Alone in the United States, Morris/Moshe/Maishe Eisen­berg, alias Mowsza Ajzenberg, moved in with the Gershenowitz family.  The three Gershenowitz daughters, Anna (Alpert), Gert (Krasnow/Stone) and Ruthie (Baron/Bass) told me the following story. They were first cousins to Lillian Vivian Gershenowitz, whom Morris married in 1931.

Morris' grandparents, Dov Berel and Elka, with whom he lived in Hartford, did not make the United States their permanent home.  Sometime between 1923-1924, they immigrated to Palestine.  Morris, who had come to the United States with them in 1921 at the age of thirteen, was then 15-16 years old.  It is not really known whether he wanted to go to Palestine or was invited to go with them.  To the best of the Gershenowitz daughters’ knowledge, Morris was not invited to go to Palestine for Dov Berel "was not known to have a kind heart."  Libby Medrich, Morris’s first cousin, was also of the same opinion. She felt that in all likelihood he would not have wanted to leave the U.S.  (I wonder what motivated Dov Berel to bring Morris to the United States in the first place?  Was it a sense of responsibility, kindness, or guilt?  We will probably never know.  We know the act and its consequences but not the motivation for it.).  The fact is that Morris remained in the United States.

In preparing for their departure, Dov Berel and Elka sold the contents of their apartment.  Doved Lazar (David Louis) and Dina (Dora) Gershenowitz, parents of Anna, Gert, Ruth and Abe Gershenowitz purchased the dining room table[1].  At the time of the acquisition Dina Gershenowitz, a most compassionate person, saw Morris and inquired,  "What is going to happen to the boy?"  She did not know Morris previous to this time.  She was told that he was on his own.  (Dov Berel may have felt that he had fulfilled his parental responsibly of raising his grandson).  According to the story Dina spontaneously turned to Morris and asked, "Do you want to come live with us?"  He said, "Yes" and for the next two years Morris shared a bed with the Gershenowitz’s oldest child and only son, Abe, who was approximately the same age.  (For one of those two years they did not speak to each other, but that's another story.)  Dina Gershenowitz was a very mild mannered person, certainly not the “boss” in the Gershenowitz household.  That was clearly the role of her husband, Dovid Lazar.  Despite that, it was Dina who issued the wonderful invitation to Morris without consulting the rest of the family, not even Abe, who would have to share his bed with a stranger.  Anna Alpert informed me that it never occurred to any member of the household to question their mother’s decision.  That is the origin of the story of Maishel being sold with the furniture.

In effect, Abe Gershenowitz became Morris' surrogate brother.  Both worked as apprentice plumbers, and subsequently became master plumbers.  Abe remained a plumber and Morris, after moving to Chelsea, Massachusetts, "went into the pickle business."  Even after Morris and Lillian were married, had a child, while living in Chelsea, Morris returned to Hartford to work as a plumber.  It was the depression era and one went where the work was.  Not surprisingly, while in Hartford, Morris lived with the Gershenowitz family again and shared a bed for six months with his former nemesis and friend, Abe.

All this leads me to ask what would have happened if my father had not gotten that magnanimous offer from the Gershenovitz family?  In all likelihood he would have found some other living arrangement, but would he have met and married Lillian Vivian Gershenovitz?  Would my mother have been my mother?

[1] After reviewing a draft of this story in 1996, the Gershenowitz ‘Girls’ informed me (some 70 years after the fact) that the purchase also included the dining room chairs.)