Friday, June 16, 2017

Mamma mia! My mother was an Aryan!

It's true! But it's not what you may be thinking. She was Jewish. How can this be?

I will tell you.

Poking around on the internet can prove very interesting. I found the college yearbook for the year my mother graduated from West Chester (Pa.) State Teachers College. Her photo appeared on page 114 of the 1930 edition of The Serpentine, West Chester's yearbook.

And right there, next to her photo, was this description:

RUTH ELIZABETH SILBERMAN
"Rufus"
234 Wyncote Road, Jenkintown, Pa.
PRIMARY - ARYAN
Swimming; Bowling; Y.W.C.A.; Montgomery County Club; Student Teachers' Club of Chester; Archery.

I know for a fact that the list of her activities is incomplete, because among her souvenirs I found a pin from the Mask and Wig Players, the college's drama club.

Seeing Y.W.C.A. (Young Women's Christian Association) is a little surprising considering that she was Jewish, but it probably had something to do with another of her activities, swimming,

I never heard anyone call my mother "Rufus" but apparently her college friends did. I do remember both her brother and her sister calling her "Ruthie Puthie" or "Roothie Poothie" or however it is spelled. No matter. She was "Mama" to me.

PRIMARY indicates that her major at the State Teachers College was primary education. She wanted to teach young children. Clear enough.

That leaves ARYAN, which almost made me drop my teeth.

Really? ARYAN?? As in white supremacists and Nazis and the like?

Absolutely not.

A little more poking around revealed that there were several literary societies at West Chester, and the one my mother belonged to happened to be called ARYAN. There was another called HERODOTUS, and there were others. These clubs had existed at the college for many years, long before the unfortunate turn of events in the world that gave the word an entirely different meaning. Actually, it originally meant "noble" in the ancient Vedic literature of India. If you want to learn more about Aryans, click here. If not, we stand adjourned until the next regular session.

page 114 of 1930 Serpentine

5 comments:

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Such brightness, such hope, such innocence in those year book faces. How sad to think that they have all gone now.

Perhaps your blog fans can suggest a suitable nickname for you Bob? i have one or two ideas myself but I hesitate to list them in case you find one or two of them offensive.

rhymeswithplague said...

Herr Puddink, go ahead and list them. I can always moderate the comment to prevent inflicting your cruelties about me on other readers of this blog. Chust remember, though, vee haf vays to make you not talk....

rhymeswithplague said...

My Vast Reading Public, I have received Herr Puddink's list (see preceding two comments), but I have decided not to publish it, not because it was salacious (it wasn't) or not funny (it was) but because it didn't have any connection to this post that I could discern. Herr Puddink thinks I am part Italian (I'm not), apparently because of the Mamma Mia! reference in the title, but then it has often been difficult to maintain coherent communications with Herr Puddink.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I realise that thousands of Americans are geographically challenged. However, I must inform you that Yorkshire is not a German state and so I am not a "herr". Accurate forms of address should aid the establishment of coherent communications Benito.

rhymeswithplague said...

Neil, if you are not part of the Herren then by default you must be part of the Damen. Or you could move here and become third, fourth, or fifth gender -- it's all the rage. New ones are being discovered every day. Oh, and if you don't call me Benito, I won't call you Shirley.