Tag Archives: tailor shop

This Jacket is a Survivor!

20 May

img_3411

I am cleaning out my cedar chest.  I had no idea what was piled up inside.  But surprises keep coming! My biggest surprise find was a jacket belonging to my mother.  I honestly forgot it was there.  I thought I had lost it in my many moves years ago.  But here it is:  A grayish brown wool jacket.  It is definitely from the late 1940s/early 1950s in both style and by history.

This is not just any jacket.  It was made by my mother’s uncles.  I am not sure which one, either David or Isaac.  They survived the Shoah because they were tailors.  When they escaped Poland they headed into Russia, where I am told they worked making soldiers’ uniforms.  I have no proof of this. But that is the story I was told.

After the war, they ended up in Italy first, where they waited for papers.  My uncles had my grandmother and another sister in the United States.  My aunts had relatives, sisters I think, in Australia.  They decided they would go to live in whatever country and near whoever sent visas first.  They just wanted out of Europe and away from fear.

The visas came from Australia.  So they went to Melbourne.  This jacket was made by my uncles in Melbourne after they settled there and sent to my mother in the United States.  Can you image? I can’t.

I know they were in contact throughout their journey of survival.   I know that my grandmother and aunt tried to get them visas to the USA and sent them money to survive after the war.

I know that they helped to support them throughout their lives.  My Uncle David died when he was in his late 30s in Australia.  He is buried in a Jewish cemetery in Melbourne.  Eventually the survivors, my Uncle Isaac, his wife Bronia and, David’s widow, Rosa moved to Israel with my cousin, where she still lives with her family.

When they moved to Israel, we sent care packages to them.  It was 1965 or 1966.  I still remember when I was 11 learning about my cousin. We became pen pals, writing back and forth for many years.  We still keep in contact, but now through What’s Ap and Facebook.

The year (1974-75) I studied at Hebrew University in Israel, I would spend time with my family, my uncle, aunts and cousin in Kiriat Haim, which is just north of Haifa.   During one visit, Uncle Isaac surprised me with a bag to carry my school supplies when I traveled from Jerusalem to visit family.  He also made me a pillow to decorate my room.  I was a great bag for that as it was the perfect size with a zipper.  And no one else had anything like.  I actually used it to go to class.  I still have both of these items.

After my return from Israel, my mother gave the jacket to me.  It longer fit her and she thought I would wear it.   Since I spent so much time with my family in Israel, the jacket carried so many emotions with it.  When I was younger, I would wear the jacket and think of all my great uncles and aunts went through during the war.  How they survived the war and got out of Europe.  It is a jacket of survival and strength in my mind.

So I guess I will continue to keep this jacket.  It has a few moth-eaten areas.  The color has faded.  But to me, its symbol of survival and new lives makes it so valuable.  It tells me to never give up.  To survive and be a survivor.

 

https://zicharonot.com/2016/10/01/the-rosh-hashannah-card-has-a-story/

 

https://zicharonot.com/2014/04/28/speaking-yiddish-always-brings-me-holocaust-memories/

 

12 Delancey Street and My Family

10 Oct

My Grandma Esther often talked about Delancey Street. Born in New York City in 1898, she would often regale me with stories about growing up in NYC before there were cars. I knew she had a strong connection to this one street in the Bowery, but I was not sure why.

I always loved the movie, “Crossing Delancey,” because I felt like I knew Delancey Street from my paternal grandmother’s stories. It shows a more modern Delancey Street, but the feel and atmosphere of this ethnic area remains strong in the movie.

Ad about my grandfather's tailor shop. Ad about my grandfather’s tailor shop.

Then this summer I found a wonderful ad in an old Bialystoker Stimme, I found in my parent’s Catskills home. The ad is for my Grandfather’s tailor shop at 12 Delancey Street.  It says in the top right, formally of G & R. The G was for my great grandfather, Louis Goldman.   My Grandpa Harry worked with my great grandfather as a tailor, and eventually married Louis Goldman’s daughter, my Grandma Esther.

I love how the ad is in English and Yiddish.   My great grandparents were from the Bialystoker area of Poland/Russia.  They spoke only Yiddish at home.  In fact my Dad spoke Yiddish as his first language.  So it makes sense that my Grandfather would advertise his business in both languages, especially in this bi-lingual publication.

My Great Grandfather Louis and Great Grandmother Rae in 1894 around the time of their wedding. My Great Grandfather Louis and Great Grandmother Rae in 1894 around the time of their wedding.
Grandpa Harry and Grandma Esther on their engagement in 1921. Grandpa Harry and Grandma Esther on their engagement in 1921.

They not only worked together, my great grandparents, my grandparents and eventually my Dad and his siblings all lived together. With her Dad and her future husband working on Delancey Street, no wonder that my Grandmother had so many stories about being there and what it was like.

She would tell me about the horses, the peddlers and the crowds of people. She told me how you had to be so careful when you crossed the street.   She could even tell me about the first cars that went up and down Delancey and how it would frighten the horses.

Delancey Street was one of the main ‘drags’ in the Lower East Side; an area with shops, restaurants and so many people. To have a store on Delancey Street was wonderful. And the tailor shop was so close to Bowery Street! The street the Bowery Section was named after! I never knew that is where his tailor shop was located. By the time I arrived my Grandfather was long retired, and did most of his sewing in the spare room of their apartment.

I like how the ad mentions all the nearby sites. It is close to a subway stop. Still is. I checked on Google Maps. It was close to Christie Street, a misspelling as on Google Maps it is written as Chrystie Street, with a ‘y’ not an ‘I’. But who knows, back in the 1930s it was spelled with an ‘I.’

Google Maps also let me see that there is now a bar in the building where the tailor shop was located. The bar covers both 10 and 12 Delancey Street. I am not sure how my grandparents would feel about that. But I am sure it is still the same building!

Just a few doors from my Grandfather’s tailor shop was the Bowery Ballroom. This building was completed in 1929 and stood empty for some time, but eventually became a high quality store…so close to my grandfather’s tailor shop.

Further down Delancey Street was Ratner’s kosher dairy restaurant. I remember going to Ratner’s with my parents and grandparents. But perhaps we went to the one on Second Avenue, and not the one on Delancey Street. I cannot imagine we would have gone there and my Grandmother not pointing out where the tailor shop had been located.

The wonderful Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street is just off Delancey Street as well. It is just a few blocks from the tailor shop. I wonder if the people who lived there visited my great grandfather or grandfather and their shop? It is possible. My great grandfather was born probably in the early 1870s and married my great grandmother Rae in 1894. My grandfather was born in 1889. I am not sure when the store opened on Delancey Street, but it was there in the early part of the 20th Century.

My Grandpa Harry was a great tailor! When I studied sewing in high school, it was my Grandpa who taught me how to match plaids and how to make pockets perfectly. He taught me about French seams and other important sewing techniques.

When my grandparents moved from their three-bedroom apartment into a much smaller place in Co-op City, I was distressed to learn they had given away his old treadle sewing machine. But since I had no space for it, I guess it had to go. It should have gone to a museum. This was the last connection to the tailor shop.

In the end it does not matter. The most important information for me is the fact that the tailor shop was on Delancey Street! Now I can let my imagination run wild. I can watch “Crossing Delancey” with different eyes. Looking for the location of my family’s tailor shop. And thinking about Delancey Street and my family.

A blog about finding the Bialystoker Stimme magazines: https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/08/16/treasures-in-the-bookcase/