Telling Our Stories


Most of us have lived most of our lives in most of the 20th century. It was a time when mass migration brought many of our parents or grandparents—or, perhaps even ourselves—from Eastern Europe to the shores of North America. It was a time when H’s horrible Holocaust took relatives of most of our families. It was a time when the almost 2,000 year-old dream of establishing a free homeland became a reality.

Just like the times in America when “Westward Ho!” was “The Call of the Wild” and lure of better times, so was the migration to America—the land of freedom.

Most of our youngsters do not know what is a rumble seat, a running board on a car or what it is to start a car by cranking.

Most of our youngsters do not know what it is to dampen a stove by turning the flue, shaking down a stove, or removing the ashes.

Most of our youngsters never saw or heard the milkman deliver milk to the doorstep, have the iceman bring a cube of ice for the icebox, or have the doctor pay a house call.

Do YOU remember going down the hall to the telephone hung on the wall? Do you remember when you finally did get a phone in your house or apartment and it was a party line?

Just like many of us may never had to hitch a team of horses, pluck a chicken, churn butter, bake a khale, or stuff a heldzl, so to are many of the things that we have done that are unknown to our children and grandchildren.

There are many Mamas, just like the one that Fishele had, with stories of their own and how they affected your future. Some day one of your children or grandchildren will write about you and tell how you were the storyteller, the fountain of strength, or the inspiration for him or her.

Why To Do It

Only you know your full story and it will be very meaningful to your children and grandchildren as fond memories of you and what you have endured and accomplished.

What To Do

Collect all the old photographs, letters, jewelry, candlesticks, etc. and label them so their origin is known and the names of each person is clearly identified.

If you feel that you are not able to write or do not care to do so, either dictate it to a relative, friend or if need be, pay a professional.

How To Do It

Have a signed document and be specific who gets each item. This often is the source of a family feud. A particular object may have sentimental value far beyond its monetary worth.

Have your life story divided into key periods. There is no one right number or right way. Everyone has had key periods or turning points that have had a major effect such as coming to America, getting married, losing a loved one, a life-threatening event, or turning point in your career.

When To Do It

Start as soon as you possibly can—after having read this issue of Der Bay.