Borschtman

Canning-- destroying native ways since the Oregon Trail.

I know that amongst my readers, there are only a few so lucky as to live in the remains of remote Pennsylvania bauxite labor camps and wake each midday to the sweet sound of the neighborhood borschtman’s call and the scape of his wheel-less sledge through the mud and gravel as he drags his still steaming borscht bucket through the streets.  On his feet, he wears the traditional rags secured with ropes (for traction on both: the floor of the barn, where he wakes at the break of dawn, crawls out of the horse’s stall, and fires up the borscht pit; and the ever muck-filled thoroughfares of the camp).  On a piece of twine ’round his neck he wears the crude wooden borscht ladle with its long, thin handle for maximum scooping of savory beetroot and broth.  Without a doubt, he is the most respected citizen in town.

I have often wondered what has become of the noble borschtman.  Once, nearly half the communities in the nation employed one, and many politicians got their starts as borschtmen back home.  Indeed, many a famous personage of yore has been quoted as saying that though they themselves may be in the company of the nation’s greatest borschtmen, the true power lay with the Capital Hill BorschtBriingar.

You have probably put two and two together.  In any case, I need not spell it out for you.  Though I was young (a mere 14), I had apprenticed with a woman who was said to be the nation’s premier borschtman– a woman who had traveled the world, heralding the first brewing of Dos Equiis, predicting the fate of S.A. Andree’s Arctic balloon expedition, and proclaiming the freedom of religion in Madagascar before retiring to a simpler borschtman’s life (rather fatefully, for me) in my own hometown.  Though I, ultimately, would never ascend to the heights of this great woman, I contributed many BorschtKallen, or Borscht Calls, to the cannon which are still used to this day.  So think of me, if ever on some wintry midday you hear the faint hoarse cry of, “Me borscht bucket black, borscht red borscht red!  Borscht bucket burn blacker, red beet borscht bread brown!”

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