BIRTH DATE: UNKNOWN
INTERVIEW DATE: OCTOBER 24, 1985
RUNNING TIME: 58:99 INTERVIEWER: NANCY DALLETT
RECORDING ENGINEER: KIMBERLY HAAS
INTERVIEW LOCATION: PHILADELPHIA, PA
TRANSCRIPT ORIGINALLY PREPARED BY: NANCY VEGA, 1986
TRANSCRIPT RECONCEIVED BY: NANCY VEGA, 11/1995
DALLETT: My name is Nancy Dallett and I’m speaking with Samuel Sander on Thursday, October 24, 1985. We are about to begin this interview at 11:15 AM, and we’re going to hear the story of Mr. Sander’s immigration from, uh, Russia, in 1923. This is the beginning of Side One of Interview No. 059. Can we start back at the beginning, and tell me where and when you were born?
SANDER: It was a little problem, because when we left Russia it was during the Revolution after the First World War. I was only eight during the war. So, we couldn’t get no records exact when I was born, because in Europe was a different than here in the United States. Here you know as soon as a baby’s born in the hospital it’s recorded, sent to the State, and everything’s okay. But there was a different system. The only thing you have to put on is when a boy was born. I don’t remember even have to record a girl, but a boy, in order the government will know when he’s eligible for military duty.
DALLETT: Did someone at some point assign a birth date to you, or when do you celebrate your birthday?
SANDER: Oh, my mother told me that, uh, she was, she wasn’t sure whether it was 1906 or 1907, something like that.
DALLETT: And where was it that you were born?
SANDER: In Zashkob, it’s in the Ukraine, a small town.
DALLETT: Could you help me to spell that?
SANDER: Yes. Z-A-S-H-K-O-V. That’s all. It’s in the Ukraine. It’s not far from Kiev.
DALLETT: Tell me, what did your father do there? Tell me about your childhood there.
SANDER: My father was a businessman all his life, and uh, he was in different kinds of business. We had two stores, like wholesale grocery and then we had a big warehouse where we used to buy grain from the rich peasants. He had hundreds and hundreds of acres, or thousands of acres. And then he used to give them money in order to have, they should have money to pay out for labor. And after the harvest they brought in the grain. And he used to sell the grain to different people, even some countries do that. You know, people brought it from him and shipped it to Germany to other countries around, ’cause Russia had enough for herself, ‘cos it used to be called, years ago, the bread basket of the world. But now a different story, now they have to buy grain from America or Argentina or Canada.
DALLETT: Did you have brothers and sisters?
SANDER: Yeah. I had a brother older than me, and one younger than me. And I had two sisters. There were five children.
DALLETT: Uh-huh. And, uh, what was it that, uh, went into the decision that your parents made to come to this country, or to leave Russia?
SANDER: Well, as I told you, after the war, during the Revolution, all the soldiers, after they killed the czar, and the Revolution started, the army just went ahoy, whatever they call it, they went wild. They didn’t know what to do. They even used their ammunition to bed with them. Guns, and whatever it is each one had, and they started out in gangs. And they went from town to town and the only thing to do was to rob or murder, that’s all. Some of them were groups that they didn’t even use a bullet, just the sabers. Used to be called the Cossacks, used to ride on horses, and in the summertime even used to wear the big fur hats, you know, made from fur, just to ride on horses and just, with the sabers, not the bullet, chop, chop, chop heads off. And that’s what they did in our little town, too. It was a, on a Thursday, on the market day. They came in all of a sudden, and they had thousands of people coming in from surrounding the town, to do their shopping, their selling and all. And they came and whenever they noticed a Jew, they got rid of him.
DALLETT: How would they, how would they pick out a Jew?
SANDER: Well, you know, elderly people had beards. But they didn’t go into the house, just in the street. Whenever they noticed anybody, because they could tell the difference between the Jewish people or Gentiles. So, this made us leave Russia, because we just were to save our lives, that’s all. So we left everything that my father owned, the houses and the stores, the business, everything. We just went away, that’s all.
DALLETT: How long after, uh, was it right after this one event where the Cossacks came into town?
SANDER: Oh, many different ones, different groups. One morning on a Saturday morning we woke up and we heard knocks on the door and a gang came in, ten thousand of them were in the group. They were called Zleny, Zleny means, in Russian, green. That was their name, Zleny, maybe the head of the gang, whatever it was, was his name was Zleny, we don’t know, but that’s what they called themselves. Even that, had the ammunition, too.
DALLETT: Could you help me to spell that?
SANDER: Z-L-E-N-Y, I think. That’s the only way you can spell it.
SANDER: And they were, they claimed they were ten thousand people, ‘cos they had even, uh, what you call it, uh, heavy artillery. But they didn’t use it in the town, they didn’t kill nobody. The only thing they demanded, first thing, they knocked on the door is they want food. The people were scared. They came out and you see that, just like heads, all over. And it, no, it’s a small town. They had about, uh, a few thousand people in there maybe. So, uh . . .
DALLETT: Now, how old were you at this time? Were you, were you a young schoolboy then?
SANDER: I was a kid.
SANDER: And then they, they gathered older people, mostly the grownups. They got ’em into a certain place in the center town, and they demanded money, food and boots, clothing. But they didn’t kill anybody, they didn’t hurt anybody. They just wanted these things and they, whatever they decided they came even. ‘Cause after all, in Russia they, they give ’em food, but the thing is they can’t give ’em boots for the army, because the whole town didn’t have so many boots. So, whatever they had they gave them, and they left town. But they took away about forty or fifty of the young boys, let’s say in their twenties, early twenties. They took them away with them. We couldn’t do nothing. So, everybody was crying, they were looking, my son, my son, my son, and, finally, it was early in the evening, it was getting dark already. All of a sudden they started to, somebody kept on hollering that dead people, you know, corpses, are coming in into the town. Everybody was scared to death. They never heard of anything like it. And they really found it out, after a short while, that they took all these boys, undressed them, and just let them in their underwear, and they let ’em go home. First they lined them up near the edge of the road, as if they were gonna kill ’em, but then they let them off.
DALLETT: And the boys returned home?
SANDER: Every one returned home. But, the people were scared, it was dark, and they saw everybody in white underwear so they thought they’re, uh, what you call it, uh, skeletons, or dead people, whatever you call it. So, this happened, one after another came in, one after another. But many of them were lenient, and just demanded money or clothing or whatever, but some of them just wanted to kill, that’s all. And this made us, instead, because every day we used to run a different town, we used to leave the city and room, because they said, “A gang is coming in from this town, a gang is coming in from that town.” So, it was impossible to go on living. Otherwise we would have remained there, we wouldn’t have been here. So we decided to leave and went to a big city, it was called Umine. It was about three hours ride with horse and wagon. And there it was a big city.
DALLETT: Was that, your father sold his business and . . .
SANDER: He didn’t sell . . .
DALLETT: Just left it.
SANDER: Because nobody to sell it, who would buy? The peasants didn’t live in the town to buy it, and mostly the people left, so we left everything, and we went to, uh, the big city. From there, we decided we’ll go further, we’ll go to try to reach America, because my mother had a sister and a brother from before. The brother lived in Chicago, and the sister lived in Philadelphia. We decided the only place we could go on the way to America, we could cross the river, it was called Dnester. D-N-E-S-T-E-R. And it used to belong to Russia years ago. But then, I don’t know the history of it exactly, but it was turned over to Bessarabia. And Roumania was the head of Bessarabia. So we decided we’ll go there, and stay in that town, until we start to correspond with the relatives in America. Finally, one day, we found out that, oh, a man from our town, that he was in a long already, was sent to Roumania as a delegate to seek out the relatives. He went, and then, through him, a notice we found out the addresses, and we sent letter to our relatives here, my aunt and uncle and my other uncle, in time to send us paper and that they require us to come to a. Like, uh, they call it, uh, what is it called, these papers? It’s like a request. And they sent money.
DALLETT: Was it like an affidavit that they . . .
SANDER: That’s right, affidavits, yeah. And then we had to go with this affidavits to American consul, and get a visa and all . . .
DALLETT: Which was in this town?
SANDER: No, all this was in Roumania. But the first thing is we had to cross this little river into Bessarabia. So the only thing you could go across is by pairing off, you know, they had the agents, you know, people made the living out of it, what do you call, the people, they bring them in from Mexico to the United States. It’s like contraband, if you would call that. So, they smuggled them in. I mean, they smuggled us out from Russia there, but we had to pay money. And most of the time they did it was during the night. They used to pay off the guards on the Russian side, and pay off the guards on the Roumanian side, and they took us across. The first one that went across was my mother and my younger brother. My sister was already in Roumania before she went with my aunt, my mother’s sister. The sister that, she’s older than I am, she lives in Boston now. That’s how we started to go across. But we didn’t have enough money then, we started, because everything we left. So whatever we had, cash in the house, as you say, or on hand, so we took it along with us. And then my father went across to Roumania, and I was the last one to go across.
DALLETT: How long, how long did it take before all of you could get across the river?
SANDER: Oh, it took, uh, about a year-and-a-half or more. I was the last one. But my oldest brother had a family already, so I used to go to visit him and I used to do some kind of smuggling, like. The smuggling was not, it was illegal and illegal. He lived in a village where only peasants, where only about, let’s say, twenty JEwish people lived there. And there they had a sugar factory, though most of them were not working as workers, but, you know, officers, and all this. And the girl that he married was from that place. It was called, it was in a different state. Our state was Kiev, and that state was a different one already. But it wasn’t far. So, I used to buy, the place where we stayed in Roshkov, near the border, to cross this Dnester, because that was Dnester in that town. So they used to raise tobacco, so I used to buy tobacco there, put it in a burlap bag, or whatever it is, and take it to the sugar factory where my brother lived there in the town, there, village, and there, you know, sell the tobacco and bring back sugar to that town. So it was like a barter. So this is how I made, uh, stayed there, and made a living for myself and made some money.
DALLETT: And then with that money you helped to get the family across the river.
DALLETT: No, no, no. They were there already. They were across the river.
DALLETT: Oh, you stayed on that, the whole time.
SANDER: I stayed on the Russian side all this time.
SANDER: And then, all of a sudden, a man came looking for me to that town where I stayed near the, near the Dnester, near the river there. And the river was, the way it turned, a third of the Delaware River. In the summertime it used to get dry, the people, half of it, to the center, they used to, you know, walk over, dry, or go over, swim, across. But in the wintertime it used to freeze. So the best time to go over is in the wintertime because it was frozen, didn’t take a long, to cross the ice, because it was narrow. A third of the way, maybe less than a third, than the, than the Delaware River. The man came and looked for me, and then he had, uh, name of a girl from our town, too, that she had rich brothers in Boston, and they wanted to seek her, she was only left from the whole family. Except the brothers that were many years living in Boston, were very rich, they were. I don’t know what kind of business they were, but were very well to do. He didn’t demand no money from me, nothing, b they had to pay money in Bucharest already, or in Cashinov. Cashinov was the first big city that, after Bessarabia. So the whole family was there. Not my family only, the whole family, you know, from my grandfather’s side, and my grandmother’s side were all living across already, in (?). they found them, you know, were working, and some of them were just living from the money they used to get, they still had their own or something yet. And then this man was to bring, take across me and this girl and bring us to Bucharest, it’s the capital of Roumania. Because then they left Cashinor when they got their papers already, many of them, they, eh, moved on to Bucharest, which was closer. There they had a Consul, and there they picked out, they got their visas there, and from there they took the boat and, Costamesa was the place where they used the boat, and they went across to America. The evening he took, he took me over with this girl, of course, it was past midnight. And we had to hide, though it was wintertime.
DALLETT: Were you just in like a little ferryboat? What kind of boat were you in?
SANDER: No, I wasn’t in a boat. We were, went across the ice there, because it was March.
SANDER: And, uh, that’s why we crossed, and it was, that time, a little bit of water on the ice already, it was icy, otherwise we had to go by boat, down by the boat. So, they had guards, we hide, you know, it was all woods there, so we hide underneath the bushes, they couldn’t see us. Finally, when the guards passed, he says, “Let’s go.” So, he was walking first, and we after him, we didn’t walk, but we had to run, and did not dare to fall. But soon as we crossed the ice, and we had to climb up like a little hill from the water to the dry land, we heard like a cannon shot, or more, a few cannon shots. The ice came up, blew up, and the water was on top of it. We’d be there on the water yet, a couple of minutes, not hours, we would have been drowned. Because the ice, the water came up on the top of the ice. Because usually in March it starts to thaw in Russia. Here, maybe a little later, but there it starts earlier. Because winter starts earlier there, too. Because there, I think, it’s already cold. And some places may have snow already in October or November, and a lot of it, too. So these men took us right, let’s say, a few blocks, from the edge of the river, and put us on a garret, not in a house, because it was a peasant’s house. Because the peasants was paid off by this man who took us across. The man that took us across was a Jewish man. But he knew the business with, with all these people that, uh, they were working together.
SANDER: And we had to, we stayed there the whole day on the roof, on the garret, whatever it is, all the way up on the roof. And they gave us food. We were wet, they gave us some clothing to change there, the people in the house, and we stayed there till, it, late at night. Then the man came with the, he hired, or whatever, it was one of these people, a horse and wagon, and they took us to a place where we took the railroad, the train. Didn’t take us long, you know, about an hour, maybe, or two, maybe, the most. They took us to a town that was, it was during the night, we took the train to go to Bucharest. But we had to get off. We passed belts, and right in belts, in each one we had a passport, a false passport, to tell I’m Bessarabian and for the girl he had a passport, too. Because in belts, the guards, the train came in and stopped there, the police or whatever it were, came in to check the passports. We just handed them and didn’t talk anything. Because none of us could speak Roumanian. He did, the man, but we couldn’t. We could speak Russian, or Jewish, or Hebrew, whatever it is, but not, uh, Roumania. So, everything was okay, and he brought us to the second largest city in, in Roumania. Yes. It’s a very, very large city. The next day he took us to, to the train and we went to Bucharest. In Bucharest on the train, you know, we took a cab, and we went to, uh, there they didn’t have cabs in those days, I say a cab, it was, uh, you know, buggies.
SANDER: Like they use in England, horse and buggies. Nobody had, uh, what you call it, cars there. So, he took us to Bucharest in a certain place, he had to bring us, and there we got money, they bring the money. He had to deliver us to this house and then collect the money.
DALLETT: And who was in the house?
SANDER: Pardon me?
DALLETT: Who was in the house where he delivered you?
SANDER: Oh, my parents were already there, because they knew that this and this time we’ll be there. And they came in there too, because there were friends, whatever it was, I don’t remember exactly. And they, uh, he got paid, and this is it.
DALLETT: So now the whole family’s reunited in Bucharest?
SANDER: Yeah, not whole family.
DALLETT: Well . . .
SANDER: Some of them were, because my brother in Russia is still there. I mean, he was still there till after the war. He was wounded in the war, and then a couple years after that he died, the Second World War. And, uh, my sister was there. And the older sister was married in town and left right away before ever, before us, they went across, they went to Roumania, and from there they decided to go to Israel. And they came to Israel in 1921. The day before us. And this is how we came because the reason my parents went, my sister, I told you, was, came to, uh, America, before us. She went with an aunt of mine. But, the last one, my father, my mother and my younger brother, they went together because they came before me. They had their visas. So they left, they came to America in September, like, the middle of September. And I came, no, the beginning of September, 1923. And I came a month later.
DALLETT: Did they think at all about going to Israel instead of America?
SANDER: No. They didn’t want to go to Israel, no. Because Israel was just about, they only had a couple thousand people in all of Israel there, and maybe less. Because what my sister and brother-in-law went through there because, whatever there. They went through all the diseases and all the sicknesses, it was just like a desert. And then working two, three jobs, both of them, in order to make a living. Of course, in time, is they built it up themselves, and they were well to do. But, in fact, my brother-in-law died last July, a year ago July. He was eighty-nine. But my sister died a few years before. But my sister’s children still are in Israel. She has there two sons, no, she has two daughters and a son. And, I mean, they’re well-to-do. And they have children. They have, already, grandchildren. And the end of 1983, I went with my younger son and my daughter-in-law, the one, I mentioned her name. Because there, niece’s grandson was to become Bar Mitzvahed, if you know, what it is, a Jewish boy, when he gets to be thirteen, is to be Bar Mitzvahed. So we were all invited. In all those years I was never in Israel. They asked me, said if I never come to Israel they never talk to me again. They asked me, said if I never come to Israel they never talk to me again. They didn’t want to know, they’d give me up. So we decided, being it was an affair, so we went there. We stayed there three weeks with them, we had a grand time and we came back.
DALLETT: Take me back to when your, uh, you’re now, uh, what was the name of that city, you said it was the second largest city in Roumania, where you were gonna take the . . .
DALLETT: Yas. Okay.
SANDER: And then from there he took us to, uh, Bucharest, which is the capital of Roumania. But my parents, in the whole family, my mother’s side, my father’s side, in all the family, all the brothers and sisters and their children and grandchildren all, they came to Cashinov. It was a city before Yas, a big city. But it used to belong to Bessarabia. But Yas was already Roumania. So this is how we came, I stayed, I was only in, uh, Bucharest, from Russia to Bucharest, it took me six, from Russia to America it took me six months. But I stayed, uh, the most, in Bucharest. So this was, and then I went to the consul there, there they had to go to my American doctor to check if everything is all right before they gave the visa, and I paid, I think, ten dollars, and we got out visa to travel to the United States. They arranged, uh, transportation, you know, for the boat, tickets, and I went to America myself. The only thing I had to have with me is at least, a person had to have is ten dollars, to show, when they come here, to Ellis Island, to show that he have money for, I mean, to reach their destination, and, uh, maybe some further, I had to go to Philadelphia.
DALLETT: Ah, tell me, where did you get the boat and what was the name of the boat?
SANDER: It’s in Roumania. It’s a big, a city, I mean, like, uh, like less than Philadelphia, smaller than that. But they have a lot of oil there, and they, uh, the boats leave from there to the Black Seat, and then they go to the Mediterranean. Whatever they call it there, you had to go to Turkey.
DALLETT: What was the name of the boat?
SANDER: Constantinople. The name of the boat was Constantinople. It was a very, very large boat. In fact, it must have been a cattle ship. By then, when this business started with immigrations and all this, they figured they’d make more money than carrying cattle, and carry people across. So they converted, they made bunks, about three stories deep. They made bunks, you know, like one sleeping, like they make for children here, one on the top and one underneath. And that’s how they carried people, there were a few thousand people on that boat.
DALLETT: And you were, you were traveling by yourself then?
SANDER: Yeah. Well, I wasn’t only one, a few thousand people, but by myself. Yeah. There was nothing to be afraid of, because they had some people there from my town that were on the same boat, too, going to Philadelphia. So I wasn’t alone. But it took us thirty days to come from Cristanza to America.
DALLETT: Was that because you made stops, or . . .
SANDER: Yeah. The first stop was Constantinople. We went through the Dardanelles and all this, where they were fighting, and then we came to Constantinople, was the first city and, uh, there we stayed a few days, something like five, six days. And the, the ship had to take in a lot of weight, so they took in a lot of granite. Because there they have good granite and they shipped it to America for buildings and for construction buildings and all this. Monuments. So, uh, and then, after that, we stopped in two cities in Greece. One was Piraeus, and one was Patras, P-A-T-R- A-S. Maybe they, they pronounced it different, but this was Piraeus and Patras. And then, in each one of them, we stayed again in a few days, and there they loaded the ship with olives, dried prunes, figs, things like that.
SANDER: Maybe other things that we couldn’t see, because we used to watch them, you know, loading the ship with the crane so we could see what it is because some of the things were in burlap bags, so we could see that, uh, and then the things in cases, and we didn’t know what was in them, but must have been something there, they sent it like freight. And then we came to, as I told you, we came here to New York was, uh, the end, the last day of September. Because October the first was the next quota.
DALLETT: This was 1923.
DALLETT: 1924, the last day of . . .
SANDER: The last day of September was the end of the quota in 1923.
DALLETT: Okay. ’23. Right.
SANDER: ‘Cause in 1924, October the first was already, but they didn’t have the new quotas yet, they had to arrange them.
DALLETT: This is the end of side one of interview number 59. END OF SIDE ONE BEGINNING OF SIDE TWO
DALLETT: This is the beginning of side two of interview number 59. So, tell me what happened when you arrived at Ellis Island.
SANDER: It was on a Friday morning that they took us off the boat, took us in to be checked by the doctors. so, we had to go to the doctors. And inside, if you notice, the gallery, you had to go up the steps, and there are a lot of doors, a lot of doors. Each one was a different doctor, and we had to go through all these doors to be checked by the doctors, from head to toe. Some, some rooms we had to undress, complete, to be checked. And, until we went out, and then we got, when they passed, everything is okay, they gave us like a, what you call it? A ribbon, not ribbon, a . . .
SANDER: A tag, that we passed. And those that were detained, had a different color, different tags, because thousands and thousands were detained for different illnesses or diseases or whatever it was. Because they had to, they had to check totally. If anybody had a sickness that they were afraid to bring it in for disease to this country, they didn’t let them in. They were very particular with the women, more than, usually, with man. Because they had to check in their hair because, if you’ll excuse me for the expression, many had lice, and with lice they wouldn’t let them in. So they had to put them away on the side, and they treated them for a couple of days, whatever they washed their hair with, got rid of them and let them go in. But otherwise they wouldn’t pass. But for men, they didn’t have much to do on their hair, they, but for women, you know, long hair and all this, so they checked them all. And many were detained. A lot were detained for, uh, trachoma, a disease of the eyes. But this is curable.
DALLETT: Do you remember the doctor examining your eyes?
SANDER: Oh, they examined me. I don’t remember his name.
DALLETT: Uh-huh. No, I don’t, just, if you remember that happening.
SANDER: You had to go through everything. Ear, nose and throat and head and body, everything. For ruptures, for, if they noticed anything, if anybody was ever operated or anything like this, they wanted to know all the details.
DALLETT: What language, you were speaking in Russia and Yiddish?
SANDER: No, I knew already a little English. Because in Roumania I learned a little, so I could read and write and speak. I mean, not as now, but, uh, I wouldn’t get lost. So, uh, in some, the people that, I mean, they couldn’t speak anything but Russian. So they had people there, translated form the Russian to English.
DALLETT: How long did all this, this whole medical thing, take?
SANDER: Oh, it took a few hours to go through all this, because I wasn’t the only one, we had to go on line, you know. You go from this one and then to next one and then to next one, each one was a different doctor. For the eyes are different, for ear, nose and throat are different, for internal medicine to check, to listen to the chest, the back and everything, the whole body, you needed a doctor for everything. Everything separate doctor, that’s why there were so many little rooms there, on the gallery.
DALLETT: And then did you have to show your papers and your money there to the officials?
SANDER: Sure we had to show there. Yeah, we had to show all the paper, the passports, the visa, and we had to show the money we had on hand, and that . . .
DALLETT: Someone asked you to show them the money you had?
SANDER: Everything. OF course, they, we told them, I told them I had ten dollars for the ticket to reach Philadelphia, and I had some change, too, because on the boat we could buy things, too. Because every place we came, you know, people came over with the boats. In Turkey and in Greece, and came up selling things, so people used to buy, you know, different kinds of food or fruits, so we had to have money, besides the ten dollars, to show. And then the man from HIAS ask you, “Who’s going where?” So he knew that I go to Philadelphia. So, in the evening they put us on a train that went to Philadelphia, and the train comes in, you came in there, if you know that there’s tracks there. The train came in there, it was the Reading Railroad. And they took us to 12th and Market.
DALLETT: Was this all the same day?
SANDER: The same day. But I came to Philadelphia, it was already dark in the evening. And my sister was waiting for me at Reading Terminal, she took me to, to my parents, the whole family stayed, and this was it, I was here.
DALLETT: Where, where was it that your sister lived?
SANDER: First it was, uh, East Thompson Street. I don’t remember the address. It was twenty-five, something, East Thompson Street.
DALLETT: And your parents were . . .
SANDER: There, too.
DALLETT: Were with them.
SANDER: Yeah. It was my aunt’s, a big house. See, it was, they had three stores. And they had rooms all over these three stores, and they were together, not detached. So they had room for everybody. And many of them, of the relatives, remained in New York, to live there, the most of them remained in New York. And some of them went to Argentina. Some of them went to Brazil. So we had family almost every place.
DALLETT: Umm, so, tell me what it was like for a young, you’re about thirteen years old now, when you’ve landed here . . .
SANDER: Oh, no, I was about fifteen.
DALLETT: Oh, you’re fifteen now.
SANDER: I believe so.
DALLETT: Okay. Tell me what it was like for you to get adjusted to, uh, American society now.
SANDER: Well, the first thing, in about a week after I was here, my mother’s brother took me, I think they put me on, they didn’t know the exact age of everyone, so they put me a little older, especially the — the man, so they’d be able to get a job, I mean, the younger one. So they had to put me a little older because if I would have gone myself they wouldn’t take me, because I wouldn’t be able to converse with them much, so my uncle went with me, took me to Camden, and it was the season where they bring in the tomatoes to Campbells Soup, to make the tomato soup, or tomato sauce, whatever you call it. So there, he told them that I’m seventeen, I think. Whatever, he told them, and they took me in to work. And I worked there eleven months, night work, all the eleven months. And after eleven months I quit. Because it was, not too hard, because I could take it. I was as big as now, and stronger than now yet, and I didn’t mind it, but it was too hot in the summertime. It was murder there. It wasn’t like it is now, air conditioned and everything, so you had to be, because they had to cook the soup, and they put me in the department where they cook with the cans. After the cans are filled and they seal them, they put them in big, deep, I don’t even know what you would call a thing like this. It’s very deep, and you put in, they used to, see, after the soup was sealed, the cans were sealed, they used to put them on, uh, conveyors. And they used to be rolled and get the labels on them, automatically, you know, on conveyors, everything. And after that we used to stay in a place, they used to stay two people, one facing the other, in a big box, you know, like, say, forty-eight cans you put in, and we used to pack them in from the conveyor into the cans, and then, was another man, he took, as soon as they were filled up, he took away, put ’em on the red thing, and he sealed it. And then they shipped them out in these paper boxes. But the times they put me on, where they cook, where they, after the cans are sealed, they put them in the, how would call it, it’s like a, it’s like a, a sifter, it has holes in it. And this container, you put in there, maybe a thousand cans, and they put in three high into that heap place, and there it was sealed and they put on steam, let’s say, about two or three hundred degrees. And they, for what would be timed for an hour or an hour-and-a-half, until they, they’d be sealed tight, because the soup was in them already.
DALLETT: Right. So it was very hot.
DALLETT: This was very hot, it was very hot there. But then, you cool them off, after the time was enough to shut off the power, the steam, we used to turn on the cold water in order to cool ’em off, otherwise won’t be able to handle them.
DALLETT: Right. So you were picking up a lot of English as you worked in the factory, I guess.
SANDER: Well, sometimes they used to laugh, you know, the younger ones, the way I speak, but they were nice to me. Didn’t have no trouble.
DALLETT: Yeah. And then, uh, you left Campbell’s Soup and where did you go?
SANDER: I left Campbell’s Soup, so I saw in the paper, then my parents used to get, they used to have the Jewish paper, it used to be called The Jewish World. The Forwards used to come from New York, but they had their own paper, The Jewish World. So, there, it was a newspaper, you know, but only in Jewish, for Jewish people to read, those that couldn’t read English. And there I noticed they were looking for somebody to teach them capmaking, you know, caps. So I figured I’ll go there. I went there, was on Germantown Avenue, 4300, something, Germantown Avenue, it was the place. I went there, and I, I was just only a starter. I have to learn it. So, I stayed there three years. And then I left for a, a bigger job.
DALLETT: Uh-huh. Was there, was there, uh, a Russian community that your family moved into?
SANDER: Here in Philadelphia?
SANDER: No, no. It was, uh, very few Jewish. Years ago you had, before you came, it was a Jewish community around there. It used to be called “Jew Town.” The section there, where only Jewish people lived, uh, maybe they lived there, we came in 1923, they must have come there before the 1900’s. And there they even had two synagogues, two big synagogues. And it was not far, was Frankfurt Avenue, and then Kensington Avenue, and the old Jewish people there, all the business people Frankfurt Avenue and Kensington Avenue, they all were mostly Jewish people there. I mean, the business people. And they lived there, too. That’s why they had two synagogues, and they had everything, Jewish butchers and bakers and all these things. There was a few that supplied Jewish food, otherwise, around the section there, the same thing, where my aunt lived, where we came in, was Polish. Polish people. Because there they had their business, so it was only a few blocks away.
DALLETT: Uh-huh. So, it wasn’t difficult for, that difficult, for your mother and father to pick up . . .
SANDER: No, because my father used to go to the synagogue, it’s only a few blocks there. And then they moved further down from my aunt, which is closer to the two synagogues, you know, about the, uh, three, four blocks. Which was closer to the synagogues and closer to Frankfurt Avenue and Kensington Avenue.
DALLETT: How did they do in terms of picking up English?
SANDER: Well, my mother wanted to know how to read and write English. She could write Jewish, she could write Russian, and speak, but she couldn’t English. So she went to day school, for the, for new arrivals. She went, I think, two or three times a day, a week, I mean, to this school. The Morton School, it was called. It was not far in the neighborhood. And there they had for Americanization classes. And we started to go to evening school in Americanization classes, we started. And, uh, it was the Kensington High School For Girls, that they had Americanization classes for new arrivals in the evening. So we used to go there in the evening. I think, not every night, I think three nights a week. After that I was like, I would say, promoted, or graduated. Then we started to go to bigger school. It was called North, not Northeast. It was called the, it was at 8th and Lehigh, it was a boys high school, all boys. Of course, now they named it Northeast High School, which is right, three blocks from here. But they moved it from there to here and there they named the school a different name.
DALLETT: And what about citizenship? When did you get your citizenship papers?
SANDER: I got my citizenship papers in 19, I’ll show them to you. Right here.
DALLETT: Oh, you have them. Great.
SANDER: Yeah, because I figured maybe you’d need it.
DALLETT: Good. And what was when? When we’re finished I’ll ask you to get a copy. What year was that that you . . .
SANDER: 1931. I got my citizen, because in those days we had to wait seven years. Now it’s only five. And then we had to apply for the first papers, it took five years for the first papers to, we had to be here two years to get the first papers, and then we had to wait five years for the citizenship. And when I came here to get the citizenship papers, I, I was all right. I wasn’t all Americanized, but I was better when I came.
DALLETT: Do you remember any, any things that might have happened when you first came, things that you encountered in, in life in Philadelphia that were very strange to you?
SANDER: A big city, I know the next day my sister took me to Lit Brothers and bought me some, uh . . .
DALLETT: The department store.
SANDER: Yeah. Eighth and Market. And, uh, she showed me around and, uh, she bought me some thing, you know, shirts and socks, underwear and, she bought me a cap, American style, and all this. But then I, after the three years that I worked in this place where I learned to be capmaker, I went to a bigger place. And there I stayed till 1929 in this place. And there a strike broke out. After the strike, they took me off, because I, I was, they wouldn’t let me there, I was started, because all the people that worked there were working this place for years, but, uh, they had to take me down, too, otherwise I’d be a scab, whatever it is. So after that I joined the union, 1929. And I stayed with them until I retired, about the middle of May 1984.
DALLETT: And once you were settled here, did other people continue to come from your city to this area?
SANDER: Not too many.
SANDER: No. Some didn’t have the means to come, and some didn’t have no relatives to come, so, uh, some went to different parts of the world. Some landed in Cuba, some went to, uh, Western Europe and Germany, France, Poland. But some are still in the same town today.
DALLETT: Have you been back?
DALLETT: You don’t correspond . . .
SANDER: I never wanted to go and see it.
SANDER: No. My mother wanted to go and see it, but wouldn’t give her a visa, because she went to Israel to visit my sister in 1936, and my father didn’t want to go because he was afraid to go by boat for so long. They didn’t have no planes yet, to go there, so she went by boat. But she wanted there, from the Russian Consul, to go to visit my brother in Russia, they wouldn’t give her a visa.
DALLETT: Hmm. I just really have one other question, and that is, do you have, you mentioned that you have the citizenship papers. Does that have a photograph of you when you, uh, yeah?
SANDER: Yeah, there was a photograph when I came in.
DALLETT: Any other, uh, original papers, uh, ship documents or anything like that?
SANDER: By moving around, so I, uh, I don’t know what happened to it.
DALLETT: Right. Okay. Let’s just . . .
SANDER: Because I had to have them, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to become a citizen, I wouldn’t be able to come in here.
DALLETT: Right. It was just something the National Park Service wants to know, who has what kind of papers still.
SANDER: I had a visa and a passport.
SANDER: The passport wasn’t from Russia. The passport was made up, you know, like I’m coming, like I’m coming, going to America.
SANDER: Because the passport, they, they sent for us, I mean, in order to get a visa, they had to make up a passport, they’re demanding here that so and so, they wanted to come to this country.
SANDER: I mean, the relatives here.
DALLETT: Uh-huh. Okay, well, thank you, thank you very much for telling me the story.
SANDER: So, this is all?
SANDER: Okay. ( break in tape )
DALLETT: It’s so hard to do, you know, to sum up.
SANDER: Well, the thing is that, uh, 1931, I was married, 1930 I was married. And, uh, I have two sons, one is, uh, and I didn’t want them to be workers as I was, capmaker or any other trade because I know that they have to wait for seasons and all this business, and then in 1929 came the Depression year. It was murder. We just had about enough from hand to mouth, that’s all. Because my first apartment I lived, after I was married, was in Strawberry Mansion, was a good section, right, near Fairmount Park, around 33rd Street, and all this. I lived on the third floor on top of a candy store. I paid only fourteen dollars a month rent. And we stayed there, till 1936. In 1936 I bought my first house. Because it was the Depression and a lot of people left their houses, couldn’t even pay, they had three mortgages on them. And they left, so finally I found out a real estate agent, and he said he has, he said, a few thousand houses to sell, and all parts of Strawberry Mansion. Business sections and private. so, he took me around, and I stopped in one, it was called 2530 North Stanley Street, it’s in North Philadelphia. It’s a block-and-a-half from Lehigh Avenue, if you know the sections there. So I, it was two blocks from the park, and two blocks to 29th Street because I lived, it was between 31st and 32nd Street.
DALLETT: Is that where your children were born?
SANDER: No. The first one was born in, uh, ’20, it was called Nabor Street, the street. It’s between 31st and 32nd and it’s between, on Burk’s, I forget the address. I used to, the address there. But the house that I bought was 2530 North Stanley Street. And there we stayed till 1955 because then the neighborhood started to change. Coloreds came in, and wasn’t the type, you know, that you can get used to live in, because the colored, because the first one that bought a house in Stanley Street, a colored, was a teacher. She used to be nice. It was a row house, it looked like, you know, if you ever lived in a military compound, it looks like one shot, you know, the living quarters.
SANDER: So the houses looked like one when you came in. It was, fifteen houses, fifteen houses on each side of the street. It was a narrow street. Only one car could go through. So we stayed there until 19–, from 1936 I bought that house for twelve hundred dollars. It was a two-bedroom house, a living room, a dining room, and instead of a kitchen, it was a shed. So, in time, I took in a carpenter, he built a twelve by twelve kitchen, and he ran away the whole inside, because we used to go upstairs, between two walls. So I made him an opening, like here, with a railing, and he made an opening between the living room and dining room, used to be doors to close. So he took out the doors and made like a round opening, and it looked like, I changed, the whole thing I did, for copper tubing, we threw out the heater, it was cold, put in gas heat. Put in, for hot water we used to have a little coal stove like this big, so we threw that out and put in, uh, gas, hot water heater . . .
DALLETT: Is that where you raised your family, then?
SANDER: Yeah. My younger son was born in 1939, eight years almost different from the older one. And there was, after we started to look around when these people started to come in because this teacher, such a cheap people came in from the South, trash, and she used to say, “I’m not gonna live here with this trash.” I mean, the wrong people. She sold the house and moved away. So, we started to sell until they had already, on both sides of my house, colored. So we started to go around and look for different sections. So we looked all over and, all over Philadelphia, finally my wife’s cousin bought a house here on the next block. Bayston Avenue. So we went down here and they were just building. Brighton Street, they just started to build the eleven hundred block.
DALLETT: Hold on, almost . . .
SANDER: He was bright, very bright kid, and, uh, went to school. He graduated Central, you heard about Central High School?
DALLETT: Yes, I know that school, yes.
SANDER: Now it’s boys and girls, but then it used to be only boys yet. And, uh, he had good marks, and he applied to Drexel, he went to Drexel and he stayed in Drexel in five years. He got his degree in electrical engineering, and there they gave him a fellowship to Syracuse University for his Master’s degree, and he got his Master’s degree. Then, I told him, “Keep on going go for your doctorate.” He says, “Daddy, I want, I want to work, so many years in school.” I says, “Look, if you go, take you at least two-and-a-half years to get your doctorate degree from the masters. You get your doctorate degree, you’ll make more money, twice as much, then you could get with your Master’s degree.” So, he said, “All right, I’ll do it.” But then he met a girl and he got married and, he did take up some, he took up some, uh, certain subjects to go higher, but he didn’t get his doctorate degree. He quit it. He used to go at night, you know, classes, at the University there, but he only had his degree in engineering and he had his Masters. So he got a job right away, first in RCA, and then, after a few years he quit RCA. He went to GE, and he’s still there, and he works in the space center in Valley Forge.
DALLETT: Well, I’m sure that he’ll be really glad that you told the story and, uh, hope he comes to the museum.
SANDER: I didn’t even tell him you were coming here to tell the story. The younger one knows.
SANDER: The younger one, he went to the same school, to, what you call it, Central. We lived here already, then he started Central. Then he went to Temple. Took up, he took up some different things, but then he changed for, uh, business administration. And today he’s a CPA, he’s in business for himself, he’s making wonderful there, lives in a beautiful section, has a beautiful family. He has a son and a daughter and the son, a grandson is now in his first year in law school, and the granddaughter’s in the second year in Newark, Delaware. Delaware State University. She was, she’ll be nineteen this Sunday. And he was, the 27th she’ll be nineteen, and he was twenty-two on the eighteenth of this month, of October. So he’s first year in law school, and, uh, first he went to, uh, a different school, you know, where he finished college, the four years, and now he’s in law school. She was, she thought she’d take up, uh, business administration, too, but maybe she’ll change.
DALLETT: Okay. Good. Thank you very much. That is the end of Side Two and the end of interview number 059.