Herb Gross
remembers David Goodis


David Goodis’ friend Herb Gross said that David “could have been a stand up comic.”

Philadelphia is a big small town. Everyone is connected to somebody in some manner. Herb Gross, about a dozen years younger than David, knew David Goodis for seven or eight years.

Originally from the vicinity of 46th Street and Girard Avenue, Gross moved to Wynnefield, across the street from Len Cobrin. Gross met David Goodis through Len Cobrin, when they crashed dances. It turned out that Gross’s father was a “ninth cousin” to the Goodis family. Cobrin, Gross and Goodis hung out together.

“David could have been a stand up comic,” Gross said. “David had many qualities. If you said frugal, it would not describe him. He was worse than frugal.”

“With all the money he made from books, he never bought new clothes,” Gross said. “His mother would buy him a suit--$1 at the Salvation Army. David would call me up. ‘Gross, I have a new suit to show you,’”

“One memory is vivid. David wore pants four or five inches short. The suit sleeves were mid arm’s length. He would get out of the car and pose in the suit,” Gross said.

“David was so cheap that his mother would cut his hair,” Gross aid.

“David would call me up on the phone and say, ‘I want to come out and see you.’ I have a present for your daughter. He came out and gave her one stick of Wrigley’s chewing gum. He would say, ‘Gross, is that creative?” Gross said.

“In the mid 1950’s, David had to go to California to write a script for Alfred Hitchock. He called me from there. I said, where are you? David said that he decided to stay with Allan Norkin, a lawyer,” Gross said.

“David said he had a choice. There was a bedroom with twin beds for $3 a week and the chance to sleep on the sofa for $2, so he took the sofa,” Gross said.

”David said, ‘I don’t want you to think I am cheap.’ “This story did not happen, but David said it to satirize the Hollywood lifestyle,” Gross aid.


Gross said that David used to do poses of quarterbacks in small motion.

Gross said that David was a terrible pool player. Gross and David played at Dave’s pool room at 40th Street and Girard Avenue. “David said he won all kinds of tournaments. When I played pool with him, I was worried that he was going to rip the cloth off the pool table--he was so bad,” Gross said. Gross patronized Mosconi’s (Superior Billiards) but never with Goodis.

“Nobody penny pinched like him. He would never buy anything new. His car was so horrible, filthy dirty, that I would tell him to park across the street. I did not want anyone to know that he was a friend of mine,” Gross said.

“It would be a blizzard. He would call me up, ‘Gross.’ He always called me Gross. ‘Gross, if you were any kind of a mensch [Yiddish for man] you would pick me up and drive me to Scranton to get me out of the weather,’
Goodis would say. We never went to Scranton,” Gross said.

Gross remembered that David would walk on Girard Avenue and stop on the trolley tracks and say that his toe was stuck in the tracks..