Debra Price <dsprice@...>
About 1920, when my father was about 10 years old, the family left from
what is now Ukraine and headed for the U.S. Here is an excerpt >from his
autobiography describing the land portion of the trip.
"My father, mother, brother Yosel with his wife Rosie and infant son
Jack, brothers Dave and Benchik, sisters Entzie and Pola, and I loaded hired
wagons and left Proskurov at night, for going through the villages and
fields was dangerous by day. (My brother Charlie was already in the U.S.)
We were headed for a stop-over in Lemberg, Poland. We planned to go via
Romania, which was the longer way, because the Polish border was closed due
to roving bands of bandits. However, when we got to the border we could not
proceed further because the bridges were being guarded by Bolshevik
revolutionaries and they did not permit anyone to leave. We were able to
rent a room for all of us which was to be for only a day or two until the
bridges would be reopened.
The town was soon overflowing with people but the bridges were not
reopened. Illegal border crossing was the only option available. Dave,
Benchik, and Entzie decided to cross the turbulent river in flat boats rowed
by two peasants. At a given signal during the night when the guards walked
off for a short while they made a quick dash for the boats and took off. The
boats were loaded down with as many people as possible, all lying huddled
together, so that the water was practically at the level of the boat. Entzie
said that she did not know where her brothers were until Dave coughed, as he
always did. So as not to give away their location, the peasant buried
Dave's head between his legs and put his hand over his mouth. When they got
to Romania on the other side of the river they had to climb the Carpathian
Mountains on foot. Once over the mountains, they hired horses and buggies
which drove them to their destination-Lemberg.
Those of us who remained stuck on the other side of the river spent six
weeks in filth, misery, hunger, and lice. I was full of lice. At night I
would sit and kill them >from my shirts and underwear. The worst off was
Polia, my younger sister. I would try to clean her head, which was full of
sores and lice. My parents sold some of our belongings to buy food. The
Jewish population was small and poor so they could not help us much.
Eventually we were told that it was at that time impossible to go to Romania
but that the Polish border was accessible at certain spots in the mountains.
We packed and left.
Getting to the Polish border was not difficult but at the border we
found that it was to be an illegal crossing over the mountain and on the
other side wagons would take us to the town. Of course, during the night,
when the moon was not bright. The mountain was steep, covered with ice. We
slid backwards more than we went forward. It was most difficult for my
father because of his deformed leg. My brother Yosel and my mother stayed
in back of him and pushed him forward. It was a horrible crossing, the
guards losing patience with us - quicker, quicker and quiet. With the
rising sun I saw for the first time bombed out houses. In Proskurov it was
robbery and sacking and destruction by hand. In Poland it was
different--cannons and bombs--and villages were in shambles. Eventually we
reached Lemberg and were soon reunited with my brothers.
We lived approximately 6 months in Lemberg, in the poor Jewish section.
Why did we spend so much time in Lemberg? Because we could not get a visa
to enter the U.S. since there was a quota system in effect and the quota was
full. The decision was made to go to Canada (where there was no quota at
the time) and >from there to the U.S. We went by train >from Lemberg to
France. It was my first train ride. I recall the checkpoint at the
Polish-German border. At one of our stops in Germany there was singing and
dancing at the station, all dressed in Bohemian or native costumes. It was
quite a colorful sight, lasting perhaps 10 or 15 minutes. The next place I
recall was Antwerp, Belgium. The streets were very clean, wide and had
trolley cars, which was something new to me. I was also impressed with the
public comfort stations which were in the centers of main streets.
Before crossing the Channel and entering England we had to undergo a
delousing process. We undressed completely and put our clothing in metal
pans for heating in an oven, while we lined up nude, men separate from
women, and were hosed down with what seemed to us to be kerosene."
Researching KFAR, KVAR, KWAR (Proskurov & Lemberg), CHUNOWICZ (Makow