This is Sol's Story
This is our story about our friend and neighbor Sol and his beloved late wife Norma.
Born to Turkish immigrant parents in New York on September 20th, 1922 Solomon Eskenazi will be known to many of our neighbors because Sol has lived amongst us, here in the Landings, for 26 years.
This story is about Sol, his music and his adored wife who past away five years ago, a tragedy that Sol struggles to come to terms with, as he talks to us with tears in his eyes about Norma, who we will write about in our second part to this story. But you will learn about Norma here in Sol's story.
His music world started when he was 12 years old. He would play around on an old horn, and during the following months, his parents witnessed enough to realise that he was serious in his interest in playing the trombone. They bought him a shiny new
one for his 13th Birthday. That trombone has been with him ever since - his favorite - having accompanied him throughout his four years in the Navy during World War-ll, throughout his college life, and throughout his life in many bands up to and including the present day. It is still his favorite trombone - he has three - and he has had several offers to buy it. But Sol will not part with the instrument that has been with him for 83 years!
He plays in two bands each week, and the music and the camaraderie, together with a keen interest in modern day technology, keeps Sol alive while his endless thoughts drift continually towards those of his beloved wife Norma.
Today, despite his sadness, Sol is a bright and sprightly elderly gentleman. He has so much to offer in his music and in his attitude to modern day life. An e-mail from Sol could be easily confused as being from a 20 year old, although it will be written with the mature quality of our generations gone by.
Sol grew up in the streets of New York, and as his life moved on, he joined the navy to play his part in the Second World War. Having an early interest in communications he was posted into the U.S. Navy’s Hydrographic Office, in Washington. It was during his time in Washington as a young serviceman that he met Norma.
One Saturday night in the 1940’s he had gone to the Washington Jewish Community Center where they held dances every week on the roof of the building, for active and discharged servicemen. It was during one of these dances that he was spotted by the young lady, still in her late teens, who would one day become his wife, and one day would come to live here in the beautiful Landings. But more about that later.
Norma described Sol as a handsome young man who looked more like a ‘brawny Italian stevedore’ than a clerk in a naval office. She had first noticed him months before as he regularly got off the same bus as she, at the same stop. But she was a young lady brought up ‘properly’ and taught not to say anything to a strange man. And so she didn’t despite being secretly attracted to this ‘handsome young man’.
Solomon and Norma married on March 21, 1948 at the Washington Hotel in DC, and at that moment their long life together started that would lead to a blissfully happy marriage that would last for 66 years, filled with absolute love and devotion for each other.
Sol went on to earn two degrees – a Bachelors in statistics and systems, and a Master’s in Business Administration. At this time, they were living in Silver Spring, Maryland, where Sol found the time and the opportunity to receive his Pilot’s license.
And so it was, at this dance that she recognized him. Norma was very attractive and danced with many of the men who asked her. But when Sol approached her and asked her to dance everything changed for her and from then onwards, she only had eyes for Sol. She knew, at that moment, her life had changed.
They were drawn to each other; her to his principled and idealistic, kind and responsible character and him to her beauty, her goodness and as he would discover later, her artistic flair.
He retired from the Government in 1979, but left on a high note being awarded an Executive Management Citation from the US Department of Health Education and Welfare, by Caspar Weinberger, for his work in recognition of outstanding performance and accomplishments in the field of Management. He went on to spend ten years as a consultant in data processing.
But this story is about Sol The Music Man …. And also about Sol the pilot !
By the mid-1980’s Sol’s aging parents moved down here to South Florida and this gave Sol and Norma an opportunity to escape the worst of the northern winter weather and treat themselves to winter sunshine each year. When the nineties arrived they were both thinking about Florida as their retirement possibility – and both Sol and Norma had additional ideas in their minds. Norma saw Florida as potentially full of rich artistic opportunities, and Sol saw Florida as a ‘fertile field’ for retired musicians.
Sol had been developing his music abilities, with many hours of practicing and times spent at music tuition and performance venues.
At the turn of the nineties, Sol and Norma decided to test living in Florida by renting a place in Boca for five winter months, but after only three months they decided that Florida would be their new home whilst still travelling between Maryland and Florida as snowbirds. However by the mid-nineties they had decided that the little villa they had bought would be their year-round home….The Landings in Aberdeen East. They loved the Lake view and their own integration with nature. It was like magic, with Norma using the light and bright Florida room as her studio overlooking the lake.
It was here that Sol advanced his musical interest. He found plenty of Jazz and symphonic bands that were comprised mainly of retired musicians. This was perfect for Sol. With his Trombone he joined bands, more bands and even more bands. He loved his music and the comradery amongst the members of these bands. And every day he expanded his lungs and played that trombone, either practicing or playing in the bands. While he was creating music for the dancing couples, he found the time to use his other skills; flying in and out of Boca and Lantana airports, which gave him an opportunity to view his home from above, where Norma would be painting and sculpturing.
Today, Sol feels alone without Norma, she passed away suddenly with a cardiac arrest on Friday October 11, 2013. Sol was shattered, but after a very distraught period of time, with the strength of will of the ‘Italian Stevedore’ character she saw him display so many years before, he now gets up, polishes his Trombone and gets to work.
As he has done for so many years, Sol has played in various bands each week. At the time of writing this story Sol is not feeling too well, and we sincerely hope he can regain his strength again to do what he loves doing best. But here is a glimpse of the weekly commitment he has made, until so recently, to helping those dancers get the enjoyment he and Norma did, after they met, in those day after the war - and in their later years together:-
Monday AM–the ‘Now N Then Band’
Tuesday AM-‘The Nostalgia Band’
Tuesday PM-‘The Sid Parker Band’ and also the ‘Peter Gagliano Jazz Band’
WednesdayPM-‘South Coast Big Band’
ThursdayPM-‘Fusion Machine Swing Band’
Friday PM-‘The Bob Roberts Band’
There is no doubt that Sol can teach us all how to pick ourselves up and feel strong when the chips feel like they are down. Sol is a great gentleman – all 96 years of him, and although he no longer flies planes, he has kept himself alert and very much alive, thanks so much to his trusty Trombone – that 13th Birthday gift – and his band-playing comrades, and his memories and the love and the artwork of his beautiful Norma. We all wish you well Sol and a quick recovery.
OUR UPDATE - September 2020
We are sad that we have now lost you Sol. But we know that you are once again with your lovely Norma. Now you know you will always remain happy together.