Page 39 - A Visit with Dave Epstein
ISSUE : Issue 35
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1983/12/1
AVisit with Dave Epstein I was born in Russian Poland, White Russia, in the province of Minsk. In 1890. I was born in a small place. My father had what you'd call a flour mill, worked by water power. He also had all kinds of lumber, woods, farming, fields that we used to hire out. He never used to what you'd call farm himself, but hire out, and get a third. If you hired a piece of land, and you planted it and you harvested it your? self- -my father was getting a third out of that. In those days, Jews weren't allowed to own their own land. Under the Tsar Nich? olas. But under the tsar before, they were all allowed. So, the reason my father had all this land is because his grandfather had it. And then they made ghettoes, in those years after. We lived in a small place, just in a ham? let. Not far from us, 4 miles, there was a little town. So that's where I started go? ing to school. I had to go to a Jewish school. The Jews weren't allowed the regu? lar school. You had to finance yourself. The cheder was private. Private teachers, had about 15 or 20 kids. Some of them would board, some didn't. Hebrew, you know, the Torah, writing, you know, Jewish. I was there till I became about 10, 11 years of age. When I was 13 years of age, I went to the province of Grodno to learn a trade--type? setting, printing. The first year I had to pay $50 to learn it. Second year, I didn't. And on the third year I would get $60 a year. (Doing the work?) Yeah. In the mean? time I involved myself with a gang, what you'd call the Jewish working class--the Labouring Class of Zion, of Palestine. It was not Israel then. An organization--so? cialist labour. And that wasn't allowed in Russia. So, we used to hold meetings in the woods, and all that kind of stuff, you see. And then in 1905, the tsar proclaimed freedom of speech. That was a trap for catching the revolutionaries. So, when they got freedom of speech, .everybody used to go into halls, and preach. And that was a trick to catch all the leftists, you see, all the revolutionaries. That's how they got me. They came in the hall where we were having meetings, and they took away my passport. You couldn't go without a passport from here to North Sydney. With? out a passport, what can I do? So, when they took the passports away, I came home. I spent the summer at home, visiting dif? ferent places here and there. And in the fall my aunt's husband said that she should come to America. He was there. I borrowed a passport and I came with her. We had a little money. We had pocket money. And I came under an assumed name to get o- ver the border. There were agents used to take you over. You paid for it; everything was paid, paid, paid. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE (39)
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