In Search of a Better Life
This is a photo from the early 1920's and taken a couple of years after my father migrated from eastern Europe to Canada. In the picture are my father, his aunt who adopted him and (seated) the grandmother who saved him from a rioting mob when he was four years old.
Pogroms were common in Russia from 1880 to 1920 and in 1917 during the Russian Revolution and near the end of World war I a band of drunken horsemen swept through my father's village, burning, murdering, raping and pillaging. My four-year old father's mother was attacked and murdered in front of him and a horseman's saber struck the boy's grandmother on the head. She fell on the child she was holding and was left for dead by the raiders.
My dad recalled only a blur, screams and blood. He told me that he remembers walking for a long time with his grandmother after she arose from where they lay motionless on the ground. She recovered from her wound and found refuge in a relative's cottage where my dad recalls an idyllic life in an orchard.
When I asked him a few years before his death at 88 what that cottage symbolized to him his eyes filled with tears and his voice quavered as he answered in what sounded like a plea, "peace".
By coming to North America he and his remaining family obviously succeeded in their search for a better life.
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