Eli Fuchs and Fruma Skriloff

12 February 2011


Stories my father David Fox told me.
     Elia and Fruma scraped out a living in a one room house with an earthen floor and a wood stove in the middle of the room. In winter my grandmother Fruma would get up earlier than the rest of the household and light the stove. Then one by one she would take the children from their bed, dress them on the warm stove and feed them breakfast. In the middle of winter in Uzlyany, men would come to the door and place my father on their shoulders to take him to Hebrew school through the heavy snow.
       Grandma Fruma was in charge of the cultivation of the leased fields, and saw over the planting and harvesting of the fields, while Grandpa Elia visited trappers with his horse drawn cart to collect furs for a marketplace in Minsk. Occasionally, in the winter, my father went with grandpa to collect furs. I asked my father if he rode in the wagon with grandpa. No, he answered, in the winter you never rode in the cart. You would run along side of the cart because if you sat still you would freeze to death. Grandpa Elia periodically went to Minsk, to represent Uzlyany, my father proudly told me. Every day my grandma would take my father to visit my maternal great-grandma. My father said she always made sure he knew she loved him.
     We took my father and mother to see "fiddler on the roof" and he said that the town shown in the movie was similar to Uzlyany.
      He once described his father Elia as kindly in that townsfolk would come to him if they needed to borrow money.

       My grandpa told my father that there was no work in this small town for him. Grandpa Elia gave my father $5 and a ticket to find a new life for himself in America in 1913.
   My father came to America through Ellis Island stayed with his relatives in New York City. He did not get a job for two weeks and was starving, He got a job as a house painter and reluctantly was given  $0.50 by his boss after his first half day at work He went out and got a pail of water a loaf of bread and a salami, He says that was the best meal he ever ate.
      Lonely in NYC he started spending his weekends in museums. He enjoyed doing that and that is a memory I always have and i also enjoy. Imagine that a peasant boy spending his weekends in museums. He learned to paint and I feel he was a very good unschooled artist. 

      My father David and mother Fannie (born in Poland) came to America in 1913, met at a house party where, they played spin the bottle.  I asked my father what was the first words he said to my mother. He said he was sitting next to her, and he reached over and touched her sleeve, and my speedy father said “nice material"

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