Pilgrims 5 : Barry Stern
You can rely on the lawyers
ta fill the silence, talk the talk.
So who stands up but Barry Stern
that's Baruch to mom on Saturdays.
He nods to Harry Bailey, and then at me.
‘His honour the Landlord, and the court recorder,
fellow travellers in our greyhound bus,
I bring some tone to this disorder,
some rhetoric and vocabulary
to educate while we make merry.’
The catcalls and Bronx cheers are really sumpin,
But they’s never shamed a lawyer yet:
I says ‘come on fellahs, givum a chance,
you’ll get your turn, he gets a fair shake!’
- Never give a lawyer an even break!
Barry Stern’s Tale
If you please, listen hard gentlemen,
to the facts of the matter
or I’ll repeat them at the end.
First, in brief and summarised.
Connie, Jewish and Reform,
wished to marry second cousin Norm.
He lived there, across the river
a short time on the bridge or a ferry ride
on what you might call the Jersey Side.
The two young people were parted by a bigger divide
With his coal black hat and curling sidelocks
Norm Blankenstein was orthodox.
Like any concerned, discerning mother
Norm’s preferred almost any other
Bride of Blankenstein to one
who most assuredly was not frum.
A telephone call to Cousin Moshe
who did some business less than Kosher
from a large warehouse on Coney
Island where the Goyim’s money
flows on the Sabbath day
put her Norm from harm’s way.
Two shtarkers picked her up
from her bubbeleh’s garment shop
was it an escort or kidnap
or some or other sad mishap.
The evidence is damning, if it please the court.
Two momsers dragged her into a Dodge
Took her out to a Catskills Lodge.
Left her there in a place so trayf
there was pork to eat on a Saturday
Jewish summer holiday towns,
I’ve been to ‘em, never once turned brown.
Bars and casinos are not to be seen
but all the hotels are owned
by Dutches, Shapiros and Arnie Rothstein.
Connie’s Momma and doting Pop
Are expecting a call about a ransom drop
seventeen days and it doesn’t come.
She crosses the river to the Blankensteins’
looking to give Norm’s mother some
tummle of her very own.
‘What do I know from her, what should I do?’
Ida Blankenstein says.
‘She’s no better than a shiksa, and neither are you.’
‘I may be reform and not orthodox,’
Connie’s Momma says.
‘But if my daughter is gone, you order your box.’
Well they argue the case back and forth
(and maybe forth and back again)
Connie’s Momma is putting her fur on
and sighing and kibbitzing when
Ida relents and gives her a clue
Catskills, a place my cousin rents
Get your girl and keep her by you
and away from my boy, you got any sense.
The mommas nod with a kind of respect
but not enough to bridge the divide
between the city and the Jersey Side.
An aside if it please the court,
I don’t have to tell it
-but I think I ought
to deny the filth, the rumours, the lies
printed in some of the lesser papers.
Here Jerry Shipman interrupts
‘Gawd, can’t these lawyers talk?
I listened so much got a pain in my guts.
Tell us somethin’ juicy please
or I’m gonna get the sleepin’ disease.’
‘I’ll continue now if I may,
Barry Stern goes on to say:
There’s talk of Connie having a brother,
they were close indeed to one another
but the papers printed an outright lie
‘Alfafa heiress in Incest Storm.’
but that was refuted as time went by.
The truth was she had a brother Norm,
You could say it was an easy mistake,
I say, never give a reporter an even break.
Anyway back in the old Borscht Belt.
another poker hand to Connie is dealt.
She meets up with a Goy, don’t ask me how.
He’s a guy, a comedian, an on-stage clown,
engaged at the Kvetscher Hotel and Country Club,
he’d starve to death if they paid him in kind.
He’s ignored by the audience but doesn’t mind,
they just like Dangerfield, Hackett and even Rickles
and jokes about momma and the size of her pickles.
The sign outside says Buddy Knackendorf,
The goy’s stage name , he thinks it helps,
but night after night the crowd gives him the bird
as if they know he’s Carlton Winchester III.
Let no-one think Connie is fickle,
flighty or even flaky. She’s fair
minded no matter what the creed
to fall in love, if that’s what’s decreed
in the stars, crossed or maybe dotted,
she’s prepared to take what fate’s allotted.
It must be Carlton he’s the one:
mocked and despised for giving fun
on stage to the Catskills crowd
she’ll build him up if she’s allowed.
She loved him, did her very best
never once checked the money belt under his vest.
But she’s true in her way to her religion at least
she tells him ‘Oh we’ll have such a feast
On that happy miraculous occasion,
the party after your conversion.
Carlton calls Boston, to talk to his Mom
about Connie, the Catskills and his conversion.
Mom is Catherine Caldwell Winchester from
The Cape Cod Caldwells and there’s an explosion
at the end of the line.
Connie asks him how did she take it
Tell me Carlton, the truth without any mitigation,
Carlton attempts the impossible, tries to fake it
and Connie slams the door in exasperation
as she sashays outside.
Later when ‘Buddy’ goes on stage,
Connie’s in Carlton’s room again
The phone rings: it’s Carlton’s Mother,
I’ll tell him all about you and your brother.
Connie in honour cannot stay
She moves herself far away,
at least to the City on the other side
to have her baby and keep her pride.
A year later
Connie’s with Momma, Pop and little Gershon
Carlton Winchester I:
a marvellous name for a waspish person.
‘Buddy’ comes to take them away
- out to the Catskills where he’s on stage.
Carlton’s got the joke at last,
the reception he gets is just the best.
They shout his name and no one other,
he now tells jokes about his mother.
Connie was such a paragon,
and if Gershon’s nose is a little long
and his hair is no kind of strawberry blond
and the resemblance to Carlton is less than strong,
well, surely that’s just an unfortunate mistake?
You’ve got to give a mother an even break.