In 2006 I took my mother to Poland and we visited the towns that her parents had come from. When we saw one particularly dilapidated house just outside of Tykocin, we proclaimed that it was the ancestral manse.
In the U.S., my grandparents lived in an apartment in the Bronx. I still remember the address of the building - 1950 Andrews Avenue. It was a short walk from Grandpa’s store (S. Lubowsky, Jeweler) at West Burnside and Jerome. In the other direction, you could walk to what was then the uptown campus of NYU. Now it’s Bronx Community College. The Hall of Fame of Great Americans is still there. The main place I remember going to with Grandpa was the Bronx Zoo, which I still think is one of the best zoos in the world. But that wasn’t within walking distance.
I only have vague memories of the apartment itself. I don’t think I ever saw their bedroom, but the second bedroom had been my uncle’s and my mother had been relegated to sleeping in what was, essentially, a walk-in closet. Sheer sexism at work, given that she was older. I am fairly sure there was a sewing machine there and my great-uncle’s mandolin was propped against a wall for no apparent reason.
I don’t really remember the kitchen either. I think there was a heavy wooden dining room table. I know the living room had a fairly comfortable sofa. Mostly, there were bookshelves, with Grandpa’s volumes of the Talmud. There was also a liquor cabinet with bottles of slivovitz.
After Grandma died, Grandpa decided to try to improve his English. He met a woman in his ESL class who he could speak Yiddish with and they married. I am fairly sure she moved into that apartment. But, later on, they moved to Co-op City, which is also in the Bronx. I suspect I have merged memories of the Co-op City apartment with the earlier one.
My father spent his career working on public housing. 1950 Andrews Avenue eventually showed up on a list of buildings for the city to take over and renovate. Based on the image on google maps, it looks fairly well kept nowadays. I am guessing that the area is still immigrant heavy, but I haven’t been in the West Bronx in at least 40 years.
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