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Over 60 ... And Getting Younger: February 1, 2013

The Panana

In the fifteen years I have been writing this “world famous” column for the Syosset-Jericho Tribune, I have exposed much about my family and personal life.  Recently, I came onto some facts that are interesting and harmless. Harmless, because all of the parties involved died long ago, and are now buried in our family plot in the Kopyczncer Lodge burial grounds on Staten Island.

My father’s father Eisig (Isaac) was a soldier in World War I for the Polish Army.  I do remember my grandfather telling me some of his war stories, when I visited him and my grandmother Anna (Chancha) in 1945, in Monticello, N.Y.

Like many immigrants, he left his wife and four sons in Poland and came to New York for a better life, without persecution.  He was a roofer and tinsmith and he made good money at his trade in America.  He once told me that while he was building houses in Jamaica, Queens, the boss had no money for the payroll.  The boss offered my grandfather houses instead of cash. My grandfather refused. He needed money to live and gamble.

Who knows what my life would have been like if Isaac had accepted the houses in Jamaica? Perhaps I could have been Donald Trump instead of a dentist.

Anyway, he sent a lot of his money back to Poland for his family. My grandmother Chancha took the money and bought Polish real estate with it. She was considered quite wealthy when Eisig sent for Chancha and his four sons. At first, she even refused to leave Poland and come to America.

Chancha’s sisters, who wanted her to leave Poland and come to the USA, told her they thought her husband could be running around with a “Panana.”  In Polish, that meant he might be running around with a young lady. Chancha dropped everything and came running to Ellis Island, with three of their sons.  One son could not pass the medical inspection because he had glaucoma ( He did come later.)

So that is the story of the Panana! My grandfather Isaac was quite a guy.  This story is similar to a movie called Hester Street. It is a part of my genealogy.