Perhaps because I had been thinking about Dr and Mrs Dreyfuss in The Apartment yesterday, I suddenly remembered Dad, when I was a little boy, weeping with laughter reading a book called 'The Joys of Yiddish" by Leo Rosten and reciting extracts with tears of joy rolling down his cheeks. I've ordered a second hand copy from ebay.
Later, when we were tinkering, remote from each other, with Amazon Prime Watch Party (we did get it working) I mentioned the Rosten memory to my brother John and we started reminiscing about how dad and all his brothers were suffused with the short stories of Damon Runyon, O. Henry, and P.G. Wodehouse and how we had taken this in on behalf of the next generation almost unconsciously by some sort of osmosis. We've both had the experience, reading the three authors above, of coming across a phrase that, through sheer familiarity, we thought was one of Dad's. Indeed, John found my own regular "you interest me strangely" in Wodehouse ("Thank You, Jeeves" I believe) when I had no idea that was where I picked it up.
Ok, let's have a crack at delineating the old man's favourite short S from each of the triumvirate. My best guesses are:
O. Henry: The Gift of the Magi.
P.G. Wodehouse: Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend
Damon Runyon: Romance in the Roaring Forties
That last choice may be controversial. I am all but sure John would go with "Hold 'em Yale!" because the contexts into which Dad could introduce "I wish to say that old Liverlips' noggin is a very dangerous weapon at all times" really was a wonder to behold. I'm going with "Romance in the Roaring Forties" though on the basis of "Dave walks over and starts to give Waldo Winchester the leather, which is considered customary in such cases" I really thought "giving him the leather" was a phrase of Dad's until I read that.
While we are on this page, the stories, beloved by the old man, about good natured feuds between a Catholic priest and a Communist mayor post WWII in a small Italian town in the Po Valley are collected in the Don Camillo books. I couldn't remember the name yesterday. John couldn't remember them at all. This month's Audible credit will go on The Little World of Don Camillo with a following wind.
Finally, back to Jews and Catholics and coming in a complete circle.
Worth a watch. Wiser days in many ways. Less tightly wound than now.
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