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[Pages 112-113]

Leather Workers

Translated by Judy Grossman

Shayke Glick: When I think about it now, I really don't know how the Jews earned their living. I recall one Jew who would go through the streets selling hanks of pig's hair. What did they do with this? The shoemakers used these stiff hairs. They would take one hair, twist it together with linen thread, punch holes in the leather, thread the stiff threads through them, pull them tight and fasten them. This is how they would attach strips of leather to make boots; and that is probably how they patched shoes. There were several leather shops in the shtetl, including those of the Shub and Slep families.

Yosef Yavnai: As children we would have preferred for our father to have a candy shop. How can you eat leather?

Miryam Slep: During World War I, some people from the shtetl fled to Russia. My parents sent my elder sister Elka to Russia to be with the Charit family, and my father equipped her with packages of leather in exchange for which she would receive living expenses. The journey was a long one, the smell of the leather bothered the people, and Elka wrote us that she was forced to get rid of the package by throwning it out the train window.

Shayke Glick: There were “zagatovtchikes” (stitchers of the upper part of the shoe), like Dovid-Leib Aires and Zeif. There was the leather worker, Yossel "Der Rimmer", brother of Mere-Dina, who was a sworn bachelor and lived and worked in the home of the melamed, Avraham-Moshe. He made saddles and harnesses.

And of course, there were also shoemakers. There was the shoemaker Hirshe-Zelig, Tzilke's father. He had seven or eight children, all of them good-looking. They lived in one room, in which their father, the shoemaker, also worked. What did they eat? Their mother would cook potatoes in a large pot, pour them all onto the table, and each child would grab a burning hot "spud". There was always a great deal of noise around the table. They would throw them at each other, and when you went in to get your shoes repaired, you might end up with a "spud" in your face.

Yudel Bun, and Motel Gelman (who worked for him) were also shoemakers, as was Moishe Mote, whose house stood at the lakeshore, and at high tide it would be flooded with water.

There was Yudel Garber, the tanner, who lived at the edge of the shtetl. There was a pit for tanning the skins in his yard, and their "perfume" filled the surrounding air. Nearby stood the Hashomer Hatzair “cell” ( club).


[Pages 113-114]

Needle Workers

Translated by Judy Grossman

Henia Sneh: The tailor, Moishe-Shneor, "Der Schneider", was incredibly curious. When he saw a group of people standing outside, he would immediately leave his work, run outside with his tape measure hanging from his neck, and ask: "Nu, nu, vos far a neies? Vos hot passiert? (Nu, nu what's new? What's happening?)

Elka Slovo: That is why he was nicknamed "Der Baal Neies" (“Mr. Newsman”). His wife Tzviya was the sister of the teacher, Zvi-Herschel Hammer.

Shayke Glick: Beile, the seamstress, was also the sister of Herschel Hammer. She was a spinster and lived beside Rochel-Leah Poritz's house. She taught sewing, and my sister Tzila was also one of her students. The girls were really engrossed in their work until late at night. When I used to come to escort my sister home, I more than once fell asleep waiting for her, and my head dropped onto the table.

Dushka was an expert at sewing down-filled quilts.

Most people raised geese, which usually grazed on the lakeshore. At Hanukah they would slaughter them, especially for their schmaltz (rendered fat) and grivenes (crackling). The girls would sit together around the table and pluck the feathers. The down went for quilts, and the stiffer feathers, for pillows.

Dushka and her friend also sewed brassieres.

Bashe “Di Strikerke” – the seamstress (standing)

(Henia Sneh: The children would help her by unravelling socks in return for candy…)

L. to R.: Chaike-Mera Dina's and Adina Hinde Glick, daughter of Rachel-Leah.

Fashions

Shayke Glick: When a successful model of a dress was “put on show”, it was copied in the shtetl.

Shaul, son of Chasya-Leah Levitt, and his sister Dvora
Dvora Barolski,
daughter of Hershel Levitt
Monocle Fashion

Schwartz Brothers:
Yosef (seated)
Hillel (right) and David (left)

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