Farm Labor / Interview Theme Index / Origins /


Marion Greenstone

— My mother was born in Philadelphia. My father was born in Russia and he came here when he was a young boy.

My father's father— let's see,— he had a store, a general store in a little town. Yarmalinitz, I think, was the name of the town. And my mother's father had a women's clothing factory— a small factory that later grew and moved to Beacon, New York, 'cause my mother was involved with the business too. She was running it, helping my grandfather run it. And Beacon is right across the river from Newberg.

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Frances Koral

— My father was Max Golberg from Kolasheen, Poland. He came here in, I think, 1898. He repaired boilers in Poland and then left. He came from a shelter in Poland but he learned... I gather he lived in Warsaw for a part of the time and that's where he learned his trade. And he came here and that's what he did. He had a forge and a— you know— anvil.

My mother was Harriet Marcus Goldberg. My mother was born in Pittsburgh but the child of immigrant parents . . . she had one year of high school.

Elliot Levine

— Harry and Anna Levine were born and raised in Russia under the last of the Czars, Czar Nicholas II. They married there. My father came here first alone [in 1911] and socked away enough money that within the year he was able to bring my mother over. And she came second class, not steerage, because he was able to buy that ticket.

I have to tell you a funny story told to me by my late uncle, my father's brother, who outlived him. He said that when he, my Uncle Jack, came here to Ellis Island they asked him whether he had anyone in this country who could take financial responsibility for him and he said, "Yes. I have a brother here." He said, "Call your brother, tell him to come here and bring proof." And my father came to Ellis Island and presented a passbook from a savings bank. And according to my uncle the two immigration officers nearly fell down laughing at the idea that an immigrant who had only been here nine months already had a bank account. I think that what was in the back of their minds was: Oh those Jews, they always have money.

[In Russia my father] worked in a machine shop... they had a factory band and he learned to play the French horn a little, enough so he could play in the band. When he came here his first ambition was to be a French horn player in a symphony or opera. And he said his first job in this country was playing the cornet at a wedding in Brooklyn. And he was hanging around--he told me this story ten thousand times--he was hanging around the Musicians Union hoping to get another job when some older man took him under his wing and said, "what do you expect to do with your horn in this country?" And he said, "I'd like to play symphony or opera." He said, "How much training have you had?" He said, "Oh, very little, just enough that I could play in the band in Russia." He said, "Well, here in America you're going to have to go to conservatory and learn theory and harmony. And if you're in an opera pit, if the prima donna can't hit the high note you have to learn to transpose at sight a little bit further down. You got any other trade?" My father said, "Yes. I'm a machinist." And the guy said, "What? Get out of here. Forget your horn." and my father took his advice, went down to Center Street where he got himself a job in a machine shop, onward and upward.

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Phyllis LeShaw

— I was born in Brooklyn a long time ago. Frances Orenbach, my mother came over here from Poland when she was eight years old. My father, Louis Leshaw, was born here in Brooklyn also.

Marjorie Brockman

— My grandfather, when he came to this country... He had been a courier for a bank. They came from Odessa and he had been a courier for a bank..

[My grandmother] had learned to speak the language and she was sixteen when she came here and my grandmother and grandfather married in this country. He met her on the boat coming over from Russia I guess in the early 1890s they came. Oh sure they must have 'cause my mother was born in 1897. I know that my grandmother had a brother who was trying to avoid being conscripted into the army. They left Russia for the same reason everybody else left Russia. It was not fun to be a Jew in Russia. Even if you were a militant atheist you were still a Jew to the Russians.