It feels like our old Sukkaah was around forever and now that I’m thinking about that little seasonally outdoor edifice of ours, it kind of looked like it too. From the time I was a little child and could recall these things up until after I was married, we always had that Sukkah.
Let me tell you about it. It was way before the advent or the development of Sukkahs as a multimillion dollar almost year round industry. There were no early bird specials. No one bought a Sukkah or even thought about buying a Sukkah in July or August. It was plain wood with a nice darkened wood color to it. Those walls were big and strong and very difficult or I should say almost impossible to lug out of our garage in back of our house in Crown Heights and shlep or carry all the way up to our front porch.
In fact it was not me or my brothers that really ever oversaw the construction of that Sukkah from start to finish over all those years. My father always hired a carpenter or some other combination of small job construction people to put these four walls together and to make sure that they withstood the elements of those 8 days of the yom tov.
Actually, very often that was part of the problem. The people that did these things were frequently not available when we needed them so sometimes the Sukkah was put up two weeks before yom tov and then taken down in some years three weeks after the chag. That didn’t make my parents too happy, that is the inability of three young men (that would be us, their sons) who just couldn’t or wouldn’t get involved to the extent that was required.
It’s not like we had nothing to do with the construction of the Sukkah at all. Our job was to work out between us how the schach was going to get up there on the roof of the Sukkah. My father didn’t want to know who or how, he just wanted it done. If I’m not mistaken I think this was where I managed to perfect my ability to procrastinate as well as I do.
No, you didn’t just open up a bamboo mat and roll it across the open roof of the Sukkah and then go about your merry way. There was no such thing then. As I recall the new innovation back then was long bamboo poles that easily slid alongside one another which when done made a pretty good looking Sukkah roof. No, we did not have those—we had these wooden slats that probably came with these four immense and heavy walls. We had to procure a ladder and lay each slat side by side with one another in order to complete the job and the look that was required.
But don’t worry; Sukkas never arrived without there being Schach up there on top of these four strong wooden walls. But make no mistake, once the Sukkah went up we didn’t do the schach right away. We were apparently busy, I’m not sure with what, but we must have been pretty busy kids.
Anyway the Sukkah was only lugged up to our front porch sometime after the conclusion of the 1960’s. Until that point in time the Sukkah was usually stationed on a patch of grass in the dark and spooky back of our house. It only get more spooky when crime in the area began to shoot up during the 60’s and risking our existence was not worth sparing us the effort of schlepping the Sukkah to the more populated and illuminated front of the house.