Fishl was born in New York City at Harlem General Hospital, in 1926, when Harlem was a white, middle-class neighborhood. At an early age Yiddish was the language of use. His early upbringing was strict Orthodoxy.

His mother, Pearl, brought the orthodox background to the family and she prevailed throughout the marriage. She came to America from Tiktin (Tikocyn), Poland in 1922 at the age of 20 and married Max Kutner in 1925. Fishl’s Dad’s side of the family came to America in 1912 from Lodz, Poland and had no interest in religion. Since Pearl’s parents spoke no English, the children spoke Yiddish in their presence.

This lasted as long as they lived in New York.
In 1937 Fishl’s dad bought a poultry farm a mile East of Baptistown, NJ and eight miles from Flemington–the site where the Charles Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial was held. The Kutner children attended a one-room elementary school having only twelve children, no electricity, a pot-belly stove for heat, outhouses, no running water and the entire administration, faculty, and support staff consisted of only one teacher.