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My Family Story
Honoring and Preserving the Memory of our Loved Ones

"Even though many of our loved ones have passed away, in many different ways, in subtle and not so subtle ways, they had a profound impact on our lives. Many of us continue to talk about them, about their lives and the relationship we had with them. By engaging in this story telling, we show our love for them and keep their memory alive. It shows that their lives were so very important, not only to us, but to others, that they made an important contribution to the world. By striving to tell their story in this way, we honor their memory."



Ida and Michael Lasky
(Chaike Bornstein and Michal Lasky)

This photograph was taken of Ida and Michael Lasky, who at the time of this photograph were attending the wedding of their son Sam Lasky at his home in Brooklyn, New York. Sam had proudly served in the United States Armed Forces and had been discharged earlier in the year. Michael had emigrated from Zambrow, Russia (now Poland) in 1902, leaving his wife Ida (mostly likely from Lomza, Poland) and their young daughter Jean (Sheina) in Europe for a time.

Like many, Michael left his wife and daughter and came to countries like the United States first, hoping to find accommodation and work, and perhaps to raise the money that would be needed to bring over whatever family he had back in Eastern Europe. Ida and Jean emigrated in 1904.

I never got a chance to meet my paternal grandparents, as they passed away a few years before I was born. My father talked little of them, except for the fact that he said that every time my father walked down a flight of steps with his mother, she'd slap him across the head (perhaps an exaggeration), Even though I was threatened to be hit by my father, I never was (I really was a good kid!).


So that is all I knew about her, although I learned much more after-the-fact, as my foray into family genealogy has led me to conduct my own family research. I've spoken to cousins I hadn't seen since I became a bar-mitzvah boy, as well as to cousins I only first met as a result of my research.

Now to more of what I know about them. It seems that Ida was the breadwinner in the family, and that Michael davened (prayed) most all the day. Years ago Ida used to be part of the "I Carry Clothes" set, where she would walk around town, selling clothes that she was carrying on her back. I'm told she also did plenty of estate sales, where people would bring in clothes which she would buy "on the cheap," and she would turn around and try to sell them to others. I was told that she would stand on a table (my father still in her womb), and conduct her estate sale!

Her nickname was "Chaika," or to some fellow merchants, "Queen Ida." My cousin Harvey would tell me that she used to rub red crepe paper on her cheeks to give her more of a ruddy complexion.

Just to illustrate how one never knows where one will find relevant information on a relative, here is part of a syndicated article, featuring my grandmother, which made it to a number of newspapers around the country. I found it in a Utica, New York newspaper. The article talks about a building on Elizabeth Street in Lower Manhattan where "collectors of cast-off clothing...flock into Elizabeth Street the the old clothes exchange, a block from the Bowery in the fringe of Chinatown."

"Within a dinging room, dealers sit along a wide bench. The collectors stream in with armfuls of worn garments for which they have bargained dearly at apartment doors from Coney Island to the Bronx."

Later on, in the section entitled "Prosperous Queen Ida," it is written:

One woman, Ida Lasky, known to her intimates as "Hiker," and to her colleagues as "the Queen," in among New York's 2,000 collectors of old clothes...when she goes out on Sunday in her mink coat and her fine sedan, her six children--three of them married--are mighty proud...

"I bet you she's got $500 in that stocking plant now," exclaimed Max, as she paused besides me

"Ha," she retorted, dodging away with a laugh and lifting her shirt high enough to disguise a wad of bills nestled against her kneecap "Five hundred and eighty dollars."

So an interesting find no? I think this article was published in 1926 or so.

Michael was very religious. Once the both of them owned a tailor shop in Brooklyn, and he did some sewing.

And it was his job on Friday night to prepare potatoes and I think borscht for the family. He also liked to collect match books.

So you can see that whether through a newspaper article, or from family members, one can learn a lot, even though one might have known little about them during our childhood years. Sorry I never got to meet them!


next: Flora and Harry Ness >>>



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