Judith Roth claimed no expertise at the piano—only lessons from the seventh through the sixteenth years of her life. She had been profoundly grateful when the last teacher to whom she had been assigned at the Levine School of Music had concurred with her own assessment of her abilities and persuaded her father to let her pursue something "more in line with her natural aptitudes." He had suggested field hockey as a possibly more appropriate outlet for her talents.
She had given their hardly-ever-touched spinet to the elementary school when they moved to Prague. Somewhere in her soul, she had rather hoped that she would never have to get up close and personal with a piano again.
In spite of that, once Morris discovered that new pianos were being manufactured down-time, he had insisted on having one transported to Prague, along with Ingram Bledsoe to tune it once it arrived. Ingram stayed for two weeks, of which he twice spent four hours tuning the piano. To show some benefit from the rest of his time, he went home with orders for several more.
So. She might as well get some use out of the thing. Looking out over the neat rows of tapestry-upholstered, lightly gilded, chairs in the salon, occupied by the leading women—or, sometimes, just by the wives of the leading men—of Prague's Jewish community, she decided that she might as well open the first session of "Introduction to the Jewish Culture of the Up-time United States of America."
"You're not really going to?" Morris came close to strangling on his pickled beets when she explained her plan.
"I have to start somewhere. It's the only LP I can think of that every single one of our friends from Hillel in Morgantown owned. Well, we were on the tail end of the phenomenon. The album came out in 1962. Couples ten or fifteen years older than us tended to have everything that Sherman ever recorded and some pirated stuff from his nightclub acts."
"That's pretty much the case."
"I don't want to use just that one album. I'll do the 'Ballad of Harry Lewis,' of course, since it connects to both 'John Brown's Body' and 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic.' And I have to have, 'Won't You Come Home, Disraeli.' How much of the lyrics do you remember? I can use that not just to talk about assimilation. It will also be a good lead-in for all of nineteenth-century British imperialism. Not to mention African-Americans and the blues. 'Harvey and Sheila.' Do they already sing 'Hava Nagila' down-time? Everything Sherman did is a classic, in its own way. Somewhere, I think, I used to have a privately made tape of his version of My Fair Lady. That would give us the whole Broadway musical scene to talk about. And the Borscht Belt."
We're really sorry, but this is only available to up-to-date paid subscribers.
Our columns and editorials are free, along with a few other items, but almost all stories and all downloads are paid only.
- The Grantville Gazette Staff