Denzel Goldfarb is as goniff. If you have no idea what means get yourself an English- Yiddish dictionary and discover that it means thief. There is also a picture of Denzel Goldfarb there to illustrate the definition. I first met Goldfarb when I was in basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia, and he followed me to Fort Gordon, Georgia for Radio Teletype training.
He was with me in Germany for a while and then I lost track of him until a few years ago. He had not changed one scintilla. He was the glad handing, hail fellow well met, touchy feely crook that he had always been. You could never get a straight answer from Goldfarb no matter how many questions you asked him. If you were gullible, you were in serious trouble in the first minute of conversation.
I had not thought of him for a long while, until I looked his name up on Facebook. There he was in all of his glory, age 73, throwing the same b.s. around as he did when I first met him in 1957. I could not fathom that life’s intricacies had not addled his brain, or had him shot or put away in the cookie bin. His entreaties on his Facebook page were most certainly cons that he had dreamed up over the years. I will bet that there are still suckers out there who would believe him.
In basic training, all of us were rather insecure about our place in the military. Most of us had been drafted and left our regular lives behind. According to Goldfarb, he was a dealer in antiques and artwork. His specialty was contemporary American artists and Chinese pottery. We were only too glad to tell us that if we wanted, he could put us in touch with a few pieces. Since he was the dealer, he would have to get a commission, ahead of time, to secure the deal. Most of the soldiers were aware of the con and did not succumb to his bull. However, there were a few who saw that they could make a few bucks off the deal and evidently gave Goldfarb some money to put them in the art business.
Since we were in basic for only nine weeks, none of the marks could really find out what happened to their treasures. When basic was over, Goldfarb took their names, addresses and phone numbers, and promised that they would get their pieces sent to their homes in a short while. I can hardly believe that any of them got anything.
When I reported to Fort Gordon a few weeks later, there was Denzel Goldfarb in the same barracks as I was. He greeted me like I was part of his family, “ Hillman, it is so good to see you boychikel ( a diminutive for little boy). How was your visit with your family?” “Fine I said, how about yours?” It was a meichel ( satisfying experience) and all of the Jewish community in Fargo, North Dakota came out to see me. We had a great party at the shul (synagogue) and the Rabbi blessed me and wished me luck.
Little did I understand, I was eighteen at the time, that everything that Goldfarb said was a lie. He was not from Fargo, North Dakota, nor did he ever go there in his lifetime ( till I saw him on Facebook). He was from New York, as was his entire family.
Goldfarb began his Fort Gordon con almost as soon as the guys got into the barracks to settle down. He claimed that he was a professional card player from Chicago and that he would be happy to have people invest in his skills in card games that would be whomped up, by him, when payday came around. He said that he needed a stash and that he would double anyone’s money who invested in him.
He must have gotten some people to do it. He was very convincing. He was, in fact, a good card player. I could never confirm the fact that he cheated, but I suspected that he was a card counter. In a game with one deck, played on a footlocker with five other people, card counters could have a ball. Since all of his investors did not see him play all the time, he could claim victories and defeats and tell them pretty much anything that he wanted.
He must have paid off some people and not others, but he wound up the sixteen weeks with a bundle of bills. I never deigned to play in any of his games. Not that I was a bad card player, but I believed that the cards were stacked against everyone but Denzel.
In September of 1957, a bunch of us were shipped off to Germany. Goldfarb was one of us. We were first stationed in small town called Boeblingen outside of Stuttgart and that is where our paths diverged. I did not hear from him from a long while. It was not until the mid 70’s that I ran across him in a shopping mall in Allentown. He was adorned in a sleek white dinner jacket and was hawking Norman Rockwell paintings.
Somehow, he had gotten permission to sell these reprints of Rockwell’s paintings in various places in the U.S. It was a kind of concession with pretty girls showing the paintings and the audience asking questions and buying them. Carol and I and our children, then aged 8 and 6 were fascinated by this line of palaver. He has been married for the third time and was well on his way to his fourth marriage. He completely denied that he had ever been in Fargo, North Dakota or had family there.
He was then in negotiations with the King of Morocco for leasing of oil rights in some obscure place in that country. He even gave us a record with the King’s picture shaking hands with Denzel. He was a masterful story teller and the kids hung on his every word.
Sometime during the holidays in the mid 80’s we got one of those Christmas/Chanukah letters describing all of the events of Denzel’s life during the past year. We still don’t know how he got our address, but he did. He was now running a computer school for people just starting out and wondered if anyone on his list was interested in investing. I declined the offer and tossed the letter into the trash.
When I retired as I.U. Director in 1991, Carol and I decided to do a bit of travelling before we would work again in her consulting firm. We took a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. Would you believe it, there was Goldfarb and his fifth wife Hannah and their small child Lovecraft, a beautiful little boy with curly blonde hair. Denzel was his wife’s senior by , at least 20 years. He brought me up to date about his doings.
His success now rested on his new and thriving business relating to clothing for the handicapped. This was a brand new field that had yet to be tapped. He was excited about the possibilities and was in contact with some company in China to produce these garments. He was sure that this would be the wave of the future and plants would spring up throughout the world to manufacture these garments.
He recalled our days in the military in a way that I did not remember. I had completely forgotten that he was an officer and had won a number of medals for valor in the Vietnam war. I did not remember because they did not happen. He told them with such elan, and with such joy, that I began to doubt my own sanity. When we went back to our cabin, Carol and I had to pinch ourselves to make sure that we heard what he said correctly.
We ate dinner with the Goldfarbs just one time while on the cruise and did not see him again till the Facebook episode a few years ago. He was then married to a new bride from the country of Nepal. He had a correspondence with her through the internet and then went over to get her. He was living outside of New York City in Hackensack, N.J. and was now doing tax work for small businesses. He had found a number of loopholes in the tax laws and was finding many people who were anxious to take advantage of his skills.
I did not become one of his Facebook friends. I was almost afraid to find out what his next business would be or if he would wind up in federal prison. As far as I can tell, these were the life and times of Denzel Goldfarb.