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My Grandfather Comes to America

by Don Goodman

My paternal grandparents left Russia in 1903 settling first in Toledo OH and then coming to Los Angeles in 1912 with my father, two brothers and sister Ada .   When my father’s mother died in March 1913, just a few months after arriving in LA, times became unbearable for my grandfather and the four young children. A month later, my grandfather brought a Russian woman into his house to care for the children. By June of the same year, just three months after his wife’s death, he married the housekeeper. That proved to be a nightmare for my Aunt Ada.

 

My grandfather, a carpenter by trade, found getting a job difficult so he decided to start his own business.  He built chicken coops in his backyard, one section for laying chickens, another for eating chickens. He rented a horse drawn cart and sold milk, butter, eggs and chickens from that wagon throughout Los Angeles almost until he died in 1948. He had five different routes, one for each day of the week.

 

Los Angeles was a town of immigrants, the Jewish populace making their home in East LA, known as Boyle Heights . My grandparents lived at 906 No. Soto Street . Life for them was difficult.  My grandfather found camaraderie with like-minded immigrants by joining the Workman’s Circle. He was a lifetime, deeply committed Socialist but a virulent anti-Communist. Life for the new wife was lonely. She was tolerated by the children but never accepted. She never found her place among the family. In 1928, after a major feud, just another one of many, with her stepmother, Aunt Ada ran away from home and disappeared forever?

 

My book, Secrets of Time, is based on family oral and written history and genealogical research tracing Goodman ancestors in an effort to find Aunt Ada. It includes reflections on historic Los Angeles and San Francisco . It traces the family history from Russia in 1903 to the United States; and then, using imagination, traces how we find the missing Aunt Ada in a story of international intrigue, murder and love. 

 

 We believe it is a fine example of what an author can do with his family history weaving truth, fact and fiction into an exciting story. 

*A more in-depth description of “The Lake”, the subject of another article by Don Goodman, The Lake, The Pits and Me, appearing elsewhere in this issue, can also be found in Secrets of Time.

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