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Thu

23

Aug

2007

TEDDI WINOGRAD: THE "MATERNAL HEART" OF PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS
Thursday, 23 August 2007 02:05
by Linda Milazzo

On the evening of August 12th, in the plush environs of a beautiful Beverly Hills garden, a couple hundred Angelenos gathered for an event. They had come to hear Dennis Kucinich, the 2008 Presidential candidate and moral conscience of the Democratic party. Unlike most political events, this one was spiritually uplifting - a defining characteristic of Kucinich's campaign.

As Kucinich spoke, many in the crowd often glanced beyond him to a second floor window of the lovely colonial home. It wasn't that they weren't listening to Dennis. Quite the contrary. He was captivating and brilliant. It was that in the hopefulness of his message, and the humanity of his words, they thought of Teddi Winograd, who was uncharacteristically not there. Well, not in the garden, anyway. Instead Teddi was upstairs watching the event through that open window.

You see, this was Teddi Winograd's home where Dennis Kucinich was speaking. And although Dennis has a powerful presence, Teddi has a power all her own.

That Sunday, unable to join the affair, Teddi presided quietly from the second floor. She never said a word. All that were seen was her hand in a wave and the tip of the captain's cap she wore on her head. That evening, Teddi's presence from above deepened the event and inspired Kucinich even more. In a Romeo and Juliet moment, Kucinich dashed below Teddi's window and shouted up to thank her for providing this wonderful night.

Like the rest of us, Dennis loved Teddi, too.

That first moment, when Dennis shouted up to Teddi's, was the first indication for many of how ill Teddi Winograd had become. It was even more obvious when Dennis began his comments by detailing the hours they had spent reviewing Teddi's pictorial tome, "My Life In Pictures" - a loving photographic tribute to her family and her friends. Dennis talked of how Teddi's passion on every page defined the very essence of a family. The pride, devotion and unwavering love. Page by page, Teddi took Dennis through her life in pictures just as she had with me and several other lucky friends. I treasure those moments every day. I'm incredibly grateful to have my very own signed copy of the 327 page "My Life In Pictures," and the recently added 47 page chapter, "The Best Is Yet To Be." While some might be saddened by that title, let me explain to you why I am not.

In Teddi's long and rich life, she has known and loved many people, but none more than her family and friends. Her children Barry and Marcy were her life, as were her beautiful grandchildren, Ben, Gina and Rachel. She adored her baby brother, Ron. and her devoted companions Yvette, Carlos and Sonia. But there were others Teddi loved, missed and wished to see. Tonight her wish was answered.

I do believe with all my heart that on August 21st at 1:45am, Teddi Winograd walked into the arms of her adoring husband, Sam, the love of her life, who then escorted her to their daughter, Dani, then on to Teddi's beloved twin sister, Rhoda, and Rhoda's husband Gaby. Tonight Teddi Winograd is in the arms of love.

What is left for us here, for Marcy and Barry, Ben, Gina, Rachel, and the rest of Teddi's family and friends, are the very same orders Sam gave Teddi in 1998 when Parkinsons took him away: "CONTINUE TO WORK FOR PEACE."

Teddi, we will!!

For many of us, the only good that has come out of the downfall of our democracy over the past seven years has been the creation of our own progressive community that embraces Sam and Teddi's passion for peace. In Los Angeles, Marcy and Teddi have been leaders in the progressive community. Teddi's lovely home has been a welcoming hub for democratic activism, intellectual stimulation, and political and social education for countless guest speakers and eager attendees.

In their Great Minds Series, with the help of Ilene Proctor, Teddi and Marcy hosted notable authors, journalists and filmmakers. Hundreds of progressives in Teddi's home, have been inspired by the great Gore Vidal, John Dean, author of "Conservatives Without Conscience," John Nichols, author of "The Genius Of Impeachment," Sydney Blumenthal, author of "How Bush Rules," Danny Schechter, filmmaker of "In Debt We Trust," Elizabeth De La Vega, author of "US vs. Bush," Robert Dreyfuss, author of "Devils Game," James Moore, author of "Bush's Brain" and more.

Teddi's hospitality and generosity are legendary. She was the mother we all wished for and the kind of friend we all wanted to be. She once joked to me that renowned Constitutional Attorney Stephen Rohde wanted her to adopt him. I answered, "Teddi, we all want you to adopt us." With her beautiful smile and openness, many of us actually believed she did.

What most amazed me about Teddi is how much more stoic she was than those of us who are decades her junior. She never complained. In fact, she wore the rest of us out. But I understand the source of her strength. She was, as Tom Brokaw would come to say, part of the "Greatest Generation." She gave birth to her son Barry while Sam was away in the Second World War. She fended for herself with dignity and strength. Barry was twelve months old the first time he saw his father.

For those who don't understand why I know so many details about Teddi - the answer is simple. I read the bible - the Teddi bible - or - 'the book of Teddi', which in reality is Teddi's autobiography, "Chit Chat This 'n That."

Now it's not my inclination to be hocking Teddi's book, but if you want to know the heart and depth of one of the greatest women I have ever known, you have to read Teddi's book. If you want to know how a woman can go from being a millinery worker at thirteen to owning a home on Rodeo Drive, you have to read this book. If you want to understand how a woman can know EVERYTHING about owning and operating a multi-million dollar business, you have to read this book. If you want to understand how a woman who never went to college self-educated herself to grasp the innermost workings of the stock market, you must read this book. If you want to understand the depth of undying love and devotion to a spouse, read this book. If you want to understand how deeply a parent loves her children, read it. How much she'll do for her grandchildren, read it. How she weathers great tragedy with dignity and grace, read it. How she lived with endless enthusiasm, read it.

If you want to see how Teddi and Sam dedicated their entire lives to the cause of peace, read it and you will understand why the door to Teddi's home was always open to anyone with a commitment to bettering our world.

And if you want to laugh out loud till you come close to crying, please read this book. In fact, I love this book so much I took it to where I teach and read it in the parking lot with my colleagues. The language is pure Teddi. The expressions the gems of the 40's and 50's. The insight is the stuff of genius.

In my home, I have volumes of unread nonfiction books by renowned authors whose facts and analyses are meant to dazzle and enrich me. Eventually I will read them. But I keep re-reading my Teddi book instead. Nearly 500 pages of the most honest book I believe I have ever read. And by far the funniest.

Here are two samplings from Chit Chat This 'n That." The first describes Sam and Teddi's first evening together. It was after seeing each other at a CCNY basketball game at Madison Square Garden. They had NEVER had a previous date or a real conversation prior to this night:

(Page 78) Sam and Teddi's first date:

"Sam arrived at two o'clock in the morning on February 3, 1943. It was snowing hard and he was covered with snowflakes. I thought he looked like a Greek God! Sam bent down as if to kiss me-- then he thought better of it. I guess he didn't want to seem presumptuous -- too soon. We sat on the couch in the lobby. To impress him I brought him a dish of fruit. Then we proceeded to exchange our life histories. An hour later, Sam asked if I could learn to live on a school teacher's salary. I knew I was really in love when I didn't ask how much it was -- it didn't matter! We planned to be married on March 7, 1943 - one month later."

Now, that's love!

(Page 271) The Vietnam War:

"Barry was a student at Berkeley in the late 60's. It was only natural since he was violently opposed to the war in Vietnam to be in the forefront of the anti-war movement. It did not help that Governor Ronald Reagan imposed strict curfews forcing college students attending the University to be off the streets by ten o'clock at night. Additionally, the students were not allowed to congregate with more than three people at a time. None of these onerous regulations stopped the student protests that culminated in 1969 with a huge demonstration. Reagan's answer to this protest was to send in the National Guard.

Several nights later Sam and I were frightened while we were watching TV, and we saw what was happening. The National Guard was firing live bullets as warning shots. We watched in horror as the National Guardsmen shot and killed a protester, Joe Rector. I turned to Sambo and I said, "Look Dear, Joe is not even armed. He's apparently trying to get out of the line of fire." Then I started to cry when I saw Joe's body fall to the ground and there was no movement. Sam put his arms around me to reassure me by saying, "Teddi dear, it's too late now. There are no flights out of LAX. I'll take the first plane in the morning. I'll wear my most conservative clothes and march with Barry. I'll wear a navy suit with a vest, a long overcoat and gray suede gloves. I want everyone at the University to know although I look like the establishment, I am in total agreement with my son. I want peace, too." I turned to Sam and said, "I think that's a great idea, dear. I am relieved that you are going to be at Barry's side. Even though he told you yesterday that it wasn't necessary for you to come, I'm sure he will have a change of heart when he sees you."

The next day Sam told me that after he met Barry at Berkeley our son said, "Dad, it's more dangerous today than yesterday because there are more National Guardsmen spraying the students with tear gas. In order to protect ourselves you'll have to follow me into the University buildings. Then we will be out of the range of fire. It will also lessen the effects of the tear gas." Barry had a change of heart. He was pleased by Sam's visit and support. I was, too. While the protests continued, many of our friends whose children were students at Berkeley became increasingly upset but they didn't know what to do about the situtation...

As soon as Sambo returned, he called a meeting in our Lodge to report exactly what had happened during his visit to Berkeley. Sam said, "I think it's very important for the Powers That Be at the University to know that our children are not an unruly mob. They are students with a total commitment to end the war in Vietnam...

Before the meeting was over all the parents voted to go to the Berkeley campus and have a mass protest of their own. We made up a banner that said in large print, "WE ARE THE CONCERNED PARENTS OF BERKELEY STUDENTS--WE WANT THE WAR TO END NOW!

The entire group boarded an early plane. We arrived in Berkeley at noon. As a group we paraded the width and breadth of the campus to make sure everybody saw us. What was particularly gratifying was that we were approached by faculty members who said, "Keep up the good work-- we agree." Many people thought the students hastened the end of the war -- we did, too."

As is obvious from this passage, Sam and Teddi Winograd were long time proponents of peace. When Sam passed away in 1998, he had no idea of the damage that would befall his wonderful country. He had given Teddi the task to continue to work for peace. He had no idea just how hard that task would be.

I have no doubt Sam Winograd would be proud of the work Teddi has done in these last ten years since his passing. She has done her job well. As have her children, and her grandchildren. Teddi will inspire them forever as she inspires us all. And now, after a lifetime of working for peace, there is solace in knowing she has found it.

Rest in peace, Teddi Winograd! Rest in Peace!!!
 
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Larry Lack said:

0
...
Hello:

I'm trying to locate Barry Winograd, a friend from my time at U.S. Santa Barbara in the late 1960's. I'm thinking he may be the "Berkeley activist" son referred to in Teddi's writings.

I'd much appreciate knowing how to contact Barry by phone or email.

best, Larry Lack, St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada
tel. (506) 529-4982, email: lackward@nbnet.nb.ca
 
January 31, 2008
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