For all the current and future readers who have, who are about to, or who want to ask why I only write negative or non-flattering memories of my yeshiva days; I’ll point you to this post. I’m writing one beautiful happy memory that I have from elementary school and I’m yoitze yedai chovasi. Although this story was written in the past, you are reading it now; this is a manifestation of what a wise man once said: the future is now.
|That was us, minus the girls of course|
When I was in 7th grade in a highly chisidishe school we went on a day trip, which, as you know, is a highly unusual event and is cause for much excitement.
We had the rebbe and the menahel along to keep the sheep herded together. I think the menahel was there to translate which is ironic since he was Israeli and the rebbe American, although it’s not so ironic if you understand that an Israeli will know English better than a Skverer chussid from New Square.
We went to the nearest attraction they could find so that we wouldn’t have to have any more bitul toyreh than was necessary. The attraction most convenient at hand was an old battlefield from the revolutionary war; a battle that never took place for children who’s grandparents lived through the milchuma, the holocaust. The tour guide was a friendly old chap who blabbered on and on while the menahel chose which parts to translate and which to ignore (or maybe he just didn’t understand all of it?)
I remember learning a few things that day. I learned that the average height in that time period was 5.5 and that’s why the tents where smaller than seemed practical. I especially remember learning how to pronounce the word chaos. I had run across that word before in books and knew what it meant but had imagined it was pronounced with more of a ches sound which is guttural; similar to the sound you make when clearing your throat, rather that the hard K sound the way it’s actually pronounced. I heard the fellow say chaos and it took me a minute or so before I reconstructed the sound with the spelling in my head and connected it with the word which I had never quite known how to pronounce! I was excited because I knew that this was the last year of “English” the hour and a half a day we spent horsing around with a Yiddish speaking English teacher and I wasn’t going to learn how to pronounce that or any other unpronounceable words and now I had learned it while on the clock with school!
The highlight of this tour was the moment the tour guide would load up an old musket with gunpowder, pull the trigger and make a big POWWW which is always very exciting to kids. The good fellow tore open a small paper pouch containing the powder, poured some of it onto the flint mechanism and put the rest down the barrel, he pulled out the rod, pushed the pouch all the way down the barrel and explained in his slow manner that “of course the soldiers would have put a ball down the barrel too, but I won’t because it’s dangerous”. And finally the highlight, he turns around, puts the weapon up to his shoulder and makes the loud noise we had all been waiting for. Oy how exciting!
Everyone recuperated from the noise, the smoke cleared and the paper from the pouch fluttered to the ground. One boy bent down, picked it up and said: what do they do with this?
The tour guide said: You can keep it as a souvenir.
The menahel clarified: He means what did the soldiers do with the paper?
Tour guide: Oh, there’s a French word for that; it’s called garbagé
We all looked at him leather-headed. Suddenly there was laughter behind us; I turn around and see that some goyim had joined our party, and as I see them laughing I catch on to the joke. I thus add another word to my portfolio.
All in all, a very satisfying and educational day out of the classroom.