Professor Joe Goldblatt
Facebook has brought to billions of us previously unimaginable global connections. Prior to the creation of Facebook, if I was curious about my potential human connections, I would Google my surname and before that I would ring up the directory assistance operator at the telephone company or turn to the gigantic door stop known as the white pages of the telephone directory. Do we still have telephone information operators of telephone books?
However, in the twenty – first century we have at the stroke of a computer key access to information that we would have imagined in previous years to be unfathonable. And the portal of that computer key stroke and Facebook is how I got to meet, like, respect and find two more joys of life with two other men named, wait for this…Joe Goldblatt.
As a child, I found having the name Joe Jeff Goldblatt to be somewhat challenging. First, my teachers and peers did not know what to call me. Should they call me Joe or Jeff or in our southern vernacular the combined “Joe Jeff”. I finally settled on Joe Jeff and my father, Max B. Goldblatt further finalised this decision by creating a magic act for me and my sister that was intriguingly entitled Joe Jeff the Clown Prince of Magic.
This name became more problematic when I went away to college where having two first names was not the norm. I was so frustrated that when I was asked in drama school to create a stage moniker I chose the slighly waspish sounding handle of Jerry Bellamy! To this day, I have no idea why I imagined that I was a certain Jerry Bellamy, however it sounded like it would fit a young, slim tap dancing actor who dreamed of becoming the next Donald O’Connor or even Jimmy Cagney.
Perhaps the zenith of my misfortune with my surname was when I was asked to appear in a photo with the former First Lady of the United States, Betty Ford. Mrs Ford was to cut the ribbon opening a Christmas festival and I appeared in my mime face and costume beside her. As she snipped the ribbon I offered her my left cheek for a small peck and she obliged. Dozens of flashes suddenly went off and our photograph appeared for posterity with my named captioned in over 200 USA newspapers. Unfortunately the caption misspelled my surname as Joe Jeff Goldballs . Upon receiving copies of the newspaper my father threw up his hands and asked “Who the hell can I show this to?” Therefore, not unlike many others, I have had an ongoing struggle with my name for a long time.
Early in my teaching career I taught many unusual courses for an outfit known as Open University in Washington, DC. One of these course was entitled Social Kissing and in the two hour class adult professional students learned the history of osculation and specific techniques such as the air kiss that was essential for politicians and their partners to fake sincerity and affection when meeting strangers.
One day, the producer of a popular long time American Television Game show entitled “To Tell the Truth” rang me up and invited me to appear on the show as the Kissing Professor. The show’s premise was that a person with a real back story and two imposters would answer questions from a panel of celebrities. The panel had to guess who was the real Joe Goldblatt.
Despite my best efforts, I was unsuccessful at confusing the panel and they unanimously selected me as the real Joe Goldblatt. I returned from New York city with my consolation prizes of a thermos (flask) and a suitcase. I suppose I learned that despite my best efforts, I could not escape being Joe Goldblatt.
The name Joe Goldblatt is perhaps not as common as John Smith or even John Doe, however, as my father always taught me, a good name is priceless. When papa opened his hardware store he did not have any money to purchase advertising. Instead, he paid a caligrapher to place these beautiful words in a frame in the front window of his shop. That frame and these words are now in my home in Scotland to remind me of the importance of a good name.
Therefore, I initially went in search of others bearing my name out of curiosity and then to see if there were any common themes to our lives. I wondered if I could find at my age some fellow musketeers for a bit of fun and fellowship?
Of course finding and meeting someone on Facebook carries with it a huge risk. You may read their profile information and become curious, however, until you actually begin to correspond through the internet or a video or audio telephone call you cannot always be sure if you wish to pursue further contact.
Out of pure curiosity I searched on Facebook for the other Joe Goldblatts in their universe of 2 billion people. I found five men with this exact name and sent each a brief introduction through a private message and wondered if any would indicate they welcomed further conversation.
In my case, I got lucky twice over. The other two men whom I found on Facebook and who share the same name were similar in personality as myself and we found we had much in common. To keep matters simple, I nicknamed the other two Joes as Primus for the oldest, Segundus for the second oldest and myself as Tertius as I am the baby of our new tribe.
Primus spent the majority of his career working for the U.S Air Force looking after missles in one of the western states in the U.S. Upon retirement, he and his wife opened a bakery where they sold home baked dog biscuits and the business was very successful until one day, when the shopping centre where they were located began to decline, they decided it was time to fully retire. Primus responded to my invitation to connect almost immediately and he and I had been aware of one another for a number of years. My invitation finally opened the door to our now, albeit long distance, burgeoning curiosity and friendship. I soon learned that he grew up in the Bronx in New York andlike me also has adult children and grandchildren. I also learned that like me he is very liberal in his political philosophy and is also engaged in local politics as an activist. Our online bromance soon developed into a video call where we found we had even more in common including a love for our Jewish heritage, an extraordinary love of dogs and of course, the love of our family.
Segundus lives in the city of my mother’s heritage in the southern part of the USA. He and his wife actually live a few miles from where my beloved Aunt Bertha and Uncle Sam lived for many years. His career was in auto parts sales and marketing and he gave sales speeches all over the USA for many years. Like me, he also has two children, although his are of the female persuasion and he also has grandchildren. However, unlike Primus and myself, Segundus was brought up as a Christian and with the name Goldblatt he was unfortunately subjected to some antisemitism as a child while growing up in the southern part of the U.S.
Both Primus and Segundus share with me a fabulous sense of humour. Primus sees humour in everyday life. Prior to our recent initial video call Segundus wrote to me “As you were once a mime, we won’t need the audio part.” All three Joe Goldblatts have also enjoyed long marriages. However, Segundus’s wife told me that she had to confess that although she had been married to her husband for 52 years, she had been carrying on with a Scotsman for 14 years. She then paused for dramatic effect and said that they owned a Scottish collie dog and that he had been one of the great loves of her life.
One of the great joys of my life has been in the winter of my years meeting new people such as Primus and Segundus. I must admit that even for an extrovert as myself is known to be, it does take a wee bit of courage to contact a total stranger and see if there is a set of common values, experiences and / or interests that might foster a future friendship. However, in my case I believe I have struck solid gold with these two.
What I have learned from this early exploration of the name Joe Goldblatt is that within the universe of Facebook there are at least two other fellows whose devotion to family, hard work, and having a good laugh are similar to my own. For me, this is very reassuring because it is nice to know that Joe Goldblatts come in multiples and that perhaps this may be good for the wider world as well.
As a result of our new friendship I am considering hosting the first ever Joe Goldblatt Convention to be followed by the First Annual Joe Goldblatt Reunion. I hope that the Goldblatt Masonry Tool Company in Saddlebrook, New Jersey (https://goldblattusa.com/about/) might be our sponsor and that the very unorthodox former theatre director Rabbi Dan Goldblatt of Beth Chaim Congregation in the Bay Area of California might provide the invocation (https://bethchaim.com/spiritual-leadership-topmenu-40), For the Christian member of our tribe, I propose to invite the popular mythical Twitter influencer, Her Grace the Duchess Goldblatt, as our keynote speaker.
Through this journey in search of other Joe Goldblatts I have learned that my Papa was absolutely right. A good name is the most precious thing a man can own. It may be the only thing a man may actually own. During a global pandemic that has closed so many doors for so many, I have been fortunate in opening a window through the internet and finding two other interesting fellows who share with me what I believe they have proven to be, a very good name indeed. No longer do I dream of becoming Jerry Bellamy. I am content to be Joe Goldblatt. And perhaps one day, as Tertius, I will also live up to thesterling examples of Primus and Segundus. Until then, it is time to start planning our fabulous convention opening ceremony. Something tells me that there may be a wee bit of magic, automobiles, dogs and even missles!
Professor Joe Goldblatt is Emeritus Professor of Planned Events at Queen Margaret University where he held the world’s first chair in this field. He is the author, co – author and editor of 40 books in the field of planned events. He lives with his wife Nancy in Edinburgh, Scotland, where to his knowledge, he is the only Joe Goldblatt.