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My Dear Shtetl Mihaileni (Cont'd)

6. School Days

Between 1929 and 1935 I attended the Jewish-Romanian school. {The Jewish-Romanian primary school was established in 1920 and operated until the beginning of the second world war, in June 1941. Its last headmaster was Shmaia Wasserman}

Among my class mates during the years 1929-1933 were Beni Grinberg - the son of Godl the barber; Natan -son of Sherer which had a grocery; Samuel - the son of Itic Schwartz; Hers - the son of Moise Mirtzes the barber. Other class mates were the son of Iancola Shoihat the 'haham', the son of the old rabbi Mendola, Creintzer, Coca Fainstein - the daughter of Dudl Haichis, Tili Rachmut, Silvia Steiner, Coca Buchbinder, Sali Margulies, Gizela Grinberg, Lora Iacovici, Udl Afrimi, Avram Salet, and many others.

Looking at the second volume dedicated to the Judaism and Zionism of the Dorohoi district, I found an old photo that stirred a lot of memories in my mind. I am talking about the photo of rabbi Itzhak Meer Marilus, z.l. I knew him since I was a child, I was a pupil at the Israeli-Romanian school and at the end of each school year we had exams at which our teachers were present as well as a school inspector from Dorohoi (an elderly man). We had tests both in Romanian and in Hebrew Rebe Marilus was the one that tested us in Hebrew. I remember him once praising my class mate Sali Margulies, according to him, the best in Hebrew in our grade. All my schoolmates knew that I was protecting Sali and no boy dared to anoy her. I was not a fighter, but I inspired respect by means of something else. The children knew I was “Jempala"'s grandson, and his pupils used to be well prepared. When I began the first grade, I brought a text I wrote in Romanian, Hebrew and German for Mr. Shulem Rapapport, at that time president of the Jewish Community of Mihaileni. I already knew the multiplication table and a lot of other things from my grandfather. During the first four school years, I was three times the first one in my class and once I was the second one, after Zuzi Haiches

7. Friends and Neighbors

I think that the main street in Mihaileni was not longer than 1000 m, from the Bucecea barrier, on the road that led towards Dorohoi or Botosani, up to the Orphanage, the Commercial School and the barrier on the road that led towards Siret, Radautzi, and Cernovitz. The main street, between the two barriers, was called Carol I street and had about two hundred houses, shops and workshops, but there were other side streets on which there were also many shops and workshops - as they say in Yiddish “a shein freilah shteitl” of the Romanian kingdom.

Close to the Bucecea Barrier lived Hoishie Hecht an egg merchant, who bought eggs from the peasants in the neighboring villages and was famous for creating a special lamp to test how fresh the egg was; after him there was Pohontzu; and then Bacescu's pub, where peasants used to come to drink; followed by Ilie Hertzanu, whose daughter married one of Shimon Zelinger's, the glazier's sons. Next was Bruha Frima Suras's house, the local river, the Molnitza, passed through her backyard, and we the children used to go there to bathe. She had two sons and two daughters - on of the daughters was named Regina. Then there was Shmil Croitoru's house (also nicknamed Chetzolah) - he was a carpenter, with five sons:* Hersh, Leib, Efraim (I do not remember the names of the other two) and a daughter. One of his sons, Hersh Ciuntul {single handed}, had a bowling alley where we used to play. Past the lane, there were the houses of Naftelberg (the housepainter), that of Harbaches der Roiter (the Red Wagoner) who had a brother a wagoner as well; the house of Gondelman that made soap; the house of Iancu Schwartz Calmans, who had four sons: Moishe Haim, Meir and Zeev as well as a daughter Clara. Zeev Schwartz is the president of the Romanian Immigrants Organization in Israel (HOR). Further on there was Basia and Mena Butzoles who once had a tobacconist's shop; Mehl and Rifca Hefner, he was a wheelwright, she was the daughter of aunt Hana - my father's sister; a Romanian horse shoe maker; a wagoner that had two daughters Basia and Meni; Halerie the shoemaker - the son of Dudl that sold apples and pears; Leizer and Roza Shwartz, he was a merchant and they had two sons: Avrum and Hersh; Hemola's sister, who used to dye the wool for the peasants in the nearby villages: Sinautzi, Rogojesti and Candesti; Hershcu Shalet the shoemaker who had three sons: Avrum, Bobte and Moishe, as well as a daughter; and another shoemaker Iuchel Davidson who had three daughters and a son. Then there were Mahlia and Shaia Lebel, my parents with four sons and three daughters. Followed by two old people Haim and Sura relatives of Brandeis; annd then Grinberg Blecherche, with three children. She was the widow of Aron the tinsmith, who was immortalized in a poem by Leon Bertish for his habit of singing “zmirot” {Jewish religious songs} while repairing the top of the roof of the local church. After her there were Pesie and Iur Hertzanu who had three sons: Leib, Mehl, and Berl; and then Hemola Stoleru with three daughters and a son Beniamin; and then Mershl the shoemaker with two sons: Hersh and Dughe. Dughe Mershl was a shoemaker with four children. Mershl's wife used to bake a wonderful cornbread with butter and garlic. Then a family of grain merchants with two daughters - relatives of one-eyed-Simha {Brandeis}.

Further on there was Iancu Wagner's store. The son of Sharer the grocer was a salesman there. Another salesman there was Israel Levanon {Leivandman}, later one of the leaders of the religious Zionist movement in Romania and a well known and respected religious leader in Haifa {the late president of the Religious Council of Haifa}. At different times my cousin Mordehai Braier as well as Beila, the attractive daughter of Meir Vinter, also worked there as salespeople.

At the back of the store, sitting on a chair for hours on end, was an old woman, the eyes of the owner. She used to see that the monies received from the clients do actually go into the cash box, and that none of the salesmen helped themselves and stealthily ate the merchandise. She was always dressed as if for a high holiday. She used to wear a long black skirt, down to the earth, shoes with laces, caftan, a black kerchief worn so that only her face was visible. She was probably more than 80 years old.

Mr. Iancu Wagner, approximately 40 years old, was at the counter. His cheeks were always red, as if he just came out of a steam bath. For that time, he was elegantly dressed, in a suit with a stiff collar and a tie. The stiff collars used to be sold separately from the shirts. The front of the shirt used to have various stripes, the rest of the shirt was made of white linen. The stiff collar was cleaned and reused for many times. Mr. Wagner's wife was also born Wagner, a coincidence in names. They had two beautiful children, a boy and a girl, all four of them died in Transnistria.

Wagner's shop was followed by Iosif Tilingher's shop; Reizl who had a draper's shop and had two children; then a lane; followed by Iosl Iacovici, a tailor for women's clothes, his wife was Moishe Steiner's sister, they had two daughters - one of them named Lora; Haia who had a shop and used to receive used notebooks for which she gave me a little halvah; Rifca who used to sell soda water (2 lei for a 1 liter bottle, 4 lei for a 2 liter bottle); Rifca's husband used to make Purim masks, and feindolah {flags} for Simhat Tora on which he was sticking a red apple. Further on there was Mehl Hertzanu the tailor, his wife was Elke and they had two sons Leib and Hers and two daghters Beti and Liba; Ianchel Tipces the shoemaker, who had four daughters and one son ; Berl Soihet the carter, who had three daughters and two sons; another shoemaker called Moishe with a few children; a tobacco shop; another tailor; another merchant that worked for Flondor; Aron Cohen's flour shop, he had three sons: Idov, Haskel and Moise. Idov Cohen - who, in years to come, was going to become a journalist, a writer, a politician, and a member of the Knesset of Israel! At the age of 15 Idov Cohen left Mihaileni to live in Bucharest and the story of his departure is retold by the poet and journalist Solo Har Herescu in “Generatia de sacrificiu” (“The Generation of Sacrifice”) edited by the writer. After Aron Cohen's house, there was a tinsmith's shop; then the bakery in which Shmil Stoler was working with his son Leib (they made a tasty black bread, it cost 4 lei, plus 50 bani tax); then came a tailor, then my aunt Hana Braer - Burah, her husband, was a brother of Menashe Gorgl and Creentza, they had four daughters and one son. Next was Tecuceanu the carpenter, who had three sons and two daughters. Further on was the shop “La Ieftinatate” (“Cheap sales”) hold by Platner, the brother-in-law of Oisie Haichis (the one who left for Bolivia), followed by the ham-and-beef shop of Mr. Pavlovici, who, of course, was a Christian. Next to it, there was Meth's shop (his wife was a Segal), they had two children. Then, Berl Hertzanu, who had three sons Leib, Eli, and Gershon and three daughters; Meraru Lupu - two brothers selling apples and pears, one of them had two daughters Rachel and Silvia; Calman the tinsmith, who had on son Eli; Bercu's cafe where one could play and one could drink a cup of tea spiced with lemon for 2 lei. There was an old lady sitting on the stove, Bercu's mother-in-law. When she saw somebody entering, she used to ask him or her to repeat the expression “Fan Lemberc chin Ics truct a fucs a bics in pisc” {from Lemberg to Ics a fox carries a gun in its mouth} - which made no sense but was difficult to pronounce correctly for the first time and the old lady was very amused when people failed. Then there was a tailor for whom my sister Clara worked - my sister who was murdered in Moghilev, in Transnistria; then a pub where, later, Avrum Steiner had his vine cellar; and then Meer Wassermann, who had one daughter and two sons - one of them Shmaie's; then Zelter the letherer; Unterfort - cloth shop; Flor a shopkeeper with one son; Vexler - leatherer; Solomon Zborover - the grocery, he had one son and one daughter; Bercovici - grocery; and then an iron monger, whose owner was a one armed lady (Liba Rubinger), she had a son Moshe Aaron (Sharl), and a daughter Rica who married Lazar Steiner.

Further on there was the lane of the Synagogues that led towards the mead; and after it two very religious sisters who kept a shop with stamps and cigarettes; then a shop that sold salt (kept by one of Hersh's daughters); Iekel Hertzanu - baker; Creimer's pub; Capelovici; Verner; Herscovici with a pub; Rotenberg and his sister, thy sold soda water bottles; a sausages shop kept by a Romanian; Perez, a pub with a reputed grill; Rozenberg a shop with hats and galoshes; Ethel Hecht; Furman's confectionery, (before that it was a barber shop held by Furman, when he died his wife changed it into a coffee shop where she worked helped by their two daughters), they also had two sons Haim and Oto, one of the daughters emigrated to Palestine in 1936; Argintaru who had a wine cellar; the farmacy owned by a German.

Then there was the lane to the slaughter-house, which also led to the Flondor estate, half the way between Rogosesti and Siret. Iancu Flondor, lived in Cernovitz (in Bucovina). Many Jews were working on his estate. He was arrested by the Russians during the first days of the occupation of Bessarabia and northern Bucovina. Further on was Zonenreich's pub, he had two sons; and then rabbi Marilus with one daughter (later, he moved to live near Mitelman); Iancola Shoihet, with two sons Mendel and Srul and a few daughters (Mendola - was my class mate); Zamvl; Brender Avrum; followed by a watchmaker with two daughters; then, there was the Bank of Small Credit and Economy - for which I worked for a while. Next to that was a branch of the National Bank. It was robbed one night and Iancu Topolinsche was shot dead by the robbers! What a fuss there was at that time in our little town that was usually so quiet!

Further on was Mesingher the son of the mechanic: then Dudl Haichis who had two children Suzi (my former classmate) and Fred; and then Base Grinberg, the owner of a timber store, whose children were Mune, Efraim, Rene and Beti (Rene married Shmaie Wassermann, Beti married one of the Mitleman's sons); followed by Corbu - a Romanian family; and then the lane toward the lake. Past the lane lived Rav Hoisie Is Horowitz, who had a daughter Hilda and a son a baker {Michael, Mordechai's father who was Zisu's classmate}; followed by the venue of the Zionist Youth Organization; the captain of the Border Guards 3rd regiment {battalion}; Dr. Ion Costin with two sons; a grain merchant with two daughters; Vascoboinic; Rivca and Efraim Rachmut with their seven children (Mina, Shela, Tzili, Lutzi, Ozi, Leib, Herman - Tili was one of my classmates): the Post Office; Strul Hertzanu with four children: Shela, Clara, David, Haim; Tembler's pub; the orphanage; and finally the bridge towards Lower Sinauti, Siret, Tereblecea, and Chernovitz.

On the way back toward the Bucecea barrier, and the Dorohoi and Botosani road, across the street we start with Naftelberg, the painter, who had a son Avram and a daughter; followed by the lane toward the Reghenstreif pottery. Then a pub, Moishe Rivns, wheelwright; a German wheelwright; Lea and Moishe Mordha Ungureanu, with two sons Wolf and Aharon and a daughter Sofi; Haim Goldenberg, wheelwright, with three sons Eli, Leib and Shapsa and two daughters; Hertz Rotaru, merchant; Haim Rotaru; Lobic Schwartz, cattle merchant, he had thre children Avrum, Tzili and Eti; Leibush Stoler, who worked in the pub of his uncles Avrum Wolf; and then a lane. Past the lane lived Itzic Schwartz, the brother of Lobic, Ancel and Inacu Calmans, he had two sons; followed by Toni Iacovici, a teacher; a wagoner with a few children; a furrier with a daughter and a son Dudl; Moise Itzic - Perla's son; Hertzel, hairdresser, the son of Riven Mitn Bos; Riven Mitn Bos; a vagoner with a few children; Sara and Simha Brandeis (the one eyed), a timber merchant; Botez, a Romanian wheelwright; Toive Butzoles, carpenter, he had three daughters; Carp, tailor, he had a son Leon; Perla with a son Gabriel, Carp's lodger; Shmil Bruker, shopkeeper, had six children; Moishe Ioilkes Grinberg, shoemaker, had five or six children, about 1930 he left Mihaileni for Eretz Israel where he had a son; Idel Afrimi, shoemaker, had two children; the Synagogue; Hersh and Shloime, carpenters, their father was a baker; a lane.

After the lane there was Iosale Wagner, a pub owner with many children, his father was Avrum Stoler, was a gabai. Mihai Eminescu, the famous Romanian poet, once stopped and ate at this pub. Further on there was a wagoner and his wife a seamstress, with many children; Anchel Schwartz, cattle merchant; some old furriers; Haiches, wagoner, the brother of Avrum Haiches; a shoemaker with many children; Meir Vinter (Crivcher), with five children; Mose Ioina, shoemaker; Shternberg, furrier, with five children; a baker; Iancu Cojocaru, with a few children; Leib Hertzanu, tailor, with four or five children; Iancola Vinter (Crivcher), wagoner, with four sons Dugi, Levi, Yoel, and Avrum; Simon Zelinger, glazier, with two daughters and two sons; Mordha Tarabnic's weddings hall; Burah Naftulis, he had a few sisters seamstresses; Leizer, the son of a wagoner; Rizel Itzic and Copel; Oisie Haichis, wheat merchant; Clara and Moishe Steiner, cloth shop, they had nine children Toni, Roza, Rica, Mina Berta, Silva, Avram, Smil, Lazar; Boiman, flour shop, with a few children; Segal, cloth shop, Schweitzer, with a few children; Iancala Hunes, muzician - he use to play the violin at weddings, his son was my classmate; Mordhe Hecht, hardware store, he had a son Haim and a few daughters; Melamed Pizim (who was deaf), with a few children; Bendit, tailor, with a few children; Rudic, cloth shop, he had two daughters; Segal, cloth shop; Anchel Margulis, leather shop, he had five children: Avrum, Moise, Natan, Clara and Sali; a lane.

Past the lane there was Molcola Hofman with a cloth shop and Meraru's apple and pears store in a cellar beneath it. Molcola, her brother Leibola and her two sisters Hente and Frima are distant relatives of mine. Then a candle shop: followed by Godl Ginberg, barber, with three daughters: Surtza, Sima and Beti and a son Beno - Beno was my classmate; Aron and Fuli, clock repairman, who drowened on the Struma together with their daughter; an old lady, who used to work for the Jewish Community selling “kvintls”, receipts, for a few lei to go to the “Haham” for the traditional slaughter of poultry; Horowitz, baker, with two sons Idel and Mordhe {Mordhe was Zisu's classmate}; Loti and Avrum Steiner; Brandeis with a son Urtzi and daughters; Segal, cloths shop; with two or three children; Mehl Hair, wheat merchant; a tailor; a shop; Mordhe Bersh Torobenschi, with three daughters and two sons, he belonged to the Berish family, who was my grandmother's brother; Haskel Ginberg, timber shop, Cuna Safir, sausages, a daughter Miriam and more children; Hersh (Buzes) Grinberg, pub and timber shop with two or three daughters, - Haskal Grinberg, Cuna's brother painted a parrot on of the walls of the pub; Klain, wheat merchant; an Albanian, a talented painter who kept a coffee shop, where one could play dice; Moishe Vinter, shoemaker, with a few children; a salt shop, Herscovici, coffee shop owner, with two daughters Pepilora and Ana; Hilsches, three sisters, one of them married to Hersh Regenstreif; Mironescu, barber, a lane. Past the lane lived Mrs. Gropper, the mother of the poet Jacob Gropper; Birman, a newspaper stand, with a few children; Avrum Haiches, with three daughters; Feinstein, whose daughter was Coca; Wagner; the Israelite-Romanian School; Isac Stir, dentist; Mesingher; a lane, the Church; Rahmut's cattle stable; a lane and a garden; Mitelman, with two sons and a daughter; a Romanian family; the 3rd Border Patrol Regiment' Pecht, a shop; the Commercial School; the tax collector's office; and finally the bridge toward Sanautzi and Cernautzi.

Apart from Mihaileni's main street there were other small streets and lanes. Many other Jewish families were living there. I do not remember them all, but I do remember a few of them. For instance: Nuham Vaneles, who used to bring Argintaru barrels of 3000 liter of wine from Focsani, Odobesti, Nicoresti or Panciu; Chiva Toc the wagoner with two sons Nusn and Meer; The Christian wheelers Minciu and Botez; The little shop of Hafner, also a wheeler; Schvaitzer; Iancu Cazac; and Azic Wagner.

After the market, there were Nadler the tailor with two sons Avram and Usher; on the other side of the road there was Sami Schwartz, the barber; Menashe Gorgl; Shulem Rappaport. Next was the police, the school, and the city hall. Then there was Wagner's bakery; a pub; the house of Hershola Schwartz that worked at the city hall. There were some other families near the synagogue: Merele the shoemaker, Moishe Mirtzes the barber; Strul the carter; a tailor; Tugerman Creintzler (one of his sons, Mitras, was the mayor of Mihaileni in 1958).

8. My Dear Shtetl - People and Events

Mihaileni was a mixed ethnical community. Romanians, Jews, Germans, Ukrainians, Lipovenians and an Albanian lived in harmony. Most of them were craftsmen (wheelers, coopers, carpenters, shoemakers, house painters, potters and many other crafts) and of course some merchants, with small or big businesses (of cereals, cattle, chicken, fruit). There were intellectuals too, The poet Jacob Gropper. was born in Mihaileni as well as the novelist Uri Benador, the painter Bartosh, the poet Paun Pincio, the dramatist and translator Petre Manoliu and Idov Cohen whom I mentioned before. The people of Mihaileni were hardworking people who respected each other, and there was practically no anti-Semitism at that time. Of course, among them, the Jews used to speak Yiddish, but all of them knew Romanian, even if many of them used to speak it with mistakes and a characteristic accent. Yiddish was prevalent in Mihaileni, and there were quite a number of non Jews who spoke Yddish very well

The Jewish children used to play together with the Romanian, German and Ukrainian children, they played soccer or played all sorts of games with nuts - one of the games was called "even or odd” and the winner received one nut. We used to make kites together and used to launch them in the air, enjoying their flight. Sometimes we used to smear the cord of the kite with black wax that we got from the shoemakers. Sometimes we took corn cobs from the gardens and baked them on fire to eat or we went together to bathe. During the winter, we used to slide on sledges down the hill, we caught fish in a small lake whose owner was the medical assistant from the hospital. Among other boys, I had a playmate called Stefan Minciu, son of a wheeler, and another playmate called Avrame, son of a gypsy forger. At Christmas, I used to go with Stefan Minciu and other boys to Christian houses and sing Christian carols “Aho! Aho! Copii si frati,..” (“Aho! Aho! Children and brothers..,”). We got money, pound cakes and other delicacies which we gathered in a little knapsack.

The coins of the time had values of 1 leu, 2 lei and 5 lei with the effigy of prince Mihai, the future king. The 10 lei coins had King Carol's effigy. I also had the honor to see the king of that time, once. He passed through Mihaileni in his car and was wearing dress uniform. His stripes were sown with golden thread. His car was preceded by a few other cars and after him there was a long row of cars. The grown ups said he was going through Bucecea on his way to Botosani.

Pohontu's Forest was on the border of Mihaileni and children used to go there to gather a sour herb called "acrish". In that forest, one could hear woodpeckers and other birds that seemed to compete in their chirping, to our delight. We, the children, used to try imitate the birds and the birds also tried somehow to reproduce our sounds. It was a forest concert! They were the same birds whose chirping we heard when we woke up in the morning, when they seemed to announce the beginning of a new day by wishing us a good day and expecting us to wish them good luck in return - they needed luck to survive the herons' attacks.

Everyone that spent his childhood in Mihaileni before the second world war, remembers Mr. Messinger's hall. It was there that, in 1930, the first movie was shown in Mihaileni. I was a pupil at the time, and I remember how excited we were by that soundless film. They also celebrated weddings in that hall, it was there that Shmae Wasserman got married with Rene Grinberg. Entertainment teams from different towns put on their shows in Mr. Messinger's hall. Some of them were in Yiddish. Once, my parents took me to an Yiddish performance and I still remember the words of one of those songs. But each time I begin to sing it, I feel people are yawning. Perhaps my voice resemble the creak of a cart whose wheels lack oil.

There was no TV at that time and the radio was at its beginnings. The first Telefunken set appeared in 1935. Of course, it was only the well-to-do families that could afford a radio set. I remember the first gramophones with round black records and a big funnel out of which emerged the amazing sounds. My father was among those who bought such a thing, and whenever he played it, people gathered near our window, amazed by such a singing contraption.

I remember how the 10th of May was celebrated {10th of May was a national Romanian holyday celebrating the ascension of Carol 1st to the throne as well as the independence of Romania}. The pupils used to go with their schoolmaster to the Toloca {this was the common pasture grounds of the town}. There we engaged in calisthenics and races. In the evening we watched the parade of the frontier guards on the main street. The barracks of the 3rd Regiment of Frontier Guards were at the barrier towards Siret-Cernautzi and the soldiers marched from one end of the town up to the other. They were singing a song from which I remember the words: “I am a frontier guard, frontier guard, I always walk on foot. In rain, in storms, I am an agile frontier guard, in war I am a frontier guard...” They also used to sing "On our flag it's written union, union in mind and feelings...” At school, the schoolmaster Iadlin had taught us the royal anthem “Long live the king, in peace and honor...” Iadlin was very meticulous and when we sang he used to watch the children's lips to be sure that all of them were singing. I seem to see him even now, after more than six decades. He used to sing with us some other popular songs of the time, like: “The leaf has rusted in the vineyard and the swallows have left...”

For one and a half year I worked as an apprentice at the Bank of Small Credit and Economy. The bank director was Meir Vexler. Among the bank staff there was a cashier called Anna Herscovici. The bank president was Oscar Haiches, the vice-president was Iosif Tilinger, whom I remember as a calm, well controlled man. Among the leading staff of the bank, there were also Iancu Cazac, Godl Grinberg, Hershcu Shalet. Sometimes I attended their meetings. The merchants were credited with 20000 lei for six months. The money had to be given back in four installments of 3333 lei and two installments of 3334 lei each. Other people - carters, tailors, other workers - could get only 2000 lei for six months. The merchants used to give back the money in due time. Some of the workers could not pay their bills and, on such occasions, they were prosecuted and I used to be sent to observe the trial in court. There, I saw the old judge, whose wife was a school principal. I also saw there Mr. Manastereanu, the future mayor of Mihaileni. After Vexler left for Tecuci, the bank director was somebody that came from Dorohoi, and after him someone from Targu Frumos.

When I started to work at the bank, about 1933, a gold finch entered the room through the open window and sat down on the stove. It was beautiful, in splendid colors, and did not seem to be frightened at all. It was looking around curious about its surroundings. I had some seeds available and I fed the bird. In the office there was a clean empty box of Roberts sardines and I poured some water in it and gave it to the bird. Since then the gold finch was visiting us daily. It was so used to me that very often it was sitting on my shoulder or on the ink pot on my desk. It was chirruping and everybody liked its chirrups. It stayed with us throughout the winter. In March, it became agitated, it turned around and it seemed to ask us to free him to fly into the world. I felt as if it was telling me: “Open up! I want to get out! I want to be free to fly wherever I want, toward my own kind, to those the same as me, so that I can love, and have progenies, to tell them how I spent the winter with some people, how they fed me, in warmth! Open the window! Naturally, I opened the window and the gold finch took off and never returned. I used to remember this event later when, in the Soviet Union, I was fighting to obtain the permit to emigrate to Israel.

One of the houses of Mihaileni which I loved to look at was that of the policemen Grigore Ungureanu. He had a number of houses but the one I was interested in was the one in whose attic there was a dovecote with ten pairs of doves.

Once he came to me and asked me what am I looking at. I told him and he asked me if I liked doves. I replied that I do and then he asked me which one do I like the most. Without any hesitation I told him that I like the playful dove with red spots on his wings, and which, I thought, has no mate. I took from Ungureanu a female dove with black and white spots, and put her in the same bird cage with a red male dove, but with its wings tied down so that she could not fly away. One day the female dove fell out of the bird cage and a cat got hold of her. The cat wanted to run away with her but I followed them and managed to rescue the bird. The poor thing was bitten by the cat and wounded. I took care of her and returned to see her often until the eggs appeared. Then I let her go and she flew straight to Ungureanu's dovecote. She used to come back from time to time to bring water for the chicks in her beak. She took care of them until they started to fly.

One evening I took the cage with the chicks and showed them to Mr. Ungureanu. He was a good man and we became friends. Sometimes he used to take me fishing. Ghitza, his son, died in the war, somewhere at the end of Russia. What need did it serve for a Romanian soldier to reach there ? May God forgive him!

There are many other stories that one could tell about Mihaileni of that time! About a Catholic priest that, in order to keep body and soul together, used to visit periodically the cities and the villages of the region and clean the chimney of the houses. A knife grinder also used to visit the town periodically and sharpen the knifes and the scissors of the people. Gypsies also visited our town periodically. They used to tin the big caldrons in which one used to make an excellent jam.

People were happy when a strong rain came in the middle of summer. The atmosphere became cooler, the earth got strength and the inconvenience due to the puddles could not diminish the feeling of joy. For the children, the joy was even greater. As soon as the rain stopped, the town seemed to be seized by a deep rumble. The children came out of the houses barefooted and jumped from one puddles to another, enjoying late drops of rain which they called “little umbrellas". My pigeons also used to bathe in the puddles. They flew back on the roof of the house and again came down to the puddles. Some of them got so wet that they couldn't fly any more! I collected them from the ground and putt them in the garret, in their nests.

The president of the Jewish Community in Mihaileni was Mr. Moishe Steiner, a rich man who used to help the poor of the shtetl. I am mentioning him with respect. Recently I talked about him with his grandson, Dr. Artur Hecht, researcher at the National Institute of Oceanography in Haifa. I met Dr. Hecht to help him in a quite uncommon project of his: the reconstruction of the town of Mihaileni on a map, the way it was in the years of my childhood, before the damages of the second world war, Dr. Hecht, who is younger than me, is interested in the genealogy of the Jews of Mihaileni. I have described to him the streets and the smaller alleys, I told him the names of the inhabitants. I am sure the map he is going to prepare and the entire work in which he is engaged are going to arise interest of the people born in Mihaileni.

Avrum Leib was employed by the Jewish Community of Mihaileni to heat the stones that made the steam in the steam bath, and to fetch and carry things needed by the community in his one horse cart. He died relatively young. After his death, there was a great fuss in the town when his carter job was taken up by his wife. There was never a woman carter in the town before and this was “iotze mihaklal” (uncommon) as they say. The woman had a son, Natan, but he was a barber and they decided that having the mother work with the cart would be more profitable for the family. Natan was not very busy and while waiting for clients he used to play the violin - which was very appreciated by the other merchants, and especially so by Rahmil, who was selling fried seeds and mineral water. Natan also liked to play for the ears of a beautiful girl whose two brothers were tailors (Hersh and Leib). In Kiriat Bialik there is a family called Hertzanu with a daughter which was the one courted by Natan at the time.

The songs that were fashionable at the time were: “A train has come in the station and with it my love has come too,..", “Drive on carter and lead me into the night...” , "Ionel, Ionelule...” as well as a song with a more local character: "From Botosani up to Dorohoi, people talk about Curoi...” Curoi was a legendary character, a sort of local Robin Hood that stole from the rich to give to the poor. Many people talked with amusement and sympathy about his deeds. They said Queen Mary herself acted in his favor when he was eventually arrested by the police. But who knows nowadays what was true?

I remember the melodies of those songs and sometimes, when I am in a good mood, I hum them. The fact is, when one is still able to hum a song, one feels better, pleasant memories give strength, one may forget for instance that one of the knees does not perform its duty and long walks becomes painful.

From time to time, a photographer came to Mihaileni. He used to sit in the market and arrange his backdrops. He had a painted wooden car. In front of the driving wheel, there was a driver without a head. The clients went in the back of the painted car and sat down in such a way that their own head seemed to replace the driver's head. Thus, one could receive a photo in which he or she looked as if driving a car.

The venerable Huna Cocosh, now in Haifa and more than 85 years old, was the first - and for a long time the only one - who owned a car in Mihaileni. With that car he was making a living carrying people to where they needed and sometimes driving out of town, as far as Cernovitz. He also drove people in cases of accidents or other emergencies. That car was mended by Meshulam, Huna's brother. Poor Meshulam was the victim of an accident. While he was working under the car, he set the car on some bricks and removed a wheel. Unfortunately, the bricks broke and the car fell down on the poor man, killing him.

From time to time, a merry-go-round visited the town, to the children's delight. We took rides on its chairs and everybody shouted. The children who sat on the chairs were secured with a chain, lest they fall out as the merry go round revolved. At the time there was no electricity in Mihaileni, so that two or three boys were turning the machine with a crank. When you had no more money to sit on the merry-go-round, you could extend your fun by joining the gang at the crank. After working for three turns you could mount on a chair for one turn. This way you could amuse yourself without money, but with an effort.

When Wexler, the Bank director, was moved to Tecuci, he was replaced by a young man from Dorohoi. He was good looking and wore a mustache that suited him well. He was 30 and single. He was living in a rented room at the Mitelman family. In the same building, there was also a pub kept by a Christian. One could eat there tasty cheap food. One day, Iosif Tilingher told the new bank director it would be better if he ate in another pub, at Peretz's, where the food was kosher. The director followed the advice, but after a while he complained he did not get enough food at the new pub. He said he was not satisfied with a soup and a little chicken meat. He got used to a vegetable soup with meat and fat, not with a few vermicelli or noodles floating in warm plain water. He said that he had to go in the evening to another pub and eat some ham or meat balls. His landlady, Mrs. Mitelman, was a woman of about 60, very pedant with her dressing. Several times, when I came to her house early in the morning, she was already made up and her hair set. She was helped in the housework by Costel, a strong young man dressed in a Romanian national costume, whom she was instructing what to do.

Once, the young director sent me to the Haiches family with a note. They had three unmarried daughters for whom they had not found yet any suitable grooms. The most beautiful of them was the youngest, but she could not get married before her elder sisters were married. Had the new director any intention to marry one of the girls? I confess I would have liked to know, but the secret was well kept. The bank director was frequently visited by a young judge that also came from Dorohoi. The judge came to borrow money. He had a passion for gambling and he used to lose money at poker, bridge, some other games called 66 and 21. He gave the money back, but immediately afterwards he came again to borrow some more. After he got the approval, he took the money from the cashier Anna Hershkovitz.

In Mihaileni there were two brothers who were shoemakers -Iuchel and Mershl. The former arranged in his workshop some kind of a dais - about half a meter high - on which he worked. He also made for himself a chair of leather belts; it was more comfortable to sit down on it for 8-10 hours a day, than to sit on a wooden chair They were brothers, but they were also competitors. There wasn't too much work to do and sometimes Iuchel had the impression that Mershl took his clients. When it happened, he used to stop in front of his brother's workshop and swore at him in Yiddish: “Let the devil take your father and the father of your father!". There is an old Romanian saying: “A brother is a brother, but the cheese costs money” (which in English means “business is business”).

There were some sick people in the town that were said to be “touched at the skull” or to lack "a little leaf in the brain". They used to ramble along the streets and talk nonsense. One of them used to shout “I have 20 lei, I don't have a girl” and then he added “I have a girl, I don't have money". But such cases were very rare, the most common disease in Mihaileni (I suppose in other places too) was tuberculosis. It afflicted the poor in particular, but even the well-to-do families were not protected against it. I remember the cattle merchant Avrum, who was also a student at the faculty of veterinary medicine and whom I knew when we both joined the Zionist organization Betar. He died of tuberculosis when he was in the army at the 7th Cavalry Regiment in Botosani. His father went to Botosani to bring him home and bury him in our town cemetery. Avrum's mother and sister also died of tuberculosis. At that time there were no antibiotics, and none of the electronic apparatus to which we are used to today.

I also had another friend at Betar, Leizer Steiner. He was from a very rich family (Moishe Steiner, whom I mentioned above). I remember that in Mihaileni there was a society called C.T.S. (Cetatea Tineretului Sionist - The Citadel of the Zionist Youth) I used to go there very often in the evenings, and we enjoyed ourselves. The CTS leader was Usher, the son of a tailor whose name was probably Hersh Pisc. Usher had an elder brother who was a musician. Some evenings I used to go to Betar, where they sang songs about Jabotinski and Trumpeldor. At Betar, the leaders were Avrum Schwartz the son of Lobechi and Leizer Steiner.

I remember another sensational happening. It was in 1933 or 1934 and a daughter of Velvl Shapses Coval came from Roman to pay a visit to our town. She was married with a typesetter who after a while became a clerk at the city hall of Roman. The day after she came to Mihaileni, the young woman stepped outside her parents house and threw herself on the ground, tossing about and shouting all sorts of things that could be heard up to the border of the town. The barber Godl Grinberg saw what happened and ran to Dr. Ion Costin to bring him there, He came but did not interfere. He told the people around, that if the woman has enough strength to toss about and shout, he does not have to help her. He advised people to pour cold water on her to make her come to her senses. That is what it happened. It was in 1935, at Roman, when I learned that the reason for that show was that her mother refused to give her more money out of the estate of her late father. I knew that woman's brother, Buium, who also loved pigeons very much. The pigeons filled the whole garret of their house. But Buium's mother liked to eat young pigeon chicks that could not yet fly. Buium immigrated to Israel and spent his last years in Even Yehuda.

Once, when I was a pupil in the elementary school, a coffin was placed in the passage of the school and in it there was the body of Chislinger. Perhaps his family did not want to pay the money for the funeral, but in the end they reached a compromise with the local community and he was buried in the town's Jewish cemetery. Today, there are two black marble tombstones in that cemetery: one is that of Chislinger and the other one of Clara Steiner, who was Moishe Steiner's wife. I remember that when Clara died, each person who crossed his threshold to offer his condolences received a black bread and 50 lei for the soul of the departed one. The two tombstones were still there in 1958, when I went to the cemetery to visit my grandfather's tomb.

Once, a 8-10 years old boy called Iosala, found a banknote of 500 lei. His mother Blecherche was Calman Blecher's widow. The man who lost the banknote was a rich man, the owner of a large wine store. Iosala returned the money and the man gave the child 10 lei. That honest woman preferred a clean conscience to the money, although she needed the money more than the rich man, especially before Pessah.

Traveling salesman, who traveled throughout Moldavian towns, had a special status in the life of the town. The inhabitants used to ask them about those that left Mihaileni for other towns. The traveling salesman asked for a description of the subject of the enquiry: what is he doing, what does he look like, how does he dress, and then disclosed whether they saw him or not. The traveling salesman had an exceptional memory, and did not ask for any reward for their information. Apparently, they liked to talk and have an audience.

The shtetl had its beggars too. They knocked on doors or entered the store and, with dignity, stretch their palms, they accepted the alms, thanked the giver and went on. Some of them were locals, some of them wandered from town to town and city to city. They knew who gave and who did not. Some of them maintained their families only through begging. I remember a story in which a beggar received nothing from the business man who always used to give him a few pennies. The business man explained sadly that his business has failed, he was bankrupt and he is closing the shop. Annoyed the beggar complained: “O.K., but how did you dare to go bankrupt? Did you ever spare a thought for me or my family?”

Motor vehicles seldom traversed the town except the small buses that belonged to the brothers Trau and could transport 6-8 passengers on the route Dorohoi - Cernovitz. One morning, a big truck came into Mihaileni and crossed it very fast through the main street, Carol 1st. It hit two horses and seriously injured a peasant who was in the cart. The peasant was going to die. His wife was not far away, on her way to the market, with her arms full of poultry and a big basket of eggs. When she was told what happened, the woman did not lose her temper. She did not leave her load to run to her hurt husband. She continued her journey to the market, saying that she had to sell the goods, otherwise she won't be able to pay for the candles and coffin. I admired then that simple woman with such a great deal of self control. Incidentally, the story took place in front of Aron Cohen's shop (the father of Idov Cohen).

At the Regenstreif pottery they filled a cart with goods and the carter Franz Schultz mounted the coach and set off towards Cernovitz. On the road, the cart began to lean to one side. Schultz jumped down and tried to support it with his shoulder. But the goods were heavy and the cart fell down over Schultz, killing him. His father could not come to the funeral, because he was paralyzed and confined to his bed.

Hershku Shallot, seems to have been a very unlucky man. While visiting to his brother in Bucecea, he found his brother's pistol. Unwittingly, he shot a bullet in his own knee. Some other time, when he was feeding the cattle, an ox gored one of his eyes. He asked Huna, the only owner of a car in Mihaileni, to take him to Cernovitz to an ophthalmologist.

I remember the case of Zagar the carter. I think it was 1934 when his body was found in a well in the village Rogosheshti about 4 km from Mihaileni. When the word got around I think that all the people of Mihaileni, me included, went to Rogosheshti to the site. People were wondering whether it was an accident, a suicide or a crime. When I reached the fountain, Zagar's daughter arrived too. When she saw her father drowned, she began to hit her head with her fists and shouted that her father had been killed by Flondor the landlord. According to her, Zagar was driving his cart on a narrow path and when the landlord's carriage came from behind and Zagar did not move out of the way immediately to let him through. But after that, the barber Chitaru Moishe said that Zagar had borrowed 3000 lei from the landlord to buy a horse and could not give the money back and he thought that this was the cause of his death. There is a saying: “People have free mouths...” and gossip gets around.

But there is an unexpected continuation of this story. Some time I received a phone call from a young lady from Beer Sheva who knew that I was an old resident of Mihaileni and she asked me about the Zagar family. That lady is a great-granddaughter of Zagar and wanted details about her mother between 1943 to 1944. I could not help her, since during that period I was in Siberia and I named somebody else who lived in Mihaileni during the period she was interested in.

I do not know if Zagar was murdered or not. However, from my childhood I remember the great excitement caused by the murder of Dunbrava, a rich peasant from that region. That man drunk with a neighbor, they drunk too much and on the road, about 2-3 km from Mihaileni, they began to quarrel. That neighbor cut Dunbrava's head with a scythe. The two families hated each other for a while, but life has its own laws and after some time the murderer's daughter married the victim's son.

There were four brothers in the town and all of them were merchants: Lobec, Ancel, Ionel and Itizc. Itzic was the youngest and used to carry a thick stick with him. He hated Iancu Cojocar, I do not remember why. One day he declared that he is going to beat up Iancu. Walking slowly down the street, Itzic passed the house of his brother Ancel, Ancel's wife was talking with some other women and when she saw her brother-in-law asked him where he was going. Itic answered he is going to break Iancu Cojocaru's head and showed her the stick. To which the woman responded “Itzic, farshter nisht dam Shabes!” (Itic do not transgress the Sabbath) Itzic stopped short, thought for a little while, and then without a word, he turned around and went home. Ancel's house was close to ours and I witnessed this scene. That was some 70 years ago, and I think, now, how great it would be if all the conflicts between people and all bloodshed could be prevented by a few words.

One day, Shimshon, an American born in Mihaileni, returned to the town. He was the brother of Perla (the latter was the mother of Moishe Itzic the barber which I mentioned before). "The American” as he was called in the town, brought many beautiful presents and everybody was talking about them. Shimshon was bored in Perla's house and spent part of his time in Hershcovici's pub. Anybody who entered the pub and talked a few words with the American was invited to a glass of plum brandy or wine. At the time, there was an order that all the shops had to be closed between 1 and 3. One day, Shimshon noticed from inside the pub a policeman who intended to fine a merchant who was selling candles and did not close his shop at 1. He went out of the pub and tried to convince the policeman waive the fine. The policeman refused and they began to quarrel. Suddenly, Shimshon slapped the policeman. The latter did not react and probably did not know what to do. I think he wanted to avoid a scandal with the American and so he went back to his post. Shimshon realized he did something wrong (how could he slap the man of the law?), he went to the policeman and talked with him, probably asked to be forgiven and gave him some money, the fine that the merchant would have had to pay, probably even more. When they parted, the policeman saluted him.

I mentioned before the call of the young lady Beer Sheva. Also from Beer Sheva I received a call from a young man, asking me to witness at the Rabbinate that he was a Jew. I was glad to help him. However, I also told him that in the third volume of the Dorohoi books I wrote about Coca Buchbinder, his mother, who was my school-mate at the Israeli-Romanian school, and that could also be used as proof of his jewishnes, moreover I also knew his grand-parents. They rented a room to Mr. Leibovici from Targu Frumos who was appointed director of the Bank of Small Credit and Economy in our town. Mr. Buchbinder, Coca's father, was also the accountant of the Jewish Community of Mihaileni. His house was in the middle of a beautiful garden with fruit trees.

I remember the tragedy of the Platner family. The head of that family, who owned a shop, left for Bolivia to earn more money. People said that there he established another family. Mrs. Platner took care of the shop by herself and looked after her children - two beautiful blond boys, loved by everybody. Suddenly, within a few days only, both children died of dysentery. A lot of people came to their funerals and cried.

Moina Covrigaru, whom I mentioned earlier, lives in Haifa and has a barber's shop on Nordau street. We are related through his former wife, Rachel, God bless her memory. Moina is one of Shmerl Beighel Baker {which translated to Romanian is Covrigaru} sons. The latter had a big family - four sons and two daughters. Beside Moina, there is a brother of his, Shloima, who also lives in Haifa.

I already mentioned Pitei, who lived behind the house of the families Shmil Chetolah and Naftelberg. From his house the second downtown street began, officially called the New street. Pitei was a housepainter, but he also painted carts and carriages. On the sides of the carts he painted ornaments and on the back boards he painted flowers that seemed to be real. He was talented and the ornaments he made were appreciated by the people. Those peasants who could afford to buy a cart did not try to save money when they wanted to decorate their new acquisition of which they were proud. In front of Pitei's workshop there was a wire cage with two pigeons. They were wild pigeons, not house pigeons. They were beige, with black dots on their neck. I think that if he dealt with real painting instead of cart painting, Pitei could have made a brilliant carrier, and perhaps today people would have sold in auction some pictures with flowers signed by Pitei! The house painter was a shy man and asked for little money for his works. He was happy if he had work, to feed his family (a wife and two boys; I was on friendly terms with the boys and I went with them to sing Christmas carols).

Pitei's neighbors were the Wagner family, who were Christians. They were the only Romanians in Mihaileni with such a name and considered themselves Romanians and not Germans. Other people were called Wagner too, but they were either Jews or Germans.

On the same street there were the houses of the Botez family. One of Mr. Botez' daughters was marred with the chief of the local police. Mr. Botez had four boys, all of them respected wheelers, that earned their bread by their work.

After the Botez family, there was another Christian family. The head of that family was once a police sergeant and then he became a post office clerk. They had a boy called Nicuta.

Then there was Hreniuc's house, with five people: the parents, two daughters and a son. Lenuta, one of the daughters, was 14-15 and she was a beauty. She was courted by a number of Christian pupils. Their house was back to back with ours. Hreniuc was considered to be a well-to-do man. He was hardworking and worked together with his family from dawn to dusk. He owned a sort of pub in the market. The peasants who came in town to sell their goods would eat there soup, jelly, sausages, and fresh bread at reasonable prices. People ate in the courtyard, in a former stable that had been renovated. Hreniuc also had a few little pieces of land near his house and there he grew vegetables, as well as corn, cabbage, potatoes, beet roots, sunflowers (sometimes the children used to help themselves to the sunflowers). On the roof of his house there were pigeons and in his courtyard he had bee hives. Once some of the bees flew away from their hive, crossed over a few courtyards and reached the edge of the roof of Josef Iacovici's house. The latter was a lady's tailor. When Mr. Hreniuc found out that the bees flew away, he put on a hat with a wide brim with powdered sugar on it, and covered his face in with thin cloth with only two holes for the eyes. He went up to the house where the bees laid, climbed up a ladder toward the roof. The sugar attracted the bees and they crowded on the brim of his hat. Thus, he brought them back to their hive.

Next there was a house where an old lady lived with her granddaughter, then a house with a gypsy family, whom I visited sometimes. Next to them, lived Soltana, an old midwife who assisted at my birth and to that of my brother's and sister's. She had an additional employment. On Saturday, she used to go to a few religious Jewish families to kindle the fire and for that she was rewarded with food.

Near the meadow, there were a few other houses inhabited by Christians and Jews. It is there that my grandparents lived, and near by there was a grain store belonging to Oishie Haikes, where I used to gather grains for my pigeons who turned somersaults in their flight. Unfortunately, sometimes the pigeons were caught by herons. On the same street, there was the house of a German called Rudic - sometimes I exchanged pigeons with his son. There were nine synagogues on that one little street.

Another family in the neighborhood was that of Sarbu, the brick layer - a good craftsman, especially sought after for stove building. He knew how to make stoves that heated the rooms that had no fire. The poor man had a tragic end. During a Pessah period, he was very hungry and ate 30 eggs, then died in great pains, of constipation. At that time there were not so many polyclinics, no ambulances that one could call by phone to take patients to the emergency rooms -- and even when they began to function, not everybody could afford such services.

I mentioned food many time in these pages. I remember that, after immigrating to Israel, it took me a lot of time to get used to the fact that people are throwing out bread. Maybe I was still under the influence of the years of war and the years immediately after the war when decent bread was a rare thing for many people in the Soviet Union. I remember Khrushchev saying once that each crumb of bread must be gathered and eaten. Even now, I have the feeling that it is a sin to throw away bread.

Moshe Meraru, Menashe Meraru's son, seemed to have no occupation. One evening, when I came back from Siret and saw him on the bridge with a girl. They were kissing each other ignoring other passers-by, which at the time was not a common thing, as it is now. After a while, when I came from Siret on a shorter way, I met him and could observe him better. He was very well dressed, in an expensive beige suit, and he was wearing a tie. He was eight or ten years older than me and I was surprised he was so elegant and was even wearing gloves. He was smoking and he lit his cigarette with a lighter. On the road, he took out a pistol from his pocket and gave it to me, telling me I should not be afraid, “Er shist nisht” (that is “it does not shoot”). It was for the first time that I saw a pistol that close. After many years, in Haifa, I met Leib, an elder brother of Moshe's. As we talked about Moshe, his brother said with a sigh: “I wonder in which prison he remained". I asked in wonder “Why?” and he answered “He was arrested, I do not know why”

As you can see, the people of Mihaileni had many children of their own, they did not adopt children from other towns or countries. The parents took care of their children, their food, health, and education, including Judaic education. They strived to have their children to learn a profession in order to be able to support themselves and the family they were going to found. Most of the children became craftsmen, some of them became clerks. Unfortunately, few of them could learn more than four to seven classes. School was not free and there were very poor families for whom even the day to day food was a great problem. Moreover, one of the great family problems was saving for a dowry, especially for girls.

The fashionable cigarettes of the time were Plugari, Carpati, Marasheshti, and seldom Golf. Three Plugari cigarettes were 1 leu, they were the cheapest and most popular ones. Poor people used to buy with 5 lei little tobacco bags with 50 little pieces of paper. They put a few strands of tobacco in a piece of paper and rolled the paper in their fingers. If there were no more pieces of paper and still some tobacco left, they used pieces of newspaper. But the Jews did not dare to smoke in public during the Sabbath. If the rabbi found out about it, he called them and scolded them.

Near our home, across the street, was the tax collector's office. As far as I remember, the tax collector was Mr. Dumitriu and his helper was Lucala. The latter used to beat the drum when they went to collect taxes

Some time ago while traveling by bus from Haifa to Tel Aviv, as part of the delegation that was going to offer the book of Dorohoi to the Romanian ambassador. I started to talk to Aurel Schwaitzer, also born in Mihaileni. He was in Transnistria. During his deportation there he met a soldier from the same town. He was the son of Lucola, the man who beat the drum when the tax collector came to collect the unpaid taxes in the village. The soldier knew Aurel's father and he told him: "Stay near me, and you'll remain alive” He gave him food and took care of him (Aurel was a child at the time). This is how Aurel survived, with the help of a Romanian soldier from Mihaileni. He told me he often thinks at that humane man in those inhuman times.

It sometimes happened that some valuable things belonging to people who had not paid their debts to the state were put on the streets and sold on auction. But it wasn't a real auction, they divided the things between them. Once, they took something out of our house too, a beautiful green table, and my elder brother Shloima got angry and wanted to beat up the tax collector. But he cooled down, because the tax collector was always accompanied by a guardian, Mr. Grigoreala, who had a pistol on his belt, and only God knows if it was charged or not. Grigoreala spoke Yiddish too. When he saw my brother becoming angry he talked with him and calmed him down.

One of the carpenters that worked for a while for my father was called Spanu {the glabrous}. He lived beyond the barrier, on the right hand, near the little house of old Hoishie Hecht. Spanu did not like the work. My father told him once that he was a "good for-nothing” and it stuck to him as a nickname. Instead of working, he often used to stay on the street and gossip with people. He liked to spend his time near my father's workshop too. When the Iron Guards came to power, Spanu joined their party and gave himself airs. He had a brother who lived on the second street uptown, opposite the foundry of Velmola Shopsas. That brother of his was a respected man, but unfortunately he was unlucky. His wife and child died and he had put up a beautiful tombstone for them at the Biserica de Sus {The Upper Church}. People who passed by the pottery could see their monument - a woman with a child in her arms.

* Note from Gideon Keren (Croitoru): My grandfather was Shmil Croitoru and he had 6 sons : David, Leib (Haim), Hersh (Zvi), Efraim, Moshe, Rubin, and a daughter Tzipora (Tizli). Return


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