Recently, I received a call from the older brother of a good friend who sadly passed away more than thirty years ago. Honoring “Cuppy”, as he was nicknamed, on what would have been his seventy-fifth birthday, I was asked for some personal recollections. I wrote this for them to read at the event. My only concern is it will read by a doctor, not a comedy person, and I fear concerningly for its delivery.
Anyway, here it is. You know how I sound. Read it like that.
I first met “Cuppy” when we were both campers at Camp Ogama. “Cuppy” was a “Second Month” camper, which was tough. Kids arriving in August were seen as “The New Guys”, and it was always hard for them to break in.
“Cuppy” clearly anticipated this challenge.
The first thing we noticed was that “Cuppy” wore an official “School Jacket” covered with sewn-on patches, signifying every sport you could possibly imagine. Baseball. Hockey. Horse shoes. “Cuppy’s” patches said he was gifted at all of them. We were very impressed.
Then we went on the field.
It turns out, “Cuppy” was no All-Star at any of them.
This totally confused me. Later, when we were friends, I said,
“’Cuppy’, you are a terrible athlete. How did you get all those badges?”
“Cuppy” candidly explained.
“I snuck into the school storeroom, and took them.”
More deservedly, “Cuppy” impressed his new cabin mates with his wonderful humor, winning acceptance with an endless supply of jokes, which he told after at bedtime, after “Lights Out.” The jokes were Yiddish-inflected. And frequently naughty.
I recall one Yiddish-inflected joke that was not naughty. It concerned a Catholic priest and a rabbi, seated side-by-side on an airplane.
During the flight, the priest tried to convert the rabbi to Catholicism. The rabbi adamantly refused. He was a Jew, he explained, and he would remain one forever.
The plane started to shake, and went into a dive. It looked like they were goners. Fortunately, the plane eventually righted itself, taxiing safely onto the runway.
The crisis was now over. To his surprise, when he turned to him, the priest saw the devout rabbi “crossing” himself, sighing in obvious relief. The Catholic priest was ecstatic.
“I am happy you changed your mind,” he exclaimed.
“About what?” asked the rabbi.
“About converting to Catholicism,” said the priest.
The rabbi smiled at the confusion, explaining,
“I wasn’t making the sign of the cross.” I was just taking inventory:
(SIMULATING THE SIGN OF THE CROSS)
“Head. Testicles. Wallet. Watch.”
“Cuppy” suffered two serious misfortunes in his life:
A terrible disease that took him way too soon.
Failing High School French – I believe it was twice – kept “Cuppy” Taichman from becoming a doctor.
Why did he need it.
I’ve seen many doctors in my time.
None of them ever speaks French.
When we were both counselors, plagued by out-of-control campers, after discussing how to survive this unruly situation, “Cuppy” proposed that the best thing we could tell these obstreperous children was,
“Cuppy” (Last Name) always played nice.
Every year, I remember him on his birthday.
He was my friend.
And I miss him.
Thank you for including this heartfelt contribution.
Camp Ogama, 1958.
Someone from the past you’d like to remember?
Maybe this is the time.