Eulogy For A Friend—Julie Wager
What can one say when he has lost a friend he has known for almost 70 years.
Since I now live on the West Coast in Marin County, California I was not able to attend the service honoring him. Tony Barsamian (your publisher) called yesterday to tell me about his passing so that I might add my belated thoughts to those honoring Julie.
How does one try to encapsulate 70 years into a few short paragraphs?
Let us go back to the beginning. When we were both young and Julie worked in his mom and dad’s corset shop on Steinway in Astoria. My mom was a customer and she dragged me with her when she went shopping. Since he was disgusted with what he was doing and I was disgusted with what I was doing, we bonded. That was not the only thing we had in common; we both went to P.S. 6 which is now a parking lot on Steinway Street. We shared an inside joke about that which follows. As years passed we went our separate ways and many years later we both wound up working for the Gazette (myself as editor and general manager and Julie as sales manager). When Julie would pontificate on policy (and he often did) I would say, “How can you pay attention to a guy who graduated from a parking lot” not mentioning that I did too.
Our time together at the Gazette was interesting and at times frustrating, crazy, wacky, you name it. We laughed and almost cried at times. But through it all we hung in there Tony, Julie and I, the three musketeers. We took a newspaper of 36 pages and built it into a colossal of as many as over 200 pages on special occasions. It wasn’t easy. We spent many a night until 2 or 3 in the morning nursing our baby to the printer. One night Julie, who always took the final look at the paper before we sent it out, announced in his most dramatic voice, “there is no page 39”. Then he turned to me and said “make one”. At three in the morning with bleary eyes, I said “Are you kidding?”. Being a good guy he said “OK, I’ll help”. Within a half hour we performed this miracle and Tony laughed and said “Is there anything you two can’t do?” These are but a few of the silly things one remembers. Silly yet oh so dear.
There are many stories that can be told of Julie Wager, stories of his accomplishments, the good things he did for so many people, his community involvement but most of all his love of Steinway Street and Astoria. He was in truth Mr. Steinway. I’m sure that all these things were said at his funeral far better than I could say. However, since July never let me get the last word in, I will now From my wife, my children and myself We loved you and will dearly miss you, my friend. Our sympathy to his family. Jim Mahoney One of the Three Musketeers