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What's in a Letter? The Story of My Great Grandmother's Desire to Read.


Bubbe, my great grandmother, was born in a little village in Poland in 1869. She wanted to learn to read very badly but her father didn’t want to pay the teacher for her.


“Girls don’t have to read,” he would say.


When Bubbe came to the US she got a letter from her father. She didn’t know what it said because she was too proud to have someone read it to her. She had tears in her eyes when she told the family.


When Bubbe came to this country she was living with her married sister. Her sister would leave the house in the morning and stay out all day. This meant Bubbe had to stay home with the children. And there were many things to do in a house in those days.


What was Bubbe to do?


Well, she left and moved in with her boyfriend, my great grandfather. She said she was worried because he had only one narrow bed for the both of them. She slept at one end and he, the other end. Bubbe said she was so scared at first that she went to bed with her “bloomers” on.


But, as the story goes, he didn’t touch her until they were married. And Bubbe was so proud that she didn’t have her first child until nine months after she was married.


What’s more, Bubbe did learn to read. My great grandfather taught her how. Since then, she read the paper cover to cover every day — the Forward of course.




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