Gimpel Beynish the Matchmaker
(Gimpl Beynish der Shadkhn)
Yiddish Comics of the early 20th century

Translation and commentary by Jane Peppler
Click here to read about and order the seven Gimpel books I've published.

Comics read right to left. Click on any comic strip for larger view.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The truant officer, and a stranger's bummer of a baby. 1-18-1915, 1-19-1915

Continuity was not something to be strived for in the comic strips. Sometimes he was a citizen, sometimes he was not. For the longest time he was a single guy batching it and never mentioning any family. Then his wife's niece (I think) appeared, so that was the first we knew he had a wife. Then the wife and kids appeared suddenly from Russia. Then the wife disappeared and finally Gimpel's sons, Motke and Notke, disappeared (without explanation) from his life, leaving him a childless widower living with a housekeeper. The kids here are referred to so generically they seem not to be his own (now or soon non-existent) sons but perhaps just boys he has a friendly interest in. Truant ofiser is another example of how the most important English words (words describing trouble) make it into Yiddish in the first round.

The Black Hand was a gruesome secret society originating in Serbia. It appeared in one of the Sam Zagat political cartoons and in this one comic strip. Here's its logo. Sounds like a motorcycle gang but it was behind the havoc of World War I.

Interesting how on January 18 he called this truant officer the "Enemy of Israel" and the next day he used the same epithet against an innocent baby. It was not one of Gimpel's common insults.

Speaking of lack of continuity, this baby too disappears without any trace or any explanation.

January 18, 1915: That's how it is in America - if the children don't go to school it's the father's fault.
  1. GB: Look at that loafer, running as if the devil were rushing after him. My dear loafer, where...
  2. GB: And this loafer too? What sort of calamity has fallen on the gang today?
  3. GB: Who's this big goy running after them? It must of course be a gangster or the "Black Hand."
  4. GB: Say, robber, devil, Enemy of Israel, what do you want with my children? Do you want to convert them or kidnap them?
  5. Truant Officer: Oh, so these are your loafers? And if I want to take them to school, are you going to stop me?

January 19, 1915: He receives an unsolicited gift but he he behaves like a hero.
  1. GB: Give me the baby for a while. You'll see, with me she'll quiet down.
  2. Beyle-Bashe: The kid really likes you. Hold it just a while, please, I'll be back soon.
  3. GB: What dirty trick is this? Why's she taking so long? Feh, I'm getting angry.
  4. GB: Loafer, Enemy of Israel! Will you be silenced or not? I've brought trouble on myself.
  5. GB: Five hours spent with a stranger's bummer. That's entirely enough for a man like me.

אַזױ איז אַמעריקאַ – אַז דיא קינדער געהן ניט אין סקוהל איז דער טאַטע שולדיג.

גימפּעל בײניש: זעה נאָר אַ מין לױפֿען, גלײַך דער רוח װאָלט איהם געיאָגט. סעי, לױפֿער מײַנער, װאו…
גימפּעל בײניש: דער לױפֿער אױך? װאָס פֿאַר אַן אױסכאַפּעניש איז דאָס הײַנט אױף דער באַנדע?
גימפּעל בײניש: װער איז דאָס דער גרױסער גױ װאָס לױפֿט זײ נאָך? דאָס מוז אודאי זײַן אַ גענגסטער ידער שװאַרצע האַנד.
גימפּעל בײניש: סעי, גזלן, רוצח, שונא ישראל – װאָס װילסטו פֿון מײַנע קינדער? װילסט זײ שמד׳ן אָדער קידנעפּען?
טרואַנט אָפֿיסער: אַזױ, דאָס זײַנען דײַנע לאופֿערס? און אַז איך װיל זײ נעהמען אין סקוהל, שטערסטו מיר נאָך?

ער קריגט אַן אונגעװינשטע מתּנה, אָבער ער דרעהט זיך העלדיש אַרױס.

גימפּעל בײניש: גיט מיר אױף אַ װײַלע דיא בײבי. איהר׳ט זעהן, װיא בײַ מיר װעט זיא שװײַגען.
בײלע-באַשע: דאָס קינד האָט אײַך טאַקע ליעב. האַלט עס נאָך אַ װײַלע, פּליעז. איך קום באַלד צוריק.
גימפּעל בײניש: װאָס איז דאָס פֿאַר אַ חזירײ? װאָס זאַמט זיך אַזױ דיא אידענע? פֿע, איך בין ברוגז.
גימפּעל בײניש: לױפֿער, שונאי ישראל – װעסט פֿאַרשטומט װערן אָדער ניט? איך האָב זיך אָפּגעזוכט מפֿטיר.
גימפּעל בײניש: פֿינף שעה האַלטען זיך מיט אַ פֿרעמדען באַמער איז גאַנץ גענוג פֿאַר אַזאַ מאַן װיא איך.

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