Friday, November 11, 2011


Itty-Bitty is named after my father's father, Fred.  (It's Ashkenazi tradition to not name after living relatives, or we would have named him for my father.)  So before his bris, I called my father and asked him to tell me about Grandpa Fred.  Sadly, most of what he told me was not repeatable in polite company, but it was interesting, so I shall share it with you, dear readers.

Grandpa was a first-generation immigrant from Alsace; Grandpa's mother, who was a cast-iron bitch, always made a point of speaking Alsatien when my grandmother was around.

Fred's father had a general store in Russia (pronounced Rooshy!) and as a young man, Fred took around a huckster wagon.

In the Depression, Fred and his cousin went to Illinois to work on the farms.  During Prohibition, he and his father ran a still, and they were so good at it that they were contracting bootleggers.  Uncle Jughead ran sugar for the Mob, too.  (Such reputable relatives!)

During the war, he worked at NCR, which had made cash registers, but switched over to machine guns.  There he met my grandmother; he was 40, and she was 20.  My mother once asked Nanna how she had convinced the merry bachelor to settle down and if she had enticed him, Nanna replied indignantly, "Certainly not!  It was a whole two years before our daughter was born!"

Fred couldn't afford to buy a farm while he was working in the factory, but afterwards he and Nanna bought one, right after their first child was born.  It was outside town, and had a wood stove for heat, and Nanna sat right down in the kitchen and cried when she saw it. 

And finally, to quote, "Fred was never one to use the word 'manure' when 'shit' would do. He was an ornery little Frenchie."

P.S.  Frederick is the baby's middle name.  And if you know our real last name, you'll immediately see why.

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