Day to day, we walk in other’s footsteps. Where do they take us and when do we stop to explore? It all sounds so philosophical and maybe it is, or quite possibly it’s just what’s “meant to be.”
I first found my friend Marvin, aka a Chudnover, by meeting my cousin who was speaking with Marvin’s cousin at the Chudnover section of the old Talmud Torah Jewish Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey. His cousin told me that Marvin had been the man behind the camera of reel-to-reels at Chudnover reunions, which used to take place in Newark.
Soon after hearing about Marvin and his possession of films of Chudnovers (people from Chudnov, Ukraine), hoping that my grandparents would appear in the films, as I knew they belonged to the Chudnover Society, I contacted him at his home in Florida for a copy of the DVDs. He not only sent me the movies, he even came up for a visit and sat narrating the reels of film. For the first time, I saw my grandparents, gone before I was born, dancing and looking playful in the silent films.
Slowly, I recognized other family members in the tapes. A story I wrote about this amazing find, simply entitled Home Movies, was featured in The Things We Keep, published in the Life and Times Section of the New Jersey Jewish News. That was back in 2008.
Marvin and I have kept up an ongoing email correspondence and my husband and I have had lunch with him in Florida a couple of times. In a recent email he wrote: “Hi Sharon, I don't remember if I sent this to you before. It's my father's milk truck in the mid-1930s on Wainwright St., Newark. It has our old phone number with which I grew up. Thought you might like it.”
My eyes bulged as I looked at the attached photograph of his father’s milk truck (copied above). I responded, “Like it? I LOVE IT! My father-in-law Isadore (Is) Cohen 1911-1998, Elizabeth, N.J., was a milkman! He started by working for a neighbor and friend of the family in Elizabeth, Abraham Milk Company and later worked at Janssen, Alderney, and Tuscan Dairies. He retired after delivering milk for 35 years. See my blog post, dated September 4. 2018, ‘The mailman's daughter married the milkman's son and the rest is history.’
"We have a case of the bottles displayed on our side porch, which my father-in-law had in his attic. At his shiva, one of his nine brothers (they also had four sisters) told us that Is never used the carrier, but rather gripped the bottles by the neck with his big, strong fingers. Ah...the memories.”
Marvin’s response was, “WOW! Besides being children of Chudnovers we're also kids of milkmen!! I'm glad you like the pic. I really wasn't sure if I sent it before. Now I'm super glad I did. Stay warm LOL, or just come on down.”
We left the cold wintery New Jersey weather and went down to Florida for a week in February. We added to our list a visit with Marvin, fellow Chudnover/son of a milkman.
Now that our ancestors all walked in the same footsteps, Arnee and I each have something very in common with Marvin. Meeting his cousin at the cemetery, who told us about the Chudnover reunions, which he taped and converted to DVD format, and over a decade later getting a picture from my
”landsman” of his father’s milk truck—meant to be?
Possibly our ancestors not only on my side but on my husband’s too knew Marvin’s family. The wonders never cease.