and even Rus­sian as for a while we pub­lished in that lan­guage too. Ar­lene was a beloved fig­ure in sev­eral NYC com­mu­ni­ties and had the pick of where to vol­un­teer, and she chose Mon­days and Thurs­days with us — and for that we are all so grate­ful. May her work here and the mem­ory of her beloved steady pres­ence con­tinue to aid and in­spire us all. And yes, she was ac­tu­ally re­lated to Trot­sky.

PATRICIA BRON­STEIN

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