Recycling Yiddish News

Mama read the Yiddish paper, Der Tog.  It was not until I left the farm and went to Rutgers University in New Brunswick to study poultry husbandry, that I discovered another Jewish (Yiddish) newspaper existed. 

It was then that I learned there were the Forverts and the Freiheit.  Mama said, “I like Der Tog because the writers talk like I do.“ Papa, a lifelong Republican, read the Hunterdon County Democrat.  It was the only local newspaper.

After the newspapers were read they were recycled.  Mama mopped the kitchen floor every Friday before the shabes.  When Mama mopped, she twisted the strands of the long heavy mop so hard that the muscles in her forearms bulged. 

Then, came the newspaper.  The sheets were placed neatly on the floor end to end to keep it clean for a longer time. 

I clearly remember our linoleum floor.  It had a square pattern with red and yellow flowers and green leaves.  Gold colored metal strips were tacked down at the seams.  The tacks came up occasionally and needed to be hammered down.

Finally, when the paper became dirty and worn, Mama picked them up and placed them aside to be used each morning during the week when the wood stove was started.  First, we crumpled the sheets and placed them on the grates of our six-burner Kalamazoo stove. 

The sheets were then covered with narrow slivers of kindling wood.  Later, logs were put in.  I still remember the curved handled lid lifter we used to expose the flames and add the wood.
Today, large trucks come by the curbside of my home to pick up the bins in which the papers are stored.  The sheets are taken away to be recycled. 

Mama not only read the newspapers, she used them to keep the kitchen floor clean longer, and then burned them in the kitchen stove.  There was no expensive garbage pickup truck and no recycling charge. 

Mama was a recycler.