Nature endowed us to grieve after the loss of a loved one. And we
do. Intellect suggests that we should think about the good things a
person did in his life. Even better, a little bit of humor may be
healing to survivors. And they need it. So let me try to recall a few
episodes of Jerry's and my life together that might accomplish that.
While we were students in Moscow we had a choir that, among others, was preparing the "Cantata about Stalin". Jerry was not a great singer. When it was already safe, Jerry liked to pride himself that he was thrown out from the choir, because he was singing false notes of Stalin.
More about singing this time not his own. While visiting the Bursa, where Nina - his sweetheart and future wife - lived, he especially liked the performance of the song: "I Smuglanka, Moldowanka, etc." And he repeated it always without falsifying any note.
After our first semester in Moscow we were preparing for the exam on economic history of Russia. Laszczenko wrote the textbook and it was terribly boring. We needed to know all the citations of Lenin and Stalin to each chapter. And we had to know it precisely and verbatim. So we tried to learn by heart, which none of us liked. To make it a little easier Jerry wrapped his head with a kerchief. I do not think it helped much, but Jerry looked very funny. That is not the end of it.
After we passed the exams we played chess and Jerry was still wearing his kerchief. Suddenly a student responsible for our health paid us a visit and found Jerry with the kerchief. She wrote up a big story in our periodical how students should not spend vacation time, they should rather put on skates and go on Moscow River. I beg you pardon, do you imagine Jerry skating on the Moscow River?
More about exams. Jerry learned the Russian language very well and fast. Nevertheless, it probably was not perfect yet at the first semester exams. He got an excellent mark on the exam on Marxism-Leninism. But the Professor told him that he should use precise quotations from the sources not his explanations of what they mean.
After that lesson, whenever I tell a joke that I heard from Jerry - and I heard hundreds of them - I always preface it by quoting the source and try to give a precise, verbatim explanation of it.
Jerry was also a good "Sojcher" meaning businessman. I remember he always wanted to buy rundown houses in Hoboken New Jersey (how smart that would have been, much better than buying Enron stock that some of us did). Then walking with Nina and Gail, they saw that one can buy cheap a piece of land in a forest. Gail immediately suggested selling the Hoboken houses and buying the forest. Wouldn't it be better to buy both properties, ha?
Well, I am a little tired of laughing from my stories myself. I am inviting you all for the next installation of "Jerry Stories" next year at the same time.