Friday, March 11, 2011

1 January, 1938: Saturday

"On January 1" Asimov writes, "the first day of my diary, a Saturday, I record that my mother and I took advantage of the holiday (which meant a slow day in the store, especially since it was drizzling icily all day) to see a play on the Yiddish stage.

When I was little, my parents would would frequently take me to see Yiddish shows. It undoubtedly brought back those days in Russia to them when they had acted in such shows.

I understood the shows perfectly, of course, and I enjoyed the musicals, particularly because they were funny and the tunes were invariably catchy. ("Bei Mir Bist Du Schon" came from one of those musicals and I knew it and could sing it, in Yiddish, a decade before the Andrews sisters grew famous for it."

The serious dramas, however, I found inexpressably dreary.They dealt, very frequently, with long-suffering and noble immigrant parents and their ungrateful Americanized children...Another common subject was that of the good, plain Jewish wife who scrubbed floors to send the husband through medical school, and then got thrown over for some painted, uncorseted floozie. That filled me with ennui too."

Asimov writes that when he re-read his diary after many, many years, he was surprised to find he'd gone to see a Yiddish play when he was 18 - he thought they'd occurred much earlier in his life.

"If that had happened that late in my life," I would have said, "I would have remembered it."

Well, I don't. Even ehen I look at it on the diary page, I don't remember it. So much for my fancy memory."

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