April 10, 2021
When the “Big Bubbie” moved into an old age home, my brother and I started to go to your parents for Shabbus and holiday lunches. That was more complicated because we had to take two busses to get to the Marble Hill public housing projects where they lived. Because this Bubbie and Zayde came from a different village in Eastern Europe, the religious rules in their apartment were different. Zayde actually played the radio on Shabbus, but his trick was to leave it on from the day before. Anyway, we didn’t listen because the broadcast was in Yiddish. The “Little Bubbie” was able to turn the stove on during Shabbus, apparently they didn’t have stoves where they came from so their was no ancient prohibition on using them. That meant the soup, we always had lokshen or noodle soup, was warm and tasty. Apparently this Bubbie had also heard of salt.
The “Little Bubbie” spoke no English at all. She had moved from a Yiddish speaking village in Galicia (then Austria-Hungry, later Poland, and now Ukraine) to a Yiddish speaking village on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, so no other language was necessary. She spoke to us in Yiddish, which we apparently understood, and we responded in English, which she seemed to understand.
I couldn’t figure out why they only seemed to eat chicken soup with very mushy noodles. But now that I am over seventy I finally understand. No teeth.
The Zayde also wouldn’t each vegetables. Maybe his best line was, “If God wanted me to eat vegetables, he would have made me a cow.”
By the way, I found a recipe for Bubbe’s Chicken Soup online. Looking at all the ingredients, they apparently had a different Bubbe than me.
Hard copies of these typed letters were discovered in an old camp trunk in the basement storage facility of one of the few buildings that remain standing in this Brooklyn neighborhood. The building is quite decrepit and is scheduled for demolition. The letters were found in November 2048 by a teenager who believes they were written by his great-grandfather. The letters are addressed to Mendel, the letter writer’s father, who appears to have been dead for at least six years when his son, whose name we are unsure of, started to write him. The son appears very agitated in some of the letters. With permission from the family, we are publishing them on the date they were written, only 28 years later.