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Saturday, June 09, 2018

Motta Bread and Carottles




One of the valuable services writers perform is to preserve things. I'd guess at least a third of my writing students were in class because they wanted to preserve the history of their family or their church or a particular person or story.

Sometimes, what we save isn't very important in the scheme of things but nevertheless, it is worth keeping. I was reminded of that today. One of my Facebook friends told us about eating grilled peanut butter and sugar sandwiches. Most of us didn't think much of that recommendation but she said she learned to eat them from her grandfather. The family was poor and peanut butter and sugar sandwiches were cheap to make.

That reminded me of my Grammie and aunts and uncles. They ate bread with cottage cheese that they dipped in coffee. They called it Motta Bread. My God, I hadn't thought of Motta Bread in years. I don't believe it was a tradition that was carried on after the older generation passed on.

All this brought to mind Grammie's words. She practically had her own language. I think most of the words were originally German or Yiddish. It always tickled me that so many of them had to do with giving things a lick and a promise. For instance, if you swept out the kitchen but did a half-assed job, you swintzled it. Or if you ironed a blouse but didn't take many pains, you roshpeled it. A favorite faded old robe was a drunzel and a comfortable old pair of shoes were dopas.

That whole family called itself The Carottles and I think that was kind of a pidgen German version of hillbillies.

If Grammie left something, like beans cooking on the back of the stove, she let it brutzle, which was not a boil but slightly harder than a simmer.

If one of the men came home tipsy, she said the were pusufa. That was a generous term. You could be falling down but you were never drunk in Grammie's eyes but always pusufa.

I can remember crawling up in her lap. She'd pat her chest and say, "lay copesha (head)" It was the safest feeling in the world although normally she wasn't an very user-friendly grandmother. None of us kids would have dared go in her room without being invited.

They are just words, silly little words. I doubt if anyone in my family thinks of them anymore, like they don't eat Motta Bread. I'm still glad they are written down though. They are part of my family history even if no one knows them but me.

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