My cousins and I have tried for decades to document our family history.  In the late 1970s, my two oldest cousins interviewed all the living elderly relatives and made 7 cassette tapes of their memories. 20 years later I transcribed the recordings into an 80 page document and began digging through records to try to find any hint of our family's history from "the old country" which, in our case, was Eastern Europe - that huge swath of Russia/Poland/Ukraine/Lithuania where so many American Jews came from in the very early 1900s.  On my father's side, they ended up in Pittsburgh, and on my mother's, Detroit, though my parents met in college in New England in the 1950s.  I reread the tape transcripts every few years and find them frustratingly uninformative: my grandmother in particular was annoyed to be asked about her life back in Russia. "We hated it there," she said. "That's why we came here."  (When I read her words, I can still hear her thick accent, though she died in 1995. ) Her sisters didn't have much to say about Russia either, but they loved their life in Pittsburgh - they left school after 8th grade, worked in a fancy department store, and went out dancing whenever they could. So what about the banana?  Uncle Phil remembered that on the passage from Europe to New York, a woman offered him a banana, but his mother wouldn't let him eat it. She didn't know what it was and feared it wasn't kosher.

Year: 1908

– Jenny Hansell

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