the schmooze


Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York
     Mother Goose is the mythical little "alt" lady who was supposed to have told the nursery stories and rhymes that children knew and love as well.  She was often pictured as a beak-nosed, sharp-chinned woman riding on the back of a flying gander.  Whether or not she was a real person remains a "misterye" (mystery).  No specific writer has ever been identified with such a name.

     In an old graveyard in Boston, Mass., there are several tombstones bearing the name of Goose.  Some people claim that one of them marks the grave of Mother Goose.  Her real "nomen" was supposed to have been Elizabeth Vergoose.  "Ver vaist." (Who knows?)

     In 1760, John Newbery, the first English publisher of children's books, brought out"Mother Goose's Melody," a tiny "bukh" llustrated with woodcuts.  It contained 52 rhymes, such as "Ding Dong Bell," "Little Tommy Tucker," and "Margery Daw," as well as 15 songs from Shakespeare's plays. Isiah Thomas, a publisher in Worcester, Mass., republished Newbery's book in 1785.

     In 2006, Brett Nicholas Moore published "Tales of Brother Goose," satirizing Mother Goose stories with modern dialogue and cynical humor.  One of the 23 stories is a short Shakespearean play about a queen who kills the king because of his long monologues.

     Fast forward to 2008.  Jeffrey and Lila Dubinsky have written a book titled, "Mother Gooseberg's Book of Jewish Nursery Rhymes."  Get to the "bicher-krom" (book store) immediately and buy it; it's "vunderlich."

     Today's "tateh-mameh" know the rhyme that goes:

     Little Jack Horner
     Sat in the corner
     Eating his Christmas pie.
     He put in his thumb,
     And pulled out a plum,
     and said, "What a brave boy am I."

     The Mother Gooseberg's rendition:

     Little Ms. Stempel
     Sat in the temple
     Eating her heart out, oy.
     "My sister, she yachted
     With people named Stoddard,
     And now she's knocked up by a goy!

     Of course, there's the favorite of all "di kinder," Humpty Dumpty...who sat on a wall. In 2008, it's "Handlen Dumpty":

     Handlen Dumpty traded on Wall,
     Handlen Dumpty's stock took a fall.
     "In drerd mein gelt!" Clients made such a noise.
     "We should have invested with cool-headed goys!"

     It's hard to describe which tale I liked best, but these three are certainly at the top of the list:

     Ipish Pisher Yiddish Moe

     Ipish pisher Yiddish Moe
     Caught a cold on shabbes--woe!
     Sniffled through the service--oh!
     His - mother - told - him
     Eat - chicken - soup
     And - he - said - no!

     Hush, Little Boychik

     Hush, little boychik, don't bother me.
     We are Jews and can't have a Christmas tree.
     We celebrate the Maccabees,
     There's the menoah and latkes.
     Stop; this, you've got a count of three.
     "Farshtaist?  Or I'll throw you across my knee!
     And if that doesn't shut you up--
     Mama's gonna give you a luch in kup!
     Perhaps a zetz will stop your whine:
     Mama's gonna patsh your bare behind.
     What?  Oh, so you want to cry?
     Mama's gonna give you a reason why!
     No more presents; off to bed.
     To think!  Your grandpa was hassid!

     Patty Klein, Patty Klein

     Patty Klein, Patty Klein, besuleh,
     Signed up with JDate, wants a fellah:
     Jewish, good-looking, obedient to a fault.
     She's thirty and single and picky--

"Mother Gooseberg's Book of Jewish Rhymes" is published by Kensington Publishing Corp. and sells for $9.95, U.S.; $13.50, CAN.


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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