Jewish dialect satire of the popular saloon recitation "The Face on
the Barroom Floor" was one of my father's favorite set pieces. He always
called for "Hearts and Flowers" to be played, something that was
generally impossible, but I recall with pleasure going to Steve's Ice Cream
in Somerville, Mass., and finding that the player piano rolls included that
sentimental melody. I put it on, and true to form, my father rose from his
table in the middle of the crowded room, and began to recite:
'Tvas a balmy summer's ivning, but zirro 'tvas below
De ren vas falling brightly, end de sun vas shining snow
Abe's barroom vas crowded; dere veren't meny pipple dere
Vhen all at vunce, in valked Jake de plomber
End everyvun begen to stare.
"Vat'll you hev, Jake" de bartender shouted,
"You look toisty, sir," he said.
But Jake said "Khah!" Like dat: "Khah-hah!
I only drink vhen odders trit."
Ve gave him vun drink . . . two drinks . . . tree drinks, four,
Of vatter. End Jake, Jake begen to get sore.
"Vunce," he said, "I vas a plomber.
I plombed by day; I plombed by night --
End believe me: dot's plombing.
Den I met a vimmen. She took everyting I hed, she left me notting.
Bartender!" he cried, "Bring me an angemarinierte herring on the house,
End I vill draw for you upon de floor
A pitchkeh from de vimmen vat ruhned my life."
He drew, and drew, and drew, and drew.
De eyes vas yes. De mout vas no.
De figure it vas tru to life.
And, from de rotten vay he drew,
Ve knew it vas: His vife.
Den, vhen he had finished, "How do you like it boyce?" he cried.
End ve all hollered, "Punk!"
Den, vid a leff, "Khah-hah!"
Or mebbe it vas a gron, who knows?
He fell, face forvard, on de pitchkeh
Dead. Drunk. From vatter.