Page 17 - Cayle Chernin: My Russian Relatives
ISSUE : Issue 66
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1994/6/1
even there before 1911, before my grandfa? ther came. They had bought the property in 1903 or something like that, so there was some sort of community. And then they had a full community. When my father and moth? er were growing up--my mother in Sydney, my father in Glace Bay--there were, you know, families and children and a thriving community. A life was going on. Then, I guess, my parents were the first of their generation to actually move away. And then I was, of my generation, one of the first not to grow up here after the age of twelve. My cousins were still here. Then, as we got older, they also moved away. You know, as they got married or got work they moved away to Toronto, to New Brunswick, different places, Boston. And now there's almost nobody left of that community. (Do you remember your grandfather?) Oh, very, very well. I remember all my grand? parents very well. They were very signifi? cant to me. (Do you remember his stories?) Grandpa didn't tell stories. Grandpa worked hard. I didn't even know that Grandpa was a terrible smoker, but appar? ently he died of lung cancer at the age of 75. He smoked a hundred cigarettes a day! We were looking at old movie footage last night and there was a shot of my grandfa? ther going swimming with a cigarette in his mouth. But I really didn't remember that. I remember things about him like he had those silver arm bands to hold up your shirtsleeves. I remember those. I remember his hats, and I guess I do remember the smoking, but everybody smoked then, you know. And there's significant moments I remember like Grandpa drinking his soup at the dining-room table and, like I say, telling me about his diary. Just a sense of who he was, Grandpa Chernin, you know. He was a very solid, secure part of my childhood. And Grandma was a matriarch. She loved her family, and everything kind of revolved around the family. I'll always remember going to my grandmoth? er's house. We would always sit down and have a piece of honey cake that she made and then I'd get her to tell stories. She had a crystal vase on the buffet that she called her jewel box and it was full of letters from her grandchildren. And she would take out the letters--she was quite blind by this time--and we'd read her the letters. And she'd worry about this one. And that one. My cousin Marta remembers
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