THE INCREDIBLE ORDEAL OF PORVIN CHILDREN
By Rochelle (Ricki) Tobisman,
Copyright © 2002 by Rochelle (Ricki) Tobisman
Leib Pervin was a Nicholiaver in Russia.
As a young boy, he was taken by Czar Nicholas I to be trained as a lifetime soldier. He served with distinction and his family was given a large parcel of land and first class citizenship. Most of the Jewish boys who were taken lost their religious identity and were raised as Greek Orthodox. Leib was able to retrace his family and remained Jewish, so he had two things were unheard of for a Jew in Czarist Russia -- he had land and first class citizenship.
Leib's eldest son was Shmuel who inherited the sugar factory which was called Loznanskey-Sacharnyi Zarod and which was located in the state of Podolsky Guberni.
Shmuel's second son was Isruel (Samuel), my grandfather. He worked as an accountant who served as an overseer on the plantation owned by his older brother, Leib! He would spend the week on the plantation and return to his family on Shabbas. The children would distribute baskets of food to needy families and then go out to the road to greet him.
The town of Selo Bagrinowsy contained the largest and most intellectual Jewish community. It was town of about 5,000. The family lived in a large house next to a church. They were a prominent family with great wealth and many servants. The name PERVIN means "The First."
Isruel (Samuel) was married to Sheiva Milstein (first cousine of the famous concert violinist - Nathan Milstein. They had six children.
Fruma whom my aunt thinks was born in 1900 and who was named after her grandmother on her father's (Isruel) side. This is interesting because it woould give us some indication of Leib's wife's name. Fruma died of typhoid in 1918.
Then there was Beila aka Betia, known in the U.S as Betty. She was named after her father's side also.. She told Karen she was born in 1903. The ship manifest says she was 19 in 1921 which would be about right. But her citizenship papers say she was 33 in 1939, which would mean she was born in 1906. Betty married when she was about 50 years old and her husband only lived for a year or two. She had no children. She left Detroit for California and opened a doctors and nurses uniform shop. She was very bright - spoke 11 languages - and very independent.
Karen's notes indicates that Betty was a Talmudic scholar in a boys school preparing for Bar Mitzvah when she was 5 and 6. She was a tomboy and loved to dance until her foot was crippled by polio. At age 9 she was the town correspondent, reading and writing letters for the peasants.
Samuel/Sherman was named after his grandmother on his father's side. He was 17 in 1921 (per the ship manifest) so was born somewhere around 1906.
Kreinia/Clara was named after her grandmother on her mother's side. She was 14 in 1921, so was born in 1907.
Bassia/Beverly (my mother) was named after her father's second sister - also interesting. She was 11 in 1921 ??? - see below
Please keep in mind that the years of birth were played with in order to get the children into the U.S. My mother always said she was either born 1912 or 1915. She never knew and neither did we. She thought all their ages were off by 3 years. (However, the manifest says she was 11 in 1921, which would mean she was born in 1910 ??)
I know there's some confusion about S. Porvin on Alfred Street in 1910 when Motel came. My brother, Stuart, thinks it's possible that my grandfather came earlier because, unlike most, they had enough money for him to go back and forth. He could possibly have come to the U.S. in before 1910and gone back to Russia to help his wife and family close down the house for their trip in 1914 and then returned ahead of them to get things ready when the war broke out. It's too much of a coincidence for it to be S. Porvin on Alfred Street and not to be him.
Sheiva (my grandmother) was killed by marauding bandits (the Petula band) during the one of the constant pogroms. She had hidden the children with friendly gentile families. The children were waiting for their mother to get their hidden belongings together from their house so they could flee . Albert was with her but escaped as they shot at him. Betty saw it all and ran to the house just as they rode away. Her mother died in her arms begging her to keep the family together. Shevia was buried secretly because of the pogroms.
Betty kept the children with the gentile families and supported them partially off of the food, etc. that she receives for reading and writing for people. She deals in livestock, many of them stolen. This is extreamly dangerous because she is a 15-year-old girl with a crippled leg riding with outlaws who might kill her for her share of the profits.
She then got into bootlegging. She bought a still and made liquor from hops, etc. She makes good money.
The gentile family that has Sherman has no son and offers Betty a large sum of money to keep Sherman. Betty has promised to keep the family together and refuses.
Arrangements are made through a private agent and through Haias (?) for the family to escape with the Lipschultz family who are from the same town and good family friends. Hymie Lipschultz is already in the U.S. waiting for his family. I think he lived in New York. All of the contacts are made by Eva Lipshultz who had escaped to Poland.
A few days before departure, Albert is severely wounded by fragments from a shrapnel bomb he picked up. His throat is torn open. Betty rides 40 miles throught he night to the famous doctor who treated her when she had polio as a young child. The doctor agreed to return with her to help Albert. He is near death, but two weeks later the family leaves on the pretext that they are going to live the relatives.
They go to Volotchisk (on the Russian side) which is across from Pod-Wolotchisk (on the Galician side). Betty sends the girls across dressed as peasand children going to market. Sherman and Albert are taken to a woman who lives in the woods who agrees to help them swim across the river. (The boys have to be carefully hidden because the army is looking for all males) Sherman makes it, but Albert is too weak. He is taken across as a peasant child being taken to a special doctor in Poland. After she has them across, Betty goes over disguised as a peasant.
In Poland, it takes months of waiting at government offices to get the necessary papers to continue. A polish doctor wants to marry Betty, but she decides she must keep her promise.
They eventually reach Amsterdam and depart for America. The final worry is that Betty is detained from getting off the ship because of an eye infection.
(Note: My mother, Beverly, told the story a bit differently. She said they were waiting to leave when she spilled hot water all over herself. (She had scars on much of her body.) Betty was told she would die and leave her. Betty refused and the Lipshultz family also did not leave. They all stayed until my mother was better, and then made the trip together.)
Betty has no children and was only married for a short while. I think his name was Sam Cohen.
Sherman married Sophie and had three children: Bernie (Brenda) - Mitch, Terry, Tammy, Samford - I don't remember his wife and children's names; Dennis, - I don't remember his wife and children's names. Bernie lives in Palm Springs. I think Samford and Dennis still live in Detroit.
Albert married Estelle and had two children: Shirley (Herbie) - Miriam, Mark, Howard. Shirley and Herbie both died about 26 years ago, about a year apart. Miriam and Mark are married and have children; Howard is single. They all still live in Detroit. Lawrence (Larry/Sonny), who was married to Ellen; they are divorced. They had three children: Steven(married to a Russian) and living I don't know where); Danny (single and living in New York; Joanna (single and living in Detroit. Larry is remarried to Judy)
Clara married Marvin Fiarman and had one child: Sheila (divorced from Sidney Levine). She had four children: Neil (married to Barbara: 3 children), living in the San Diego area); Lisa (divorced and and living in L.A.); Stephanie (single and living in L.A.); Robert (single and living in San Francisco).
My mother, Beverly, married Nathan Tobisman and had three children: Stuart (Karen) and had two children: Cindy and Neal (living with his girlfriend in L.A.); me (Rochelle/Ricki) married to Hal with two children: CJ (married with no children yet); and Nathaniel (single and living in L.A.); Chariene (Barry Davis) with two children: Zak and Cody (Zak is at UC Davis in College; Cody still at home in high school).
My mom could not support three children as a bookkeeper in Detroit so she moved to California because my Aunt Betty offered her a share of the uniform shop. The uniform shop she opened in California was (for those of you who know L.A.) at Vermont and Fountain Avenue, not near Pico. Sherman never lived in L.A.; he moved - as so many do - to Florida from Detroit and died there playing cards.
TO BE CONTINUED ......