Mayer was born in 1916 in a small shtetl: Opatow. He completed seven grades of Polish school and immigrated to Canada at age 17. After he retired over 20 years ago, his daughter Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, began urging him to tell and paint whatever he could remember of his childhood. The images yielded by his memory exceeded everyone’s expectations, probably including his own. Mayer’s photographic memory allowed him to meticulously recreate Jewish life in Opatow, as it was before the war.