Children

Posted by jyuhasz
 
 
               MT:        I grew up on St. George Street which is east of Main just off Kingsway and Broadway. And that was, at that time the Jewish neighbourhood. And we went to Florence Nightingale [School]. My mother, and there were friends of mine who did get, guys got beaten up for being a Jew.
 
               LR:         Oh my God.
 
MT:        That never happened to me because across the street was a gang sort, of a group of brothers, I think there were three or four brothers. And the mother and my mother were good friends. So the word came down from the mother that I wasn’t to be touched. And I had this protection which I didn’t know until years later. So, the quote gangs that were there—certainly not like the gangs now, there was no knives.
 
LR:         [Much more hoodlums].
 
MT:        That’s right. It was more physical than it was dangerous. Didn’t touch me, I had the protection of this gang simply because our mothers said don’t do it and they listened. And…
 
LR:         Which is scary in itself that she had to tell them who to hit and who not to hit.
 
MT:        Well, I don’t know, as I said, I was protected, yet my girlfriend who lived four or five blocks away from me wasn’t. She, she was beaten up a couple of times and she was name-called and all the rest. Never happened to me. I didn’t have it.
 
LR:         Wow. What about in school, I mean was it a very clear, distinct like…what I’m getting at is, was growing up as a Jewish kid very different than growing up as a gentile kid and I know the answer is yes obviously but what I mean is in the actual school environment.
 
MT:        No, not really.
 
LR:         Did you sense that, you know, in the classroom or anything like that…
 
MT:        No, nah uh, I didn’t. I don’t know if others did but I didn’t. Any of this happened after school, weekends, because in that area from Broadway ‘til about 25th, from Main east was Jewish. Well, Jewish type. And so it was a real conglomeration of people at the time. So if you were going to have any kind of anti-Semitism it would be after school and weekends when you were at a store, or roaming around with a friend, or walking, or whatever. When you were on your own rather than the comfort of the school, the protection of the school itself.
 
LR:         And the reason they’d know probably is just because the community was so small that they knew they could point every finger they had at who was a Jew.
 
MT:        Oh, absolutely, absolutely. No question.
 
LR:         And what were the teachers, what was it like being a Jewish kid in a public school, they were totally…
 
MT:        They were fine. Didn’t bother me at all. You know if were a smart kid you got treated differently, if you weren’t you clogged along. No, I don’t remember any kind of problems at all.
 
LR:         And what about, like I’m sure there were, whatever denomination, Jew, non-Jew, whatever you are, I’m sure there were probably parts of the city that were like, you know, the hot spots for teenagers to go and hang out. Probably like the movies or coffee shops or…
 
MT:        16th and Oak.
 
LR:         16th and Oak.
 
MT:        There used to be a restaurant called Pal’s and that was the hang out for all King Ed. All King Ed, didn’t matter, if you wanted to be seen, if you wanted to meet somebody it was there.
 
LR:         Yeah, so like the diner.
 
MT:        The diner, that’s right. And there were a couple places on Kingsway that had hamburger joints that also had it. Then of course there were drive-ins too, in those days.
 
LR:         Yeah, and going into these cafes and into these diner and then probably the drive in movies was it again, was it a very separate like social environment, from the Jewish kids and the secular kids?
 
MT:        No, no, no, it wasn’t big enough. You know, the city isn’t big enough to have any kind of exclusion. Whereas in Montreal there the Jewish area.

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Sam Kaplan working machine surrounded by students
Rights - JMABC
Posted by jyuhasz
 
 
               DB:         I went to HaTzofim, it’s like Scouts here since I think I was in Grade 2, something like that. And we had camps every summer, we had camps during the holiday of Hanukah, we had camps during the holiday of Passover, whenever it was a big holiday from school like more than three, four days we used to go to hike, to help in kibbutzim. At that time, you know, we were, in Israel they developed agriculture something very important for the country and they didn’t have enough helping hands. And we used to go to kibbutzim in the summer sometimes for a month, for six weeks, to help them to pick up the apples, or the grapes, or the peaches, or the plums, or whatever, or the potatoes, or it’s, it was part of growing up in Israel and it was so much spirit around it. Because at night we used to have the bonfire and sit and sing and somebody used to play the accordion or the guitar. Those were really wonderful days.

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Posted by jyuhasz
 
 
 
 
 
MD:       Earliest memories. Being called a ‘dirty Jew.’ Wearing a yellow star. Being called a ‘dog.’ Being thrown rocks at.
 
SR:         What year was this?
 
MD:       I would say 1940.
 
SR:         You were born in what year?
 
MD:       ’35. May 10, 1935. ’39, ’40, I would say. That’s the earliest memories that I have. The other things, the year when my brother Jean came home and started to yell at my mother which I knew, no children yelled at their parents in those days or raised their voice. And my brother Jean died, so did Albert. We were all separated at a time when Jean came home and yelled at my mother. I still know the story because I know now why he yelled at my mother. She believed in the propaganda from the radio when the Germans said if you register your family at the police station they wouldn’t pick you up. So my mother being a widow registered all the cousins and everybody, all the children at the police station and Jean found out about it and so we were all separated. And that was my earliest memory, the next one was living with different people. Kept moving around. Lived in a convent. Once sold by a nun, I know the mother superior came and woke me up and said I had to hide in the sewers of the convent because one of the nuns had called the Gestapo and found out I was Jewish and was selling me. Other memories, living on a farm, seeing people being picked up, I remember a man with no nails or no toenails. I found out later on that his nails were pulled out and he was tortured. Hunger. I don’t think I want to go into any more details than that. Orphanages, loneliness, feel nothing. I felt nothing, I became a void. Never any feeling at all. Fear was forgotten after a while because the bombs were falling, the shrapnels were falling.
 
SR:         And where were you, you were going from place to place?
 
MD:       Place to place, that’s right. Orphanages. Very sick.
 
SR:         Always in Brussels?
 
MD:       No, I was in Holland. I know because of the wheels, you know, the…[laughing] the [tulips], the flowers. I remember a place, now I know it’s called [inaudible] because of the flowers as well. This beautiful garden. I don’t know why I was there, but I was there. I remember different languages. Being in trucks, on motorcycles, walking. Earliest memory: a plane shooting down at us and people falling dead around us.
 
SR:         You were by yourself, you didn’t…
 
MD:       No, I was with my mother and Henri, and Esther and Jacques and I and we…My first toy, I can only remember a toy, was a little [dog] purse, it was a purse, I didn’t know it was a purse, and the other thing was a gas mask. That’s all I know of, that’s the only toy I’ve ever had in my whole life. And I lost it somewhere at the end of the war I think.
 
SR:         But you kept it with you from orphanage to orphanage.
 
MD:       And from home to home, I lived with Catholics, and different people. Never knew their names. Don’t think I was there long enough. Never…earliest memory, never being hugged. Only my mother. Last memory where I stopped crying was on my seventh birthday when I came home. The lady that was hiding me took me home and had arranged for me to see my mother. And as I was skipping down the road I saw my brother and Albert being shoved in truck and that was my seventh birthday. Today I know it wasn’t in May it was on July 2nd because I have the record of when my mother was picked up. The Germans kept a very good record and I have it now with me and I just got it a year ago.

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Talmud Torah class with Gita Kron
Rights - JMABC
Posted by jyuhasz
                Interviewer: Naomi Katz & Cyril E. Leonoff
 
 
               CL:         Well on the Prairies—Winnipeg, populated by Russian Jews primarily and Eastern European Jews, Yiddish was the language spoken. I have the impression that in Vancouver Hebrew was emphasized. Did you speak Yiddish with your parents?
 
               NB:        No, no, no. Until we the children introduced English into the home, we knew no language except Jewish. And one of the things that you and your generation might find a little difficult unless you’ve thought about it seriously is the problems that youngsters who don’t have English have when they go to school. I recall going to school and the second day that I was there they called a roll and as they called the roll each of the children had to say ‘present.’ Well, when they called my name and I wouldn’t say ‘present.’ When the teacher asked me why I wouldn’t tell her and she punished me, and she asked me to stay after school and I told her that the only reason that I wouldn’t say ‘present’ was that I wasn’t going to give her a present because that was the only connotation that I knew present in. [Laughter]. That’s why I think that some of these intelligence tests are so ridiculous. Because connotations is all important.
 
CL:         So you spoke Yiddish in the home and when you started to go to school you learned English.
 
NB:        Then my parents learned as well. And ultimately…
 
BB:         That is always the history. The children learned, came home, wouldn’t speak the Yiddish and so the parents had to learn English.

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Strathcona School Grade 3 or 4 ca 1925. Henry Steinberg Back Row 4th from right
Rights - JMABC
Posted by jyuhasz
Object id: 
L.15496

Black and white photograph depicts a woman meeting with [a mother and her two children]  for the Jewish Family Service Agency and United Jewish Appeal.

Date: 
April 30, 1980
Posted by jyuhasz
Object id: 
L.11805

Colour photograph depicts a group of children for the Jewish Family Service Agency.

Date: 
1993
Posted by jyuhasz
Object id: 
L.11789

Black and white photograph depicts a happy immigrant family visiting Annette Wigod (right) at the Jewish Family Service Agency. Mrs. Ilya (Golda) Bichin holds 4 month-old Canadian-born Roman, and 6 year old Mark helps in the English reading.

Date: 
November 17, 1977