Saturday, June 10, 2006

Yassoo, Yassoo, or How I Came to Live in Jerusalem

It's all because our washing machine broke down. Every day of the week my Dad went to his fur store to work, but on Sundays he was free. Too free. So, he decided NOT to buy a new washing machine and to take the laundry to the laundromat instead.

I became a partner in the deal and to this day I miss our Sunday mornings. I was sixteen, I think when we started going to 'sudsy'. That first morning we took Maeshey with us. Maeshey spent as much time in our house as he did in his own so we absorbed him and to this day, along with my brother David, he is my dearest darling.

Early that morning we packed up the dirty clothes; the stuff we would need for the machines; and the three of us, Pa, Maeshey and I went off searching for a laundry place. We didn't know any other Jewish people who used a laundromat, so we couldn't call anyone and comparative shop. We just got into the car and tried to find a place close to where my Dad wanted to go for breakfast. :)

Yahoooo there was a laundromat a few blocks away from the restaurant and it was open and empty. We shlepped our stuff in and filled up the front loading machines. One for whites and one for the rest. The machines were much larger than the one we had at home and my Dad wasn't sure just how much soap to put inside. So he filled the little cup and added more 'for the pot' so to say. And then instead of watching it go around and around, we drove up the street and had breakfast.

When we finished, we rushed back to the laundromat and the place was still empty. THANK GOODNESS because the entire floor was covered in soap suds! Foam was everywhere!!! We swished and slid to our two machines, the front loaders, and when we opened them up to rescue our stuff, floods of foam flew out at us.

So we did the only thing we could do. We laughed. We were hysterical. Then when we got control of ourselves, I am ashamed to admit it, but we hijacked our clothes and ran like hell to find a new laundromat.

At the second place we didn't need to put in any more soap - our stuff was still full of suds, and this time we sat and watched and waited for the machines to end. OY what a relief. Then we put them in the dryers. This time we were safe. Nothing to add. No calculations to make.

So, while they were drying we drove to Adler's bakery and bought rye bread and bagels and lox and the fixings for Sunday brunch...lox, herring, you know...fixings.

When the clothes were dry we folded them and placed them in the two laundry baskets we had brought with us and put them into the trunk. Then we drove out into the country to the farmers.

Windsor, Ontario is part of the 'breadbasket' of Canada and we had a Jolly Green Giant plant and we had the best fruit trees and beefsteak tomatoes and cucumbers and...and...and...

After loading up the trunk with baskets of fresh fruit and vegetables we drove back into the city and home for Sunday morning brunch.

Now, you may well ask, what has all this got to do with Yassoo, Yassoo and Jerusalem? Well, on the way we turned on the radio and at that time every Sunday morning they had different ethnic half hour programs. Our travel time always hit the Greek Hour. Boy oh boy! I heard that bouzouki and my heart twanged. Something in my soul glowed with the music as if I had known those melodies all my life.

I 'sudsy'd' with my Dad for as many Sundays as I could. All through high school and while in college, when I had time. And always there was the Greek Hour.

I graduated from Wayne State in Detroit in 1966 and began teaching school. That's when I discovered Greektown. Downtown Detroit has a section where, if you blink your eyes you will be sure you have left America and are sitting in Athens or Piraeus, or Mykonos ahhhhhh. Now my Greektown adventures will be left for another time...ahhhhhh Greektown.

Towards the end of my second year as a teacher, my friend Anita said, "Marallyn, I think I'm going to go to Greece this summer, want to come?" I thought for exactly forty seconds and told her I'd love to. ME? Greece? I'd never been on a plane before and the farthest I'd gone alone was with my girlfriends for weekends in Chicago. But then I told Anita that I couldn't go that close to Israel without visiting there too.

She thought that was a grand idea and we booked our trip. A week in Israel, then a week on the Stella Maris Ship and a week in Athens. I figured I'd get the Israel part out of the way and then hit the bouzouki.

But, the moment my feet touched the ground in Ben Gurion Airport, I lost my heart. I was home. I can't explain it to either know what I'm talking about or not. And in the almost thirty-seven years I've been here I still feel the same way.

See, if my Dad had bought a washing machine, I wouldn't be able to tell you that I have three children and two grandchildren with passports that say...Place of Birth...JERUSALEM.

Have a great day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.


At 11:28 PM, Anonymous John said...

Marallyn, I can't say that's a slice of Americana, 'cuz it's Canada. So, what do I say?

Except that this is a beautiful slice of writing. Way past good.

At 3:43 AM, Anonymous Naomi said...

Whenever you make a comment about Windsor, it brings a tear to my eye. :) Happy ones, though. I remember how our fathers used to laugh and laugh together and tell jokes in Yiddish so I wouldn't understand. I also remember being "dragged" along with my mother to have tea in your kitchen, with the china teacups and cookies. Always cookies. Please give her a hug for me!!
xoxo Shabbat Shalom, Naomi

At 1:47 AM, Anonymous maeshey said...

Dearest Mertz:
The blog is wonderful and I am honored to be mentioned in it. It is written so beautifully and compellingly.

At 1:47 AM, Anonymous maeshey said...

Dearest Mertz:
The blog is wonderful and I am honored to be mentioned in it. It is written so beautifully and compellingly.


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