Things Gitta said


My right foot

Whenever we’d leave for a trip, be it to Deauville where my parents had a house, or for a much longer trip, Gitta, my mother made us sit for a few minutes. I, as a teenager, found this thoroughly ludicrous, but she didn’t care, we just sat in silence for a while, and then, she made us get out with our right foot first.
As my father didn’t speak Yiddish, I have a very short repertoire, but my mother used one of the few Yiddish expressions that I can remember. And I heard it so many times that it stuck in my mind.

She would say:

Mit der rechter fuss!

(with your left right foot)

My mother I cannot guarantee the spelling of course, since Yiddish is not written with our alphabet, but I can still remember her voice saying this. And out with our right foot, we went.
Now you have to understand that Mit der rechter fuss! was good for quite a few things. Not only when you left for Normandy.
But also when you went to sign a work contract, or when you were about to sell or buy something or were about to move in or out. Or were getting married. Or when you had to sit for an exam, or whatever other occasions you could think of.
Ludicrous, maybe, but you never can tell, can you?

I swear that when I left my flat to go have breast cancer surgery, I mumbled

Mit der rechter fuss!

and was careful to put my right foot out of the door first! Did the same with radiation therapy and what do you know?
It worked 😉

To listen to this post in French, click below

I can’t believe that I found a photo entitled My right foot, taken in September 2005 in my photostream for this post.

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8 thoughts on “Things Gitta said

  1. I’m confused. Is it supposed to read with the right foot in parentheses? Just above the picture. It says left foot. That is close enough to German, which I have studied.
    I have NEVER thought of which foot I put out of the car, or door, etc. In fact, in order to get out of the car when I am driving I would have to be a very flexible person to get my right foot out first!
    Your blog spot is delightful

  2. I don’t think it ever hurts to pay attention to the “old wives tales” that follow us down through generations of our families. Mine didn’t have any like that, but what could it hurt? And if it works – so much the better!

  3. “Best foot forward” is what I’ve always heard. What I’ve heard is obviously a derivation of right foot forward. I wonder why when marching, it is customary to start with the left foot?

  4. My “best foot forward” has always been my right one but I’ve never thought to use it as a good luck charm. I am going to start that from now on. Thanks.

  5. I am going to ask my friend Anna who is German if she has ever heard this saying. I like your new website design, Claude, and was happy to see the Wall Street Journal notice posted…that is how I found out about your blog, last summer! I enjoy it very very much, even though I do not always comment. I enjoy hearing the blog in French and your writings about your family are particularly wonderful…thanks.

  6. claude, your strength as an historian of your family and connections to them continues to impress me. forwarding this to my son, the urban historian, and spouse, the resident yiddish speaker. great links–official in sweden; who would have known!

  7. I’ve heard both “Put your best foot forward” and “Put your right foot forward.” I always took the second expression to have sort of a double meaning of not only starting out in the best possible way but the correct way. Since most people are right handed, I gathered they were also right footed — their stronger side. Don’t know where I collected this information, whether from my mother, or I somehow surmised this explanation. The latter being the case, I could be “all wet!” 😉

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