It seemed that there were multiple Uncle Sams remembered by different cousins. Judy remembers one who was the life of the party at family gatherings and known for eating flowers. Bonnie C. remembers one who drove her to the airport in Florida when she visited her father there. Denny remembers one who lived in Arizona and wore a white cowboy hat. And then there was the Uncle Sam who visited my grandparents every Friday night and never left New York City, lived alone, and was a cab driver. I’ve often wondered whether Uncle Sam had multiple lives and personalities or whether there were just a number of a different people named Sam Brotman.
Well, we have now resolved at least one of those mysteries. Below is a photo from Rosalind Haber’s wedding in 1956 (with more to follow in a subsequent post) showing some of the groomsmen from the wedding. I asked Judy who these men were, and she identified them as her father Charles Haber’s brothers Jack, Sol, and Abe, another Haber, and Charles’ nephew Jack Simon. Mixed in with all those Habers standing to the right in the middle row with the silver hair and those distinctive Brotman cheeks is none other than the Sam Brotman who Judy remembers from family events!
I showed the photo to my parents, and they confirmed that that is the same Sam Brotman who lived in the Bronx and visited my grandparents every Friday night, bringing a strawberry shortcake every single time.
Here’s a photo of Sam with my grandmother and my aunt Elaine; you can see that it is the same face.
So how could the same person be perceived so differently? My parents remember Sam as a quiet, shy loner who rarely spoke at family dinners. Judy remembers him as funny and outgoing. Could he have just been quiet in the context of my grandparents’ home and himself when he was with the Habers? He must have been quite close to Renee and Charles to have been made a groomsman at their daughter’s wedding. Perhaps they brought out the best in him.
Now if we could only figure out who those OTHER two Sams were….
 Thanks to Naomi Ratner and Ron White for sending me these photos!