Monday, April 26, 2010


My son Andrew's recent class trip to Ellis Island left him with more family heritage questions than it answered. He wanted a better understanding about our clan so he asked me. I guess he forgot that I am a storehouse...if not the quintessence...of useless information.


Andrew' s objective was to have me navigate him through the morass of speculation that concerns my step-great-grandfather Rufus Edelblum and his wife Oxana. IN THE SHADOWS OF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY, ELLIS ISLAND HAS BEEN AN IMMIGRATION MUSEUM SINCE 1990.

First my boy wanted to know where Rufus and Oxana were between leaving their native Schmuckyzstan in 1913 and arriving in America in 1920. And more importantly: how did such illiterate, starving peasants skyrocket into the business world, become filthy rich and manage to hide their fame?

I'm not proud of it but in the past, I have mislead my son into thinking I know everything. So it was a major disappointment to him when I admitted that I had no idea of Rufus and Oxana's background. Nevertheless, I did offer to try to unravel this mystery with one condition that my boy understands that with all the resources fingertip-wisdom has to offer...even computers have limitations.

By chance, the riddle was solved, when I mentioned Andrew's quandary to of my loyal readers. Coincidentally, he was about to fly to Europe and tour the continent by train, using a Eurail pass. I laid out my son's dilemma and like Sherlock Holmes, DEDNOT dropped his original sophisticated plans for Rome, Paris and London, in the name of satisfying Andrew's curiosity.

DEDNOT's first stop in this regard was the tiny village in Schmuckyzstan called Kvetch. This poor suburb of Anatevka had only one brick building. It served as a combination glue factory and Hall of Records. Despite the loud painful neighing in the next room, my friend discovered that Rufus Edelblum and his wife were NOT peasants...they were kruds. Their hamlet was so underprivileged that peasants were considered upper middle-class. And it was the kruds who were at the bottom of Kvetch's socio-economic totem pole.

In addition to leading an utterly destitute krud lifestyle, the people at the stump of my family tree were also devout Unitarians. Therefore as a minority with opposing religious affiliation, they were targeted, oppressed and persecuted by the bigoted ruling locals. Even worse, unless their tiny, rocky, pestilence infested parcel of potassium dominated dirt could produce an abundant crop of mud-laded turnips, they starved. RUFUS AND OXANA (cute one in middle) TRY TO OUT-RACE THE COMPETITION TO MARKET, ( 9 MILES AWAY).

A heavy thinker, Rufus wanted to break the cycle of despair and leave the land that had chained his ancestors to poverty and intolerance for generations. He and Oxana decided to risk death and walk across the great frontier's tundra and over glacial mountains to the progressive, fun-loving country of Freedonia. So he gathered up all his schmuckyzstanis (money) but came up a hundred short of what they needed for the perilous journey.

That amount of money seemed out of reach to Rufus. He decided to quit but Oxana wanted a family and for her children to grow-up tall, strong and happy. So as a last resort to solve their problem, she offered to prostitute herself. Rufus wouldn't allow it. But the young bride vowed to leave him if he didn't permit this secretive sacrifice. After she convinced him that it would only take a couple of generous men, he reluctantly agreed.

It was a long, nerve-racking night for Rufus. At 8:AM, Oxana returned to their hovel with a 100 schmuckyzstani banknote and 50 sentinkis. He said, "Wow, I can't believe that you made all that money in one night." Oxana crashed onto her straw mat and muttered, "I'm exhausted." Rufus then laughed, "But who gave you the 50 sentinkis?" She yawned, "They ALL did!"

DEDNOT traveled to Freedonia and found out that Rufus and Oxana made it there in 1914. Rufus joined the beggar's union and prospered while posing as an epileptic. All was going well until Oxana developed an insatiable love for the Glendanian ethnic fast-food restaurant, YETI-DELITE. As she got fatter and fatter, Rufus could no longer support her super-sized cravings for the greasy, Big Foot meat squares, sprinkled with diced parsnips.

They were on the verge of divorce when the outbreak of WWI hit Freedonia. The little care-free nation was over-run by neighboring axis power Glendania. Under siege, the people were impressed into their enemy's military, taxed into submission and were forced to eat only beets...from dirty bowls.

DEDNOT's investigation turned-up an interesting fact. In 1918, Rufus was arrested for begging for okra, on an odd, "No Begging" day. The Glendanians imprisoned him in the dungeon-like cellars of the Grand Duchy of Freedonia's White Castle.

Oxana heard that her husband would never again see the light of day. She made a desperate diversionary plan which included "servicing" six of the guards...which allowed Rufus to escape. Amid the shrill alarm, under the cloak of a cloudy afternoon, Oxana stole a prostitute drawn cart and they made a mad dash to the western border. FREEDONIAN PROSTITUTES OF THE RESISTANCE HELPED SMUGGLE THE COUPLE OUT OF THE COUNTRY.

At a time when the Iron Curtain was a mere lacy drapery, my kinfolk...through a small slit in the fabric...fled the harness of tyranny. They eventually migrated to a seaside town near Lisbon. By the time the great war was over, Rufus had learned the sponge-diving trade. He was content there but Oxana insisted that the American streets were paved with gold. Rufus was frustrated and frequently whined, "Whats wrong with the Portuguese?" She said, "I want to go to America and I don't care what I have to do to get there." Rufus sighed. He knew what she meant and with the image of the White Castle burnt into his subconscious, Rufus could not refuse her wish.


DEDNOT proved Oxana's skill when he pointed out that seventy years later, her name and phone number remain etched on a thousand public restroom walls throughout Portugal.


Oxana then subsidized the first leg of their trek, through Spain to Andorra. When they ran out of money, she had funds injected into her account by both Juans and Jeans. That foray fueled their trip through France and all the way to the docks of Southampton, England.

They could have afforded steerage class tickets aboard any trans-Atlantic ship to the new world. But Oxana read that on one ship, first-class passengers had access to a YETI-DELITE on the promenade deck. To earn the extra money, within a fortnight, Oxana's sexual exploits became as legendary to Brits as King Arthur's search for the Holy Grail.

Aboard ship, Rufus fell into the grip of YETI-DELITE'S allure. However it wasn't the deep fried yeti that he craved; he loved their tiny square yak-patties topped with minced turnips.

When the suddenly over-weight couple entered America, they still had a tidy sum left over from Oxana's carnal invasion of England. That's why it's now easy for my son Andrew to understand...through DEDNOT's tutorial, how our family survived with a small food stand.

Immediately, Rufus figured it was both difficult and costly to import yeti meat, so he switched the recipe to ground beef. Being a clever lad, he then substituted the inconsistently tasty Eastern European parsnips and turnips for Jersey-grown Spanish onions. In a few scant years, the Edelblum empire blossomed, and Rufus and Oxana became the entrepreneurial success story that few people realize.

And now you know what few people other than DEDNOT, Andrew and I know...including Harold and Kumar...the humble ingredients that made White Castle, the #18 fast-food burger enterprise in the New York metropolitan area. DON'T LET THE FACT THAT I ONCE SAW A COCKROACH VOMIT AT A WHITE CASTLE DETER YOU FROM APPRECIATING THEIR GREASY YET CAPTIVATING AMBIANCE.

The full story can now be told. Entitled, "THE GLENDANIAN CONNECTION TO FAST-FOOD," Andrew and DEDNOT have produced and sold a Power-Point presentation on the history of Rufus and Oxana. This 90-minute 3-D show, will make its premiere on Ellis Island, this 4th of July in their IMAX theatre.

Be there...or be square. Or as they say in Schmuckyzstan, be there or be a krud !

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am honored to be part of, "THE GLENDANIAN CONNECTION TO FAST-FOOD," blog. Delightful story---quite a knee-slapper. Well done - DEDNOT