Welcome to this website for Nathan Lobell. My name is John Lobell and I am Nat’s son. You can find out more about me at JohnLobell.com.
Nat was a remarkable person, as you can see from his brief biography in the Bio section of this website. One of his interests was writing, and this site is primarily about a book he wrote describing growing up in the Bronx. You can order the book from Amazon.
He also painted, and I will eventually put some of his paintings on this website.
Of Things that Used to Be describes the rich and colorful lives of the Jews in the Southeast Bronx between 1916 and 1926 where Nathan Lobell grew up.
Here you will discover how to score a point at stoopball, how to cheat the gas company, and how to tamper with a butcher’s scale. You will learn how kosher meat is slaughtered, how gas is made from coal, and how to prepare darrflayshe—starting with a trip to Bronx Park to gather wood and ending with a gourmet dish on a carved-out oak plank. You will find out how the buying of soup-greens could be a searing experience.
The violence is here—between father and son, husband and wife. The ambitions for the children are described—for the son to be a doctor and for the daughter to marry one.
The “woikizz” or vurrkers” (depending on what part of central Europe you came from) are overheard in the passionate arguments about the unions and their politics. The shopkeepers, their women, the peddlers, the back-yard musicians—the whole cast of characters that made up the pageant of the street is paraded in these pages.
In the streets, on the roofs, in the flats—people are everywhere—the kids and their parents struggling to find a way up and out.
Nathan Lobell (August 28, 1911 – August 11, 1995)
Nat’s way up and out of the South Bronx was through law as his profession and through writing, painting, sculpture, and music as his passions.
After graduating from City College and then Columbia Law School, he went to Washington to join with other New Dealers, eventually at the Security and Exchange Commission, ultimately rising to become top staff officer. He resigned to work on Wall Street and to own a small business.
After retirement, Nathan spent many happy years in the woods of Wilton, Connecticut writing, painting, sculpting, making and playing violas, and gardening.