They Called Me Mayer July: Painted Memories of a Jewish Childhood in Poland Before the Holocaust

Previous Home Next

humanfly

The human fly

Mandelbaum was the richest citizen our town. He had a beautiful house in Apt and a residence in Warsaw. His place in Apt was the biggest residential building in the city. A man who advertised himself as the human fly would climb the corner of Mandelbaum's building. Large corner stones projected from the masonry and provided him with hand and foot holds. Once he got to the top, he fastened a projecting pole to roof, somehow, and did some acrobatic tricks from that pole. He descended in the same way. Street performers, including fiddle players, singers, and cellists, used to play in the courtyards. I saw them perform in Mandelbaum's courtyard. There were many tenants and this being one of the better buildings in town the performers expected to collect more money. People living in the apartments overlooking the courtyard opened their windows and leaned out. They watched the performers, wrapped a few coins in a bit of cloth, and threw them down to the performers. I was always eager to help out by collecting the money that fell to the ground. Naturally there was always a lot of action there.