A Surprising Story about Pop

August 13, 2018

My mother's parents were married for 63 years; I was privileged to know them until I was over 30.

 

After my grandfather died (less than a year after my grandmother), my mother casually told me: "You know Pop was married before he married Nana." (in 1917)

 

I responded with wild exclamations of disbelief, amazement, and anxiety.

 

But it was true.

 

My grandfather arrived in the U.S. around 1909. His departure was hastened by his first marriage, resulting from his mother, at the death bed of her friend in Poland/Russia, promising that their children would marry.

 

My grandfather was a good son; he dutifully married the young lady (I assume it was not a love match), and immediately left for America.

 

I don't want to embellish the story. I don't know whether he promised to return or send for her (a common promise, often not kept).

 

Years later, I know that he returned to Europe to secure a divorce, so that he could marry my grandmother.

 

I cherish this photo. My grandfather is on the right, along with two friends of his, Lower East Side bon vivants -- handsome, nicely dressed and coiffed, a bottle of schnapps or shlivovitz on the table.

 

I don't know how/if he happened to mention a wife to any but his closest friends; I don't know what he told my grandmother. In any event, the second marriage lasted; it was not based on a mother's promise.

 

 

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