Saturday, March 9, 2013

Stories from my Father

In honor of the seventh anniversary of my dad's death, here are two of his stories (as augmented by yours truly.)

The Heysidonder Man
The "Heysidonder Man" is a title given to a very important position in the temple. 

On the Sabbath, when most Jews should be in temple praying to Hashem the Heysidonder Man does his assigned task.  Hashem means "The Name" because you should not take the name of G-d in vain. When you are praying to him you can use his name but when you are referring to him you should not use his name. (That is if you embrace any of this.) 

Many Jews do not take the services at temple seriously. They use temple as a vehicle to visit, catch up, gossip, be seen etc. Also, there are what are known as the "High Holiday Jews." These Jews only go to temple on the most sacred holidays, to atone for their sins, to be sealed in the Book of Life for Health, Happiness, and Prosperity and to visit, catch up, gossip, be seen etc. 

So being a generally roudy group, someone has to take them in hand and keep them in tow. This duty falls to the Heysidonder Man. He is usually a well respected member of the community and the temple, takes his religion and the act of praying seriously, is almost always quite old, and speaks with a foreign (read Yiddish) accent.

It is his job to tell the people attending the service but who are being disrespectful to the Rabbi, the Cantor and those who are serious about their prayers, "Hey Sit Down There!" The offenders almost always listen and the Heysidonder Man's job is done for the time being. Sometimes he has to tell the offender(s) again, "Heysidonder!" They usually listen on the second telling.

The Ibish Oise Machine

This story comes from the time that my mom and dad went on vacation taking the train from Chicago to Florida. This was in the pre AMTRAK days when the rail lines were still privately ownedhand the trains had names like The City of New Orleans, The California Zepher,  and the Super Chief. 

The trip took close to 40 hours going from Chicago to Washington, D.C. and then transferring to another train to Miami. In those days, travel by train was in its heyday and the trains were filled to capacity. Besides single travelers, families and larger groups would travel together.

There were your assigned seats or compartments for sitting and sleeping, observation cars, snack cars, dining cars, and cars for drinks. Many people packed their own food for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.

As you can imagine, the train cars got more and more rank as the 40 hours (if the train was on time) dragged by. Human odors, bathroom waste in toilets that didn't always work, leftover food like salami etc, stale odors, garbage, wrappers, pop bottles, etc. piled up. By the end of the trip, the living conditions on the train were almost intolerable and it was quite the mess.

My father's idea was that when the train was at its destination and all the people disembarked, the doors connecting the cars would be propped open and a HUGE vacuum type machine would be attached to the last car. It would be turned on and would suck out all the all of the odors and garbage in one easy sweep.

He call it the "Ibish Ois Machine." Ibish ois in Yiddish means: to clean out.

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