Minnie Zelda Izen, was born in Vancouver on June 8, 1916. She was the first of three children from my grandmother, Mary, who had been orphaned as the result of the pogroms in Lithuania. Mary was sponsored by an aunt to come to Vancouver at the age of 15. She was subsequently married off to the first man who came knocking, William Izen, who had been born in Poland. Mary didn’t love him. Her heart was set for a cousin in Seattle but that was not approved.
My mother was a product of her upbringing. The stiff upper lip, a legacy of the British Empire, was left behind even after independence and it became the trademark of my mother’s parental home in Madras, which is now known as Chennai, a South Indian coastal city in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Stoic, hardworking, frugal; her family was among the ones who appreciated the finer aspects of art by way of music, playing musical instruments, art and craft. Movies were one among the list of taboo topics and books were meant to educate and elevate the brains and not meant for entertainment. The family lore goes that my affluent grandmother was one of the few children who had a perambulator. She was a genteel lady and often used the word, ‘cultured.’
Last October, three generations of our Lee and Young family burned incense and paper money to celebrate our Mom, Sister, Aunt and Grandma’s life, to help her on the journey to her next life - her “Home-going” as they say in Taiwan.
My mother, Julia Mary Lorenz Neher, was born on October 31, 1920, in Bukovina, Romania, the illegitimate daughter of a 21 year old peasant girl named Theresa Paul. Before mom’s birth the Paul family were making plans to immigrate to Canada, specifically southern Saskatchewan, where mom’s grandfather had established himself some ten years earlier on a homestead near Wood Mountain. Their immigration process took longer than normal, because Theresa’s sister Rosa was disabled, and the Canadian government forbade invalids to enter Canada without proper documentation. The government also required that the family produce a signed petition guaranteeing that the Hungarian community would financially support Rosa.
Mom was born in Peterborough, Ontario, in 1909, second child to Michael and Margaret, and sister to older brother Emmett. Eleven more siblings would arrive in this wholesome Irish Catholic family, five sisters and six more brothers, but not until they moved to Vancouver in 1912. Michael provided a comfortable living for his large family with his lifelong career as a respected agent for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company or, as the family teasingly called it, Mother Met. In Vancouver Mom was enrolled in the local school, Tecumseh Elementary, at 41st and Joyce. She enjoyed school. In reading, writing and arithmetic Mom fared well. Art was the challenge for her. One day, after handing in her assignment, a drawing of a book, the teacher looked at it quizzically and asked, “What is that supposed to be?” Blushing, Mom took back her picture and from then on seldom tried the art of drawing.
16 Apr Connie Flett’s story of LolaHer name was Karolina, but her close friends, those who knew her in “the old country” called her Lola. She was the second youngest of five children born to Anton and Mary (Baker) Schnurer on November 26th, 1903, in a small Polish town called Rownia. Part of the house that Lola grew up in was leased to the local police. Her father, a carpenter, died of pneumonia when Lola was only three years old. Her mother was a nurse and midwife. Sadly, when Lola was about fourteen, her beloved mother died of typhoid fever, which she contracted while nursing the sick during an epidemic. I have a picture of Lola with her mother and sisters, but she didn’t speak of them, so I don’t know what my mother did at this time. A family friend told me my mother delivered him, so maybe she took on her mother’s job as midwife.
My Mother was born to a Christian family on May 25, 1912 in Rangoon, Burma and was fifth in a family of six boys and six girls. Her name was Beaulah, Muriel, Edna, May Andrews. Her Mother was from South India and dark and her Father was from England and white with red hair. Even though he was the only child he was ostracized by his family for marrying an Indian whereupon he changed his last name, we think from Bean to Andrews which was his Mother’s maiden name. We never knew anything about my grandfather’s family, except that his father was supposed to have been an Admiral in the Navy. Her Dad worked as a rice mill Engineer and they lived in a house built over a graveyard. As we were growing up we heard many a ghost story from my Mum about that old graveyard!
My mother, Patricia Primrose Lazell, was born in Grays, Essex, England, on January 16, 1924. She was the daughter of Harry and Ethel, and the youngest of three children. Harry was a longshoreman at the Tilbury docks, and was a handsome 6’1” to Ethel’s 4’11”. Ethel had had polio as a child and wore a special boot. I remember my mother saying something about how her mother was bitterly self-conscious about her pronounced limp.