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Happy Ninetieth Birthday Ma-Ma
Let me take you far, far back
Into ancient history
And I'll tell you a little about my mother
So her life won't be a mystery.
It was January of '99
The century was almost over
Something happened at the Cohen's
John and Ida were in clover.
Some felt cold and cheerless
On that dreary winter's morn
But they celebrated in New York City
Cause that's where Bert was born.
She doesn't come from Queens or Brooklyn
From The Bronx or from Manhattan
But from the fairest borough of them all
That island known as Staten.
Sadie was her older sister
Playmates she did not lack
For after Bert came Julius Nathan
And then her baby brother, Jack.
Now she takes care of others,
But let it not be forgotten
That when she was a little girl
Sadie spoiled her rotten.
The years went by and Bert grew tall
She stretched halfway to heaven
And she'll remind you, if she's given a chance
She once was five-foot-seven.
She didn't have wealthy parents
She wasn't showered with diamonds or pearls
But she got her share of excitement
From joining the Camptire Girls.
She didn't need lots of money
A nickel could make her merry
For that's all it took to take a ride
On the Staten Island Ferry.
She fell in love with a Southern boy
And set some tongues to buzzin'
Cause she was moving to Alabama
To marry Leo, who was her cousin.
They spent some time in Sheffield
And she makes it very clear
How much she liked it when she says
"I spent ten years there one year."
She lost her Yankee accent
And learned to talk real good like us
And learned that a nice sweet Jewish girl
Ain't s'posed to sit in the back of the bus.
She's held many a job in her day
And this truly is no lie
She even investigated the Mickey Mouse
Club for the FBI.
Her many skills with numbers
Would be difficult to count
How many people in this room has she taught
How to balance their checking account?
If you ever waste a single dime
You'll quickly be corrected
And reminded of the depression when
That telephone was disconnected.
They say old dogs can't learn new tricks
But I certainly think it's nifty
That she first learned how to drive a car
The year that she turned fifty!
She hasn't driven too much lately
Which really brings Doug's smiles
She owned that Chevy for fourteen years
And drove only thirty one thousand miles!
Now I could tell you lots more stuff
But I don't think I should risk it
I'd rather brag about her cooking
And get her to bake me a brisket.
My mother is a wonderful cook
And she never once did wince
When I said "I'm still a little hungry, Morn
Could I have a seventh blintz."
I've never been so happy
Since Manuel came back from the navy
As when she serves a rare rump roast
With potatoes soaking in the gravy.
As soon as I'd get home from school
I would start a lookin'
To see if she had hidden some strudel
Or at least some great blitzkuchen.
Even after all these years
She still tries to teach me right
When she says "don't eat that before dinner,
You'll spoil your appetite!"
If you're worried about age slowing you down
Let her example quiet your fears
She didn't retire till age 87
After working for 70 years.
You tell us you're getting old now, Ma-Ma
You fell us you're slowing down
By I'll set the record straight right now
There ain't many like you around.
So we'll drink a toast to you, Ma-Ma
And whether you like it or not
We'll drink to you again in ten more years
When we see your photo with Willard Scott.