If you are squeamish, this tale is NOT for you. If you feel a mashgiach or the work he is charged with is too sacred to tell tales about, this tale is NOT for you. If you know you are a prude, this tale is NOT for you. If you are a minor, this tale is NOT for you.
If you have a limited sense of humor, this tale is not for you. If you happen to be a mashgiach or are married to one, this tale is absolutely not for you. By the way, tsum suff (in the end), upon retiring from his butcher store, Dad (z”l) and Mom (z”l) relocated to Delray Beach, Fla., where my dad became a mashgiach.
Mom and Dad were set up on what can only be considered a very blind date by his brother, who had arrived in America a few years earlier. It was 1938. Hitler was on the move. My mom was dispatched to save my dad by marrying him and bringing him to America.
As an American citizen since 1925, she was able to travel to Poland, marry my dad and bring him back to America. In their case, it was a blind date made in heaven.
He was a new groom with no work experience and no clue as to how he was going to support his new bride and the family they planned to have. Mom, on the other hand, had arrived in America at the age of 15, became a citizen, went to school and upon graduation become gainfully employed. As you probably guessed, Mom would support them until Dad’s life was no longer in turmoil.
They moved in with his in-laws. Mom’s married sister and her daughter, Mom’s unmarried sister, Mom, Dad, and Mamma and Pappa (my grandparents) all lived in this apartment, which boasted one tiny bathroom.
As you can imagine, this was not my parent’s picture-perfect mode of living and did not support wedded bliss. Under my mom’s tutelage, and the fact that my dad was a quick study, he learned enough English so he was able to find work at a vegetable stand, and just as quick as the wind in a storm, they were in their own apartment.
As he became more proficient (and I use this word loosely) in the English language and how to function in his new world, he apprenticed and learned the kosher butcher trade. He joined the butchers union and with a cousin opened his first kosher butcher shop. They worked long hours during the week, closing on the Shabbat.
Soon, they were able to move their shop from the Bronx to an emerging neighborhood in Jackson Heights, Queens, with many young families.
Here they made a name for themselves. Most of the women did not work and would visit the store, looking for inspirational marital and cooking advice from my dad. Everyone in the neighborhood knew him and loved him. His very special friend and bodyguard, Stanley the cop, ensured the shop was free of vandalism.
On Fridays, Stanley made the Shabbat meat deliveries. Stanley also looked out for Gene and myself by reminding us to move our car to the correct side of the street on the days the street cleaners would be coming by. Dad loved his work and loved interacting with his customers — the ones he loved (the young ones) and the ones who drove him crazy (the older ones).
Let’s get to the reason for this missive.
The following is my dad’s famous mashgiach tale.
The mashgiach’s visits to my dad’s butcher store made my dad feel a little edgy. My dad just did not like this guy. “First of all, he smells, he always wants free meat, and he sticks his hand out” (for money under the table).
The mashgiach would always go to the back of the store to daven. One day my dad devised a brilliant plan and hung up a couple of girlie calendars on the east wall of the room in the back, knowing the mashgiach would go back to daven. Needless to say, the poor guy came running out to the front, his long coat flying in back of him, flailing his hands, one of which held the prayer book, yelling words not to be repeated at my dad and my cousin, my dad’s partner.
A new mashgiach was assigned to my dad’s store.
And so it goes.