Anne Frank and the Triple Crown

posted in: Memoir, Poetry, Uncategorized | 0

Peter Nash portrait

Separations and speculations, featuring work by Joseph Levy (translated by Gloria DeVidas Kirchheimer) and Peter Nash. 
6 minutes


On June 12, 1942, a German girl living in the Netherlands got an autograph book as a present for her 13th birthday. She decided to use it as a diary and named the diary “Kitty.” Her name was Anne Frank, and she wrote about her life as a Jewish girl, hiding with her family in Nazi-controlled Amsterdam. I’m not going to read from Anne Frank’s diary, but in honor of the anniversary, I am going to ready a couple excerpts from another diary.

In 1919, Joseph Levy emigrated to New York from Izmir, Turkey. He kept a diary or a journal of his trip that he wrote in French. Here are a couple excerpts that Joseph’s daughter Gloria DeVidas Kirchheimer translated into English.

Thursday, October 23

I left home on Thursday morning at 8:30. The separation was very emotional. First my sister kissed me and hugged me so hard I was afraid of suffocating. After embracing me she left for work sobbing, her eyes red. Then my father hugged me so hard that the hairs of his moustache and his beard pierced my cheeks, but I would have wished that pain to remain forever as a constant reminder of him. When it was my mother’s turn, I hardly had the energy to kiss her, I was so overwhelmed, and trembled with emotion. She made me promise to take care of myself and to never do anything frivolous.

I will keep my word to follow her advice. With Isaac and Leon [his brothers] I made a superhuman effort and didn’t cry. I embraced them and promised to send for them from New York, along with our parents, as soon as possible.

Friday, October 24

At 10:00 my ship SS Themistoklis prepared for departure. A ship dropped anchor next to us, full of Greek soldiers singing their heads off. Gradually, the dock filled with people waiting to see our ship leave. Promptly at noon, it raised anchor. I kept seeing the dock and the whole city. I wanted to be sure to absorb this sight because God knows if I’ll ever see the dear city of my birth again . . .

Thank God the sea has been calm. I was introduced to a passenger named Max Mahlers. He’s originally from Poland but has been living in America for a long time in the city of Philadelphia, an hour and a half from New York. He only knows English so for me it’s a very good opportunity. That’s all we speak together. I hope to make substantial progress by the time we arrive in New York.

Excerpts from Joseph Levy’s diary, translated from the French by his daughter Gloria DeVidas Kirchheimer, and published in Passager’s book Keeping Time: 150 Years of Journal Writing.

This week marks the anniversary of Anne Frank’s starting her diary. And an entirely different anniversary, too: the 51st anniversary of Secretariat’s Triple Crown victory. He won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes in 1973, the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. No winner this year, though. The two most recent Triple Crown winners, by the way, were American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018. And they were both descendants of Secretariat. Here’s a poem about horses—and family—by Peter Nash, “Windy and Fawn.”

In viscous moonlight
they wander side by side,
mother and daughter
passing in and out of black pine shadows.
Middle-aged mares clumping in tandem,
occasionally snatching a blackberry bramble with soft lips
they nod their heads
as if discussing something of immense consequence.

They roll in the sun-warmed grass
on summer mornings
legs waving in the air like upended beetles
and then like Great Danes lying on their bellies
they survey the world with mild heads
and pointed ears.

I’m not sure that I could do it.
I mean, live in a field with one of my sons.
Standing beside him,
eating from the same flake of hay
pulling burrs off each other’s back
or hunkered down under a maple tree
shoulders touching in the pattering darkness,
coats dripping
while chickadees click
in the hedges.

We’d probably be at opposite ends
of the pasture
looking over the fence
and giving little speeches.

But my wife, Judy—put her in that great green room with our daughter Hana –
I can see them galloping around, whinnying,
laughing at some crazy thing that a raven said,
their big yellow molars glinting
in the bright light of early dawn.

“Windy and Fawn” by Peter Nash from Passager’s anthology of material from its first 21 years, Burning Bright. Catchy title, don’t you think!

To buy Burning Bright or Passager’s anthology of 150 years of journal writing Keeping Time, or to subscribe to or learn more about Passager and its commitment to writers over 50, go to You can download Burning Bright from Spotify, Apple and Google Podcasts and various other podcast apps.

For Kendra, Mary, Christine, Rosanne, and the rest of the Passager staff, I’m Jon Shorr.

Not pictured: Gloria DeVidas Kirchheimer