I’ve never met the singers James Taylor and Carly Simon, who used to be married, but I did meet their daughter Sally not long ago. I told her that an architect friend of mine had designed her parents’ apartment in New York, the home where she grew up. She recognized the name of my friend, but I didn’t get to tell her the interesting part of the story, the New Hampshire connection.
While she was doing the design work, my friend asked Carly Simon whether she could recommend an accountant. “Yes,” Ms. Simon told her, “You should see Marshall Gelfand. His firm is called Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman. They specialize in representing entertainers, but I’m sure he would be glad to help you.” So my friend called Mr. Gelfand’s office, made an appointment, and went to see him.
They talked for a while, and my friend said, “You know, I’m pretty good at accents. You sound like you’re from New Hampshire.” “You’re right” Mr. Gelfand replied. “I haven’t lived there for a long time, but that’s where I grew up.” My friend then said, “You wouldn’t by any chance happen to be from Claremont?” “That’s exactly where I am from,” Mr. Gelfand said.
“I know someone from Claremont,” said my friend, giving him my name and asking if he knew me. “Of course I do” he told my friend. “I’m a good deal older, but our families knew each other very well.” (I don’t think he knew that his father, whose tailor shop was upstairs over the Pleasant Sweet Shoppe, saved my you-know-what when I tore my pants at a young age.)
They talked some more, and my friend asked Mr. Gelfand whether he would be willing to take her on as a client. He said that he was spending a lot of time in the firm’s California office and wanted to introduce her to one of his partners, someone he thought would be just right to handle her accounting work. That was fine with her, so he picked up the phone and asked his partner, Martin Feldman, if he could join them. The three of them then talked for a few minutes, and my friend said she would be pleased to have Mr. Feldman as her accountant.
“I’m sure you will enjoy working with him,” said Mr. Gelfand. “He and I have been together for a long time, and you can’t do better. By the way, Marty is Joe Steinfield’s cousin.”
What he did not tell her was that my cousin Martin was originally from Dereczyn, Poland, the town where my grandmother was born and lived until she came to America as a teenager in 1904. During the Holocaust, Martin, his brother and their parents hid in the forest for two years, and they survived. After spending time in a displaced persons camp, they came here as refugees, some 43 years after my grandmother had done so. The boys spent their first year in this country living with my grandparents on Myrtle Street in Claremont.