Thursday, May 22, 2014


This is my Grandpas's brief sketch of the details of his life, written when the rest of the family requested him to, a few years ago. 

I never met any of my grandparents. I think my dad's parents died in Europe.  My mother's family was upper middle class. Her father owned a small department store in the Black Sea port city of Odessa. Fleeing both radicals and anti-Semites in l902 they came to the US, where they settled in Meridian, Mississippi.  I think my Uncle Ben and Aunt Molly were both born in Mississippi. There were four sisters (Molly, Mary, Celia, and my mother,Luba).There were three brothers (Mike, Charley, and Ben). Mike and Charley were in the Navy in World War I; Ben was just a boy. Sometime before World War I they moved up North.

My mother worked as a waitress and cashier in a restaurant whose name I never knew, but she says that the composer Victor Herbert was a steady customer, so it must have been in Manhattan.  My father came from dirt poor farmers the area of Belitza. The closest city to make it onto the map was Kovno, sometimes in Russia, but mostly in Poland. He and his siblings came to the US one at a time in the first decade of the twentieth century. A sage and a scholar and an extremely smart and good man, he found work as a plumber and helped lay the sewer line of Hartford Connecticut at what was then the princely sum of a dollar a day,
my great grand father
six days a week.  He put his kid brother,Bernard, through the University of Michigan medical school.  Days after we entered the First World War he enlisted in the 101st machine gun battalion of the 26th (Yankee) Division, along with many other rash youngsters, many of them undergraduates at Yale and Trinity College, Hartford.

When these aristocratic guys came as middle aged physicians
and attorneys and businessmen to conventions in Atlantic City, they often visited Bill Crane, who had honeymooned in AC, and when my mother compared it favorably to Paradise, pulled up stakesin New England and moved there. It was a boomtown, and Freddy (born in '22), and I (born in '26)and Bobby (born in '28)  all graduated from ACHS, and went on to snappy schools like MIT and Princeton, although none of us were as sharp as our parents, who never finished high school. Your mom's great aunt Harriet left her 10,000 dollars for college, which bought her a Bachelor's from Penn and a Master's from Chicago, two good schools. I don't have a BA but I had a war and I earned an MA at Chicago in '50 and a PhD at Illinois (where I started teaching college) in '53.

Somewhere in there I attended Villanova, which was the luckiest break of my life, because I ran into your Mother (editor’s note:  my grandmother) on a bus going from Philly to AC. We have four marvelous children, whose names I forget, plus five grandchildren and a couple of beautiful greatgrandchildren, all of them really nice people. In March we'll celebrate Mom's 80th birthday and our 58th anniversary. We'll probably buy a couple of Big Macs to help celebrate the fact that we have helped populate this earth with some genuinely admirable folks.

My Dad's brothers were Harry, Bernard, and Max. Harry's children were Herbert (Skippy), who welcomed you and Beth to the Great Northwest, Sidney (Smokey), Florence (Flossie) and Miriam (Mitzi). Herb was a combat infantryman in Europe, Sid flew bombers in the Pacific. You went to a party at Flossie's house in Margate. You don't know Mitzi at all. Herb does a lot with opera in Portland. Bernard had two daughters, Phyllis (whom you've met) is a court stenographer in Portland, Ruthie is a concert pianist and author and ex-professor in San Antonio. Her husband, Sam Friedberg, taught for years at Duke Medical School. He was a navy doctor in the Korean war. Their son Michael was an attending physician in El Paso when I went to see my brother Bobby for the last time. He's pretty sharp. Max had one son, Milton Crane, who taught at Harvard, Hunter, Wm&Mary, Chicago,and George Washington. He wrote a lot of books; I read only three, "The Roosevelt Era", "The Sins of New York", and "Shakespeare's Prose," which ALL doctoral candidates in English have to read. Milton was section chief in the OSS during the war, and consulted with the CIA up until his death.  You and Jon visited him in DC in '73. His son John blows oboe with the NYU Philharmonic. His son Peter, an attorney, lives near you. (Seattle, Maybe.) Milton's wife Sibylle was a holocaust survivor and a genuine linguistic genius.  I went to U of C because Milton was there. Mom went because I was there. Montel can't use any of this but I thought you'd like to know. If you need more send me specific questions.

Grandpa taking it all in when we visited Olympia, WA

Grandma and Grandpa on a double date

Grandpa, my father and aunt

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