Our long trip from Russia to America was over. Here we were
at last, in Rochester, New York. Our Uncle Izzy met us at the
train station and took us to our new home. My Grandmother
Elkie was overjoyed to see her eldest son. "Good, good!" she
said, "but where is Hershel?"
"Mamma," he answered, "Hershel has a business now, a
furniture store. That's where he is. He couldn't leave, but
we're going to see him after you get settled."
The apartment to which he took us was nice. All of us were
very pleased to learn we had relatives nearby -- my
grandmother's cousin and her husband, adult children, and
grandchildren who were close to us in age.
All seemed like a dream come true, until my father tried to
get a job. Oh, he did get jobs and was well-liked until he
had to tell his employer that he would not work on Shabbos.
It made no difference that he had done an excellent job. On
Friday he was fired.
His brothers were angry. They scolded and yelled. "How long
will we have to support you? We have to work on Shabbos and
you will have to, as well."
But my father would not listen. He tried hard to find work
where he could keep the holy Shabbos, but a full year passed
without any luck. Finally, one day, Izzy presented him with
an ultimatum. "We've invested in a business for you, a fruit
and vegetable store. It will be easy for you to work there;
you'll be your own boss. Shabbos will be your first day.
Here's the address and the key."
My father was silent. He took the key but didn't tell my
mother about it. On Shabbos morning, he dressed in his
Shabbos clothes and left the house, wearing the key on the
back of his belt, supposedly on his way to shul. But
my mother was suspicious. She said nothing, but went out
after him, following quietly half a block behind.
My father reached the fruit store, unlocked the door, and sat
down on a chair and cried.
My mother came in, walked up to him and said, "Come, Azriel.
This is not for you." They walked out together, locked the
door and went home. And that night, Hashem blessed him with a
wonderful idea; he would start his own business where no one
would ever work on Shabbos or Yomtov.
In those days, one could buy the Sunday papers on Saturday
night. My father felt the urge that motzoei Shabbos to
get the paper. He turned the pages and paused at the listings
of apartments for rent.
"Maybe we can find a cheaper apartment than this one," he
said. That would be the first step. And there it was:
"BARGAIN! Three-bedroom apartment, coal stove, nice yard, two-
car garage. Available now."
"What do I want with a two-car garage?" he mused aloud. He
let the idea sit on a back burner in his mind, waiting for a
brainstorm, as he would say in later years.
The house he saw the next morning was clean and offered
privacy, sitting on its own private yard. The garage was in
good shape -- and suddenly, inspiration struck him. "I could
make mattresses here -- the kind Mother made in Russia!'
When he spoke to his mother about it, she was enthusiastic.
"You used to help me in Russia, Azriel. Now I will help you."
The mattresses she had made, stuffed and much like sturdy
quilts, were cheap and easy to make.
We soon found out why the rent was so cheap. Freight trains
passed day and night atop a stone embankment about twelve
feet away from our backyard. People would ask us how we bore
the noise. To tell the truth, after the first week we hardly
even noticed it.
Hashem helped my father and his business blossomed. In a few
years he had saved enough to move to Baltimore where my
brothers were already studying in Ner Yisroel. There he set
up a factory that made real mattresses, which we are still