Welcome To My New Blog!

Hello Everyone!—As I send these first words into the vast conundrum known as Cyberspace, I admit to feeling a sense of excitement, but also a bit of intimidation.  After all, I don’t really know you, do I?  But my intuition tells me that there are more than a few of you with whom I share an invisible bond.  I am a woman who has stepped into that murky pond of middle age; a wife whose thirty-eight-year marriage grows more precious with each year; a mother who now basks in the light of three grown sons; and a daughter who has never forgotten.  Add to the mix, a sister, college professor, and someone who is loyal and sincere to my friends.  And yes, I am a writer too.  I am the author of several books for children, a textbook for college students, a poetry anthology, newspaper articles which have appeared in various newspaper in Brooklyn and Staten Island, and New Jersey, even The New York TImes.  On October 17, 2011, my novel, My Mother’s Shoes, was published.  A memoir, written as a dissertation, the novel spans fifty years and recounts the experiences of my mother during the Holocaust along with the triumphs and hardships as a new citizen of Brooklyn, where “the streets are paved in gold.”  Conveyed in three voices, Blima (my mother in Europe), Betty (her American alter-ego), and Shirley (her daughter), the novel is a story about the bonds between a mother and a daughter, the importance of family, the ultimate invincibility of the human spirit.  If you are a daughter, a mother, a child of immigrants, a child of Brooklyn, a survivor, then I hope to hear your comments to this blog….In the coming days you will also be reading blogs concerning Blima and Betty, relating to a variety of themes in the book.   I will also be posting upcoming appearances where I will be presenting and signing My Mother’s Shoes.  Please contact me if your organization is interested……Until next time, I leave you with a poem:


I am a Brooklyn girl.

Potsy on the heat cracked sidewalk

sweating now pink blue green pastels.

One long braid that smacks us on the back as

we run for a chocolate egg cream and

salty pretzel stick, a three o’clock treat.

Red and white plaid pleated mini-skirt so high now,

crossing our legs we are

on the verge of naughtiness.

Pouring our hopes into the lap of Desiderius,

clang the coins play on each other.

“Erasmus Hall, our hearts to thee with

fervent impulse turn.”

Summertime birthday parties,

Jahns with the “kitchen sink” that you can’t finish

with less than five–no, ten people.

Heap it on, boys!

We can handle it.

Just like we indulge in books,

as many as our skinny girl arms can hold

standing on the bus

across the street from the Grand.

The D line creaks finally to a stop.

We emerge past the smoking dankness

to the light of stars.

And Flatbush,

not the sun, we know

is the center of the Universe.


If you should see me sipping a white drambuie

at the Posh

and someone interrupts with a call for the Professor–

If you should see me there,

remember first

First I was a Brooklyn girl.









About shirleywachtel

Shirley Russak Wachtel is the author of The Story of Blima—A Holocaust Survivor (publ.2005), a novel which recounts the early years of her mother, Betty Weisstuch Russak. The novel s listed as a recommended novel by the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. Wachtel is the author of several children's books, including a series of interactive mysteries, Charlie Wonder, Chef-Detective (2005), which includes several recipes; Brad Sureshot, Coach-Detective (2007) which details basketball skills; and Howie Rocket, World-Traveler-Detective (2009) which has handy foreign language phrases. In The Mellow Light (2009) is her first book of poetry. She is a professor of English at Middlesex County College in New Jersey. In addition, Wachtel is the co-author of Spotlight on Reading (2011), a textbook for college-level students. A mother of three sons, she resides with her husband, Arthur, in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Initially written as a doctoral dissertation for her Doctor of Letters Degree from Drew University, My Mother's Shoes , says Wachtel, is not just the novel of her life, it is the novel of her heart.
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