Berman’s Branches
Barbara Hacker Berman
Interviews - Sylvia Warren

Berman Cousins Interview
by Barbara Berman
And 9/25/96 Interview
with Sylvia Warren

The interview took place at the home of Martha Berman. Family attending were: Barbara and Lewis Berman, Martha Berman, Hy and Sherry Greene, Sylvia Warren, Willie and Arline Kurta. Martha had arranged the meeting for me to get information regarding the Berman family history. We met for a lovely lunch that Martha prepared and lots of talk! It was great information, but more than that, we got acquainted with part of the family we didn’t know.

When we arrived home, I had in the mail a copy of Pauline Berman’s death certificate, which I had sent for. The following information is of interest and taken from that certificate:

Pauline Berman. Mother: Julia Berger (second marriage). Father: Ephraim Feinstein. Born Russia. Age 73. Lived in NY 60 years. Buried: Mt. Zion Cemetery, Queens, Long Island. Last address: 9-23 Thayer St., NYC.

The following are notes from my interview:

Relationship of people being interviewed:
Willie Kurta’s first wife was Rosalind. Rosalind was first cousin to Alfred Berman. Her mother, Frances, was the sister of Louis Berman, Alfred’s father. Sylvia Warren, Sherry Greene, and the late Rosalind are sisters.

Max Berman married Jenny (maiden name Rogovin in Russia (Vohlozhin). He was a tailor by trade. They had one daughter there named Sara. Max then came to the United States via NY in about 1876 (or 1888) on the ship Amsterdam. He was born in 1868 (or 1855!) Two years later, he sent for Jenny and Sara. Sara didn’t know her father. It took her about a year to get used to him. They lived in the lower East Side, on Cherry Street for a short time. I’m not sure when they came, but Jenny’s parents also lived on Cherry Street. There names were Joseph Rogoff (Rogovin) and Ruth Faberman. Joseph was a tailor. He died 1/23/1919 and Ruth died 11/17/1919. Both are buried at the Washington Cemetary, Long Island. Jenny was born in Valusin. Jenny earned money collecting rents for the landlord.

Then they moved to New London, Conn. They had relatives there who were doing well. Max saved money and bought a farm in New London. It is believed the relatives name was Bernstein. They lived here as a farming family for several years. The other children were born--a total of seven (one died at age 4 or 5). The children (in age order) were: Sara, Louis, Rose, Michael, Frances, and Florence. Frances Gertrude was born in 1894, Madison St. NYC, named for her Grandfather’s mother. The children went to school in a one room school house. Florence, as the youngest, parroted all the older children’s lessons! They had a teacher who was a bit of a crank, so the kids pulled a little prank--they filled his boots with snow. Then at the end of the day, after the fire was out and he was ready to go home, he found cold wet boots! Life on the farm was most pleasant. A large tub was placed in the middle of the berry picking field with a flag in it. The kids would pick berries and put them into the tub. When the tub was filled, they could go home. They sent the girls back to live in the lower East side of NYC when they were older as Max was worried about them finding Jewish husbands! There they lived with Jenny’s mother, Mrs. Rogovin . They eventually all moved back.

Max and Jenny were a very loving couple. Even in old age, Max would kiss Jenny on the back of the neck and call her loving names. Jenny was a hard working homemaker. The family always met in their home for meals and holidays. There was always a lot of noise and children about! And always lots of food! Max was known to be frugal. He loved to garden. Max had a sister--Susha Faiga (sp?). The family shopped at Mrs. Poley’s grocery. Bathgate Avenue in the Bronx was busy with pushcarts, vendors, etc.--like the lower East side in NYC. First they moved to 447 Claremont Parkway, Bronx, NY. Then they bought a three family house in the Bronx where the families of Louis, Sara and Frances lived-413 E. 173 Street. Max and Jenny remained on Claremont parkway with Michael. Max died at age 92 and Jenny and age 72. Sylvia believes they are buried (as well as Jenny’s mother) in a cemetery in Springfield, NY. She will check this and let me know. Sherry and Sylvia are both going to go through their things to try to get me copies of pictures, information. (For which I am really grateful.)

Sara was a nurse. She was known for her feisty temper. She was the “boss”! She married Ruben Rogovin, who was her mother’s (Jenny’s) brother! Ruben was a very religous, caring man. He helped Pauline’s family after Louis died. Their children were Julius, Leon and Frances. When Julius was thirteen (?), a tragedy incurred. A bunch of cousins were playing in the basement of the farmhouse in New London. They found an old Civil War pistol. Julius was shot--his head blown off accidentally by one of the cousins. He was sitting on the porch eating jelly and bread. His mother and Frances witnessed the accident. They tried to keep the incident quiet, as it was an accident. They took the body in a wagon to the river. But on the way a policeman stopped them. It caused quite a stir and did appear in the New London newspaper. Sara’s hair turned white over night She never got over the loss. The shooting caused a rift in the family. The cousin who shot Julius is believed to live in Trenton, New Jersey, name unknown.

Louis was adored by the family. He was tall, good looking, admired by all the family. He was a very successful salesman. He married Pauline Feinstein. Pauline’s family was from Hunter, NY, where they ran a hotel or restaurant. It is believed she came to the USA as a baby. Pauline was a perfect “lady”. She loved to cook and entertain. She served with her best china and silver even if it was a casual family member over for dinner. They were financially comfortable. Pauline even had a dressmaker come to her home to make her clothes. They had three children: Alfred David, Edward and Ruth. Louis died at age 39 of pneumonia. The family was devastated. Pauline soon had not much money as she was very generous with helping out other family members. Found via research: Louis buried at the Mount Zion Cemetery, Maspeth, NY. He was buried on 10/23/30. He died on Oct. 22, 1930. He was born Jan. 2, 1891 in NYC and had been a salesman of ladies coats for 10 years. Per cemetery, they belonged to the “Wolozin” society (Volosiner U.V.?). Pauline is also buried there. She was buried on 11/18/66. The cemetery has Louis age as “59”. I believe 39 is correct. Pauline’s mother was Julia Berger and her father was Ephraim Feinstein. On Louis’ death certificate, it lists his address as 413 East 173, Bronx and states he is the owner of the “tenement”. Sylvia Warrne fondly remembers her daily hugs from Aunt Pauline and her promises to make her chicken soup. She remembers bouncing on Uncle Louis’ knee while he called her his little “peanut”.

Eddie was mentally retarded. Sherry remembers playing a lot with Eddie. Not all the children would play with him. He especially liked to play “doctor”. He would knock on the door and say, “Dr. Schwenk is here.” At that point Sherry would yell for her mother as she wasn’t quite sure what was about to happen!

Ruth married Moe Gebaide. They had two children--Michael and Larry.

Al was very much like his father--handsome, tall, athletic and popular. He like to hang out at the “Y”. There he met Martha Schlam. By this time they lived on Washington Ave. in the Bronx. (Pauline later moved to a house across the street from the family house.) Sherry and Sylvia remembers when Al brought home Martha and introduced her to them. They thought she looked like the movie star, Hedy Lamar! She was tall, beautiful and dressed so well. Martha and Al loved to dance--especially the Shag.

Rose was the next child of Max and Jenny. She was a beautician. She married Herman Finger. They had two sons--Jack and Burt. Burt married Sima. They had three children-Billy, Beth, and Howard. Billy and Howard were lawyers who became fabulously wealthy. Billy and his wife, Anita had matching Rolls Royces! Unfortunately, much of their wealth was by illegal means. They were both convicted. Billie died awaiting a heart transplant. Howard went to jail. He never forgave Billy or Sima for what he saw as their part in his conviction. Sima still lives in NY. Beth married a fireman. He was injured during a fire and was left a quadriplegic. He has since died. Beth has not remarried and works in a nursing home. She lives in Long Beach, NY. Howard lives in Florida. Billy’s widow, Anita, lives in Lido Beach, Florida. Lewis remembers going fishing on Long Island with Billy when they were kids.

Michael Berman never married and lived with his parents. Sherry found him dead when her grandmother asked her to wake him to eat Sunday breakfast. He was around 42. Supposedly, Michael had a great love when he was young. It never materialized and he never found anyone else.

Frances loved to sing and was quite talented. (Sara sung also.) Rose and Frances loved to dress as cowgirls when they were little. They were known as the family tomboys. As a youngster on the lower East side, Frances hung around with George Burns, George Jessell, Irving Berlin, and Edie Cantor! She wanted to become a professional, but Max said, “No!” She married Morris Glockner. She didn’t want to marry Morris. But her father thought a nice steady tailor would be a good match. They had three children, Rosalind, Sherry and Sylvia. Frances remarried Mr. Goldstein after the death of Morris. Frances was a beloved woman who lived until age 99. She was always kind and loving. When Rosalind died and Willie told her he was going to marry Arline, she wished them well and said Rosalind would have wanted that.

The whole family was very musically inclined. They sang at most family occassions. Frances favorite song was “Down by the Old Mill Stream”.

Willie and Rosalind Kurta had three children--Joan, Jeffrey and Barbara.

Sylvia went to Hunter High and Hunter College. Sherry says, “She always had her nose in a book!” While at Hunter College, her friend was Jean Cagney, sister of Jimmy Cagney. When Jean’s family came to the school, Sylvia felt famous by association! Sylvia married Isadore Warren. He was in the meat business and then Real Estate. They had four children--Penny Chester, Richard Warren, Jerome Warren, and Ruth Ann Warren. Sylvia taught for many years.

Sherry is married to Hy Greene. Martha remembers the ritzy blue convertible that Hy drove when he was courting Sherry. Hy is in the uniform manufacturing business. They have two daughters-Tina Moreno and Candy.

Florence married Izzy Luft. He was not highly thought of, rather a nondescript type person. They had one son--Phily. (Phily was something of a ladies man--causing many an eyebrow to raise!