After I wrote about Gimplesfolly Day, people expressed their regret that, despite extensive Web searches, they had not been able to find any further information about Moishe Gimple. The study of this fascinating character’s history has been one of my passions for some time. I’m delighted to share my knowledge.
The long-awaited, joyful moment at the home of Yossell and Hersela Gimple, Moishe’s parents, finally arrived on October 13, 1945. That moment lasted exactly four minutes, thirty-seven seconds. Nine months later, on July 20, 1946, Moishe was born in a Brooklyn, New York taxicab. The elder Gimples regretted that day for the rest of their natural lives. They rued it even more on those days when they undertook activities that all and sundry considered to be quite unnatural, but that’s another story and one that’s not fit for human consumption. Because, at the time of Moishe’s birth, Yossell and Hersela did not have the slightest idea as to how such a thing could have happened, in their later years they became strong advocates of government subsidization of birth control for all and the teaching of sex education in public schools so that others would not unwittingly make the same mistake.
There were many reasons for their disappointment at the birth of Moishe, but chief among them were that Hersela wanted a girl, while Yossell wanted a gerbil, which he was convinced would have been much less costly and messy and much more of a comfort in his old age. As it turned out, Yossell was right about that.
At birth, Moishe weighed seven pounds, nine ounces. Shortly before birth he was eight pounds, eleven ounces, but he burned off several thousand calories fighting valiantly, yet fruitlessly against being force into a world that, even in the womb, he already fretted over immensely.
Yossell and Hersela were destitute. Many people who, against their will and better judgment, had come to know the Gimples well described them as being poor as church mice. The Gimples took exception to this characterization. In fact, they used to sustain themselves by sneaking into churches at night and stealing bait from mousetraps. The resident mice, freed from the threat of traps, thrived. The Gimples didn’t. Thus, the Gimples contended that it was inaccurate to describe them as being as poor as church mice. The Gimples were, indeed, much poorer.
The Gimples hadn’t always been broke. Never rich, they had once been comfortable. Well, maybe not comfortable, as they were inherently morose people who could not find pleasure in anything, but at least they earned a decent income at one time. Unfortunately, they gambled all of their lifesavings on a bet that the Germans would win the Second World War. Paying off that wager left them penniless. The widespread resentment, throughout America and its allied countries, that was generated by the Gimples having placed the bet left them without friends or potential employers. What’s more, their relatives, who all changed their names and moved to another continent to avoid being associated with the Gimples, refused to take their calls.
Due to their extreme poverty, Yossel and Hersela were not able to give Moishe normal toys. Instead, Moishe spent hours in his crib playing with, and banging his little head against a piece of rusty old pipe that his parents liberated from a decrepit, long-abandoned industrial building. Many have suggested that his endless frolicking with this cherished childhood plaything led to his eventual career in plumbing. Others have said that it led to the tetanus that almost killed him.
The lack of life-enhancing experiences that resulted from his family’s poverty marked Moishe for life. The “Kick Me” that his parents tattooed on his forehead at age five didn’t help either.
Stay tuned. More to come.
Categorised as: Gimple