Stanley Ely says that when the fiftieth or so person confronted him with a skeptical, "You mean you're Jewish, and you're from Texas?" he decided to do more than smile and say, "Yes." The result is this funny, caustic and nostalgic tale in the tradition of popular regionally and ethically focused memoirs.
Ely combines the stories of his grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, siblings and friends, and an abundance of family photos as he shares his family story from the immigration of his parents (as young children) and grandparents to Galveston from Russia and Romania until today, as Ely faces his own senior years living in New York. The story of Ely's family and their friends reflects the impressive growth of Dallas and its Jewish population in the first half of the twentieth century. As he narrates the building of new lives in Texas, Ely also portrays the integration of a minorty segment of Jewish immigrants in America outside the great cities of the North. Though the book is not a typical "coming out" story, the reader also learns of Ely's gradual and sometimes reluctant acceptance of himself as a gay man.
Of himself, the author tells of growing up in Dallas within the security of an intensely Jewish society. Then he prepares for the moment of his first departure for college in the North, and he thinks of mother's arrival from Russia as a girl of eight. Of his own first significant step away from Texas, Ely says his mother "probrably knew - and later I also realized - that that was the eventual crossing of an ocean for me." By now, Ely has lived in Manhattan for four decades. Yet he finds himself telling friends, "I'm going home for Passover" as he prepares for another annual trip to Texas. Once there, he takes a fresh look and concludes that Texas Jews are different from those elsewhere: they have dual citizenship, in Judaism and in Texas.
Writer and former tacher, Dallas born Stanley Ely lives in New York City. He has published many interviews and essays. This is his first book.
Author Stanley Ely
Number of Pages 276 pages
Publication Date August 1, 1998
Publisher Texas Christian University Press