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ethel kalisch

the hoffer family, 1966

In my family, we have certain idiosyncratic terms that no one else in the world uses besides us. I’m sure lots of families do.  My sister and I did not realize until some few years ago, however, that this was actually the case. We thought everyone walked around calling the National Council of Jewish Women thrift shop the “Jewish Ladies,” for example. which they don’t.  This is not dissimilar from our mother thinking that her father was just making up nonsense words when he would say, “let’s go schloffen” at bedtime or mix together rice and peas when they were served at dinner and call it risi-pisi.  My family also says “sleep-away camp” to denote a summer camp at which one stays for a period of time (as differentiated from day camp) and my saying this out loud to friends not from California has literally made them laugh. I don’t know if this is a weird family thing, or if it’s just a regional difference, but the fact of the matter remains that I have tried to train myself not to say “sleep-away camp” in front of certain people.

Which brings us to the above photograph, a place holder for a picture I can’t find right now, taken at the sleep-away camp where my mother was in her element, where my parents met, where my cousin fell off a bridge, where a little piece of my heart will always live even though a large percentage of my time there was often lonely and sad. This place is simply known as “Camp.” There are no qualifiers because we all know exactly what we are talking about.

From time to time I think about how I would like to go visit  — which is not very far away at all — but I never do. I will one of these days.

Frank Markus Hoffer (1909-1991), Helene, Ethel Kalisch Hoffer (1918-1991), Mom


One Response to “the hoffer family, 1966”

  1. Anonymous said…
    Holy Cannoli. Your mom looks exactly like Erin.
    MARCH 7, 2008 6:21 PM

    margaret elizabeth said…
    My family does this too! I grew up with words and phrases that dont mean a thing and code words and other fake langauges… ha. It was awfully embarassing to find it out the hard way but i like us for it. Hexisms.
    of course.
    APRIL 10, 2008 11:05 AM

    Posted by rebeccafm | April 18, 2012, 11:04 am

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