In honor of Danny Raskin, Al Muskovitz shares stories about Dr. Maurice “Maurie” Reizen and Eva Port.
Lost in all the hype over Detroit Tiger Miguel Cabrera’s chasing milestone home run and RBI records is the fact that quietly, and dare I say modestly, I am only 70 years shy of tying Danny Raskin’s breathtaking record for years consecutively writing for the Detroit Jewish News.
Spoiler alert — I actually will never tie or surpass Danny Raskin’s nearly 80-year JN journalistic record because I plan on only writing for the JN through 2090, purposely and respectfully leaving Danny’s record intact.
As you well know by now, Danny, a popular fixture in our community and our beloved colleague at the JN, passed away on July 26 at 102.
Danny was a big baseball fan, so it makes sense that when I began reflecting on his longevity in the journalism game, I immediately thought of the legendary New York Yankee Lou Gehrig, who for his durability over the course of his illustrious 17-year baseball career was nicknamed the “Iron Horse.”
Much has been written in these pages over the last couple of weeks documenting the incredible journey and menschkeit qualities Danny exhibited in both his professional and personal life.
I was particularly moved by the revelation I read in several tributes to Danny that he never wrote a negative restaurant review. If he were on the disappointing end of a poor dining experience, he spared the restaurateur any public shaming in print; unlike the vitriol we too often see on social media platforms. Danny, instead, would privately offer advice to the proprietor with the hope of returning to write about the new and improved version of the restaurant.
Danny was a witness to so much history that only a lifespan of 102 years could afford. Thanks to the Detroit Jewish News Foundation’s William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History, you’ve got a free time machine at your disposal to go back to the JN’s inaugural issue in 1942 and read Danny’s first column. Set aside a few hours and binge read a few decades of Danny.
Rare is the opportunity to write about a centurion like the amazing Danny Raskin. So, while I’m at it, allow me to give a shout-out to 102-year-old Dr. Maurice “Maurie” Reizen of Novi. The good doctor, a former director of Michigan’s Department of Public Health, is a longtime friend of my father.
I was thrilled, along with a throng of other friends and family, to witness his 102nd “distanced” birthday celebration outside his senior living community this past Feb. 24.
Maurie continues to celebrate life’s simple pleasures as was evident in a photo his daughter Nancy sent me of her beaming father on one of their recent drives to a lake for an afternoon of lunch, relaxation and reading.
Then there’s the unforgettable and unflappable Eva Port, of blessed memory. In 1992, while on the air at WOMC radio in Ferndale, I received a phone call from a Ferndale convalescent residence. They thought that since I worked on the air for Dick Purtan on 104.3 FM, it was the perfect reason for us to interview their resident, Eva Port, on the occasion of her 104th birthday. And we concurred.
Dick and I will never forget that visit with Eva. I was a little more portly at the time (OK, I was fat), and when I asked Eva what I could do to experience the kind of longevity she had been blessed with, she replied emphatically without missing a beat — “lose some weight!”
Bill Clinton was president at the time of our interview and the Monica Lewinsky scandal had been making headlines. It turns out, I underestimated how up to date Eva would be on current affairs when I asked her what she thought about Bill Clinton. Again, without a second of hesitation she shot back, “I think he thinks with his pants!”
What a treasure Eva Port was. And what a privilege to have interviewed her on her 104th birthday … and again when she turned 105, 106, 107 and 108. She passed two months after her 108th birthday, and I was just one of three in attendance at her funeral.
I’m constantly inspired by the knowledge and enthusiasm for life by folks like Danny, Eva and Maurie. I think they make a good argument for that adage that youth is indeed wasted on the young.