Mark Stern was born in 1961 in the South Bronx. His paternal grandfather moved to the Bronx from Germany because of the Nazis. Stern’s maternal grandfather was from Turkey and a Ladino speaker. He moved to the Bronx where he met Stern’s paternal grandmother and got involved in the laundry business. Stern’s maternal grandmother’s family lived on Warner Street and owned a bakery, however because of local competition from Pectoris and a lack of enthusiasm for continuing the family business, the bakery closed. As a kid, Stern remembers visiting the industrial laundry building and visiting his grandparent's home in Clawson Point in the East Bronx.
Three of Stern’s grandparents were Ashkenazi but his Sephardic maternal grandfather had a significant influence on the family’s traditions, including Stern’s being named after his living grandfather and the food they ate, such as bourekas. Stern grew up on 1115 Jerome Avenue but also lived with his parents in the South Bronx and then on Grand Concourse although he has few memories of either location. Eventually, Stern’s family moved to 197th Street and when he went to college at Boston University his mother moved to 2745 Reservoir Avenue. Stern remembers feeling safe as a kid but the Bronx became more dangerous later on in his life. During his adulthood, while living at XXX he was mugged in his apartment building prompting him and his wife to move to Dobbs Ferry in Westchester, NY in 2002.
Stern had a difficult school experience enjoying primary school but struggling in junior high where he attended Bronx School 143 also known as Tetard. He was a part of the SP program and skipped eighth grade going to Bronx Science for high school, which he graduated from in 1978. He remembers the 1967 ‘68 Teachers' Strike and the boredom of being held in the school cafeteria all day while the teachers were on strike. Eventually, Stern went to Boston University but dropped out and later went to Fordham University, commuting from his mother’s home on Reservoir Avenue. He became a teacher and taught at Walton High School and then transferred to DeWitt Clinton High School before retiring early at the age of 54.
Stern describes his father’s death, a suspected suicide, and the emotional toll it took on him. Additionally, he reminisces on the old Yankee stadium and describes his love of baseball as both a Yankees and Mets fan.
Holocaust, Ladino, South Bronx, East Bronx, Grand Concourse, Bakery, Laundry, Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Bronx Science, 1967/68 Teachers' Strike, Fordham University, Walton High School, DeWitt Clinton High School, Yankees, Mets
Maier Garcia, Sophia, "Stern, Mark" (2023). Bronx Jewish History Project. 22.