Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Cousin Norm recently told me this story. When Grandmother discovered our inbibing in her wine stash, she put her hands to her head and started chanting, "Öy yoy yoy shicker is a goy." Prety catchy. We chanted it all summer.

Norm said the expression stayed with him over the years as he went through school in Medford, Oregon. Some of his friends who happened be on the yell team thought it was catchy too and incorporated it into the school yell book - until Aunt Sophie explained that it was disrespectful and inappropriate.

Grandfather's plans regarding his family were interupted by war. By 1921 he was a U. S. citizen, had some money, and a viable way to rescue his loved ones. Traveling East, he visited Philadelphia to visit cousins and buddies from his former days in that city.

He was besieged by people who heard he was going back to the old country. They pressed money into his hands with the instructions that a member of their families would claim the money in Bucharest. All told, I have heard amounts ranging from $25,000 to $40,000. The cash was carried in a money belt secured around Grandfather's waist.

Grandmother received the word that Grandfather was waiting for her accross the border in Romania. What mixed thoughts she must have had. Just the trip to the border in the post revolutionary chaos was a challenge. The idea of leaving friends and heading for a brand new culture must have been mind boggling.

Packing just the barest essentials she told her neighbors she was off to visit a sister in a town several miles down the road hoping that they would not realize that the town was close to the border.

After a tearful goodby to the sister, she began the final leg to the border. A whole family moving to the border might create suspicion. With David the youngest in hand, Sophie aged fifteen was to hang back at a distance where she could keep her mother in sight but not appear to be with her. Israel at sixteen was to trail behind her.

On they walked for some time until Sophie ran her mother crying that there was no sign of Isreal They must backtrack to find what had happened. Israel, my father, had passed through a country market and had become enthralled with a Punch and Judy show.

This delay made them late at the crossing where the border smuggler would row them accross the river and out of Russia. The smuggler hid them in his barn telling them to sleep well. He would wake them before dawn.

The person who woke them was not the smuggler but his wife. Shaking them awake she implored them to run as fast as they could. Her message to Grandmother, "I am not a friend of Jews but I am a mother.

Some of my husband's friends brought over a bottle of vodka. In their drunkeness they have convinced themselves that you have alot of money and jewels with you. They are going to kill you and your children if they catch you. Take your children and run.

Back to the sister's house they went to make new arrangements.

Meanwhile, Grandfather was busy doling out money. Typically, a threadbare child would knock at the door. He would identify himself explaining that his mother had received word that a messenger would have money from his dad. "My mother hoped there would at least be a dollar or two." Eyes turned as big as saucers at the sight of the fat envelope of greenbacks he would be handed.

Grandfather enjoyed being SAnta Claus but where was his family? He approached the river crossing point


Blogger Lee Goldberg said...

Ah, so you are leaving us in suspense! When do we get the rest of the story?

I have to say I love reading these historical anecdotes about our family. Please keep them coming.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Mike Barer said...

I remember Grandfather's fascination with the puppet show. I think I am definitely cut from the same cloth.

9:37 PM  
Blogger Danny Barer said...

I have few memories of Grandfather Barer, since he passed away when I was 2. But I think the interest in media is alive in all of the Barers.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Mike Barer said...

Did they travel on horseback? Did they have a wagon?

9:58 AM  
Blogger Mike Barer said...

Hey time to get to part 2. We are left stranded at the river.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Burl Barer said...

I heard it was $10,000 and when he was taken off to jail for questioning by the Rumanian police, they found the belt, countd the money, and became afraid -- they "fined" him $5.00 and gave him back the rest. I have a video tpaed interview with Auntie Sophie and my Dad (Uncle Dave) about the exit from Russia. I made copies for Jan and Stan -- mine is not readily accessible as it is in a storage lockler in Mukilteo or in Britt's (hopefully) climate controlled locker in Seattle.

8:57 PM  

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