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I wonder where da boidies is?

March 7, 2010

Camellias in my garden. Spring has officially sprung.

Here I sit, two days after re-starting chemo, feeling again like I’m coming down with the flu. At least I know the poison is working on the cancer and the chemo is not likely to kill me this month at least. And at least it’s spring here on the West Coast of the US.

Whenever I see the first signs of spring I hear my Dad’s parents reciting a little poem in their New York accents. The poem is by my favorite author, “Anonymous,” and is called “The Budding Bronx” or “The Brooklyn National Anthem.” As far as I can tell it’s from the 1940s and one version goes like this:

Spring is sprung
Da grass is riz
I wonder where da boidies is?

Da little boids is on da wing,
Ain’t dat absoid?
Da little wings is on da boid!

Grandma and Grandpa T. had all kinds of things they said regularly. I haven’t been able to find the origin of one saying they used when we were sleeping late while visiting their house, or when everyone else was doing something or going somewhere and someone’s attention had drifted (probably due to a sugar-induced high from all the Dots Grandma fed us — I’m surprised we all still have teeth)….. Anyway, in those instances we’d hear: “WAKE UP KID! America needs ya!”[picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=goldfinch&iid=7200149″ src=”a/5/8/5/American_Goldfinch_8c1f.jpg?adImageId=11048409&imageId=7200149″ width=”234″ height=”353″ /]

I can only guess that came from some movie or slogan from either WWI or WWII. It could even have been a saying used in one of the many vaudeville shows they saw in NYC.

I’m sure my relatives can add to the list of frequent G&G sayings. They’re slipping my chemo-addled brain at the moment. I probably can’t print all the Russian, Italian, Yiddish, and other slang and off-color words they learned and repeated to us. They were born in 1910 and 1911 and grew up in the NYC melting pot of that era. It’s amazing how anything off-color tends to live on through the generations.

Other little useful phrases and words tend to survive. I can hold my own at any deli or bagel shop, and I even know the difference between bobka (Russian bread) and bubkes (Yiddish for nothing). Even though my grandparents were goyim, anyone who has been around a Yiddish speaker knows that it’s a contagious language and has words to express meanings that can’t be conveyed properly in other languages. We knew what my grandparents meant when they looked at one of us and said “Oy vey!”

Also, in case you didn’t know, the Italians my grandmother grew up with and, I assume, learned to make spaghetti from, called the sauce “gravy.”

My grandparents were delightful people who brought a variety of cultures and thoughts to the family. I miss them a great deal.

So, here’s to Grandma and Grandpa T. Spring has sprung!

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Bemused Boomer permalink
    March 7, 2010 2:53 am

    Jill, if you told my grandmothers you are back on chemo, the Mexican one would have said, “Ay ,yi yi!” and the German one would have said “Oy, yoy yoy!”

    Since I’m just their descendent mutt, I’ll just send prayers for th effectiveness of the chemo.

  2. March 7, 2010 9:39 am

    Our weather has finally warmed up here in Montana! No blooming flowers yet but at least I can go for a walk without a parka 😉

  3. Mom permalink
    March 7, 2010 12:17 pm

    I do hate to tell you this but the weather report says it is supposed to snow tomorrow, down to 1000 feet. Believe that? Those poor camillias. They will turn blue. Mayb it will bring out the deer at my place. Squirrels are eating their salt lick.

    Love you loads my dear Jill.


  4. Sarahtee in Aus permalink
    March 7, 2010 2:00 pm

    Hope the snow doesn’t bite your camellias, Jill. It’s almost autumn here and our leaves are just starting to turn 🙂

    Praying for you as you go through this cycle of chemo.

  5. March 7, 2010 4:06 pm

    I am trying to imagine the poem in the right accent. Pretty challenging for a southern belle living in the midwest. 😉

    We opened the windows today for the first time since last fall – temps nearing 50 and sunshine – beautiful!

    Praying for you through this round of chemo.

  6. E Lis permalink
    March 8, 2010 8:58 am

    Ye s, indeed seems we are having bipolar Northwest weather again (said teasing, but that is my fave descriptor for the weather). I saw snow is predicted for tomorrow and a wind/thunderstorm kept me up last night.

    Besides the point, but I also have been enjoying the sunshine.

    I enjoy hearing of the cultural perspectives. I always find it fascinating. In Norwegian a restart of chemo would get the following response – “uffdah.” If you were speaking to a midwestern Norwegian transplant like myself, then it would probably roughly go “ahhhhh….. doncha ya’know. Uffdah!” 🙂

  7. Sandy Bartell permalink
    March 8, 2010 10:13 am

    I just came back from four days of visiting my favorite aunt in Edmonton, Canada and let me tell you…it’s like early summer here compared to up there. When people elsewhere say it rains all the time in Seattle I say who cares, we don’t get broiling summers or sub-arctic winters. And the flowers welcome our souls back every year as they’re doing now. As my Czech grandmother would say, “Toje krasne!” Translated roughly as “It is lovely.” Jill, I loved your grandparents’ spring song! 🙂

  8. March 8, 2010 11:26 am

    I once worked with a Hungarian fella named Bela, and I would always get him into fits of laughter when I’d talk like Grandma and Grandpa T. He could never figure out how to duplicate the dialect, but I told him it’s easy. Say “joy” then say “z”. Now put them together. Joy-z = Jersey. He thought that was a hoot! Maybe that will help Penny with the accent. 🙂

  9. Lisa Welch permalink
    March 8, 2010 6:02 pm

    Sure sign of spring in the northwest – 40 degrees and big snowflakes! lol! I hope you enjoyed watching them fall today – so pretty while it lasted.

  10. March 8, 2010 6:45 pm

    My Mom reminds me that another thing Grandma and Grandpa said was “How’s by you?” as a greeting. It’s yet another Yiddishism.

    To get the proper way to say this you have to listen to the song “How’s by You?” by Allan Sherman:

    Allan Sherman and my grandparents (and my Dad) shared the same sense of humor: For you youngsters, Allan Sherman was the Weird Al Yankovic of his generation — only better than Weird Al in oh so many ways. Sherman’s most popular song was “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” which you can listen to on the same link as “How’s by You?”

  11. March 15, 2010 10:25 pm

    My Mum told me this little poem when I was a kid and god knows where she got it from – we are Australian.

    Soryy to hear that you are battling the dreaded Big C, I hope the chemotherapy works as it is supposed to and that you enjoy a return to full health

    • March 16, 2010 10:22 pm

      You know, there might just be a Cockney background to that little poem, as both NY City and Australia share that link.

      Thanks for the kind words.

  12. March 16, 2010 10:34 pm

    cockney? hmmm good point. although the ‘boidies’ sounds so ‘brooklyn’ to me (but as an aussie I can’t claim to have any expertise on american accents). Hope you’re feeling well today

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