Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lily Fenster - November 8 & 10, 1994

New York

So, you landed in New York?

Came to New York and then somebody waited for us and gave us a, a ticket to come to Detroit because my husband gave on the applications, what do you do? What did he do? What is he gonna put down that he's businessman. I said "Oh my God, what are you doing here?" So he put down a mechanic. He couldn't even take a screwdriver. I was the one that did the fixing, he couldn't do nothing. He had the brain for--you know. So that's why they send him to Detroit because of the car industry and I'm sure they're gonna find a job for him, he put down a mechanic. They knew he was uh, uh, man business with pigs? Who knew about the Jew, pigs? Dear God, that was not kosher. So uh, we came here, a train all night and we were so hungry and we couldn't order nothing. And they gave us twenty dollars. I think a lady was waiting, they probably have volunteer worker to help the refugees, you know. In New York...

The Joint?

The Joint, the Joint, yes, the Joint. And we were so hungry we wanted bread, we want to eat, we want to eat. So the guy in the train, they had a dining room and we had twenty dollars and whatever we pointed on the list we said, "Okay, okay, okay." And I didn't know what to order so we said, "oh my God we spent all the twenty dollars for what? Baked apples?" I didn't know we spent twenty dollars but we a little more, I wouldn't want to lie because my husband was quite bright. We came with a little money. I came with nice clothes you know, china ??? I cared for nothing. So we had a little--a basket, a big one brought in with stuff that say you know, we got into a free country, we gonna have a house, we gonna entertain, we're gonna be menschen for a change. And thanks God he was very successful. We came here, they put us in the house of shelter and a place with a lot of families. But it was okay, it was okay. I had a clean bed and they gave us money and I went to get cottage cheese, oh, was that cottage cheese good, the bananas, ah, Sidney, there was, I said America has the most delicious bananas, it was expensive, I mean who--in Europe pomerantzen oranges. You know when the Jew has their oranges you know, how do you say, you know or the oranges were rotten, they go he was rotten, you know when he was sick or something because that was luxury. Fruits like that in Europe because Europe don't grow it. So they had to import. But the bananas was something else, all of us were impressed with the bananas. A little joke, there was a Mrs. ??? when I moved in on Gladstone there and she came in and I bought some bananas so she looked at me and she didn't know how to write, she didn't know how to read. They came in nineteen something and she asked me, "Dee vayst vee men esta banana?" And I had a sense of humor, I said "No," so I took the shell off and I put the banana away and I said, ??? Did you know? So we all went--it's such a little joke, listen you have to have a sense of humor in that life. And then I had a hard time going shopping here. I wanted cherries, I bought beets. I mean, it was a lot of things but I went right away to school and before you know, three months, I spoke English. Not good. I knew how to communicate, I knew how to shop, I don't make no more mistakes. And Dave started looking for business. I mean you know, he didn't want to work for nobody. That's the way he was, what you gonna' do? You know what he told me? You're not gonna see me work with that little coffin. He called it a coffin, that little lunch boxes, you know. And then, he know my nature, that I was a little frugal, "If I would give you," he says, "a hundred dollars you would save seventy-five." Because you know, when he worked in a factory, he worked for a check and you know how you know, how--so he was bright and God was good to him and he was working. Nobody give him nothing. But he repaid back for certain people. He didn't care if they were Jews or Gentiles. We went once to a convention to Chicago and we met some people that he give credit, in his business was a big deal, because a lot of thing credit to give and he lift him up and he say, "Look at that guy, look at that European face, thanks to him, all my three girls has college." You know what it means to feel a Goy comes and says compliment that's said like that to a person? Not just one, we use to go to conventions, he was pretty big. I mean, they respected him so in a quiet way, you never heard about nothing. He had the nature, a worker came and he was sitting he would stand up and give the worker the chair. Would you believe it? They adored him. They liked him so much because he gave them so much respect. Always he said to me, "Thanks to them, we make a living". You know what I mean? What a person didn't took. That's why he couldn't leave it you know, him.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn