A Picnic

A Picnic – S. Libin (Israel Hurwitz) (1872-1955)

Israel Hurwitz, better known by his pseudonym, S. (or Z.) Libin, was born in Russia in 1872. He wrote a number of short stories, having specialized to a great extent in that form. Libin’s best work is found in his brief and homely sketches of Jewish domestic life among the labouring classes of the large cities. He was for many years a resident in the United States.

A Picnic reveals one of the amusing aspects of Jewish life. It is related with lightness of touch and great good-humour.

This story is reprinted from the volume, Yiddish Tales, translated by Helena Frank, copyright, 1912, by the Jewish Publication Society of America, by whose permission, it is here used.

A Picnic

Ask Shmuel, the capmaker, just for a joke, if he would like to come for a picnic! He’ll fly out at you as if you had invited him to a swing on the gallows. The fact is, he and his Sarah once went for a picnic, and the poor man will remember it all his days.

It was on a Sabbath towards the end of August! Shmuel came home from work, and said to his wife:

“Sarah, dear!”

“Well, husband?” was her reply.

“I want to have a treat,” said Shmuel, as though alarmed at the boldness of the idea.

“What sort of a treat? Shall you go to the swimming-bath tomorrow?”

“Ett! What’s the fun of that?”

“Then, what have you thought of by way of an exception? A glass of ice water for supper?”

“Not that, either.”

“A whole siphon?”

Shmuel denied with a shake of the head.

“Whatever can it be!” wondered Sarah. “Are you going to fetch a pint of beer?”

“What should I want with beer?”

“Are you going to sleep on the roof?”

“Wrong again!”

“To buy some more carbolic acid, and drive out the bugs?”

“Not a bad idea,” observed Shmuel, “but that is not it, either.” “Well, then, whatever is it, for goodness’ sake! The moon?” asked Sarah, beginning to lose patience. “What have you been and thought of? Tell me once for all, and have done with it!”

And Shmuel said:

“Sarah, you know, we belong to a Judge.”

“Of course I do!” and Sarah gave him a look of mingled astonishment and alarm. “It’s not more than a week since you took a whole dollar there, and I’m not likely to have forgotten what it cost you to make it up.

What is the matter now? Do they want another?”

“Try again!”

“Out with it!”

“I—want us, Sarah,” stammered Shmuel,—“to go for a picnic.” “A picnic!” screamed Sarah. “Is that the only thing you have left to wish for?”

“Look here, Sarah, we toil and moil the whole year through. It’s nothing but trouble and worry, trouble and worry. Call that living! When do we ever have a bit of pleasure?”

A Picnic part 4

“O Sarah!” he sighed, and he would have said more, but just at that moment it began to spot with rain, and before they had time to move there came a downpour. People started to scurry in all directions, but Shmuel stood like a statue.

“Shlimm-mazel, look after the children!” commanded Sarah. Shmuel caught up two of them, Sarah another two or three, and they ran to a shelter. Doletzke began to cry afresh.

“Mame, hungry!” began Berele.

“Hungry, hungry!” wailed Yossele. “I want to eat!”

Shmuel hastily opened the handbag, and then for the first time he saw what had really happened: the bottle had broken, and the milk was flooding the bag; the rolls and bananas were soaked, and the pineapple (a damaged one to begin with) looked too nasty for words. Sarah caught sight on the bag, and was so angry, she was at a loss how to wreak vengeance on her husband. She was ashamed to scream and Scold in the presence of other people, but she

A Picnic part 3

Shmuel counted his children and the traps. “No, nothing, Sarah!” he said.

Doletzke went to sleep, the other children sat quietly in their places. Sarah, too, fell into a doze, for she was tired out with the preparations for the excursion.

All went smoothly till they got some way up town, when Sarah gave ‘ a start.

“I don`t feel very well—my head is so dizzy,” she said to Shmuel.

“I don`t feel very well, either,” answered Shmuel. “I suppose the fresh air has upset us.”

“I suppose it has,” said his wife. “I`m afraid for the children.”

Scarcely had she spoken when Doletzke woke up, whimpering, and was sick. Yossele, who was looking at her, began to cry likewise. The mother scolded him, and this set the other children crying. The conductor cast a wrathful glance at poor Shmuel, who was so frightened that he dropped the hand-bag with the provisions, and then, conscious of the havoc he had ce

A Picnic part 2

“What will it cost?” asks Sarah, suddenly, and Shmuel has soon made the necessary calculation.

“A family ticket is only thirty cents, for Yossele, Rivele, Hannahle, and Berele; for Resele and Doletzke I haven`t to pay any carfare at all. For you and me, it will be ten cents there and ten back—that makes fifty cents. Then I reckon thirty cents for refreshments to take with us: a pineapple (a damaged one isn`t more than five cents), a few bananas, a piece of watermelon, a bottle of milk for the children, and a few-rolls—the whole thing shouldn`t cost us more than eighty cents at the outside.”
“Eighty cents!” and Sarah clapped her hands together in dismay.

“Why, you can live on that two days, and it takes nearly a whole days` earning. You can buy an old ice-box for eighty cents, you can buy a pair of trousers—eighty cents!”

Shmuel disconcerted

“Leave off talking nonsense!” said Shmuel, disconcerted. “Eight

A Picnic part 1

S. Libin (Israel Hurwitz) (1872-1955)

Israel Hurwitz, better known by his pseudonym, S. (or Z.) Libin, was born in Russia in 1872. He wrote a number of short stories, having specialized to a great extent in that form. Libin`s best work is found in his brief and homely sketches of Jewish domestic life among the labouring classes of the large cities. He was for many years a resident in the United States.

A Picnic reveals one of the amusing aspects of Jewish life. It is related with lightness of touch and great good-humour.

This story is reprinted from the volume, Yiddish Tales, translated by Helena Frank, copyright, 1912, by the Jewish Publication Society of America, by whose permission, it is here used.

A Picnic

Ask Shmuel, the capmaker, just for a joke, if he would like to come for a picnic! He`ll fly out at you as if you had invited him to a swing on the gallows. The fact is, he and his Sarah once went for a picnic, and the