In Fun
Frank's accordion.
Frank's accordion.

On my mother’s side, both of my grandparents came to the United States in 1912 by different routes.  Franz (Frank) Bartman, age 18, arrived in New York City on April 6 from Hamburg, Germany on The Pennsylvania.  He always said his ship was the last to arrive in New York before the Titanic went down.  His wife, Bronislawa (Bertha) Bialon, age 21, departed from Bremen on The Fredrich der Grosse and arrived on December 12.   They followed relatives to Amsterdam, New York where they met, married and had a daughter Sally (my mother), and a son, Joseph.

Both Frank and Bertha worked in the rug manufacturing industry. Despite a common background and common work in New York, they had differing ideas on what it meant to be American. Frank loved music. He had no money, so he taught himself to play fiddle and accordion. One day he came home and started to look for the fiddle. Bertha admonished him,  "Frank, you need to be modern, you can't be old fashioned." She had crushed it and thrown it away.  My mother said it was never spoken of again. 

My mother also told me that Bertha expressed her American or progressive sensibility by insisting that her family be limited in size so they would have some control over their destiny.

 Frank continued to play the accordion, and later in life had a player piano. He loved polkas. Frank lived to be 104, and refused to take advice from doctors. He would say, "I outlive them all, so why should I listen to them?"  

Year: 1912

– George Smrtic

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant