Sunday, April 02, 2006


Unle Dave was about ten when he came to the U. S. While my father never lost his accent, Uncle Dave was comfortable in switching from Yiddish to English and back with no trace of accent.

Enrolled in an English as a second language program at Sharpstein school he was quickly mainstreamed His goal was to memorize a page of this dictionary each day.

He loved to play basketball and was heartbroken to not be allowed to finish the eighth grade ruling out high school and a chance to make the basketball team.

In 1984 a group of the Whitman College class of "34" in town for their fiftieth reunion came to my office to inquire as why their "classmate" Dave was not attending the reunion. An avid tennis player and Clark Gable look-a-like he was a popular man on campus tho not an enrolled student.

Shortly before his graduation his father, grandfather Barel, had an attack of asthma.
The only known paliative was to spend time in Arizona. The absence of mold and pollen in the desert climate provided temporary relief. This was the sheep shearing season. The family income was derived mostly in a short time each year by purchasing crops of wool from ranchers and reselling to Pendleton Woolen Mills.

David entered the wool buying business with vigor. In fact his early successes in the business lead to a run in with the Leher family.

Suave Joe Leher was an established wool buyer in the Walla Walla area. Year to year he contracted in advance to buy the crops of the major wool producers in the area. Grandfather Barel new to the business and with limited English had to compete with him.

David began by calling on the biggest producers and buying from some of them.

One day he received a summons to report to the prosecuting attourney's office. After sitting in a waiting room for some time wondering what it was about, he was summoned into the office of the deputy prosecuting attourney Bernie Leher the Harvaed Law School graduate son of Joe Leher.

After glaring across the the desk for a suitable amount of time he consulted a document and began, "Young man, it has come to this office's attention that you have conspired with the following wool growers ---- to break existing contracts.
This is a serious offense in the state of Washington of which you can be tried and convicted."

"Set up your trial," replied the teen age David. "I am sure the judge would like to know that you are using your public office for the benefit of your father's business". He turned his back to the flustered Bernie and walked out of the office.


Blogger Mike Barer said...

Uncle Dave was a grade school drop out who could talk on a level with any college graduate.
I think his leaving Russia at a young age attributed to his lack of his accent.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Danny Barer said...

Uncle Dave wasn't just fluent in English and Yiddish. He also occasionally spoke French to me. (Since that was before I took French in school, I was unable to answer.)

6:18 PM  
Blogger Burl Barer said...

Loved this story about my Dad (Uncle Dave) -- I never heard it before! I posted it on my blog, giving you credit of course. Danny -- my Dad spoke French as fluently as I speak Urdu! As that was before you took French in school, you didn't know it was all accent and sauce. I have very clear memories of your Uncle Dave playing with you and smooching you up on the living room floor of our house on Division Street.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Dave Zarkin said...

This is fascinating and I look forward to more posts on family history. Who knew that he spoke French or dropped out of school (apparently to work)?

1:04 PM  

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