Riga was a beautiful city. They called it a miniature Paris. There were wide streets, beautiful shops and cafes, an opera house and a symphony. When we arrived with Papa, we stayed in a big hotel. He had people to see and things to take care of. Fanny was 16 and very pretty. To this day, I don't know how the boys found her. She had dates in the afternoon and at night. I got sick and had to stay in bed. A lady doctor's diagnosis was Rheumatic Fever. I was running a fever and had swollen knees. Fanny's dates took turns keeping me company. The doctor also said I had a heart murmur. I don't know how long I had to stay in bed. (No doctor in the U.S. has ever found the murmur.) I was not allowed to write Mama that I was sick. The worst thing was that the hotel had bedbugs. It is an indescribable horror to watch them crawl on the sheet and I became an expert at killing them. I eventually got well. Papa went back to Memel, and we moved into Aunt Mary's. She was a dentist, married to Uncle Max. They had two children: Gisela, who was my age, and a son, Lazar, who was Fanny's age. He was very shy and scholarly. He barely talked to us. Uncle Max did not speak much either. He was in the jewelry business. I don't think he worked much. He was very sweet. He slept on the couch for the six months we were there, while Fanny slept with Aunt Mary.

        Papa had three sisters. Aunt Charlotte was the oldest and widowed. She had two grown daughters. All three wore black and always looked very formidable. She was known to have a sharp tongue and fought with everybody. The family tried to avoid her. We did not see her very much, only when Papa came to Riga. When one of us started a fight, Mama would call us Lotte. It meant, "Be careful! You might have inherited this gene."

        Aunt Johanna was married to Lazar Falkov, who had a jewelry store. They had two children, Sarah and Beno. Sarah was my age and Beno was younger. We did not see very much of them. They lived in a different neighborhood. It was far away and cold. There was always so much snow. We traveled either by tram (streetcar) or we took a "Droschke," a small horse-drawn sled.

        Aunt Lena was mother's youngest sister. She lived with her violinist husband and their daughter, Marianne, with his family, a mother and a sister. We privately called her Ashenputtle[Cinderella]. We visited her several times. She was very sweet. She was always on the floor with a large bucket, washing and scrubbing. Uncle Volia reeked from cologne and wore powder and a hair net. The mother and sister wore long dresses. They sat around in the parlor while poor Aunt Lena worked so hard. Marianne was five years old and still slept in a crib. We thought it was a strange family and felt sorry for Aunt Lena. She always looked like she was going to cry and she did every time she saw Mama.

        Aunt Mary was a lot of fun. We loved her. They had two connecting apartments. They lived in one and the other was a dentist office. Gisela and I shared a room and Fanny slept with Aunt Mary. They talked about Fanny's boyfriends all night. Gisela liked classical music. We often set our alarm clocks for six am to listen to a broadcast of Toscannini conducting. She went to school and we didn't. I don't remember what we did all day, but it wasn't much. Aunt Mary decided I should become a ballerina and took me to ballet school. We were told that I didn't have the build for the ballet. I was not flat-chested. There went my dream of being a prima ballerina. The best time was when Gisela and I went to the Christmas Market. It was held outside in the snow and we bought all kind of trinkets and sweets and took a Droschke home. Fanny was soon the "belle of Riga." All the Jewish young men were pursuing her. Aunt Mary was her confidant and loved every minute of it. She and her family spoke fluent Latvian, Russian and German. Nobody spoke Yiddish, nor did we at home, only German. Everyone we met spoke all three languages. No one was afraid of Hitler. Aunt Mary used to say "We'll open our borders to Mother Russia." The Russians will protect us, Hitler will never come here. Famous last words.

        I was happy when six months later the rest of the family joined us. We moved into two furnished rooms we rented from the Jacobsons. It was very crowded but we were together. Gisa's eye operation was a success and Papa had turned his business over to cousin Leo. They had sold most of our furniture to other Jews, who couldn't understand why we were doing this. Mama had bought trousseaus for her three daughters. The finest china: breakfast, luncheon, and dinner sets in Meissen, Rosenthal, Dresden and Czechoslovakian crystal. Down comforters and paintings were crated and shipped. So were gifts for Aunt Rachel. I remember a silver coffee set and sable scarves. Everything was heavily taxed by the Lithuanians for export permits and bribes paid for all kinds of permits. Our silver dinnerware ended up in Zimbabwe. We all wore diamond rings to be sold for cash. We were out.

        Papa had been warned by the president of his bank not to go by train through Germany. We would be taken off the train and arrested. He planned our trip so we would go from Riga to Tallinn, Estonia, to Helsinki, Finland overnight by ship to Stockholm, Sweden, by train to Oslo, Norway, by ship to England. We would spend a month in London, then board the Queen Mary in Southampton for New York. He said "I want you children to remember Europe the way it was. It will never be the same." He was fifty years old, with four children and very little money left after he paid for everything and provided for everybody. He was ready to start a new life.

        Then the unexpected happened. Butzer became ill. He was diagnosed to have something wrong with his kidneys, they called it "nephritis." They said "travel is out of the question." The doctor ordered bed-rest and the strictest diet. Other doctors were called in for consultation, and they all concurred, no traveling. So the long wait began. Finally we were beginning to run out of time. As we boarded the train to Tallinn, I thought all of Riga came to see us off. Everybody cried and it seemed not just because we were leaving but out of fear for us, for them, and for the unknown to come. Hitler was rattling the borders of the world. Unspoken fear was in the air, seeping into everyone's very existence.

        Our first stop was Tallinn, Estonia. A beautiful small city called "Raewald" in German. There was a large Jewish community and Papa had many friends, who came to see us. Everybody spoke German and made a fuss over Herr Fleischmann and his three beautiful daughters. It was Pesach and we were invited to a Seder. That day Butzer got sick with a fever. Mama stayed in the hotel with him and we went with Papa to the Seder. The second night, Mama went to the hotel kitchen and got hard boiled eggs. Somehow she procured a box of matzah and we had a seder in our room. The next day the doctor said that Butzer could not continue by train or ship, since it was too risky. So a plan was developed. Mama was to fly with Butzer from Tallinn to Sweden. We were to continue to Helsinki, as planned, and we would all meet in Sweden. We all cried when we took her to the airplane. Flying in 1939 was, by no means, to be comparable to today. The "airport" was as big as our backyard. The plane was a little two engine piper. Mama carried Butzer on and we thought we would never see them again. We were a pretty sad bunch when we boarded the train to Helsinki. Papa's friends tried to cheer us with chocolates when they saw us off and soon we were able to stuff ourselves with sweets and continue our journey.

        Helsinki was very contemporary. Having resisted Russia's communism, it was a thriving seaport with commerce in the western world. So close to the Baltic States, they were always spoken of with one breath and yet so distinctly different. Finnish was the language spoken. We thought of German as being the universal language. Didn't Hitler say "Tomorrow the world?" We didn't know what to eat, so we just pointed to the menu and hoped for the best. I still remember the shoes in the store's windows. We never saw anything like them: platforms and ankle straps, gorgeous dresses and also unusual pocketbooks.

        The next day we boarded a small, luxurious ship for our overnight voyage to Stockholm. The whole interior was in deep blue velvet with highly polished brass fittings, banisters going down steep spiral staircases. Papa was busy playing cards in the small casino. The three of us had a grand time. Nobody understood us. The dining room was mind boggling. A huge smorgasbord greeted us in the morning with more fish then I knew there were in the sea. Smoked, pickled and cooked, cold smoked meats and cheeses, breads, crackers and rolls that we did not know existed wre on display. Papa explained some things were not kosher, but since we were traveling, it was OK. We stuffed ourselves and went on deck to watch the sights. The ship maneuvered through icebergs so close to us that we could almost touch them. It was very scary. I was afraid we would crash into them. It was bitter cold and the light was muted. It was twilight since the days were still short and the nights very long. It was the end of March. In the Baltic States, it gets dark at 3 PM. Then, in the summer, it gets dark about 11 PM. Papa would come on deck and watch with us as the ship glided through the still waters among the glaciers. It was like watching a movie in sepia. He talked to us, mostly, "Remember Europe." War was coming and for us a new life, but never forget who we were and where we came from.

        We were met and taken to our hotel. Miraculously Mama was already there. Both she and Butzer had survived! We traveled in two taxis, one for us, and one for our luggage. We had 23 pieces. Finding each of our own suitcases became a major problem. My travel outfit was a wine-colored suit and a navy sweater. I have not been able to wear that color since. Papa knew people in all of the countries we passed through. They came to see us at the hotels. I came to believe he was at home anywhere we went. I thought he was fearless, a citizen of the world. Nothing seemed to disturb his calm, confident manner. Sweden and Norway passed in a blur. We did not venture far from the hotel because we could not understand the language. Butzer was still confined to his bed and Papa used to give him money to eat his mashed potatoes.

        We finally arrived in England. After docking in Southampton, we took the train to London. Fanny was called upon to translate. My suspicions were correct; she had not learned much. We were met at the station by a man. I presume he was from the travel agency. My father said, "How did you know us?" He replied, "How could I miss four kids and twenty-three pieces of luggage?" We proceeded to the hotel in two taxis, where we were assigned five rooms. They all looked alike. We slept in a different room every night and never knew whose clothes we would find in the room.

        The hotel was on Picadilly Circus. We had to meet Papa's friends for tea at the hotel on the other side of the circle. Crossing the street seemed an overwhelming task. After a few minutes Papa gave up and hailed a taxi. We drove around the circle to the other side. Tea at the hotel was quite an experience. We had never seen toast, buttered and sliced to finger strips. Sliced commercial white bread was unknown to us, as was high tea. Our main meal was at one o'clock and a light supper at night. Papa again had many friends in England. He was there twice a year to shop for textiles, especially in Manchester, where most of the textile mills were.

        Mama and Butzer remained confined to the hotel but we were taken shopping. We were introduced to Woolworths, where we all bought red bathing suits with shirred elastic - they stretched to any size, and raincoats since it rained every day for the month we were there. Papa introduced us of to his friends and we tried not to look too provincial.

        We saw the Queen and her two young daughters in a carriage. For years Mama dressed Gisa and me alike. The dressmaker copied the princesses' clothes from magazines for us. We had several spring outfits just like Elisabeth and Margaret. I remember beige wool dresses with matching coats. Spring is a very long season in the Baltic States. It never gets really hot. We also had the same navy rain coats with silver buttons. Thank heaven the Queen had only two daughters. Fanny never would have dressed like us and Mama would have had a real problem. After several weeks of much confusion and many mix-ups, we finally took the train to Southampton and boarded the Queen Mary, the most luxurious ship in 1939.

        Mama and Butzer shared a cabin, we three girls had a cabin, and Papa had his own. It was decided that Butzer would remain in bed and stay on a mashed potato diet. He was getting more difficult all the time. Papa continued to pay him to eat and every time we came in to his cabin, he would smell our breath to see what we had eaten. We were not familiar with chewing gum, so we all kept a supply of peppermints. Mama remained in the cabin with him during the whole crossing. They had their meals brought in, I guess she too ate only mashed potatoes. With the self-absorption of a fourteen year old, I never gave it any thought. The first night, Papa took his three daughters into the dinning room for dinner. We must have looked charming, as everyone smiled at us. The waiters hovered over us and we behaved like ladies. At the end of the meal, small gold bowls with slices of lemons were placed in front of us. We exclaimed, "lemonade!", and drank the finger bowls to the embarrassment of Papa.

        The first day out, after breakfast, we were in Mama's cabin planning our day, when the sirens and bells went off. We opened the door to see what was going on. Fanny was told to use her English to find out what was happening. She didn't understand, but people were running with life jackets. The ship must be sinking!!!! The Steward rushed into our cabin and put life jackets on each of us. Papa appeared and even he looked scared. He tried to communicate with the Steward to no avail. Mama cried, "Save yourself and the girls. I will go down with my son." I piped up "the ship can't sink! Butzer is not allowed to bathe in cold water!". Crying, we were pushed on deck in front of a life boat. We held on to each other and Papa kissed us goodbye and recited the "Shma" [Hebrew prayer, calling G-d]. We were all trembling with cold and fear. It was April and the ocean looked rough and formidable. Suddenly the sirens started to wail again. People took off their lifejackets and dispersed. It was a drill. We rushed laughing to tell Mama. It seemed so funny.

        The ship was like a huge hotel. There were all kinds of games on deck. I particular liked horse races and movies. We used to see American movies in Memel, so we knew all the movie stars. I found the swimming pool and went to check it out. We had the beautiful, new red bathing suit we had bought in England. The pool was the biggest I had ever seen. The water was green. It rolled in the pool with the movement of the ship. I stood there enthralled, watching when my stomach started to feel queasy. I ran as fast as I could and bumped into the Captain on the Grand Staircase where I proceeded to throw up at his feet. The next few days I was seasick. I too was confined to my cabin, too miserable to care. I was told the Captain said that it was one of the calmest crossings he remembered.

        Then early one morning, Mama came into our cabin to wake us. "Quick, get dressed and come on deck. We are going to pass the Statue of Liberty." The ship passed close to the majestic Lady holding her torch. New York appeared in the background. People around us were crying openly, so were my parents. I could not quite understand why, but I knew that this was the most auspicious moment in our lives. We went back to our cabins to dress for our arrival. It took some time to pull into the harbor and dock. Suddenly it was quiet, the engines had stopped. Amidst much commotion we found ourselves in a large room with immigration officials. Mama was still holding Butzer and worried about the doctors, thinking, "Will they let him in?" Out of nowhere appeared several important looking men. My relatives were distributors in the mid-west for the Pepsi-Cola Company, and public relations had come to greet us and help us through the red tape of embarkation. Open Sesame! We walked down the plank into the United States of America. It was April 20, 1939. There was Aunt Rachel, a big impressive lady and her son, cousin Ben. He was old, thirty-three, and very handsome. This time it took three taxis and the public relation people to transport us to the Sherry Netherlin Hotel, where a suite awaited us to freshen up before we continued our trip by train that evening to Indianapolis, Indiana.

        Pepsi-Cola was bottled in Indianapolis by our relatives. They owned a large bottling company. They also made their own ginger ale and flavored soda. It seemed they were very rich. Cousin Ben was very good at taking charge as was Aunt Rachel. He seemed enthralled with his little cousins and spoke a few German words. Aunt Rachel, however, spoke German as well as we did. We did not see much of New York. The buildings were so tall. One could see only a little sky. Looking out of the hotel window there was a sea of cars. They looked like a small army of ants crawling along the longest street. That evening we boarded the overnight train to Indianapolis. We shared berths for sleeping and ate in the dining car, served by black waiters in white jackets. Again they had the same thin, soft white bread, which I thought was terrific. The next morning we arrived in Indianapolis, our new home. We were met by our other cousin, Gus, even older at thirty-five, and our Uncle Robert. He was called Boss. He was very grouchy but under his stern demeanor was a heart of gold. He was a real softy and we came to love him. Nobody listened to him or paid much attention to him.

        They lived in an English Tudor house, very impressive, but too small for all of us. Somehow we managed to fit in. The first thing Gus did was turn on the record player and taught us the rumba. He was a great fan of the rumba. Ben decided our names needed changing immediately. Fanny became Frances, Sarah was too Jewish and Tutti was ridiculous. I will never know how he picked Cherie. I thought it was an American name until I learned to speak English. He wanted to change Gisela to Gertrude, but she was smart. She wouldn't let him. Misha became Morris. Later he changed it to Mark. The name Butzer disappeared and reappeared fifty years later on Marks' license plate.

        The Boss came from South Africa to Memel, married Rachel, and had three sons in Memel. They immigrated to America when the children were small. Somehow they ended up in Indianapolis. They opened a small grocery store and bottled their own ginger ale. Loft Candy Company approached them. They had a syrup they wanted bottled to create a new soda. They were going national and eventual international. They would enlarge their facilities and give them a lot of stock in the new company. Aunt Rachel was very smart. "Sure, why not?". They became Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company. The Boss was illiterate. He could not sign his name and never learned. In 1939 they had a large modern plant. Both sons were college graduates and ran the business. The depression was on and they accumulated large real-estate holdings. Their third son Julius, had died. We never knew him.


        The first Sunday after our arrival, an open house was held to introduce us. My relatives were prominent members of the Jewish Community and the conservative synagogue, Beth El. My Aunt Rachel served on many charitable boards as well as the synagogue's. They were philanthropic and she had many friends. Many people came to see us. We were the first Europeans they had seen since they immigrated years before. My aunt's friends spoke a mixture of German and Yiddish, so they were understandable. The children of course spoke only English, and we had difficulties communicating. Among all those people was a young man, Rabbi Elias Charry. He was about 30 years old, very handsome, he had a streak of white hair in the center. He spoke a perfect German. In the course of the day, he managed to introduce me to several girls my age and arranged for me to join "Young Hadassa." Rabbi Charry became our teacher, our friend, and my mentor. He remained thus throughout my life until he died, forty years later.

        Aunt Rachel took over our lives. Morris no longer had to stay in bed. Mama ceased to be the center of his universe and went to luncheons with her sister. The doctor ordered Morris' tonsils removed. He was no longer considered fragile. He had to learn to fend for himself. Papa was considered a "greenhorn" and knew nothing. There was no love lost between him and my aunt, even I could see this.

        Morris smashed the Dresden bedroom lamps in a fit of temper, because he was not allowed to go to a luncheon with Aunt Rachel and Mama. It was decided, we had overstayed our welcome. A second floor apartment, in a four unit building was rented for us. The apartment was tiny and hot. It was 100 degrees in Indianapolis in the summertime and we had never experienced such heat in Lithuania. Gisa and I spent the summer in our red bathing suits sitting in the bathtub while Mama brought us Pepsi-Cola. I don't know how the rest of the family managed.

        It did not last too long. Aunt Rachel decided that Papa should buy a duplex with his last $10,000. She found one a few blocks from our apartment. The day of settlement, Papa was begging Morris for the money. He had paid him to eat his mashed potatoes for about a year, and Morris had pockets and boxes stuffed with most of our money. Finally, they made a deal and Papa proceeded to buy the duplex. The upstairs apartment was rented and we settled in downstairs. We had two bedrooms, one bathroom, a breakfast room, dinning room, living room, a large porch, and a backyard. Frances slept in the breakfast room on a sofa bed. Gisa and I shared a double bed, Morris slept with Mama, and Papa had his own bed in their room.

        The furnace was in the basement. It was a coal burning furnace with heat grates on the floors. The basement was entered through a trap door on the floor of the tiny kitchen. It must have been a closet converted into a kitchen. Mama couldn't even lift the trap door. Papa certainly was not even going to try. He never lifted a finger in his life. They hired an old black man, who came on winter mornings at 5 AM. While we slept, he let himself in, went down into the basement, and tended the furnace. He also disposed of the dead mice in the traps. It was a working, middle class neighborhood and we soon made friends. That is all except Papa. He became a recluse. He was like a fish out of water. The world as he knew it had disappeared. He spent most of his time in bed reading the papers.

        Papa was given a job in the Pepsi-Cola plant to check the cases on the truck. Mama made an attempt at housekeeping. She did not have much time. Aunt Rachel took her to all her luncheons with her friends, who fussed over her. Mama was a beautiful woman and very classy. In Indianapolis' Jewish society she stood out, like a rose among dandelions. Her European custom tailored clothes gave her an elegance that matched her quiet manners.

        Rabbi Charry took charge of our education. The summer was over. He accompanied each of us to school, and saw to it that we were put into the right grades. He conferred with the principals. There were no "English as second language" classes in those days in Indiana. We were placed according to our age. Frances was tested and with a little knowledge of English, had the academic standing of two years of college. She was seventeen and was put into the graduating class. I, at fourteen with even less English, scored the highest grammar grade in my class. It was easy and without exactly knowing what the words meant, I divided the sentence structure as we did in German.

        Our life in America had begun. We were making friends. In school we were a novelty. Aunt Rachel's friends included us in their children's parties and activities. We were accepted into a very snobbish Jewish society. They did not call them Ostjuden. They were the Jews who lived on the south side, the Russian and Sephardic Jews. They did not belong to the Country Club, and we did not date boys from the south side. We were very poor. I did not have the dresses my friends had. Many times I stayed home from parties at the Club because I had nothing to wear.

        Frances was GRADUATING! This meant she was excused from everything we had to do, like dishes. It also meant she had to go to many parties and had to look good, so she needed clothes. Mama somehow managed to buy her a leopard coat. Frances traveled in a well-to-do crowd. I guess they were hoping for an early engagement to a prominent family. The problem was that it was cold in Indianapolis in the wintertime. Gisa and I also needed coats. Mama had an English wool coat of hers fitted for Gisa. For me she had a light wool coat fixed up. She had whole mink skins from a scarf put on the collar and down the front. The coat was not really a winter coat, more transitional. I thought it looked gorgeous and pretended it was very warm. I guess, I proved that you do not get sick from being half frozen to death. When I stood waiting for a bus, the icy wind blew right through me. To this day, I still feel it and love fur coats. My friends Mama kept feeling the coat and asking me if I was warm enough. I told her this was the warmest coat I ever had.

        Gisa and I went to Sunday school. I also went to Talmud Torah, a Hebrew school. There was only one school for all of Indianapolis. Children were bused in to the Jewish Community Center for classes. I did not last too long. I had enough with learning English. It seemed it took no time. We were all speaking English to each other, but at home we spoke German to Mama and Papa. I cut many classes. I would tell my teacher I did not feel well. I was sent to the office to call home and spoke to Mama in German, I would ask something like, "Did I get any mail?" and then say to the nurse that Mama was home and expecting me. Maybe that was the reason, I did not graduate with my class in June, but had to go to summer school for one credit. I graduated in August. I was not the greatest student.

        September 1, 1939, Hitler marched into Poland. We were here five months and now we were refugees. Teachers and people asked us questions like "Did you have ice cream?" or "Did you have bathrooms?" It seemed incredible how little people here seemed to know about Europe, especially geography and culture.

        Rabbi Charry put me into his confirmation class. I was able to keep up with my Bible studies and met my friend Jackie. We have remained best friends all our lives. It was a wonderful year for me. At confirmation, we all wore long white gowns, the boys dark jackets and white pants. I gave a speech in English and we each had our own sweet table for the joint reception in the auditorium. At night we had a big party. Aunt Rachel took care of everything. She even borrowed the white gown for me from one of her friend's daughters and they squeezed me into it. She invited all her friends and they gave me gifts. Aunt Rachel was very happy. She had been giving gifts for years. She felt they owed her because she had no daughters. She was looking forward to us becoming engaged, so she could make showers.

        I baby sat for fifty cents a night, sometimes until one or two in the morning. I saved my money. Every Rosh Hashanah, my friends got new clothes for the fall and I bought a new dress with my baby sitting money, a hat too, Rabbi Charry made us wear hats to services.

        Everybody went to services on Friday night, including my cousins. The Jewish community was closely knit, except for the Jews from the south side. Again the Jewish snobbery reared its ugly head. I was not allowed to date anyone who was not cleared by my aunt. So they lived separated just like in Memel. There were no Sephardic Jews in the only Jewish Country Club. I am happy to say all this has changed. I received an invitation to a party from a very nice boy. He lived in a beautiful big house on a beautiful street. I was the envy of all my friends, since none were invited. I was very excited and asked permission to attend. Mama checked with my aunt. Permission denied. The boy's grandmother was our butter and egg woman in Memel. I suppose, they held on to their past lives without rhyme or reason. We were so poor, their past status comforted them.

        We were all having a great time, I gave little thought to my parents. Papa fell off the large Pepsi-Cola truck one day, while he was counting the cases. He broke his leg in several places. He remained in bed for months. He barely spoke to us. My friends were afraid of him. He never spoke to them. He was in a deep depression. We lived on $11, a week of insurance money for a family of six. Every Friday, the Boss would be driven up in a Pepsi-Cola pick up truck. The driver would bring in a case of Pepsi-Cola, a chicken, and a chalah. The rest of the week we ate ground meat or macaroni and cheese. Sometimes Mama would cook gefilte fish. Gisa and I would fight to deliver it to the Boss.. He always gave us a $5 bill and mumbled something like "You need new shoes."

        After school, my friends and I went to their homes to listen to music and their mothers served snacks. I never asked them to our house, since we didn't have any snacks or extra food. Once Papa brought home a box of cookies. They were called Cat Tongues, the same name as a very fine German chocolate. They turned out to be dog biscuits. Fortunately, Frances' girlfriend was there and no harm was done.

        The diamond rings we wore to sell here, were not sellable. There were newer cuts here to enhance the stone and make it appear larger. All our fine china and crystal arrived shattered. We were insured but public relation arranged to have customs waved for us. The insurance company claimed everything was broken by the railroad from New York to Indianapolis, not by the ship. So we were paid ten cents per pound. It came to about $300. My parents were too devastated to do anything and our relatives too disinterested. My father withdrew from the world more and more. Only Gisa clung to him and comforted him, as well as a twelve-year-old could.

        Mama was also trying to cope. She had to learn to cook. She did not know how to clean, so nothing got cleaned. She sent all our clothes to the laundry and our custom made wool dresses came back shrunk to doll's size. Aunt Rachel expected her to be at her beck and call. That put a strain on my parent's marriage. She took Mama to Florida for the winter. We fended for ourselves as best we could. At first, we were boarded out for dinner. Morris started throwing up and Papa didn't go, Gisa became the cook. She shaped chopped meat to look like a chicken. The Boss was in Florida for the winter, so there was no chicken and Pepsi on Friday. Somehow we survived the winter.

        We were pretty much on our own. Frances and I had our own crowds. We went to parties and rode around in cars. My girlfriend was 15 and did not have a license, but she drove us. We went on hay rides and to dances. We developed hay fever. We thought Indianapolis was heaven. We were free, living in the United States, without almost any parental supervision. Gisa took care of Morris. She was big for her age and miserable. Our clothes did not fit her. She was taller than us. She took to sewing peasant skirts. My parents were so engulfed in their own misery, they simply could not cope with us.

        Morris started his own business with the help of his best friend David. They kidnapped dogs, and returned them for "rewards." Many nights, when Frances and I tried to sneak in much later then we were permitted, we crept into the bathroom in the dark only to be attacked by a dog.

        December 7, 1941, we were sitting around the dining room table. My boyfriend came in and told us the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. I had no idea where it was and what it meant. Papa knew. He said we were in it now and the U.S. would finish Hitler. He seemed to perk up after that and always had his head in the paper. He seemed to read English and understand it. He even had the truck drivers from the plant over for poker one night when Mama was in Florida. The three of us had to clean up the next morning. We tied scarves over our noses. The smell of cigars and beer made us sick. I think Papa thought, we would be going back soon.

        On Saturdays, my girlfriends and I would get up early. We packed sandwiches [corned beef on white bread with mayonnaise] and took the bus down town to the movies. The Lyric had a movie and a stage show, the big bands. We would get there early, so we could get good seating, and stay for two stage shows. After the show, we would go back stage for autographs.

        One Saturday, we went to see Tommy Dorsey. After the show, as usual, we went back stage. Everybody was crowding around Buddy Rich, the drummer, and the singers. I saw this skinny young kid standing by himself to the side. Nobody was paying any attention to him. He looked about my age. I felt sorry for him and went over and asked him for his autograph. He was happy to oblige. He wrote "To Cherie, Sincerely Yours, Frank Sinatra." At the time, I considered it my mitzvah for the day. Much later, when Frank Sinatra appeared at the Paramount in New York, I think Morris sold it.

        The discord between Mama and Papa widened. Mama continued to be at Aunt Rachel's beck and call. The Boss had a circulatory disease and his legs were amputated. Aunt Rachel asked Mama frequently to go to Florida to keep her company. She was not able to refuse her and we were left to cope as well as we could again. Papa's depression worsened and he seemed to be unable to function any further. Gisa came home from school one day, she found him on the sofa in the breakfast room with all the gas jets opened. A letter to Aunt Mary was on the table. He recovered, but a few days later, he disappeared. Gisa was thirteen. Mama sent her down town to look for him in all the rooming houses. They looked in the parks and bars. They combed the city for him. I was very upset because I had to stay home with Morris. I had a heavy date. My boyfriend was being installed as president of AZA and there was a dinner dance. I had to break my date. They found Papa late that night, I don't know what transpired. Papa left for New York. He was going to establish himself and we were to follow. Gisa did not stop crying and fighting with Mama, soon after, she, too, moved to New York to be with him. I continued to block all unpleasantness.

        In New York, they rented a room with a refugee family. Papa sent Gisa to school in a cab every day. He started a manufacturing business. The war was on. The soldiers needed a small bag, hand luggage, so the furlough bag came to be. He found a pattern maker and a cutter, who did this at night for him. He found many refugee women, who spoke no English, and needed an income. They sewed the bags at home. He went around dispensing materials and picking up finished products. He also saw buyers and took orders. Soon he found himself a partner and they rented a loft off 5th Ave. on 8th St. They called themselves the F & F Bag Co. They hired a salesman, who opened large accounts, like Woolworth, and other chain stores. They expanded to making wallets and cosmetic bags. Six months later, Papa sent for us.

        A beautiful furnished, 10 room apartment was waiting for us. The upper West Side was an elegant neighborhood in 1943. Our apartment had maid quarters, where Morris was installed, and large, airy rooms. Papa had completely furnished the whole place himself, including some fine antique pieces. The lobby was marble with thick red carpets, three elevators with operators, and a doorman.

        I did not move with everybody. I had three months until graduation {I guess I cut too many classes and had to go to summer school}. I overheard my parents say "Cherie will never pass the New York regents." I was left with Aunt Rachel. Finally, after I graduated, I joined them feeling I was not on-par intellectually with the rest of the family. I was told not to get a job, but to get to know the city, learn the subway system. I took the wrong train and found myself in Harlem in the middle of a race riot. I guess I flunked. Papa paid me to drink my orange juice. Gisa was working, so I could borrow money for lunch at the Stork Club. Frances did not work either. We had a great time exploring New York. We had ice cream in Schrafts, Rumpelmeiers and all the best places. We walked 5th Ave. in the Easter Parade, saw Frank Sinatra at the Paramount ,and finally got jobs and went to work.

        Papa was his old self again. He knew the best restaurants in New York. The Russian Tearoom was his favorite. People were always dropping in. He had many friends again. Boys from Indianapolis going over seas came to us. Girlfriends who had boyfriends going over seas came to stay with us. Papa loved them all. "Call me Leo," he would tell them. He was charming and they loved him. On any Sunday morning you could find card games going on. The big table in the dining room had always a dozen people around it. The solders played poker, but Papa loved Bridge. He played at the bridge clubs, again. He was a fabulous player and always in demand.

        Life for us was good again. Many Europeans lived in New York. Mama's friends spoke mostly German and came to tea with their boxes of Barton's chocolates.

        Papa loved America. He loved Roosevelt. He was a Democrat. He never failed to vote. He praised his new country but kept warning: "Do not trust Russia. They will turn against us when the war is over and keep us armed and nervous."

        In 1944 I was married first. Joe, my husband, went overseas one week later. I remained at home. Soon after Frances married Sy Finkelstein. They had a beautiful apartment on Riverside Drive, near us. Finally the war was over and Gisa married Joe Oloff.

        Stories of the Holocaust started to reach us. We received a letter from Aunt Johanna. They were saved. They had fled into Siberia. Nothing from the others. They were presumed dead. The newspapers were filled with stories and pictures of liberated camps and atrocities performed by the Germans and Lithuanians and Latvians. Old friends from Memel came to see us. They had survived. They told stories. Uncle Natan was shot trying to escape the Kovno Ghetto. Cousin Leo was seen being "relocated." It was later documented, that he was trying to escape from a camp in Riga, recaptured by guards with dogs, shot, and hanged. Papa tried "HIAS" looking for survivor lists. He found friends in Shanghai and sent them papers. From our families there was nothing. They were gone. My parents sat shiva [custom period of mourning].

        For almost 50 years we never spoke of Memel. Not among ourselves, not to our children. We never spoke of our childhood. We were survivors, but did not even admit it to ourselves. The silent guilt of the survivors was upon us. How did Papa know we must leave? Could he have foreseen such horror ? I look at the pictures of the camps and say, "There but by the grace of God were we." I have said kaddish in Yad Va Shem in Israel, in the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, and at the graves of my grandparents in a restored cemetery in Memel. At Yizkor, I see them all and say their names - Uncle Nahnny, Aunt Frieda, cousin Bubi, Hennie, Tante Yetta, cousin Leo, Betty, Uncle Natan, Aunt Lena, Marianne, Aunt Mary, Gisela, Max, Lazar, Aunt Charlotte and her daughters. I see my friends' faces. I have forgotten names.

        Many questions remain unanswered: "Could Aunt Rachel have saved more? The world stood by and did nothing. Where was American Jewry? Nobody was marching on Washington. The fact remains, the Nazis could not have killed all the Jews without the help of the Lithuanians, the Latvians, the Estonians, the world. The Holocaust is being taught in our schools, is collective guilt???"

        Frances and I went back to Memel and Riga in 1992. We walked both cities by memory. There was heavy fighting in Memel. Much was bombed. The Schwartze Adler is gone. The large Market place is still there, the Friedrichmark. The old part is restored as Altstadt, painted in pastels, as a modern architect thought it should have looked. We found the Jewish Cemetery. It was destroyed, all the tombstones had been ground up. They said the Russian did it. The Lithuanians found six tombstones remaining. They erected a monument. Our grandparents' stone was one of them. As Thomas Wolfe said, "You can't go home again." The Baltic Sea is still beautiful, but polluted. We found an old lady, a survivor in Riga. She was a relative of Falcove. She told us Beno lives in Israel. Gisela is still in Latvia. She did not know where or her married name. She lived on $20 a month in a bare room. The war had not ended for her. There is no compensation money for her, although the German Veterans receive a pension.

        Mama became Nanny, a legend of her own. She lived to be 104 years beloved by all. Papa became Papi Leo. He died at 72, still a young man. We all mourned his sudden death for a long time. This my dear children is your heritage. I will say to you what my father said to us crossing from Finland to Sweden. "Remember!!!!!!!!"

The End

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