Saturday, April 24, 2021

What's "hoppen", Cora

 I received a clipping from my mother's mother, Eudice Bernstein -- the
original Yuie (as she shares a cognomen* with my daughter Eugenia) -- in 1978.

     Arthur Weyne's** sister used to take the Avenue A bus from 10th
     Street to Houston almost every work-day morning. "At Fifth Street,"
     he recalls her telling him, "almost every morning, a short, frowzy,
     chunky shlump of a woman would be waiting for the bus and board it
     with groans, glowers,protests, and have exertions. She carried
     bundles -- always. They were of a clumsy dimension, varying sizes
     and divers degrees of vulnerability; there were never fewer than

     "She always paid her fare grudgingly, then flopped into a seat at
     the front, sometimes commandeering one with an authority no one
     ever disputed, and sat there frowning, creaking and giving off
     emanations of menace. Since she had started her cascade of
     complaints on the step of the bus, and went on from her seat,
     haranguing the driver: he stopped too far from the curb; the step
     was much too high; the fare was unreasonable; he drove like a wild
     Indian. She went on beyond Houston, so my sister never knew whether
     she ever stopped caterwauling.

     "One day in April, as my sister's bus was approaching Fifth Street,
     she was relieved to see that Complaining Cora -- as of course she
     known: her name was Cora -- was not at the curb. But a woman was
     waiting for the bus, and the driver stopped to take her on. Lo and
     behold! -- my sister insisted this was the only way to express it --
     the woman was Cora: bundleless, dressed in a lovely frock, a
     flowered hat and long white gloves. More startling than her costume
     was her face. She was beaming -- pleasant, jovial, gay.

     "Cora didn't merely board -- she made an entrance. She paid her
     fare, even the coins tinkled gaily. Then the startled passengers
     began to call out, 'Is that you, Cora -- really you?' The driver
     pulled the bus to the curb, stopped and faced her, 'What's
     "hoppen", Cora?'

     "'Nothing is "hoppen"', she said, as though proclaiming an
     amnesty. "'Today is Shakespeare's birthday.'

--Lawrence Van Gelder New York Times,
The Living Section, page C2, June 27, 1979.

*Look it up
**A writer, editor and Jewish author.