A Little Known OTR Gem – Mama Bloom

Though the entire series has now been posted on the site, Keith finally takes time to talk about this show. This short run, 25 episode soap opera is in mostly good quality, with some speed variation from show to show.

The Blooms are Jake and Becky, or papa and mama as they’re called by their teenage girls Sara and Yetta. The parents are immigrants from Poland, speak with heavy Yiddish accents, and find it a challenge to move out of their old world traditions. Meanwhile, the girls embrace the sophisticated life in the big city.

The story is one of culture shock, the clash between old world tradition, customs, and style to that of the modern city and the new technologies the 20th century ushered in. The clash is a soft one, with Becky Bloom at the center of it all, playing advocate, and dispensing wisdom to soothe all the troubles that come their way.

Jake is a tailor, and a business man who has sunk deep into his comfortable ways. To hear him complain about his life, his aching feet, being tired, and Becky’s relatives, you might think he was either just a grumpy old man, or an overgrown spoiled boy. OK, maybe he is. He has his tender side. He thinks Becky has grown more beautiful with age, regardless of her few added pounds since they met 23 years earlier. He lavishes gifts on his girls, including a new car as a wedding gift. He complains over the checks he has to write when mama goes overboard in planning Sara’s wedding, but he writes them anyway. Even his attitude towards Sidney, his future son in-law, is like a roller coaster. Jake is aggravated that Sidney might never ask Sara to marry him, he’s upset that Sidney has moved into the business and made changes, spent lavish amounts of money, and added new products to the inventory than just boy’s knee pants. His comfortable life keeps getting out of his control.

We don’t learn a lot about Yetta, the younger sister. She’s always going out on a date, doesn’t seem to have a steady boyfriend, but along with Sara, they wear makeup, and have high maintenance tastes in style. The girls hate their names, and would prefer to be known as Sally and Yvette. They are a little spoiled, they worry over their mom’s lack of clothes in the closet, and the drab colors their mom chooses for herself. They’d like for their mom to join in with their taste in style, loosen up a little and have fun with them, but mama is comfortable in who she has become over the years. Like any teenager, they’re a little embarrassed of their parents, mostly with mama, and the way she is constantly misusing and mispronouncing words.

The focal point in the story becomes Sara and her engagement to Sidney. Jake has his world shaken up with delight over his daughter, and the wedding, but Sidney is proving too much for him. Jake may be OK with Sidney marrying Sara, but he hates the changes in the store, he can’t see why they need to expand the inventory into providing military uniforms to South American countries. Granted, the new insurgence in business has easily tripled the entire net worth of the store in one sale, making Jake happy and proud, but also frustrated at the decisions and changes that Sidney makes. Sidney’s wheeling and dealing ways are more than Jake can comprehend. Mama isn’t the only one who can dispense wisdom, or get a figure of speech a little mangled. In his own way, I think Jake likes Sidney, and he even teaches Sidney a lesson on how to keep shop secrets around the women folk. There’s an episode, <a href="http://retro-otr.com/2014/05/mama-blooms-brood-sidneys-visit-at-night-ep19/">Sidney’s Visit At Night</a> where Sidney spills the beans to tell that Jake was goofing off at work, playing cards. The table is turned when Jake gets Sidney in trouble with Sara, by spilling the beans on a late night game of craps.

Mama seems to be a bottomless pit of insights and wise sayings. There never seems to be a situation that she can’t see through, and cut to the source of the trouble. No smoke screen is too thick to throw her for a loop, no emotional drama too serious that she doesn’t know how to stabilize it. You’d think she was super human, and came out of the womb that way. To hear her butcher the English language, and get figures of speech a little mixed up, you might fall into the trap of thinking she was less smart than she really is.

We learn that despite any perceived old world stodginess, that Becky and Jake weren’t beneath playing at kissing games when they were young. Becky tells Sara that she didn’t know it all, and her calm relationships with her in-laws didn’t come without battle scars. Did you ever look back and think of all the things you wished somebody could have taught you as a young person? Becky does just that, as she tells Sara about being even less educated about life when she was Sara’s age.

Mama can be manipulative at times, but not often to be self-serving. She teaches her girls lessons in getting what they want tactfully, how to get the best bargains shopping, how to play detective, judge, and understand all sides of an argument. Mama is observant and a good judge of character. She can read between the lines, and find the solution from unexpected sources. Mama can be frugal, and budget conscious, but when there’s a wedding, she knows when to lavishly dish out the money. When there’s family crisis or conflict, mama is there, and knows the right way to fix the problem. Who wouldn’t like to have a mama like that?

Just to help out, here’s the link to grab all 25 installments: Mama Bloom – Retro Radio.com