Excerpts from the memoirs of Joseph Rosenbaum

contributed by Edward Rosenbaum

Right after my grandfather Joseph Rosenbaum passed away in 1976, his hand-written memoirs were found on the top of his refrigerator.  In these pages, he recounts his childhood in Galicia and then go on to describe his life in America.  Below are some excepts from his memoirs.  My comments are denoted by [italics]  within square brackets.


Biography of Joseph Rosenbaum, born in Austria May 1894 or 1895, to parents Hersh and Meta Rosenbaum.  We were ten children, five brothers and five sisters.  The names of all of them Sarah, Fanny, Minnie, Rose, and Mollie, Morris, Sam, Joseph, Louis, and Charles.

The town where most of us were born was Swerskofce [Svezhkovtse], Austria, Galicia.

My father took care of cattle as a veterinarian.  He was a religious man, and so was my mother who kept a Jewish home according to Jewish tradition.

We had our own home consisting of three rooms = 1 large room which was a combination dining room and bedroom and across the hallway was 1 large room which was a stable for the cattle consisting of two cows.  We had enough milk for our family.  Our mother used to make churned butter, sour cream, pot cheese, farmer cheese, and sour milk.

In summer the cows used to be out in the pasture, which was about 1 1/2 miles from the house.  It was my job to care for the cows taking them to and from the pasture twice a day.  I would take them out in the morning at 7 A.M. and bring them back at 12 o'clock for milking.  At 1 P.M. I would take them out again for pasture and bring them back at 6 P.M. six days a week.  On Saturday every person and every animal rested.  We would just feed the cows.

I used to go to another town on Saturday mornings with my father to a shul, a small place about one mile away from my home to pray Shabas.

My father was a well built, good looking, clean cut, blond, a full beard, small curls you could hardly see them.  He was a respected person by all regardless of race or creed.

We had about one-half acre of land and an orchid consisting of sweet cherries, prunes, pears, large berries all around the rear of the house, 1 tree of walnuts.  On the land we planted potatoes, onions, carrots, garlick, pickles so we had plenty for the entire winter.  We used to sour the pickles in large wooden vats and kept it in the basement entering from the inside of the house.

Our heating consisted of a flat stove special built for heating water, cooking and baking.  We used wood as fuel.

My oldest sister Sarah got a job as a domestic in a small town Krwilika [Krivoluka, or modern day Kshyvoluka, Ukraine] and this is where she met her husband.  The both of them after a number of years emigrated to America and were married here.


I remember as a child in Europe, that my brother Sam and I went to a Chedar which is a religious school.  I was 8 years old, and Sam 10.  The city was known as Yazlowee [Yazlowiec, or modern day Pomortsy, Ukraine], which was about 20 miles from our house.  We were boarded in the teacher's home.  He had about 15 students, none older then 11 or 12 years.  My brother and I looked so much alike, we were taken for twins.  We loved all kinds of buttons.  After school, we used to walk around this small city and sing a song we made up, the payment being a button.  The song was about two brothers, living under one roof, abe being rich and the other, poor.  In Jewish it sounded very nice.  The people use to stop us and offer us a button from their shirt or coat, just to hear the song.  The entire city knew us as "Fye Bidilach".  As all young children, we talked and sang with a lisp.  When our parents use to come, once every two or three weeks, the inhabitants knew them as the parents of the Fye Bidilach.....

I had caught the chickenpox and was sent home from the Cheder.  I remember my older sister Fanny carrying me, wrapped in a blanket, to the home of a old grand uncle, to stay until the disease cleared up.

After two or three years, my parents took us out of the Chedar, and sent me to another town, 2-4 miles away, for a higher education.  We use to go in the morning, and come home at night.  This was a larger town, known as Beremen.  Enroute home, Sam and I use to be chased by men on horses into the forest.  When they got tired of looking for us, we would have to find our way out of the forest.  Many times we got lost.  These towns contained many people who were anti-Semitic and would pick on Jewish children.  The town in which I was living with my parents, all the people were respectful to each other.  My town had only one school, with one room and one teacher.  Sam and I attended this school.  The prient would come to the school to teach Christian religion.  He would always send Sam and me home, and if we did not go home, we would tell us to set in our seats, but not to cross ourselves.  The Priest was my father's customer, buying fertilizer from him.  My mother would cook for the teacher and we would carry it to school.

We kept a small room at home as a store, selling sugar broken up from large sugar blocks, and oil for burning lights, in addition ro other small items.  My parents were respected in the community.

On Friday evenings, our table looked beautiful.  All the children were clean and sat around the table waiting for my father to make the Kiddish over a little wine.  On Saturdays, my father wore a beautiful fur hat and a long silk coat.


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