In Lyndhurst, if a Gentile spoke enviously to a Jew about how rich the Jews of Lyndhurst were, how clever they were, how well they did in business, the reply was often made, “Well, it’s not really true about all the Jews. Just look at Lipi Lippmann!” No one, not even the biggest anti-Semite in the world, could say that Lipi Lippmann was rich or clever or did well in business.
Lipi Lippmann once said that the Jews of Lyndhurst should pay him to remain poor, his poverty was so useful in arguments. But the joke was received in silence; it was felt to be in bad taste. The Jews of Lyndhurst were ready to use Lipi Lippmann’s poverty to propitiate an envious Gentile, but they were ashamed of him nevertheless; ashamed of his old Ford lorry, laden with fruit and vegetables, going from door to door; ashamed that Lipi was the only white man who bickered among the colored and Indian hawkers at dawn in the market place. Every other Jew in town was a licensed wholesaler or a licensed hotelkeeper, a licensed dentist or a licensed doctor; but Lipi Lippmann had remained nothing but a licensed hawker. And his only son, Nathan, was nothing but a licensed radio operator in the South African Airways, who still did not earn enough to support his aging father. What a ridiculous job Nathan’s seemed to be, anyway, for a son of Lipi Lippmann! “How’s the airman?” people sometimes asked Lipi patronizingly, when they saw him; and Lipi looked up at the sky, wrinkling his brow, and said, “He’s fine, still up in the air.” In fact, Nathan had been in the ground staff for a long time, but Lipi did not know this, for he and Nathan wrote to each other so seldom. Lipi himself had never flown in an airplane; he never listened to the radio either.