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[Page 211]

Personalities

 

Translated by Moses Milstein

Chaim Bruder

In his youth, he worked as a barber in Izbice. Even though he had a lot of problems there, the town remained beloved by him to his dying day.

His sole desire was to travel to Izbice, or to Russia where a brother lived. “A nice city, Russia,” he used to say. These were the two “cities” he loved, and talked about constantly.

Later, Chaim returned to the city of his birth, and worked for his uncle as a barber, and helped out playing at weddings. He livened up every wedding he attended. Half the city stood under the windows. More than once, in the middle of the wedding, he would grab his fiddle, and disappear out a back door.

The biggest insults were the shouts of “Chaim Bruder, mamzer.”

When his uncle died, he stayed with his aunt, Malkeh. His favorite dish was hot bobeh.

Once, he asked his aunt to bake him a bobeh. When some guys heard that Malkeh was baking a bobeh for Chaim, they poured castor oil, in the

[Page 212]

bobeh. Chaim really enjoyed the bubeh, and kept saying

–what a rich bobeh. Come nighttime, he almost died. From that point on, he didn't want to hear anymore about bobehs.

At the age of 60, he decided to get married. He thought no one knew about his wedding, and he had no idea what was in store for him. When the klezmorim who Chaim played with heard about the wedding, they all got together with their instruments, and hid near his house.

Chaim got up at dawn and prepared for the wedding. When he left the house, and got up on the carriage, the klezmorim appeared on the street, one in front with a flag, and they began to play. Soon the whole city was there, and they all accompanied Chaim to the outskirts of town.

Chaim's house was dearer to him than his life. He was afraid to have electricity in the house, because electricity can make the house shake.

When Poland instituted urbanistik, and required picket fences around every house, Chaim became very sad. He thought that even the roof had to be made of pickets, and how was he to keep the rain out in that case?

When he got old, he lost his sight. He would often sigh, and when he was asked–R' Chaim, why are you sighing? He would answer–If I had known I would lose my vision, I would have gone to see my brother in Russia.

Near the time of his death, Chaim expressed his greatest sorrow, that he could not see his house at least once before he died.


Yechezkeleh

He was forever young and happy. Years ago, when he was asked, Yechezkel, how old are you? He would always answer, 35 years old. And to the end of his days, he was never older than 35.

He was even happy when, during WWI, as the cholera was raging through the city, they married Yechezkel to a deaf woman in the cemetery as a remedy.

There was not a wedding in town where Yechezkel was not invited and regaled the crowd with his dancing and singing during which he recounted his entire lineage. Yechezkeleh Viotch–that's me. Meirleh Botch–my father. Chanahleh Du–my mother. Leibeleh Showolski–my uncle, and in this way he recited all his family.

He also remembered well every march played to the chupah 40 years earlier, and for whom.


[Page 214]

Godl

by H. Feigenboim

Translated by Moses Milstein

In his younger days, Godl was a zipper.[1] He worked hard for his daily bread. He was never the brightest.

When the Poland-Bolshevik war broke out, Godl was drafted into the Polish army and sent to serve in Szczecin.

A short time later, he was brought back mentally ill. He would run around town in torn clothes performing military exercises, screaming the whole time, “Company.” From time to time he would stop, hit himself in the face, and continue on.

He could only remember one thing. There was no one in town whose name he didn't know. If someone was pointed out to him, and he was asked for the name, he would jump up and down, and give the name.


Translator's footnote:

  1. Someone who worked in the sieve industry Return


[Page 215]

Shimon'le

When he was young, he was a women's tailor, which meant delivering the finished garments with his master.

He refused to allow his tenants to close the shutters. I'm the boss, he used to say, and he would shut them.

Later, he joined the household of the city rabbi. He was ready to sacrifice himself for the rebbe and the rebbetzin. His most grateful expression was, “ Rebbe, you are a great guy.” His mother's death made him angry at her. He said, “Good for you. You refused to eat, now you lie there.”

Later, he cut off his friendship with the rebbe and rebbetzin. He left them and became a water carrier.

But the reason for his quarrel with the rebbe and the rebbetzin remains a mystery.


[Page 216]

Avremele

Avremele was a person of average size, with a black, broad beard. He lived with his parents in a village near Bilgoraj, He used to go around town talking to himself. He used to pick up papers from the ground and stuff them in his bosom.

When WWI broke out, his mother, who was very pious, died during the cholera epidemic that raged in the Lublin area. She could not be buried in the city, so they buried her in the forest. At that time, his father left the village and came to the city.

After the war, his mother was exhumed, and it was said that her body was still fresh. The peasants there used to say that there was a light shining from her grave when they passed by at night.

Avremele was arrested by the gendarmerie, when Bilgoraj was occupied by Austria, and placed in chains in the belief he was a spy, because of the wads of papers he carried around. However, when things were explained to them, he was let go.

His favorite dish was hot potatoes. That's why he was called, “Avremele, Heisse Poples.”

After his father's death, he lived in the besmedresh doing odd jobs for people, and receiving food in return.

 

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