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Excerpts from Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You

  • Jewish Geography -- this story was first published in October 1998 in Der Bay, the newsletter of the International Association of Yiddish Clubs.  Here, both the English version and a version in transliterated Yiddish are available in pdf format.
  • Return to Germany -- the story of Sonia’s return to Germany in 1978 to speak about the women’s rights revolution in the US for the then-US Information Agency (USIA), published on the website of The Jewish Writing Project on Jan. 19, 2009. That story is also contained in the anthology, Marking Humanity, Stories Poems, & Essays by Holocaust Survivors, edited by Shlomit Kriger (Aug. 23, 2010, pp. 226-234).
  • If You Speak His Language --This piece was published in Tzum Punkt (Nov.-Dec. 1999, Vol. 1, No. 2)  p. 5, the newsletter of Yiddish of Greater Washington.
  • Thai Silk -- This piece was first published in the Common Law Lawyer and then on the websites of whispersmagazine.com, iagora.com, and BankgokAtoZ.com (September 2001).
  • Florida and Beyond -- This excerpt appeared on May 25, 2001, in the Story Lady e-newsletter and on its website, the Jewish Frontier, the Jewish Internet magazine, the Jewish Magazine online, the e-zine, Home-Based Working Moms, and the Writer Online. Terry Boothman, the editor of the Writer Online, had this to say about it in the January 14, 2003, issue that carried the story:

    Everyone's life is interesting, right? Sure. So, everyone should write a memoir, right? Yeah, why not.. And everyone should publish a memoir, right? Good Lord, no. Because not everyone knows how to write a publishable memoir, which means a memoir that lots of other people will enjoy reading. Sonia Pressman Fuentes, one of the founders of the National Organization for Women, published just such a memoir--"Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter." Now, in How I Got My Mink Stole, excerpted from that memoir, you can get a glimpse of exactly how good memoirs are written.

  • Weinberg's Glasses - the story of what happened when Sonia's father found a pair of eyeglasses.
  • Sex Maniac -- the story of the Second Wave of the women's movement and Fuentes' role in it.  
  • Harry Golden and "the Coat" -- Sonia Fuentes sues Harry Golden, published in Jewish Currents, June 16, 1997. 
  • How I Got My Mink Stole -- a lengthy struggle with an unexpected denouement.
  • Eating Out -- published in the April 11, 2001, issue of Writer's Bloc Online, the e-newsletter of the National Writers Union.
  • Graduating With My Class -- Fuentes' desire to graduate with her high school class has a significant consequence.  Published originally in the Catskill/Hudson Jewish Star 6.2 (June 1996) 17.1 and then on Harry Leichter's website.
  • Mother and the Night School -- published in the December 2001, issue of Kolot, A World of Jewish Voices. 
  • Catskills Stories -- Some of Fuentes' stories about her experiences in the Catskill Mountains of New York State may be found at the Museum of Family History.

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cover Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You,  The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter by Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Book Ordering Information

In the United States, EAT FIRST can be ordered in paperback and hardback from amazon.com, bn.com, and xlibris.com.  The book can be ordered from amazon.co.uk in the UK and amazon.ca in Canada. EAT FIRST is also available for Kindle which includes free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet.

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Eat First

Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Book Excerpts

FuentesFrom Eat First -- You Don't Know What They'll Give You,  The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter by Sonia Pressman Fuentes



"Weinberg's Glasses"

My father always liked to bring things home. He believed that it was the responsibility of the head of the household to bring provisions into the house, and he performed this duty assiduously, whether the goods were needed or not. If no one else had use for them, he would find a use. Nor was he particular about the means of acquiring these things. Legitimacy of acquisition was not one of his standards. he might receive items through purchase, gift, barter, or a more unsavory means. The important thing was to bring something home to cast before my mother's often-horrified eyes. He brought home an endless supply of dirty towels cast upon the beach, an expensive German camera that someone had sold him, and huge containers of fruit and vegetables that produce merchants gave him in exchange for the fish he caught. Mother dutifully baked pies with the peaches and blueberries and made casseroles of the vegetables. When Father wasn't looking, she would retrieve all the dirty towels around the house and throw them out. . . .

When we were living in Long Beach in the early '50s, Father brought home an unusual item--at least, for a man with 20/20 vision--a pair of dark, horn-rimmed spectacles he found one morning in front of my brother Hermann's candy store. He then proceeded to put these glasses on as he read the Forverts. Mother and I were alarmed that Father might be harming his eyes by wearing these glasses. Our distress was heightened when we learned the identity of the owner of the glasses perched so jauntily on Father's ample nose. One day, Mr. Weinberg came into Hermann's store, wondering if he might have left his glasses there. Weinberg, an elderly Jew who lived with his wife and adult daughter, was a friend of our family. After Weinberg left the store, despite all our entreaties, Father stated that he had no intention of returning the glasses.  He defended his position with two arguments. First, he went into an involved legal analysis of the law of personal property and its application to lost articles. He concluded that as Weinberg's glasses had been found in front of his son's store, the Pressmans had acquired legitimate ownership of them. His second theory, pronounced in his most sonorous judicial tone, was that he had no proof that these were in fact Weinberg's glasses. Weinberg, who was then wandering about the streets of Long Beach groping his way, might have made the whole story up.

There was nothing to be done. Like his hero, Winston Churchill, who hadn't become Prime Minister of the British Empire to oversee its destruction, Father hadn't fought his way up from the streets of Piltz to relinquish his booty now.   The glasses would not be returned. Hermann surreptitiously gave Weinberg money on some pretext to cover the purchase of new glasses, which, when Father saw them, only confirmed his theory that Weinberg had not lost his glasses in the first place.

Years went by. We moved from Long Beach to Miami Beach, and Mother and I no longer had to live in dread of Weinberg's walking into our house unexpectedly and discovering Father wearing his glasses. But Mother and I continued to be worried about possible damage to Father's eyes. He was using "Weinberg's glasses," as they come to be known around our house, more and more for reading, driving, TV, the movies. Something had to be done.

Finally, Father succumbed to years of prodding.  He and Mother had recently purchased a new home in North Miami Beach, and--as befitted a new home-owner in "Florida's Finest Residential Community"--he finally agreed to go forth, flanked by Mother and me, to be fitted for his own spectacles.

We could not, of course, divulge the origin of "Weinberg's glasses" to the optometrist. Instead, we told him that Father had been having difficulty with his reading and, therefore, thought he might need a new pair of glasses. The optometrist proceeded to put Father through the standard eye examination. This was difficult because Father couldn't read English--but somehow he managed to let the optometrist know what he saw and when he saw it. Mother and I were already congratulating ourselves on finally getting rid of "Weinberg's glasses" when the optometrist, with a bewildered look on his face, said "I don't understand why you've been having trouble, Mr. Pressman. The glasses you're wearing are exactly the right prescription for you."  Father beamed, and Mother and I knew we were beaten.

Some years later, when I came home from Washington for a visit, I was astonished to find Father reading the paper with a spanking new pair of glasses perched crookedly on the bridge of his nose. "Mom," I shouted in amazement, "is this what I think it is?  Has Daddy gotten himself a new pair of glasses?"

"Yes," came back my mother's voice.  It sounded strangely resigned. "He found them last week. On the beach."

I shuddered a moment, thinking of the latest Weinberg stumbling about somewhere on Miami Beach. But it was only for a moment. Then I realized that I was home again, and Father hadn't changed at all. Impulsively, I reached out to embrace him in a great big hug, knocking the glasses right off his face. He didn't seem to mind.

©1999 by Sonia Pressman Fuentes. "Weinberg's Glasses" was published in The Algemeiner Journal, April 20, 2007;  Matrix, published by Outrigger Publishers in Hamilton, New Zealand, p. 3  (Vol. I, No. 2, Aug. 2002); Jews (Passover 2001, Issue 5); Outlook (Canada's Progressive Jewish Magazine) (Jan. 1-Feb. 15, 1997, Vol. 35, No. 1); and on the Web sites: JoyZine, Writing Now, and Whispers.