I Hear They Make Good Husbands

So much going on, and none of it come to fruition in a way that makes a good blog post. I am working on a follow-up to the material about religion in Yiddish education. My grandfather’s speech in the Sukkah was interesting, but not a particularly clear or comprehensive statement on his views about religion in the curriculum. However, he did talk about the crisis in secular Yiddish education elsewhere, in detail and at length. I’m looking that material now, but it will take a bit.
Sooner than that, I will write about Yiddish poetry. Our reading group has started to meet. Last week we talked about the sweatshop poet Morris Rosenfeld (whom I’ve already written about here and here), and we talked about poetry as art made out of sounds. Thinking of it that way makes it possible to approach and enjoy poems, even when our language skills are not quite up to it yet.  This coming week we’ll be talking about Mani Leyb. He was a master of sounds, and probably made Yiddish prettier than it was before or since.
Looking for background on Mani Leyb also got me curious about sonnets in Yiddish, and let me to the poems of Fradel Shtok, whom I’d never heard of. But there’s a world of good things I’ve never heard of. I still read slowly and with the dictionary in my other hand.
I’ve also started keyboarding in Yiddish, thanks to my ever-generous teacher, D. She showed me how to use Pages on my Macintosh, and got me to install the Hebrew-Qwerty keyboard. I had been using Word, which places letters right to left within words, but then gallingly rearranges those words left to right. I’d also been trying to use the more traditional keyboard, with poor results. I’m happier now, but of course that’s another new project to tinker with.

So, while all these things are cooking, and not leading to blog posts, I present you with a light-hearted interlude. A person who will remain unnamed has called my attention to this gem:
http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/2497/
Here are the lyrics, published in 1911, by Seymour Brown:

Abie Rosenthal was much in love
With a little girl named Sadie,
She stayed out all night ’till broad daylight,
That is nothing like a lady,
She would go to places where they shake their feet,
With an Irish boy who lived near Hester street,
When she’d start to giggle,
Dance around and wiggle,
Abie’d go up in the air,
Sadie, beware, I don’t care,
Till you start a doing that grizzly bear.

Chorus
Why don’t you marry me Sadie?
I’m a nice yiddisher boy.
I’ve a good job in a buttonhole factory,
So why do you want to mix up with a goy?
You’ve got a nice feather bed, dear,
I’ve got some money saved too!
I’m a good Yiddisher buttonhole finisher,
Know what that goy will do,
Leave you flat when he’s through,
So marry a Yiddisher boy.

All the time that Abe was talking loud,
Band was playing Yankee Doodle,
Little Irish goy, he just let fly,
Hit poor Abie in the noodle,
Someone pushed the button for the riot call,
Ev’ryone was fighting all around the hall.
Sadie thought of mother,
Gave a little shudder,
What will the neighborhood say?
Wagon was there, Cries of despair,
As it drove away a voice rang out in the air.

Chorus
Why don’t you marry me Sadie?
I’m a nice yiddisher boy.
I’ve a good job in a buttonhole factory,
So why do you want to mix up with a goy?
You’ve got a nice feather bed, dear,
I’ve got some money saved too!
I’m a good Yiddisher buttonhole finisher,
Know what that goy will do,
Leave you flat when he’s through,
So marry a Yiddisher boy.

At the time that song was written, our very own Rochester boasted the biggest button manufacturer in the US, producing fully half the country’s buttons. Alas, despite his promising name, Moses B. Shantz, the company owner was a Mennonite. I have no information on how many of his buttonhole finishers were Yiddishers.

In 1904, the Moses B. Shantz Button Company changed its name to Rochester Button Company, and built this factory near High Falls.

In 1904, the Moses B. Shantz Button Company changed its name to Rochester Button Company, and built this factory near High Falls.

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