Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Sally Horwitz - June 18, 2007


Tell me about a Friday night in your house.

Okay, I'd love to talk about the Friday nights because it was great. Of course it smelled so good that um, the non-Jewish people, especially the, the, they, they lived a few houses away from us uh, the Akusherke, which is the midwife. They always say, "Akusherke, what are you cooking it smells so good can we come in and taste?" They, they made the gefilte fish and the chicken soups and, I mean, Friday night, I mean, it was a feast. And I remember I liked to sit on the end there because the, all the candles, I don't know how many candles. Because I liked to read. I think I was reading since I must've been three years old because my sisters were older, I loved to read. And uh, you know, nice meals and Saturday was cholent. I have to finish with Friday nights which I won't forget as long as I live. Even my husband were surprised because I knew certain things, he says, "how you know?" I probably read it. He saved up um, he and his cousin were getting papers and stuff like this from Radom, because ??? together. The Jewish people had the book, they had libraries, a Jew couldn't go, I didn't know Until I got out of the war. I always followed my dad on Saturday. If he would go, there was a library not too far from us. He stood in the window just to see what they had. And she came in front of the door and stood like this, like I dare you to get in. So I said, "daddy what", you know, I asked him, "what's going on?" So he says, "???," you know, "nothing, nothing, I just, you know, we can't go in there." When I started school I was getting uh, books at the school, they had a library. I'm jumping. Um, I told you about Friday night. Uh, people--my dad had all those papers. Would you believe it, people came in Friday night, the place, it was a small place. People didn't live like this, in a small place. They packed in, they sat on the floor, they sat on chairs. And my father was reading to them aloud, because most of them, maybe they could read Hebrew but they couldn't read, you know, a, a newspaper. So he could read Polish, he could read Yiddish, he could, he was good in Hebrew, he was, they were good in Russian. They had, you know, they were well educated. Uh, I think my bubby swore in Russian somebody did, tried to do something to us.


I didn't know what that meant but now I know what [laughs]. Oh god, she was a fierce lady. She protected her kids and her grandkids like you won't believe it. Well anyway, so I remember my mother had a big ??? on the stove and tea. The tea was not like they do, they ??? "em now, in the bag. It was real tea, but you had a big, big tea pot, you know, to pour uh, into the ???, call it in the water. And some of them brought their own sugar those little ca...the little squares. They popped in their mouth, of course there was something exciting my dad was reading...


[laughs] So they were popping it in their mouth and sipping the tea. So I remember he read about um, Captain Dreyfus of all things. When I was talking to Mort and I would--we were talking about that in, he stopped and he said, "how do you know?" I said, "my dad used to read it aloud and I remember." Leke when the ??? go here, they, they, they [laughs] remember Leke, a um, Jewish guy who works in the mafia like.


You don't know, oh god. He, he had the, just like the mafia he, they were killing people. Like the Jewish people didn't kill they got somebody else to kill. And Leke was the head of it, of it. He had all the, the, the gambling things and the, the vodka, bringing in from Canada. So his name was Leke. I have to call in my husband. So he asked me, "what?" [laughs] He was shocked I knew about it 'cause he read it and he liked to read books too. I remember in Yiddish he was reading a um, War and Peace, would you believe it? And I tried to read it in Yiddish in Germany after the war, I found a book. And, and he was a reader.

What did he do?

He was a, a carpenter in the winter and a builder in the summer. He made handmade furniture. There were no factories there, in a place that had no industry at all. So we had people who were shoe makers. They made shoes, they came to the house took the measurements and my mother picked ??? which leather she liked. [laughs] In the winter we got shoes to go with the, with the, with what we wear now because it was freezing cold. And the summer we got the like sandal looking shoes, and that was it.

And he had customers who were non-Jews?

Oh, oh yeah, yeah. Well especially when they, they building stores in the villages. So, so he had a few people and that's what they did. But in the winter he made gorgeous pieces.

You mentioned, you mentioned um, a midwife.


She, she was a neighbor?

She was a neighbor, she wasn't Jewish. She wasn't a Jewish ???.

She was a friend of the family?

Very close friend of my mom. I think sometimes she used to call her in and she would tell my bubby, I didn't know what they were talking about. And she was so upset. Uh, she did abortions sometimes, too. For the Catholic, only if something really, they brought in from the village; I remember I overheard everything, I was awful. Um, they brought in a girl, I didn't understand what they were talking about. And I think she was abused by either a brother or the father--the girl was. And she was pregnant. So she called in, she walked over from--she asked for mother, she wouldn't, come in and just talk and hold her hand, let her hold whatever. She came back, she was so upset, she was telling my bubby. She swore, you know, what uh, what they did to her, the family. She, they were drunk, I think they just didn't know what the hell they were doing, they were horrible. I think that's why they hated the Jews, because uh, a Jewish father brought home the money [laughs] to the wife so the kids could eat. And they came home drunk. My mom sometimes [telephone rings] she had to lock the doors, the outside door we called "em, the pogrom doors. My husband will take it. Unidentified man: Hello? The uh, uh, actually... Unidentified man: Hello?

They had, had chain, like a certain chain... Unidentified man: Hello?

You know, not a chain, and there were hooks and then she'd chain "em up to stay put, you know, because they were so drunk, like crazy.

They were called pogrom doors?

Um, I called them, I never, we never had a pogrom. But she didn't want to take chances that they'll bang at the door, because they didn't know what the hell they were doing. They, they were tough people.


And they didn't show as much anti-Semitism in our place, except the teachers, that's all. Like to beat us up really because uh, for the sake of beating us up or screaming at us. We got along, really.


And the young boys uh, they mingled with the, with the non-Jewish uh, boys, too. But there was no problem. Once in a while they felt like having a little fight so they have it here, too. Um, and then uh, well most of the people used to come and visit us because, I mean, the cousins, and the uncles, and the aunts, and the daughters-in-law. They all loved my bubby. She was a very unusual person. Her biggest pride was that uh, well I didn't realize until I found out what used to grown up what other people are telling me was going on. Different places, you know, like ??? my mother used to, was four years old and they had to uh, was like a little slave someplace. And my bubby used to always say that her children, each one of them, married from her house. That means nobody will send out to be uh, a maid or uh, whatever. And the men were pretty well settled, my uncles. Um, and she worked very hard when her husband died. She once showed me her hands. She said, "see my hands," because I questioned her a lot, and she, she liked to talk to me because I questioned her. She said she used to go out to the village when her children were small. Her youngest child, her oldest daughter when she got married, she took that baby with her and she brought her up as her own. But she knew this was her mom. She, she used to be there every summer, she knew that was her mother. Uh, well, well, I'll tell you. So she used to carry buckets, she put in uh, needles, thread uh, dyes, and stuff like that. And she carried to the villages, she peddled.


Walked and carried those two things. And she came back with uh, produce. Like butters and, and cheeses, and eggs. And she would, they would barter, really, they didn't exchange money. So she would, first of all her kids had food. And then, you know, she would go around, I guess, and sell it, whatever she brought, and then the next day she did the same thing uh, different village. So she worked very hard, you know, to keep her children together. Which was very unusual, and they all did very well.

And was she also religious?

Uh, she wore Saturday sheitel, to shul. And I walked, held her hand and walked to shul. Till the last minute, I swear, she wore high heels and she sat down, my mother had to prim her, sheitel her. And she says no, no, no ??? I'll just go this way to shul. [laughs]


I had a kick out of it, watching. My mother did not wear the sheitel. She did not wear her hair covered.

So she was modern orthodox?

Uh, they were more modern, so was my father. She--he just didn't sit in ??? he read a lot of books. He liked Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, he liked all those uh, uh, he read tough books. I called them, really not just to laymen.

He--you said he would read the newspapers?


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