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January 25, 2010

When Zaidy Was Young

I am finally relistening to my original podcast series, which oddly enough has become a great source of research for me. The irony of course is it's my research, but I did it so long ago I have already forgotten the details!

One of the interviews, yet to be aired, was with an Orthodox woman speaking of the role seltzer played in her very religious home as a child. In it she mentioned an album all the Orthodox boys and girls loved to listen to, called When Zaidy Was Young, which is all about life on the Lower East Side.

I am still tracking it down - as one of the tunes is about the seltzer delivery man - but in the process I found this outrageous video with the same name - a sort of Yiddish Muppets. It's about a grandfather telling his grandson about how "it once was" on the Lower East Side.

But starting at around 14:30 it's all about their love of seltzer! And then jumping to about 25:00 until the end it focuses on the use of seltzer to put out a fire and how, as a result, it helps the dad to maintain his Jewish identity in the face of assimilationist pressures while supporting his family - once again, seltzer both celebrated and saddled with so much responsibility. Check it out!

Here is what happens when you tell Jewish children: No seltzer for shabbat!

And here's how to put out a burning building with seltzer bottles... and a song!

And here's the full 30 minute video:

Part of what I love about this video is that seltzer is associated with so many different things: being Jewish; refreshing; humorous; seltzer business; and putting out fires. If it only had health and cleaning carpets it would have summed up nearly all popular associations with the drink. I wonder if in my research I will come across something else with containing all of the associations. What have you seen?

Posted by bjoseph at January 25, 2010 10:43 PM

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