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Jewish Neighbors

By Ricki Segal

Growing up in Winnipeg during the 40’s and 50’s was a melting pot of various ethnic backgrounds. In the north end of Winnipeg where the various groups where Jewish, Ukrainian, Polish, German, Russian with smattering of Scottish and Irish in-between. The different languages spoken made you feel as if you where in Eastern Europe. The food that was eaten was representative of each nationality. One could smell an aroma coming from the entire different kitchen. Borsht, blintzes, perigees, cabbage rolls,strudel,hagash kidney  pie  and other delicacies brought you back to the country of origin of each resident.

During my early years, my family lived in two  different houses in the same neighborhood. One house was on Smithfield Avenue and the other house was in Royal Avenue both in West Kildonan a suburb of Winnipeg.

Our address on Smithfield Avenue was 425 and there where some very unique characters in our nieghbhood whom I shall never forget. Molly a stay at home Mom as most of our Mother’s where in the 50’s and her husband Eric lived about 15 houses from where we lived. Eric had his own business and owned and operated a dry cleaning store. Another thing that they had in common was that both Eric and my Dad had both been drafted and gone into the Army on October 3, 1941. They had two children Carolyn and Neil. Molly could have been an actress as she spoke very animated and almost always had a smile on her face. One incident I do being told was while visiting her friend and neighbor Sophie Goldstein she pretended to be the maid while some of Sophie’s relatives where visiting. They spoke in Yiddish, a language that Molly spoke well, all the time thinking that Molly was a gentile maid and wouldn’t understand anything that would be said. Molly was forced to keep a straight face in front of the relatives when they began to talk about Molly in front of her in Yiddish. Molly remained stoic even though they where trying to match her up with one of the not so good looking relatives of a distant cousin of Sophie’s. After the relatives left Molly and Sophie had a good laugh relating this story to my parents and other neighbor’s.

Living across the street from us were Sophie and Joe Goldstein. They had two sons Arum and Kenny.  Sophie was a petite woman who had black hair and brown eyes with a hook nose that never really detracted from her appearance. Joe had reddish hair and was short in stature with a prominent round belly a compliment to Sophie’s delicious cooking. He had a wonderful nature and always smiled despite the many times that Sophie reamed him out for some minor infraction. He worked in the Factory, Jacob and Crawley and was a foreman. Sophie was a stay at home Mom who when referring to women working outside of the home would say” horses work”


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.