Listen To Gloria’s Story
The Grandparents StoryLab is an intergenerational project that connects New York City's youngest and oldest generations through art and storytelling.
After listening to Gloria’s story children were asked to draw some of the memories she shared.
I was born in Brooklyn in 1941, my parents owned a four family house.
I was in a block that was sort of between two neighborhoods Borough Park and Sunset Park. I was the youngest of four children… four surviving children.
First memory I have written poems about when I was about one and a half or two years old I was being ridden in my baby carriage along the sidewalk.
My brother was next to my mother, who was wheeling it. My brother was next to her and we were going towards 8th Avenue. I don't know… shopping or whatever it was. I remember it was a spring day, early spring and I was looking up at the leaves of the trees there were a lot of trees on my block which was very nice. I was looking up the leaves moving. Because I was being wheeled…. And I remember, that's what I remember.
I remember most and best the Summers where we went off to either the beach at Brighton Beach, Coney Island or Sunset Park Pool, which is a city park with big pools- three big pools, a diving pool, a wading pool and a swimming pool. So I would go there with friends from the block and with our parents. Just my parents and or my cousins… my aunts and cousins lived in my building.
I told you how old I was? 76.
It was great, having… I mean like I feel so alone now. I have two cousins left out of everybody, because I was the youngest, everybody else died…including my siblings. All of them are dead. The only one left. There was a big age range among my siblings, among the children.
So my oldest brother was 19 years older than me and then my sister was like 16 years older and then my next brother was eight years older than me. So it was a long range, a big range of ages for them to grow up in. In fact my oldest brother was away in in World War II in the army when I was born and he didn't see me until I was over a year old on furlough.
He came on furlough, you know what is furlough is? It’s when they allow the soldiers sailors to take a break and come home and visit their families and then they go back. But I do have a memory... He had either called or something to tell my mother when he would be coming and the doorbell rang and my mother said go open the door to your brother Sidney. I hadn't seen him.
And I said, “mommy there are two Sidneys here,” because he brought a friend. They were both in uniform. I didn't know which was which.
My parents were immigrants both of them from the Ukraine. Being Jewish they didn't say that they were from the Ukraine because it was segregated. Jews were discriminated against. Jews lived in their own parts of small cities or what were called Shtetls, they were small towns mostly occupied by Jews.
Their family ran a factory manufacturing special shirts for the peasants, the men had like a costume with embroidery on it.
The Jewish people there were trying to get out. I mean I'm glad that my parents both emigrated from there because otherwise Stalin was very active in the Ukraine. It was a dictatorship very bad… killed a lot of people.
Besides the uprisings that were anti-Semitic in the early nineteen hundreds, which is one of the reasons my father came here. Besides that there were what were called programs. Do you know that word pogrom? I think it has a definite meaning meaning against the Jews, where Ukrainians, Cossacks on horses would come through their towns with swords. There were also occasions when the Russian military, both I think after the revolution you know the Russian Revolution 1917? Both before and after. They would come to try to conscript young men of military age.
I remember a story where my uncle Rubin who was the next youngest from my father was hidden in a factory behind some mattresses so that he wouldn't be known. So he wouldn't be...it was compulsory, compulsory conscription. They would just go through and say you, you, you. The other part of the story is that my father's let me see, my father's sister...she served tea to these people as they were coming into the factory to distract them from looking too closely and that's a story I grew up with.
My brother took me horseback riding. I was given a horse that was supposed to be really tame and quiet because I was very young and it was my first time on a horse. When I got on the horse all by itself decided to walk out street traffic. I started crying. Anyway from then on they had somebody leading the horse somebody from the stable led the horse on this trip.
I think my idol growing up, was my brother Robbie, the one who taught me a lot. He sort of took care of me, took me to places and museums I wouldn't have gone to otherwise because my mother was always busy with cooking and cleaning and all that. My brother introduced me to the Museum of Modern Art and to its film program and to other museums.
I decided to go to law school when I was had been out of college for several years. A part of what helped me go to law school was the women's movement. Which began in like the late 1960s 69 to 70 or so. When I started school in a class of 200. There were only six women in that in that class. When I finished law school there was there was quite a higher percentage of women.
I fear...being alone when I'm really old because I'm getting there. And I fear...
Yeah I guess... that's my worst fear is being alone.
I dream of having somebody maybe to live with... I don't know that's going to happen... That's my deepest but my deepest emotions right now that fear and longing you know so.
For this workshop we partnered with Indy Kids. The Grandparents StoryLab trained the young journalists in audio storytelling and podcasting. They interviewed Gloria during their summer camp.