I found a link earlier tonight to Ancestry.com. I don’t know anything about the site, except it’s a commercial outfit, but it did offer a three day trial to look at the 1930 US Census.
First I went and looked for my mom’s family. Nothing. I’ll try again later. Next, my dad’s family.
Goose bumps ran down my spine as I looked and saw their handwritten names: Jacob, Sarah, Anna, Harold and Murray.
There’s nothing earth shattering here. A tiny insight into their lives in Depression era Brooklyn.
My grandfather was 35 and from Austria. He was listed as being a chauffeur. I seem to remember stories that he was once a trolley car driver. Maybe that’s what was meant?
Grandma Sarah was 30 and from Russia. Both she and grandpa could read. Aunt Anna was 10, my dad 4½ and Uncle Murray 2 years, 10 months.
They rented their apartment for $25 a month at 80 Middleton Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There were two other families in the building – one of whom was headed by someone also named Fox. He owned the building, worth $4100. If he’s a relative, this is the first I’m hearing it.
The other Fox family spanned a few generations with a grandfather, grown daughter and her husband living there.
The third family was headed by a divorced woman. She had a four year old daughter and a boarder, named Minnie Shonda.
Where listed, each of the adults in the building came from a home where Yiddish was spoken as the first language.¹
It’s amazing. All of this carefully hidden away for 76 years, waiting for the Internet to set it free.
When I speak with my dad, I’ll see what, if any of this, he remembers.
¹ – Many people confuse Yiddish with Hebrew. Yiddish is an amalgam of Eastern European languages, spoken primarily by Jews (and so the story goes, Colin Powell). It is a dead language, no longer spoken anywhere in the world as a primary language. My parent’s generation is the last to have Yiddish regularly spoken at home.