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Julius Dudock Autobiography, Parts III, IV, V


They both worked at their jobs and saved as much money as they could.  Irma became pregnant about a year after her marriage, and when she was in her sixth or seventh month of pregnancy my father suffered a heart attack and was taken to the Beth El Hospital in Brooklyn.  The doctor told us he would be better off at the hospital after coming to our house and examining him.  My father who had never been sick a day in his life was strong really a healthy man and the doctor said he would be in the hospital only a couple of weeks.  

We had moved from Bradford Street to a very nice two family house on Euclid Avenue near the Queens County Line just eight months before.  It was like living in the country no stores or businesses except of course grocery and butcher stores.  There were only small houses unattached and at least twenty feet apart.  We liked living there, with my father working steady now and my brother Frank in the Post Office.  I myself took a job for a printing company called Lecouver Press and they promised to teach me to become a composer, they put me in the composing room and I was making proofs and putting the type back in the draws that were made just to hold the different type in the small compartments. I was learning the trade and earning money while learning. Frank was working in the Post Office nights and going to City College during the day.  He wanted to be a medical doctor and tried very hard to get that education he needed to become one.

I was going to Continuation School twice a week learning mathematics, English, and Spelling because I wanted to become a compositor in the place I was now working.  My foreman liked me and was giving me a chance to learn.

I worked at making proofs after the compositors set up their jobs suing the different type that was required.  After making five copies and then taking them to the proof-readers, it was then my job to distribute the type in different compartments in draws that were especially made for this purpose.  The only thing I didnít like about the job was cleaning the type with kerosene; the odor was terrible and my breathing in this odor all day long affected me.  I was developing a cough that was very hard to get rid of.

We visited my father in the hospital every night, but after ten days there he developed double pneumonia and died.  Even though he was admitted as a heart patient, the care you received in the hospital was so awful that a patient had to be very lucky to come out alive.  They had no isolation wards and if someone was put in the same room with you that had an infectious disease it was a pretty good bet that the other patient would get it too.  There was no penicillin then and if someone had developed pneumonia he or she usually died.

The funeral services were held in the hospital, in a special room the director provided as a favor to us.  My father did not belong to any lodge or organization and therefore had no plot to be buried in.  My uncle Barnett took over and made all the arrangements for the burial.  We all gave money to cover the expenses and my father was buried in the Beth Moses Cemetery on Long Island.

Shortly after my father died, my uncle Sam who was my motherís brother suggested I come work for him.  He was half owner of a pleating and stitching firm in Manhattan, on 10th Street.  Even though my father was always busy trying to earn enough money, I remember good things about him too, like taking me to see a movie in New York City once in awhile.  To me that was a great treat as I was nine years old and because of my feet which were pretty flat I was a little depressed.  The real reason why we were in the city was that I was being treated in a hospital clinic trying to get my flat feet fixed.  My father would buy me candy from the men walking up and down the aisles of the movie house.  I liked that and he always was the one who took me for the treatments at the hospital which was located in the downtown section of New York.  I had fallen arches, born that way and my father read about a famous doctor that did wonders with arches, he would have the patient place his feet in in an oven and sort of bake them for about an hour, the idea was to soften the bones a little and then with his hands try to push the bones back in the position they should be in.  The man who discovered this method was Dr. Lorense a famous European surgeon who came to New York to teach his methods to other doctors.  It didnít work for me, but it did work for some younger children and he actually straightened out their feet without surgery;.  My father took me to this clinic for about three years and he paid five dollars each time for the treatment.  He used to buy my clothes for me, nice ones too he was never cheap.  I think that I learned from him to be a sport not cheap with money.  I was always generous with my mother, brothers, sisters and other members of my family when it became necessary to give, I always did and my friends knew it; some of them took advantage of me and considered me an easy mark to borrow money from, sometimes they did not pay back.  Well, after a few months of consideration, I decided to accept my uncleís offer of a job in his place of business.  

I left my job in the printing line, it was making me sick anyway as I had a continuous cough from the kerosene.

My uncle was half-owner of the Central Tucking Company on W. 10th Street in NYC.  I went to work for him there.  His partner spoke to me about money and I agreed to work the first four weeks without any pay, which was fair because the only thing I did was practice on cheesecloth and they did not receive any compensation for and so they didnít pay me anything.  AFter four weeks I was paid 31 dollars a week for a forty hour week.  I did the easy work called tucking.  It was done on large pieces of material thirty to forty yards long and 54 inches wide, after we got through with it they pressed the whole thing, rolled it up and sent it to the coat manufacturer who then stretched it out on a large table, put a pattern over it and then cut it up as trimming for ladies winter coats.  It was very boring work but the pay was good, we worked overtime and for each additional hour I worked my uncle paid two dollars.  I worked about eighteen hours overtime every week.  I was taking home sixty to seventy dollars a week and in those days that was pretty good pay for a young man less than a year in the line.  Then after one year something began to happen, it was 1930 and the depression that was spreading over the entire country was beginning to be felt in this business.  People were not buying like they used to, they did not have the money to spend, even those that had money were reluctant to spend it.  When I worked in the printing line there were never any layoffs as far as I was concerned, and now that the work was not coming in there was something to worry about, no work no pay and some weeks there was no pay at all.  

I used to bring home most of my pay because it was needed.  Frank gave about $10 a week, he was only earning $40 a week working in the Post Office, but his job was steady and he had security.  My sister Lillian was ten and my brother Harold seven when my father died.  My sister Irma gave birth to a girl and she was named Norma, a name for Daveís mother.  Soon afterwards Irma moved to a different neighborhood, East Flatbush.  Dave and Irma rented a beautiful apartment on Rockaway Parkway in a very nice brand-new building with two elevators.  At that time to live in such a building a person had to have a large income.

At the time my father died we were living on Euclid Avenue near the Queens boundary line.  It was like living in the country then the streets were not paved and it was a long walk from the New Lots station which was the last stop on the IRT subway.  My mother, Frank and I decided to move from there because the rent was more than we could afford, with my earnings way down and just Frank working steady he could not support the whole family.  We found a smaller apartment on Essex Street near Dumont Avenue where the rent was much less.  This we figured would be right for us.  

My mother received a check for $2,000 from the life insurance policy my father had and never told u.  We found the policy in my fatherís drawer and called the company, they verified its validity.  When my motherís youngest brother Max heard about the policy he came around to borrow $200 from my mother and she loaned him the $200 believing that he would pay it back in a few months she never got it back.  

After living on Essex Street only a few months Frank told us that he needed an operation and was going into the hospital in one week.  He had a double hernia, and went into the Saint Lukeís Hospital in NY to have it done.  He was in the hospital for four weeks.  The Federal Government paid for everything as a compensation case being that he was working in the Post Office at the time.  

My mother and I visited him there, in the hospital, and so did Irma.  Every day at least one of us went to see him.  When he was discharged I went to bring him home.  He stayed home for another five weeks.  He was paid for all this time by the government full salary but after that he received a letter telling him to get checked out by their compensation doctor in order to determine if he could go back to work.  He did not want to go back to work because he would have to carry a heavy bag of mail, which he was doing just before he went in the hospital.  He was supposed to collect the mail from the mailboxes in a certain area.  

When he did go back to his job, he tried to skip some of the boxes in order to lighten his load but he was reported by the inspector who followed him around for a few days in his civilian clothes.  Frank was suspended without pay for 90 days but he didnít care as he was fed up with the job anyway and wanted to get out of the Post Office for good.  He looked for another job for a few weeks and stopped going to City College, he said for a little while.  It was impossible to find a job at that time so Frank decided to leave home for the summer and go camping at Lake George for the rest of the summer.  Once there he bought a used tent from one of the campers on the Lake George camping grounds and settled there for about nine weeks.  

My mother had gotten a job as a cook in a hotel in Saratoga Springs for the whole summer and she was permitted to take her two younger children.  They paid her $70 a month plus room and board for herself and children.


Lillian and Harold went with her and I stayed home in our apartment on Essex Street.  It so happened that we were busy in the place and so I went to work every day for a short season of six weeks.  In the middle of July, I had a very bad sinus condition and was being treated for it at the New York ear, nose and throat hospital on Second Avenue NYC.  I wasnít getting any better so I asked the doctor treating me if it would be all right for me to go up to Lake George for a few weeks as a change, sort of vacation and take in some of that clean air from the pine trees which there were plenty of.  Yes, he said it would be very good for me, and he gave me enough medication to last a month.

I closed up the apartment after paying the rent in advance, bought some cheap work clothes for myself, light blue shirts and pants of blue denim.  I took the Hudson River night boat to Albany, boarding at 6 PM.  I arrived at the Albany docks at 6 AM the following morning.  I went by bus to Saratoga Springs which was just two hours away.  I wanted to see my mother before going up to Lake George and it was going in the same direction.  I spent a few hours talking to my mother, sister and brother, we had some lunch together and then when I was satisfied that they were all-right I left and took a tour of the town; it really  was a delight to be there.  It was in the middle of the racing season - the people there were beautiful, well dressed real sports and the hotels were painted in bright colors.  The parks were magnificent, a person could drink all the mineral water he or she wanted without any charge.  The women were fast, mostly kept women of the race horse owners and many prostitutes that were kept busy nights. I hated to leave Saratoga, there was so much excitement there.

I left Saratoga Springs in the afternoon, taking a bus north and about an hour later passed through Glens Falls and then stopped in the town of Lake George.  Itís a very beautiful place to be in the summertime, full of forests and loaded with pine trees which was very helpful in clearing up my sinus condition.  I walked from the bus stop to the camping grounds, and soon found my brother Frank and his tent.  It looked pretty beat up but it was shelter from the sun and rain.  The ground was covered with straw - thatís the way we slept for the next few weeks.  I had about $50 with me and Frank was very low on money by then so I gave most of it to him.  He bought the food in the village and mornings an Indian man and his son would come around selling milk, eggs and packaged crullers which we bought from them.  We didnít have to pay any rent so it was enough for a month that I stayed there.  It did me a lot of good both mentally and physically.  I loved being there.  I learned to make a delicious beef stew with lots of vegetables cut into it; it was the cheapest meat with potatoes but it really was very good and we both ate with good appetites.  Living outside in the fresh air with the smell of pine needles day and night was just great for me.  I felt wonderful, strong, and healthy,.  

I met a very nice girl about eighteen who was camping there with her brother.  We liked each other right from the start and we were together most of her vacation of three weeks.  Sometimes we slept together in her tent all night and made love, it was beautiful and satisfying.  She would ask her brother who was about 11 years old to go and stay with some friends at the camping site for the night.  They lived in Poughkeepsie, NY with their parents.  She had to get back to her job and hated to leave me.  She left a day before I did.  We wrote to each other after that for about a year and thought we were in love and might have gotten married.  She wanted to marry me but she didnít want to leave her family and come to New York to live, and so after a while we just stopped writing.  

After the summer was over my mother came back to our apartment with Lillian and Harold.  Frank came back after his 90 day suspension was up.  He went back to work in the Post Office again but asked his supervisor to let him sort mail for a few months.  He got what he asked for and worked all winter and until June of 1930.  At the end of June Frank told us that he was going to take 3 months off from work and spend his time at the beach in Coney Island.  

My mother decided to put our furniture in storage for the summer and rented two rooms on West 2nd STreet in Coney Island for the whole summer so that we could be together.  Actually, Frank wanted to get away from us and live by himself but we didnít know that then.  It was a big mistake to do that, I mean giving up the apartment is not good to do in any circumstances.  

Shortly after moving to Coney Island my throat began to give me trouble so I went to the doctor and was told that my tonsils had to come out as they were badly infected and the doctor said I would not get any better until they were removed.  Two days later I went into the hospital by myself after work at 6 PM.  That was my appointment hour  and the surgeon cut my tonsils out with me watching the whole operation.  One of the nurses put me to bed with an ice-pack around my neck to spend the night there at the hospital.  In the morning at 6 AM they discharged me and I got dressed and started to go home to Coney Island all by myself, nobody came to help me to get home, they didnít really care.  I was week and wobbly staggering along the street, a police officer noticed me and asked me if I needed help so I told him that I had just come out of the hospital.  He helped me to get on the right train to Coney Island.  I made it home and got into bed. My mother did whatever she could for me, feeding me ice-cream and cold foods.  

Frank found himself a nice girlfriend, there on the beach and was with her all summer.  He seemed to be happy and relaxed but when the summer was over he enlisted in the army and left home week later.  The army sent him to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.  And I was left alone to support my mother and younger sister and brother, stranded in two rooms in Coney Island - no money and no apartment to move into, thatís exactly what was afraid of and was against giving up our apartment in the first place.  

It was the fall on 1931 and the country was in the worst depression ever.  President Herbert Hoover was telling the people that prosperity was just around the corner.  He had leaders of industry like Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone assuring us that everything would be alright again very soon.  He said there would be a chicken in every pot, not to worry and good old Herbie would go fishing to show us he wasnít worried about anything.  

In the meantime we had to find a place to live, it was not possible to stay where we were and the landlady wanted us out so she could lock up for the winter.  About four weeks later we managed to find an apartment on Herzel Street, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, and we got our furniture out of storage and moved in.  For about nine months I was able to earn enough money to pay the rent and buy food.  My mother was a wonderful cook and everything she cooked tasted great.  Then our luck ran out.  There was just no work to be had.  I kept trying to find work doing anything at all.  My sister had given my mother some money to get our furniture back and move into this apartment, but she couldnít keep giving as Dave wasnít making much money then working part time.  They were having a hard time too.  

We had no money to speak of and my mother had just paid the landlord one-half a monthís rent because thatís all I had and he told my mother that he would wait for the balance for one week.  The very next day when I came home from work I was shocked to see our furniture out on the street in front of the building.  We had been evicted that morning in spite of the fact that the landlord had accepted a half-monthís rent in good faith.  I felt terrible, not only for myself but for my mother and younger sister and brother; it was the worst feeling I ever experienced in my life up to that time.  I had no money and no place to come to now, not even a place to sleep.  I felt so embarrassed and ashamed of myself that I were dead already.  I could never forget that ordeal as long as I live; itís still in my mind and sometimes my dreams bring the scene of that eviction vividly back to me and when I finally wake up Iím sick with the feeling of insecurity and Iím always afraid it might happen again to me that I canít relax.  

A Jewish organization came to our rescue; they got us three rooms on the next block from where we lived before and paid the rent for us and also hired a mover to take our furniture there; at least we would have a roof over our heads again.  A few weeks later this same organization helped my mother get a widowís pension from the State of New York and also a food allowance for the children under 18 years of age.  She was entitled to this pension since the death of her husband, but we did not know anything about it and so that money was lost.  It would have been a big help to us had we been advised by someone how to apply for it.  We lived here only a few months because we discovered that there was a house of prostitution next door to us on the same floor.  

Now that my mother was receiving help to pay the rent, gas and electric and besides some money for food and clothing, we were able to move out to another apartment in the same neighborhood.  We moved to Grafton Street around the corner from the Loewís Pitkin Theatre.  It was always very lively around there with all the stores and people walking around day and night.  In those days people went outside anytime without fear or even thoughts of being mugged.  

We had a new president then, he was elected by a landslide the people were so fed up with the Republicans that for the next 20 years we had only Democrats running this country.  It seemed that the Republican party only cared about the rich people in this country, I think thatís still true.  We have Nixon for President now and the people are suffering again because of unemployment and inflation due to being at war.  Mr. Nixon was elected by deceiving the American people; he said he would end the war, that he had a secret plan for ending the war but once in office he expanded the war into Cambodia and Laos; he is intensifying the bombing of North Vietnam, hoping to force a negotiated settlement just before the next election so that it would appear that he kept his promise four years later after many lives were lost without reason.


Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President four times.  Roosevelt, the former Governor of New York really started getting the economy moving again not by just talking about it but he did things like forming the WPA and the CCC., also unemployment insurance and Social Security among many other things.  People all over the country were beginning to find jobs again and you could feel the mood and excitement all over the city as business picked up again.  The place where I worked was very busy too and I was making out pretty good now financially.  

Lillian was having trouble walking, and after a few examinations at the hospital for joint diseases the doctor told my mother to bring her in for surgery on her feet to correct her arches.  She was eleven years old then and entered the hospital for what turned out to be a series of operations.  I think the doctors used her for research because she remained in the hospital for over a year with a great deal of pain and suffering. In all, she went through five operations on her feet while we were led to think one operation would be all she would need.  Her education had literally stopped.  

My great uncle Max was still out of work and he would come in to the place I worked every payday to borrow some more money from me.  I gave him $5 from my pay every Wednesday for three months until he started arguing with me for more.  He wanted $10 every week instead of $5 and thatís when I put my foot down and refused to give him any more money.  He never paid back a dime to me or to my mother.  He had taken us for about three hundred dollars; even when he had a good steady job as a salesman in a department store and was earning a good salary did he ever give back a single dime of the money he had borrowed from us.  It was true that he needed the money when he came and asked for it but we never thought for a minute that he wouldnít pay us back.  After all, we were the poor ones in the family.  His brothers Barnett and Sam owned their own businesses and had plenty of money but they wouldnít give him any money; they knew he never paid back his debts,so why should they work for the money and give it to him?  He was no good but we found out too late.

So many things had happened to us since my father died that Frank took it worse than me or other members of the family.  I couldnít even cry at the funeral, but I recall my brother Frank crying so much that we all had to hold him up and try to console him.  If frank hadnít been so sensitive he would have been better off.  He realized when my father died that now he would have to take more responsibility.

I think that I didnít realize the significant changes that this tragedy indicated in our lives for the next few years.  Frank was more sensitive than me and had matured faster.  I could take hard knocks better than him and keep going without being afraid of what was coming in the future.  If Frank didnít get away when he did I think he would have suffered a nervous breakdown, with going to college studying for hours at a time then going to work in the Post Office nights - he really got very little rest; it was just too much for him.

The US Army sent him by ship to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, where he began his basic training in the infantry as a soldier.  He became a sharpshooter and was promoted to corporal after six months.  He remained there for four years, wrote letters once in awhile but not often.  Hawaii was, he said, the most beautiful place in the world and the climate just perfect.  His health improved 100%, he became fit as a fiddle again.  He wrote me letters telling me that there was something wrong with our form of government.  He wrote that the capitalistic system wasnít working and should be replaced by a socialistic one as soon as possible.  He wrote that he had become a communist and was going to work for a change in our system of government, without violence, the rich had too much and the workers had barely enough to live on.  THis was not right, there must be a better way and it was going to happen in our lifetime he said.

My mother had received a check for two thousand dollars when my father died, but by the time Frank left the money was spent , except for the $200 that Max had borrowed for a short time.  We were broke.  I couldnít understand why Max didnít go to his brothers for the money he needed, but they knew he wouldnít pay it back and refused him.

Barnett was a rich man with a good business and income.  Sam also had his own business and was making good money.  I knew he was buying expensive clothes at Witty Brothers for himself and taking vacations in the mountains at fancy hotels with his family.  Samís wife Mamie thought that her husband was helping his sister financially and was always mad at us.  The truth is that he never gave us a single penny or anything else for that matter and neither did the other brothers.  We were very poor and they were successful for themselves and their families.  As a matter of fact years later when I was in business for myself and Sam was struggling to make a living he came to me to borrow some money - a few hundred dollars and I loaned it to him and he never paid it back either to this day.  

He had his first son Leon and another son Jack, a daughter Shirley and another daughter Ethel and his wife Mamie to support.  I had a heart and compassion for my family and helped when it was needed.  

Simon had four daughters; Selma, Charlette, Beatrice and Ilene His wife Emma and they also had a son but he didnít live long.  

Max had a daughter with his first wife Sophie named Emily, his wife died in childbirth while trying to deliver a second child.  Her sister took Emily into her home and raised her like her own child.  Max remarried to a very nice woman called Fannie, and had two sons with her.  They grew up to be very nice men and are doing well.  

The workers in Samís place of business were having a hard time making a living, but for Sam and his partner there was enough and they still were making money.  He moved into a house with his brother-in-law, I think they bought it together as partners at that time the brother-in-law was still single and taking care of his widowed mother, they moved in upstairs and Sam and his family downstairs.

Linked toAlison Dudock; Bernard Dudock; Frank Dudock; Halana Dudock; Harold Dudock; Ida Dudock; Judith Dudock; Julius Dudock; Lawrence Dudock; Lillian Dudock; Samuel Dudock; Living; Anna Polansky; Barnett Polansky; Beatrice Polansky; Charlette Polansky; Emily Polansky; Ethel Polansky; Ilene Polansky; Jack Polansky; Leon Polansky; Living; Max Polansky; Sam Polansky; Selma Polansky; Shirley Polansky; Simon Polansky; Hy Pollack; Ralph Pollack; Richard Pollack; Living

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