“In a fektori lebn a mashin” Performed by Mary Roten

In  a fektori lebn a mashin (Khane, hayret mit mir) / In a Factory, Near a Machine (Hannah, Marry Me)
Sung by Mary Roten  (1900 – 1993), recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg in 1979, Baltimore, Maryland

Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

“Khane Hayrat mit mir” is a typical song from the Yiddish theater of the 1910s when Mary Roten learned it. She sings it in a “Litvish” dialect – “em” instead of “im”, “farfleygn” instead of “farfloygn”  “di land” instead of “dos land” etc.

I have not yet found the composer, author or possible play where it was performed but I would bet the melody is taken from a popular American tune of the time period. Does anyone recognize it?

RotenPhotoPhotograph from the Jewish Museum of Maryland

The singer Mary Roten was born in 1900 and died in 1993. In the above photograph she is teaching her nursery class at the Baltimore Jewish Educational Alliance, circa 1930. 

The recording of this song was done by Gertrude Nitzberg who donated the recording to the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland, now part of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Nitzberg was a teacher and collector of Yiddish folksongs, stories and life history. For more on Gertrude Nitzberg read her obituary here.

Nitzberg was 81 years old when she died in 2000.  In the Museum description of the collection, it mentions 20 tapes of field-recordings of singers. 

Note on the words to “Khane, heyrat mit mir”:
“Mashin” means sewing machine.
“COD” means Cash on Delivery
“Operator” = sewing machine operator

TRANSLITERATION

In a fektori lebn a mashin,
zitst a yunger-man,
in der land iz er grin.
Lebn em zitst a yunge meydele,
shtendik zi neyt.
Un zi trakht vegn dem operaterl
vos zingt ir dos lid:

Refrain:

Khane, heyrat mit mir.
Ales vel ikh ton far dir.
Mir veln lebn, sheyn, a prakht.
Ikh vel arbetn shver tog un nakht
far mayn frumer Khanele. 

Yorn hobn farfleygn,
heyrat hobn zey.
Got hot zey geshonken
mit kinderlekh tsvey.
Yetst haltn zey a “biznes” [ business],
a kleyn “groseri.”  [grocery]
un farkeyfn tsu ale kustomers
by COD. 

Fraytik tsu nakht
zitsndik baym tish,
iber di lange lokshn,
un iber di gefilte fish,
zogt zi tsu em:
“Tsi gedenkstu di tsayt ven
du host gezungen dos lid?”.

Refrain:

Khane, heyrat mit mir.
Ales vel ikh ton far dir.
Mir veln lebn, sheyn, a prakht.
Ikh vel arbetn shver tog un nakht
far mayn frumer Khanele. 

TRANSLATION

In a factory, near a machine,
sits a young man,
in this land he is “green”.
Next to him sits a girl
who always is sewing.
And she thinks about the operator
who sings her this song:

Refrain:

Khane, marry me.
I will do everything for you.
We will live wonderfully, a wonder.
I will work hard all day and night.
For my pious Khanele. 

Years flew by;
they were married.
God gave them a gift
of two children.
Now they have a business,
a little grocery store.
And all the customers pay
COD [cash on delivery]

Friday night, sitting at the table,
with the long noodles and with gefilte fish,
she says to him:
“Do you remember when
you sang me this song?”

Refrain:

Khane, heyrat mit mir.
Ales vel ikh ton far dir.
Mir veln lebn, sheyn, a prakht.
Ikh vel arbetn shver tog un nakht
far mayn frumer Khanele. 

roten1roten2roten3

5 Responses to ““In a fektori lebn a mashin” Performed by Mary Roten”

  1. Hershl Hartman Says:

    So now we can hear the sound of *shund* set to (some sort of) music.

    *nor dos hot undz gefelt.*

    On Thu, Jun 18, 2020 at 8:58 AM Yiddish Song of the Week wrote:

    > yiddishsong posted: “In a fektori lebn a mashin (Khane, hayret mit mir) / > In a Factory, Near a Machine (Hannah, Marry Me) Sung by Mary Roten (1900 – > 1993), recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg in 1979, Baltimore, Maryland > Commentary by Itzik Gottesman “Khane Hayrat mit mir” is a ” >

  2. […] Presenting rare field recordings of master Yiddish folksingers. « “In a fektori lebn a mashin” Performed by Mary Roten […]

  3. […] recording is found in the Gertrude Nitzberg Collection at the Jewish Museum of […]

  4. […] the Singer and Nitzberg families which was done on a wire recorder in 1948 probably in Baltimore. Gertrude Singer Nitzberg transferred the recordings to tape in the 1970s and donated them to the Jewish Museum of […]

  5. […] der nakht / The Eve of Yom Kippur A Yiddish murder ballad sung by Yetta Seidman, recorded by Gertrude Nitzberg for the Jewish Museum of Maryland, […]

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