The star of Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour paints a picture of his hard-working immigrant parents.
My father, Max, came to this country from Poland when he was 9 years old, in the late 1880s. Max grew up on Broome Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, back when they still had sailboats arriving in New York harbor. Although he was only 5 feet 7 inches and heavyset, Max exuded authority and was a tough, powerful and stern man. Max was a product of the American immigrant ethic of working hard to get ahead. He was also pan of a generation of stoic men who didn't express their feelings openly.
My father was ambitious and industrious. During his youth he held down many eclectic jobs, including being a Sbabbos Goy, which literally meant "Sabbath Gentile." For a penny, he would turn on lights and stoves for more observant Jews who did not perform such activities on the Sabbath.
He later came up with another lucrative endeavor. For 50 cents a day, he would take your new pair of shoes and walk around in them for you, breaking them in. His big feet would stretch the tough leather, and in two days the shoes were comfortable.