My Grandfather is Mordechai Zichek, the oldest child and first-born son of Oscar ("Oshkah") and Minnie Reisburg Zichek several miles outside a small schetl (village) in the Ukraine called Tulchin (Titchin). Daddy's paternal grandparents were Tevia and Mulkya Zichek. His grandmother, Mulkya, was the bread winner for the family. She had been born a serf on a great estate owned by a Russian nobleman who was a follower of Tolstoy. He freed his serfs when Tolstoy did, and Mulkya's father, who had been a steward on the estate, was given a small parcel of land outside the walls of the estate. They built a small hut there, mostly underground, like the sod huts that settlers on the Great Plains in the U.S. were building at the same time. The hut and land came to her and that was where she, her husband, Tevia, and their 10 children lived. By the time of Daddy's birth, only his father, Oscar, and his wife, Minnie, and his brother Herschel remained at home. The others had married and left the area, most of them going to live in cities in nearby Poland.
Tevia was very dark, wore his thick, black curly hair long, and boasted a long, broad thick black beard. He had the piercing eyes of a prophet or religious zealot, which he was. ( I saw pictures of him at Aunt Rita's house.) He left his wife to support the family, and walked the distance most days to the town to the synagogue to teach, read, and argue Jewish law from the first 5 books of the Bible. When Daddy was little, he would go with his grandma (Mulkya) to the farmers of the area. They spoke German, Russian, and Polish. She spoke those languages and acted as the go-between when they were selling their livestock and crops. They paid her with a portion of these. That's how Daddy learned to speak all the languages he did. She also planted a garden, raised chickens, and had a cow and several horses, a wagon and a sleigh.
Daddy was born approximately in early April, 1902 or 1903. The exact date is lost, because being Jews, they didn't have any records like Christians do (baptismal records). The way they knew when he was born was by a tattoo on Herschel's arm placed there by the Russian Army when he was pressed into service from their area during the Russian-Japanese War, which was about 1902-1903.
The family came to this country in 1913 through Ellis Island, and I will continue with more detail in a letter.
That's all for now. All of the information I've given you so far, I wrote down when I was still living in Revere and was what Daddy told me. He had an excellent memory, and by the time they came, he was about 11 years old, so he did have a memory of things.