“I Turned a Key and the Birds Began to Sing”

is the memoir of Carol Rubin Meyer, a Manhattan socialite who was born into a prestigious family that established many of the city’s cultural and social welfare organizations. Carol forged her own path – first studying opera after graduating from Smith College in Northampton Massachusetts, then becoming a suburban wife and mother while teaching French in the local elementary school in Harrison, New York. Following the untimely death of her husband, Seymour, at the age of 52, Carol went back to college and became an expert in pre-Columbian art. She was a member of the Society of Women Geographers, volunteered as a researcher in the Metropolitan Museum’s Rockefeller Collection for 5 years, and traveled to over forty countries.


“Life Is A Game: Bet On Yourself”

is Al Azus’s rags-to-riches story. With Horatio Alger as his inspiration, Al grew up in a Turkish immigrant family in Chicago. At the age of eight, he had his first job – selling chances to win a prize by picking the right number on a punchboard; by age eleven he was selling ice cream, and at the age of fourteen he worked for the fanciest men’s clothier in the city where he met union leaders, mobsters, and businessmen. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the military and ended up in Europe at the end of World War II, guarding German prisoners of war, including SS officers. He married, moved to California with his beautiful wife, Serene, his two young children, and worked as a door-to-door salesman eventually finding a niche for himself in the envelope printing business. Tragedy struck when Serene died of tuberculosis at the age of 25. Eventually, Al reclaimed his life. Today he is one of the leading businessmen in his industry, married to his third wife, Hedi, and a is great philanthropist supporting children’s charities, Jewish causes, and museums.


“The Music of My Life”

takes its reader on a journey from Geldsdorf, Germany where Hedi Giese Azus lived until the age of five when her father sent three first-class tickets on an ocean liner for her mother, Elise, her brother, Freddie, and her to come to America. The year was 1925 and her father had established a small copper piping company in Woodhaven, New York. The Depression took its toll on the family business and Hedi went to work in Manhattan’s garment district. She became a model, and then had the good fortune to meet the man of her dreams, Sydney Hoffman. When World War II broke out, Sydney enlisted in Officers’ Candidacy School. Upon graduation, they were married, crisscrossed the United States from one army post to another traveling along famous Route 66. Ultimately Sydney was stationed in the South Pacific and for over three years, the Hoffmans carried on a correspondence. Many of the letters are reprinted in this memoir which gives a glimpse into military life. After the war, Sydney saw his daughter for the first time. Life was good until Sydney died of a heart attack. Hedi was forced to make a life for herself, becoming an independent woman working as an account manager at the Gibraltar Savings Bank in Los Angeles. Her positive outlook carried her through many difficult times, and she never gave up the dream of finding her second Prince Charming, who walked into the Bank and shortly afterwards proposed marriage. Hedi and Al Azus have been married for over 27 years sharing the joys of watching their grandchildren flourish. Her overriding philosophy is that “Only one thing matters. That wherever we go and however we go we hear the music of life.”


“The Candelabra and the Prayer Book”

Born in Berlin in 1932 Moses Spira and his parents escaped the Nazi storm and settled in Palestine only to be swept up in the country’s War of Independence against its Arab neighbors. After serving in the army and working for the Israeli government, he changed the course of his life by electing to become a doctor. He studied in Vienna and Munich and eventually found his way to the United States with his wife, a pathologist, and their three children. Dr, Spira was a real trailblazer in the field of kidney dialysis, opening free-standing treatment centers so that patients did not have to travel far for care. In his book, he shares his philosophy that a doctor must not only be an excellent clinician but also an empathetic counselor.


“Nothing To Lose But My Life”

is David Wiener’s compelling memoir that begins with his vivid recollection of his childhood in Lodz and Krotoszyn, Poland surrounded by loving parents and siblings who were part of a vibrant, religious Jewish community. At thirteen, he witnessed the Nazi invasion of Poland, and his safe world was abruptly and brutally destroyed. Escaping the Lodz ghetto, virtually alone, he wandered from ghetto to ghetto narrowly escaping death, until he was conscripted into a slave labor camp and ultimately transported to Auschwitz. Working in the Messerchmitt airplane factory and in the mines, he and 300 other prisoners were put on a Death March. David ran for his life, and was saved by American soldiers three weeks before the war ended in Europe. Haunted by nightmares of the war and unimaginable personal losses, he began a new life in America, starting a family and building several successful businesses in Los Angeles. “Nothing To Lose But My Life” is both a witness account of the Holocaust and a personal memoir of one man’s determination to survive in order to keep alive the memory of those lost forever. His book is part of numerous Holocaust archives throughout the United States.


“Billy and Me: 65 Years of Love and Adventure”

is a valentine to an extraordinary marriage and partnership between Tootsie Veprin, the book’s author, and her husband, Billy. Tootsie takes her reader back to the days of vaudeville in San Francisco, where Tootsie and Billy first met when she was four and he was nine. They were reunited years later and after a whirlwind courtship set out together building businesses in Vallejo, California, Hawaii, Guam, San Francisco, Hong Kong, and the San Fernando Valley. Whatever they did, they did together, supporting one another to achieve success. Their devotion to one another extended to their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, as well as legions of friends who entered their warm and charmed circle. Incorporating pages from Billy’s unfinished memoir, “Billy and Me” is the final collaboration of a enviable marriage.


“You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby”

With intelligence, humor and honesty, Dorothy Gould shares her life’s journey in her memoir, “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.” Growing up in Ventura during the Depression and World War II, Dorothy depicts small town life on the California coast. Taking a leap of faith she married Joe Gould, a “city slicker” and moved to Los Angeles where she became a community activist, Jewish communal leader, devoted mother and helpmate to her businessman husband. Despite the challenges that 84 years of living inevitably bring, Dorothy enthusiastically claims that “The world has been my oyster.”


“The Chief Master Sergeant and His Welsh Bride”

written by husband and wife, James J. Marshall and Bronwen Gen’e Marshall, answers the question, “Why were the men and women who lived through the Depression and World War II, called the Greatest Generation?” Born in America’s heartland, Jimmy Marshall enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the Medical Corps. He was sent to Swansea, Wales, in preparation for the Allied amphibious landing on the beaches of Normandy, France. At the Mackworth Hotel in Swansea, he met raven-haired, seventeen-year-old, Bronwen (Gen’e) Davis, who worked as a metallurgist in a munitions factory. After just three dates, Jimmy proposed to Gen’e, but he was shipped out in the dead of night, and did not return from the battlefield for fourteen months. Jimmy and Gen’e were finally married and the young couple settled in Canton, Ohio. Jimmy struggled to find meaningful work and and decided to re-enlist in the military. He spent the next twenty years in the Air Force moving from one base to another. His last tour of duty at the age of fifty-one was Da Nang, South Vietnam. Returning to civilian life in Riverside, California, he became a postman, until his retirement. Against tremendous obstacles and long separations, Bronwen and Chief Master Sergeant James J. Marshall raised six children and forged a life devoted to family, faith, and service to country.


“Every Day is a Gift”

When Lawrence (“Laurie”) Kramer meets Elaine Podrat, it is love at first sight, but this is no childish romance, but an attraction sparked in late middle age. A veteran of World War II, and successful insurance executive with one failed marriage, Laurie is struck by Elaine’s beauty, honesty, and sense of humor. She is twice-divorced, an independent woman with artistic talents. Between them they have four adult children. “Every Day Is a Gift” by Elaine and Lawrence Kramer captures their lives before and after their marriage, a perfect partnership that has lasted for over 30 years.


“Live Longer By Giving”

is Al Azus’s plainspoken lessons for giving: giving to charities, giving to employees and giving to family. There are many people with more resources than Al Azus, but few who have converted their time and money into so much to better the lives of others. According to Dr. Elias Lefferman, President and CEO of Vista Del Mar and Family Services, Al Azus’s vision and philosophy are embodied in this book – “a primer for how to make the world a better place.” MR. Azus has contributed copies of his book to charity bookstores at the Jewish Home for the Aging, and Vista Del Mar.

Paperback edition (with foreword by Loren Stephens) now available at Amazon.com.  Net proceeds from the sale of the paperback will support the many charities benefiting from The Al and Hedi Azus Foundation.


“Remembering Joe”

is a book of vivid memories written by Joe’s widow, Dorothy Gould, their sons, Marc and David, and two of their three grandchildren. Each family member contributes their own unique experiences of Joe as a husband, father, and grandfather. Passing the pen from one generation to the next creates a nuanced portrait of a man who was courageous, street-smart, and generous to all who knew and loved him. Born during Prohibition in Detroit, Dorothy recounts Joe’s journey from the mean streets of Detroit to Los Angeles under difficult circumstances to his success in the trucking industry and later as president of numerous banks.


“Wanderlust: My Journey From Dreierwalde”

wanderlust_coverWritten by Gregor Kloenne, this memoir recounts the author’s boyhood on a farm in rural Germany, his World War II experiences, and his apprenticeship as a journeyman tailor. In 1955, Gregor made a life-changing decision and traveled alone by ocean liner and train to Newark, Ohio to begin a new life. He eventually found himself in Los Angeles, where he bought a small tailor shop, and married Otilia Munoz. Together they raised three children. Taking a gamble in an industry about which he knew very little, he started an envelope manufacturing company with his brother-in-law. He eventually bought him out, and through hard work and perseverance built up the business, which is today under the stewardship of his son, Bernie. Gregor and his wife retired to Hawaii, where he raised exotic birds until the couple returned to Southern California. Ever the optimist, even in the face of the challenge of losing a leg, he says, “I have had a wonderful life. My only regret is that I cannot live it all over again.”


“Dadda Come Home: The Story of a Little Girl in World War II”

When Thelma Clark Santiago was a little girl, she promised her American-born father, William Clark, that she would tell the story of his imprisonment by the Japanese during World War II while working as a civil engineer for the local electric company in the Philippines. Thelma’s mother, together with her young brothers and sisters, endured poverty and heartache not knowing if and when William might be released from prison. When he was finally liberated, the effects of prison life (eating rats to keep from starving, standing all day in the hot sun) took its toll on William and he died at the age of 59. Thelma carried the story of her father and her family’s struggles in her heart for more than 60 years before it was finally published and excerpts were featured in the Orange County Register.


“Never Give Up”

is the philosophy by which Effy Pfeffermann lives his life. Born in Timisoara, Romania, he and his immediate family survived World War II and the Communist takeover of this once sophisticated city. Armed with a less than stellar education, but guts and gumption, he emigrated to Israel, where he enlisted in the army. Leaving his parents behind in Israel, he moved to Los Angeles, married his wife Susan, and built a family and a career. He was initially a corporate man, working for IBM, but his entrepreneurial spirit led him into real estate development in the United States and the Far East. With a gift for languages (he speaks seven) he was able to do business in Hungary and Romania, where he developed innovative shopping centers in partnership with Belgian and French companies. Today, he is seeking new challenges — the word retirement is not in the vocabulary of any of the languages he knows. When asked why he wanted to write his memoir, he said, “So that my grandsons will appreciate their Jewish heritage, be kind to other people, understand the importance of Israel to the Jewish people, and Never Give Up on your dreams.


Print Friendly