Bear

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Bear left Latvia with my mom in 1941.
Bear left Latvia with my mom in 1941.

I try to imagine my mother as a 13-year old girl fleeing her home outside of Riga, Latvia, in the middle of the night in 1941. She tucked little Bear into her pocket as she left with her mother and father. Did she even know where she was headed? What was she feeling as she fled the Nazis? How comforting it must have been to know Bear was with her. Mom almost never talked about her childhood or the war, so Bear provides an important connection to her, her past, and to her immigration story. Here’s what I think I know. After the war Bear and my mom lived in a displaced persons camp in Germany, where she had a son named Werner. She was highly valued in the DP camp for her fluent English and typing skills. Eventually a sponsor offered my mom and nine-year old Werner the opportunity to come to the United States. They and Bear arrived by ship in New York on March 12, 1956, and made their first U.S. home outside of Worcester, Massachusetts, where mom worked at a nursing home in exchange for their passage. They then moved to Mt. Kisco, New York, where mom landed a job at the Reader’s Digest and met my father. If only Bear could talk. Though I wonder if he too would be unable to speak of all that he saw and experienced.

Place(s): Latvia,Germany,New York,Massachusetts
Year: 1956

– Sheila

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant