Libin wrote nearly fifty plays. A
portion of them were successful. The successful plays were: "Henele,"
the "Gebrokhene hertser (Broken Hearts)," "Der troymer
(The Dreamer)," "Ir fargangenhayt (Her Past)," "Der
urteyl (The Verdict)," "Got's shtrof (God's
Struggle)," "Gebrekhtigkayt (Liability?)," "Blinde
libe (Blind Love)," "Der eyntsiger eydes (The Only
Witness)," "Kaptsn vu krikhstu? (Pauper, Where Are You
Pushing Yourself?)," and many others.
Libin used to carry around a bible
with him, in which he had written names and topics for new
plays, and he used to ask managers or star artists what names or
topics he was missing.
Libin also was humorous, and
conversations, he once asked me:
-- Where are they playing a bad
I asked him:
-- Why, do you need a bad play?
He answered me with his Libin way:
-- Since I have a new maid in the
house, she wants to play in the Yiddish theatre. I want her to
see a bad play, so she won't want to play in the theatre.
HE BOUGHT A PLAY FOR FOUR
HUNDRED DOLLARS, FROM WHICH GOLD WAS CUT
Then there was a time when almost
every house had a "boarder." Various words, funny jokes,
anecdotes were developed -- as they say, in every conversation
here is a little truth. The conversations of the day were the
"Mrs. with the boarder."
In that time Shomer wrote a comedy
with the name "Di emigranten (The Emigrants)." The
main person in "The Emigrants" was the boarder. Fortunately the role
of the boarder fell to the genial comic Sigmund Mogulesco.
The entire New York Jewish public
giggled with laughter for months. Mogulesco did not leave the
public a minute without laughter. In the comedy he created the
words, "Pavolye, feter (Slow, uncle?)," and on everyone's
lips then there lied the words, "Pavolye, feter." He used
to say it through the entire production, perhaps a hundred
times, in that time he would say it in another tone with another intonation of the words,
"Pavolye, feter." It created a couplet, "Vi gefelt eykh aza
border? (How Did You Like Such a Boarder)?"
With the play, "The Emigrants,"
there began the Yiddish theatre a great prosperity, the
glorious epoch of Yiddish theatre. They did not ask how much it
cost. As long as they came to the theatre.
This joy was shattered when Mogulesco became ill in his throat. He simply lost his tongue.
The tragedy was that he was physically healthy, but he had no
The role of the boarder was taken
over by Bessie Thomashefsky. She played the man as a woman, and
business was not harmed at all. It is just like matzo water, and
the poor Mogulesco became a conductor in the orchestra, and the
public used to spill rivers of tears, reminding him of his tenors of
They played the piece at the
People's Theatre on the Bowery, which then was the main Yiddish
The play was written by Nakhum
Meir Shaykevitsh (Shomer). He sold it for four hundred dollars.
Shomer, who then made a living by writing novels for the Yiddish
newspapers (that is, a small living), went to the managers
Edelstein and Thomashefsky with an answer; "So, you make a lot
of money from my play, and my family is in need." They answered
him, "What? You don't forgive us?"
Years later, when Shomer married
off his daughter Anna to the young lawyer Morris Rotenberg
(later the poet Rotenberg, and president of the Zionist
organization), Joseph Barondess, the former community activist,
came with an answer to the managers. He shouted out in his
baritone voice: "Pigs! You made gold from Shomer's 'Emigrants.'
Now his daughter Anna is getting married, and there is not a
cent left in the house. Just give me a check for five hundred
They barely paid three hundred
On leaving with the check he said:
"Shomer will be resurrected, but
you have been and will remain [where you are]!"
As was already said, Shomer wrote
novels. He used to write various novels
under various names for three newspapers.
Often there were published comical
passages with the various novels. As the novels used to go on in
sequels, he often exchanged one sequel with another from a
second novel. In the novel where the young girl first becomes a
bride, it is already the next morning, and with the exchange,
she was a
mother of three children. But the hero, who had only been to Shamdan last night for the sake of a princess, the next day, in
the bitter continuation, was ordained a rabbi. But Shomer was
an artist to explain all these changes in two or three lines.
Shomer was a dear family man and a
loving father. He did not want that his children should read his