Saturday, January 28, 2006

Received an E-mail from cousin Jan asking me to recount some memories of grandmother, Rissa or Ricy Barer.

A woman of small physical stature she was built of solid stuff. Apparently grandfather's second wife. His first wife died very young. She became the step-mother of an infant daughter and in short order beacame the mother of her own son and daughter.

I am not sure of the exact time sequences here but I know grandfather left for the U.S. early on. The story I have heard is that in a fight he mortally wounded his oponent. His brother, Ike, already established in America arranged for his escape.

Grandfather was able to return to Europe to visit his family once more. He left again for the U. S. to secure his citizens paper and build some assets to support a family in the American economy. He also left grandmother pregnant with a third child.

There was sadness for the far away husband but also the sadness of reporting that the seven year old daughter of his former marriage died of a ruptured appendix.

Grandmother lived with her in-laws. Never a good situation but for Grandmother even worse. In a moment of desperation she sold Grandfather's inheritance, a valued seat on the eastern wall of the synagogue. Her father-in-law Joseph put a curse on her for her willful act.

Meanwhile, World War I broke out and alternately armies of the Czar, Austria-Hungary, and finally the Bolsheviks fought through the area. Grandmother told me that when the machine guns were firing she would gather her children together on the ground and use her own body over them as a shield.

Grandmother made the the most delicious Passover wine from white and dark raisins. It was more like a cider. Cousin Norm and I drank a lot of it when we were kids. Back in Europe she sold it it to the troops passing through to supplement the few dollars that Grandfather sent from America.


Blogger Mike Barer said...

What a wealth of knowledge about family history. This is the one blog where every entry is more compelling than the last.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Danny Barer said...

Please save these blog entries in hard copy form, so that they'll survive if anything happens to's server.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Cousin Barbara said...

This is fascinating to read. Your stories fill in some gaps of stories my grandmother, Sophie, used to tell us.

Keep the stories coming.

Cousin Barbara in Portland

7:53 PM  

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