putterings 279 < 280 > 281 index
haggling days, liability days. asset days.
Sooner or later, Morris got his way.
A gentle, insidious way. A way that had transformed his father from a petty, puttering dealer in used furniture in Delancey Street; a lean, argumentative little old man with a protruding chin and a curl of goatee that was pretty constantly waggling from haggling; into the dim old man whose beard was mostly quiet now and faint with Havana where it had once reeked with meerschaum.
The old man’s haggling days were over.
He sat now most of the time in the bow of the brace of sunny living-room windows that overlooked waves of upper West Side roofs and a distant slash of Hudson River.
Once the old man summed it up rather grimly for himself, sitting there the long leisurely hours through, his head dozy on his chest. Not only were his haggling days over, the old man concluded. But his days were over.
The old man’s days were over.
ex Fannie Hurst, “The Gold in Fish,” encountered at More Aces, A Collection of Short Stories..., compiled by the community workers of the New York Guild for the Jewish Blind (New York, 1925) : 157-207 (158) : link
the story first appeared in Hearst’s International Combined with Cosmopolitan 79 (August 1925) — with illustrations by R. F. Schabelitz — 28-31, 185-194 : link
The son will change his name... his entire family’s name —
“Mother, you don’t understand — —”
I don’t understand! I understand that my son comes home and announces to me and his papa, like it was so much weather,  that we ain’t named Goldfish any more. We’re named Fish!”
“No, no. Not like it was so much weather, mother. I’ve explained it to you carefully at least six times since I entered this room ten minutes ago, that I have changed our name legally because it was a liability and not an asset. No man named Morris Goldfish can hope to achieve the position in life that I have mapped out for myself. For us.”
“Forty years now, son, I been a Goldfish and ——”
“Morris Goldfish and Maurice Fish are two different human beings, mother. Certain walks of life are closed to Morris Goldfish that I, as Maurice Fish, propose to enter.”
“You hear that, papa. The name that was good enough for you to get born into, and for me to marry into, is somethink to be ashamed of. Irma, ain’t you got no pride in family? Ain’t the name that was good enough for you to marry when you married my son, good enough now so you don’t got to make a laughing-stock of you and your children by changing it?”
Mrs. Maurice Fish, née Irma Striker, had gray eyes and a nose that had been straightened. Bloodlessly. “It would have to be bloodlessly,” had been Birdie’s trite comment. “The stuff don’t flow in her.” Irma’s finger nails were flaming ruby cabochons which hung from her hands in glowing convex surfaces. Irma’s hair, bobbed, was marcelled so that only the boyish shave peak in the back revealed it.
Irma called her nurse-maid a bonne.
Irma weighed one hundred and fourteen pounds and attended Lyman Wastrel’s Stretching Classes for weight reduction.
Daughter, and Morris/Maurice’s sister Birdie, is the fulcrum of the story. She appears at page 185 (Hearst’s International) : link
The story is included in Fannie Hurst, Song of Life (1927) : 60 : link