Page 40 - A Visit with Dave Epstein
ISSUE : Issue 35
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1983/12/1
My uncle, Lubchansky, had arranged with the agent in Halifax to meet us on the boat. And we stayed there overnight in Hal? ifax, in the station. And they sent us on to Sydney. We got in here on a Monday night, I remember it. Sydney had about 12,000 people at that time, 1907. The steel plant opened up in 1900. The mines were working. Things were going pretty good. But they were only paying 9k<' an hour. That's all they were getting. They were working 11 hours by day and 13 hours at night. And they raised families. 9%C an hour. But things were so cheap. Eggs 3o a dozen. Butter was lOo a pound. Fish, meat, everything. Meat was lOc a pound. Unbeliev? able. I always wanted to go to America. (Did all the Jews want to leave?) No, no. Some did and some didn't. But I wasn't responsible for anybody but myself. I went, just my? self. I saw what goes on there in Europe. There's nothing for a young man, no future, and I decided. I was supposed to go to a family that lived in Philadelphia. And my uncle, Lubchansky, the fellow I finally came to--he heard from my father that I was going to America. So he wrote back and he said, "Let him come here." That's how I came to Sydney. (How did your uncle get to be in Sydney?) My uncle came to New York in 1895, and he struggled there for awhile, couldn't get any work. He was working, mak? ing 2 or 3 dollars a week. And he had a friend who also came to New York--a Nathan- son. And Nathanson had a cousin living in Sydney--Dr. Harold Davidson's father--he had a store here on Charlotte Street. He used to go to New York to do the buying. And he saw them struggling around down there, so he brought Nathanson here, to Sydney. Davidson brought Nathanson; and a few months later Nathanson sent for Lub? chansky. They came here in 1898 or some? thing like that. First, Lubchansky peddled Areyou ? 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He came here, and he was an aggressive man, and he put up a nice business. He got along very nice? ly. (How did the first Jews, like Brodie, locate Cape Breton as a place to go?) Well, because they were just opening up the mines. They were opening up the steel plant and all that. They were peddlers, they came through the States. In the States, they heard about this place. One brought the other. One brought the other. That's how I got here. I stayed with Lubchansky, worked in the store, from March till May.,And I didn't have a cent of money to hire a tutor or anything like that. And Lubchansky had nothing but a foreign trade. So he decided that I couldn't learn to speak English down there. And I wasn't a good scholar. I must say that I didn't have that. I was a dreamer, you know. Aggressive. I loved the ,life, you know. So they sent me down to Victoria County. A nice husky boy, 15 years old--they decided to make a pack, send me to the country peddling. (And you had never been down there?) No, no, no. (What did they put in your pack?) There was all kind of dry goods, you know, little notions, towels, soap, hairpins, and all that. Mostly for ladies: wrappers, dresses, petticoats, and all kinds of stuff. By the time they made up the pack, it was 125 pounds. I was 4 days on the Aspy 'cause the Aspy couldn't get over in the ice. Four days to get to Ingonish. And I didn't have a word of English. So the mate of the boat bought me a can of biscuits and I lived on that boat, slept on the boat, and everything. And I was kind of shy, too, depressed, that I had to do that, you know? That was a- gainst my will, but they thought that would be the best way for me to leam the language. A cousin of mine peddled in Victoria County a year before me. He had a horse already. His name was Marcus, and he was a grandfather to the judge, Nathanson. So he met me in Ingonish when I got there. Then la? ter, they put the pack on me and I started walking in Ingonish, from house to house. Made the first day, I think, a couple of miles--the In? tervale. Family by name MacKinnons. I stayed there overnight. They were very friendly;you know, good to me and everything--and I had no money to pay them with. I used to pay with a towel, a piece of soap. They wouldn't take any money. Only bar? ter. So it went on like this for a few weeks. I'd go around the bay. (40)
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