Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Barbara Schechter Cohen - May 1, 2002

Emigration to America

So you went to, to New York. And from New York--did you live in New York for awhile?

We lived in New York until I was eleven years old.

Did your father get work? Was he help--did he have family there? Was he helped by the federation there?

He had uh, uh, we were helped by the um, I think...

The J.O.I.N.T. the J.O.I.N.T. And there was a cousin I think that helped, that lived in uh, New Jersey. But we were very poor. We had no funds. And my, my dad got work as a um, um, he made ties and my mother worked in a factory at the time.

Did he ever recover his law practice?

Well, his uh, my grandfather owned a little like fruit and vegetable store in Krakow and uh, this was one of his uh, financial boo--boos that he after--he accumulated a little wealth and borrowed money and he opened up a, a grocery store in Brooklyn which failed uh, because of either other, bigger stores or something happened. But he, he lost everything in the, in the uh, grocery store. And there was a friend in um, Detroit. Actually it was a Ukrainian who, who did help my mother during the war with uh, 'cause he, he knew her and the family and he helped her with the food for me and clothes. And uh, he wrote to my uh, parents that we should come to Detroit because it's a better life here.

So were you...

A Ukrainian. [laughs]

[laughs] What did he do in, when, when your father got here what did he do?

Um, oh, what did my father do?


Well, we stayed with my family for awhile. We actually lived with them and he got a job as a waiter uh, waiting on tables and he did try to go to Wayne to see what was involved in trying to get back his law practice. But we were so poor that he couldn't go to school and learn the laws and support us at the same time.

And your mother didn't work at this point.

She worked as a manicurist. She was able to--she went to manicuring school and became a manicurist.

So where did you live in Detroit?

Uh, we uh, moved quite a bit. We lived on Lynwood and Courtland. We lived on Webb. We lived on West Grand. We finally uh, lived in a house in, on Rosemont near Eight Mile in Detroit.

The other side of...

Eight Mile.

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