I remember in the 1930s going to Coney Island in the summer. The subway ride was a nickel. Teenage boys would buy Eskimo Pies and ices and sell them on the beach out of big ice chests. They would go along the water’s edge where people bought ice cream. But the boys were competing with vendors who had stands on the boardwalk so the cops were forever chasing them away. The boys would run off, but when the coast was clear(!) they came back to sell more ice cream.
My father-in-law, Solomon, born in Whitechapel in 1887, was noted for singing an endless number of English music hall songs. One in particular springs to mind. Please click the player below to hear Solly’s rendition of Poor Old England (1907), lyrics provided.
Poor old England, isn’t it a picture? Everything you see you must agree,
The carpet on the stairs, the table and the chairs are made in Germany.
When I go up into me bedroom, lying in a tiny cot
Is a little baby boy, mother’s pride and only joy,
That’s the only little thing that England’s got.
Velvel (his Yiddish name), pictured above, was born in London in 1914. When his parents went to record his birth, they told the registrar his name was “Wolf,” the English for Velvel. The well-meaning bureaucrat advised, “He’s going to be a nice English boy. You don’t want to call him ‘Wolf’. Why not call him Walter?” And that is how my husband got his name.
Mind, you, Wolf is a perfectly good English name. Remember the writer Wolf Mankowitz who wrote “A Kid for Two Farthings?” It was made into a film with Celia Johnson and Diana Dors.
So there’s nothing wrong with a kid called Wolf.
Pictured above are my in-laws from England, Solomon (“Solly”) and Annie. Solly was born in London in 1887. He possessed an inexhaustible repertory of English music hall songs, developed over decades of dedicated practice. He would sing at the drop of a hat, to Annie’s dismay. In 1955, my husband recorded his dad. I am providing just one example here among dozens of ditties. The recording is a song called “The Weaker Sex”. Click the player below to hear him, lyrics provided…
By the wink of her eye she can capture your body and soul.
By the wave of her tongue she can drive you up the pole.
She can rush a man, crush a man whenever he goes too far.
Oh, the weaker sex are wonderful strong they are.