We had just finished dinner with our two young boys on a November evening
in 1958 when the doorbell rang. I opened the front door and found a man dressed in a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase. “Mr. Schulman?” he asked. I nodded. “I’m John Smith from the American In-surance Company and I’m responding to your phone call about buying a large term insurance policy. Here’s my card.” “There must be some mistake!” I replied. “I wouldn’t have
called as I already have all the term life insurance I can afford and use an agent I’ve known for some years. Maybe some other Schulman called your office.” “I don’t understand it. My secretary took the message from someone named Arnold Schulman at this address. I’m sorry if there was an error.” And he left .
About two weeks later the bell rang and again I answered it. This time standing on our front porch were two uniformed men. They told me that they were from a local mortuary and that they had been called to our address to pick up a body. Fortunately for us there was no body, just another mystery. We had lived in our home for about five years and felt that we had a good relationship with our neighbors. I couldn’t think of anyone from my past who had a grudge against me.
Now comes the kicker. On January 2, 1959 the doorbell rang once more and there was a young man with a well-used Christmas tree. “I’m here in answer
to your ad saying you would pay fifty cents for used Christmas trees. Where do you want it?” “I don’t know what you’re talking about! I didn’t put any ad in the paper! Someone is playing a trick on me. I’m really sorry for your trouble and disappointment.” As we spoke I saw more cars, usually with families inside, lining up on our street. All carried old evergreens. There were even a couple of pickup trucks loaded with trees that the driver had collected from their neighbors in hopes of making a few bucks. I stayed outside and told each of the drivers that the ad had been a hoax. When I told them of the other
pranks most of them smiled as they drove off . That was the last of the tricks.
To this day I have no idea who the dirty scoundrel was who had been
responsible for the dastardly deeds.
The MEMOIR WRITING class at OLLI, led by Florence Dodge and Jo Fitzpatrick, has not missed a single semester since day one of Senior University in 1998. The SUN
will be publishing memoirs, recent and from the past, routinely. The memoir here is from the collection written by the late Arnie Schulman. On his 80th birthday, Arnie presented a bound
collection of his memoirs to each of his four sons.
Arnold E. Schulman 1926 - 2013
The youngest of three children of Russian Jewish immigrants, Arnie was born and raised in Altoona, PA. He served in the Army Air Force as a gunner on a B-29 in WW II. After the war, he moved to Long Beach, CA to join his brother in business. In 1949 he married Birdie and they raised four sons together.
Arnie was a successful businessman. He opened Jan’s, a woman’s ready-to-wear store in Bellflower. He later became the plant manager at Naturade Products, Inc., a health food company. In 1980, Arnie combined his retail and health food expertise when he purchased The Health Habit, a health food store in Seal Beach.
In addition to being a master joke teller and so-so poker player, Arnie wrote excellent memoirs as a student at Senior University/OLLI.
Arnie was passionately committed to serving others. He regularly donated blood. Everyone knew they could call Arnie if they needed a ride to a doctor’s appointment. He taught his sons what he had learned from his own father: do what needs to be done to help others simply because it needs to be done. Arnie was married to his beloved Birdie for 63
years. Birdie passed away last February. Just nine months later, Arnie died on November 2nd after a short illness.