Page 138 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 35

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JULIETTE T. BENTON
The World of Charles Angoff:
On the Occasion of His 75th Birthday
“How
y o u w o u l d
have enjoyed my great-grandmother, Alte
Bobbe!” This is usually the start of one of Charles Angoff’s
delectably witty talks, as he recreates the worldly wisdom and
insight of his beloved mother’s grandmother, his own great­
grandmother.
In April 1909 Charles Angoff arrived at Ellis Island from
Minsk, Russia. The seven-year-old boy, accompanied by his grand­
mother and great-grandmother, and two little sisters, was met by
his father, who had come to the United States a few years earlier.
Charles’s mother remained in the port of Libau for another
year, while the younger son underwent eye treatment.
The little family took the New York, New Haven and H ar t­
ford train immediately for Boston. I t seems almost incredible
that the two grandmothers and their ten children, plus the three
young Angoffs, lived in a three-room flat on West Cedar Street.
The father boarded with another family nearby. W ith the ar­
rival of the mother and the cured son, Mr. Angoff senior rented
a two-room flat for his own family. Naturally, it was a cold
water, heatless tenement, though with the luxury of a toilet
on each floor.
The Sharp School, on top of Beacon Hill, only a few minutes
walk from home, was a source of joy and happiness to young
Charles. He recollects how happy he was in those days. He
loved Boston and was free from today’s popular psychological
trauma. About eighty-five percent of the boys in the Sharp School
were Jewish, and young Charles, a bright student, was much
liked by his classmates.
I t is interesting that the Angoff family never felt deprived,
despite the fact that they were living in a slum. Though they all
worked hard they were elated to live in a free country—free
schools, free libraries, free museums, free band concerts. Only
a very few Jews applied for and accepted public assistance.
Young Charles attended the Ivriah Hebrew School daily (ex­
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