From the American Scene: Second Wife
We didn’t want him to marry again. Why should he? Certainly not to satisfy the flesh. A gray-haired man with seven grown children! Companionship? For Papa? Absurd! He was the shyest of men. Give him a Yiddish paper to read and three nights of back-breaking work each week as a baker, and that was his life. That and looking after the steam heat in the winter. He didn’t even go to the Yiddish theater.
That’s why we were so startled when two years after Mamma died Papa started to dress up on Saturday nights and slip out of the six-family house in Bensonhurst and head for the Sea Beach Express.
At first we used to question him, with that disregard of privacy so characteristic of immigrant Jewish life.
“Where you going, Pa?” I would say, looking up from my college algebra assignment.
Sam and Gershon would stop slamming the ping-pong ball on the dining room table, walk into the kitchen, and take up the question a little tauntingly. “Yeah, Pa, where you going?” It never occurred to them that they had no right to ask, nor to Papa that he could refuse to answer.
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