Model T Ford

Model T, painting by Max Arthur Cohn
Model T, painting by Max Arthur Cohn

When my father, Harry Schoenfeld, was a young boy, he and his family lived on a farm in Watertown, Wisconsin. Watertown was the home of the first kindergarten in the US, which began in 1856. Harry’s parents, Samuel and Bessie, came to Wisconsin around 1905 from Kovel, a town in the northwest Ukraine. My father was born in 1919, so around 1924, he went to kindergarten. Sam took him to school in his Model T Ford. 

My father told me this story: Sam put Harry in the car, and then went to crank up the motor. Harry decided he had no interest in going to school that day, so he jumped out of the seat and ran away. By the time Sam ran after him and put him back in the seat, the motor had quit, so he went to crank it up again. Harry ran off again. Sam ran after him, put him back in the seat and went to crank up the motor again. Harry ran off. This went on several times more - finally Sam went to get him, laughed and Harry got his wish - no school today!

Sam passed away when I was a young girl, but my parents talked about how great of a storyteller he was. He worked hard, running a farm and a small grocery store, all the while adapting to a new country. Yet somehow he kept a sharp sense of humor, and passed that on to Harry.

Place(s): Wisconsin
Year: 1905

– Linda Rosen

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