Final Thought: “The Holocaust Show”
Jerry Springer, Ringmaster!
(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998, pp. 247-8)
Several years ago, before my parents died, I went to visit them in New York. My dad was seventy-eight at the time and he had this big old Chevrolet that he kept in the garage at the apartment building they lived in in Queens. He didn’t drive it much anymore because frankly, it was too dangerous: his eyes weren’t too good, his reflexes had slowed considerably and being really short, he could barely see over the steering wheel anyway. And my mom was deathly afraid every time he took it out for a ride. In fact, she refused to go along with him and begged him to please sell the car.
But he stubbornly refused, so Mom asked me, “Gerald, will you go talk to your dad and convince him to get rid of the car?”
Well, I really wasn’t crazy about getting into the middle of it all, but Mom had a point. So I took Dad aside and said, “Pops, why don’t you sell the car?”
“I’ll tell you why,” he told me. “You know, I don’t drive it much anymore. In fact, I hardly drive it at all. I just want to know I have it here in case we’ve got to get away.”
In case we’ve got to get away.
Understand, he was a bright man. He’d been living here in America for almost forty years. Nazi Germany and storm troopers and the concentration camps and the loss of our family, it was almost a lifetime ago — or so I thought. And how wrong I was. It suddenly hit me: the scars of a Holocaust are forever. Apparently, Dad never had a night where he didn’t think it could all come back; he knew how fragile the character of civilization was.
But here’s the good news. The same species that gave us the slime of a Hitler and his Nazi cohorts also can give us the bravest and most decent humans who graced our show today. I hope our kids were watching. I want them to know that there is good in this world, that there are heroes and not all of them hit home runs — some just open up their basements.