Thursday, April 4, 2013

From a Eulogy for Audrey Goodfriend delivered March 31, 2013 at the Hillside Club in Berkeley, California.

Hello. I am Doris Moskowitz, the youngest daughter of Moe and Barb Moskowitz and the owner of Moe’s Books. I was born In 1966, long after Walden School and Moe’s Books had begun, but even I can see how important Audrey Goodfriend was.

For those of you who may not know, Moe’s Books is the huge, terrifically independent bookstore on Telegraph doing business in Berkeley since 1959. Audrey worked as bookkeeper for Moe’s for somewhere around 30 years.

Let me make one thing clear and there is no mistaking this, Moe’s Books would not exist without Audrey.

Although she was in no way a bookseller, being much too interested in what was in the books, and a hoarder, with huge piles of interesting tomes on her desk, in the way and gathering dust, she played an intrinsic part in our survival.

Not only was she honest and fair with strong morals and an unwavering work ethic and very good with numbers, she could work with people. By people, I mean not only the truly unruly staff at Moe’s Books, some of whom have been with us since the beginning of time and have refused to change even though she berated and corrected them with red pens and lectures full of condemnation about foolish and lazy mistakes. And I include Moe himself in this group. And me.

By people, I also mean my parents. These strong, virtually impossible people, where her friends.

Although they raised a family and gave birth to the wonderful cultural icon that entertains so many and employed Audrey for so many years, they did not get along. When they separated in 1978, having just begun the construction on what we call our “new” building, Audrey was there. 

When they fought over money for the store, she was there.
When they fought over their children, she was there. 
When they fought about Moe’s Books, which they inevitably did over and over agin, she was there.

Growing up around her, her office was in our home on Lewiston here in Berkeley, I  always knew how important she was. Everything went through her.

Audrey’s desk.
Audrey’s office.
Audrey’s acting.
Audrey’s politics.
Audrey’s lunch... Cottage cheese, bell peppers, maybe an apple. Always watching her weight. I played at her desk, with the adding machine, the papers and pens, the pencil sharpener. These were my toys when she went home.

Later on, when she had a proper office on Telegraph, she continued to come to my mom’s house regularly to take care of all the things that only she could handle. As a student of music, I would often arrive there to practice on the piano that lived in her office. She always insisted that I play and sing for her while she worked. I am so grateful to be one of the many creative spirits that she encouraged with love and wonder. I know this means a lot to all of us.

When she retired from Moe’s 12 years ago, I found more than 50 pens in the back of her drawer that she was saving for something. They had been saved so long they’d given up their ink. She saved everything. By making and maintaining friendships with both Barb and Moe Moskowitz, she saved Moe’s Books. For us. 

Can any business survive if the partners divorce? Not many. Audrey made it possible for Barb, as mostly silent partner for so many years, to know everything about the store and to be able to keep the money and insurance and all the grown up stuff together because Audrey was the go-between for her and Moe. 

Of course she was always straight with both Moe and Barb and willing to wade through difficult financial times of which Moe’s Books has had many. They both saw her perspective on the business as fundamentally too focused on the details or what they called “the trees.” 

Although this is how a good bookkeeper needs to be, Moe’s Books also needed Moe, a fearless big picture guy with a lot of panache. He saw the forrest, she saw the trees. He often dismissed her fears and warnings and did whatever he thought was right which usually grew the business. They balanced each other.

They had been friends in their early 20’s in New York City. Audrey was one of the friends that Moe had in California that brought him out west in the 50’s in the first place. Actually, my parents met at a party at Audrey’s house. Barb, who she knew because they had started Walden School together, was on a blind date with someone else, but she found Moe charming and he could be.

So actually, not only would Moe’s Books not have survived without Audrey, but I would not exist.

She loved me from the beginning. She loved all my mother’s children. Roger, Ali, Katy, and all the children at Walden. And everyone at Moe’s. She loved us all from the beginning and never stopped listening and caring and growing. She loved my son, my husband and even our ugly little dog. I really can not express the loss I feel. My good friend is gone. Who will hold up the world?

When she told me she would be retiring from Moe’s around her 80th birthday, I was surprised. I thought she would be with us always. Since then we have modernized and tidied but we have not become more efficient or better organized. We have not saved more money or made better choices. She kept everything on actual ledgers in an actual file which I actually return to to find actual information that she has saved for me. 

She handled everything for us from her office on the 4th floor with her view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It will always be Audrey’s Office to me.

Thank You, Doris 

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