THE REAL STORY ABOUT THE SUGAR BEET FACTORY
ONCE OWNED BY THE PERVIN AND PORVIN FAMILY
Driving in a most conspicuous Nissan borrowed from Vlad's brother, Timur, Heidi and I rode through the town of Litin searching for the sugar beets factory once owned by Leib Yahuda before he and his family came to Toledo, Ohio nearly one hundred years ago. It is July 13, 2004, on a hot afternoon. Driving the vehicle is Vlad, my student who accompanied us on this trip to act as our interpreter. Sitting next to him is Sasha, a local gentleman, who volunteered to guide us to the factory.
Prior to our pilgrimage, I located a list of 50 current sugar beets factories functioning in the Vinnytsa oblast. Sasha, however, a building inspector, told us there are only a few factories existing around Litin. We had being driving almost for thirty minutes towards the south of Litin. Sasha wanted us to check upon one factory built around the 1890's that was still functioning.
I realized, at this point, this factory appeared to be a little too far away considering the fact that the factory should be in a walking distance from Litin where Leib and his brother Samuel lived together - while only coming home for Shabes. Ricki and Cindy Tobisman described in our web-site that their family has a story about Samuel's children meeting their father at the half way point between the factory and home every week end. I always speculated the distance between the factory and their home to be around a two- to four- hours walk.
I remembered Tobisman's recollection of the factory's name, "Loznansky Sacharine Zavod." I knew Sacharine Zavod in Russian means, Sugar Factory. But no one could figure out what "Loznansky" meant. I shared with Sasha the name of "Loznansky" and asked him what the meaning could be. Sasha, immediately responded, "Loznansky? - you must mean Za-Luzhna!" Vlad and I realized that we had been pronouncing the name of factory incorrectly! Sasha told us we were going the wrong direction and suggested to go back. On my map there was no town called "Loznansky", however, "Zaluzhna" is situated right between Litin and Bagrinovtsy. Obviously, after the 1917 revolution there many name changes to the villages.
We were all so excited for this oversight. I sensed immediately Zaluzhna was the right place. But question remained, "does the sugar beets factory still exist?" Zaluzhna was a little village with a population of only a couple hundred. When we arrived at Zaluzhna, Sasha summoned about a half dozen villagers to ask them about the factory. We were introduced to Illia Nikitavitch Pabrosky, the oldest man living in the village. He recalled a story from his father about the old alcohol factory at the entrance of the village. It had been destroyed by the Bolsheviks during the 1917 revolution.
Heidi and I were quite confused. We had been told by all the senior members of the Pervin family that Leib owned a sugar beets factory - we never heard a word about distillery.
On the following day, Dr. Faina Avramovna Vinocrova, a city official of the Vinnytsa Archives clarified our confusion. She stated, with a giggle, that all sugar beets factories produced alcohol in those days - but many referred to them as sugar beet factories to avoid embarrassment. I recalled an episode from the Los Angles Porvin family about the five children's exodus from Bagrinovtsy. In that story, Betty, the eldest daughter who was 15 years old managed to make a living for herself and 4 siblings by making and selling alcohol. When I read the story, I wondered how a 15 year old girl could have the knowledge and skill to produce alcohol? (After we came back from this trip, Heidi's mother recalled that one of the Pervins made alcohol in the basement of the synagogue in Toledo.) Knowing this, it now makes sense that Betty knew how to make spirits - but then again, we were also told that everyone in the Ukraine knows how to make alcohol.
According to Illia, the factory belonged to a Polish Lord named Poriakov Pan, when the factory was destroyed by the Bolsheviks. We were told that the Pan escaped from the revolution and returned to Poland. This means that Leib had to sell the factory to this Polish lord - but when was the factory sold to the lord? Knowing that Samuel Porvin immigrated to the US in 1913 according to the US census, the factory could have been sold earlier than the 1920s and perhaps even earlier - before the revolution. This assumption better fits the story told by the Zaluzhna villagers.
- Norimi and Heidi