Category Archives: Who Were You Dora?

Saturday’s Mystery: Who were you Dora? Crowdsourcing Q.2

Dora is the one in the black dress.
Dora is the one in the black dress.

Note: This is part two of a new Saturday series, in which I, with crowdsourcing help, try to unravel the mysteries hidden in previously unknown letters written by my mysterious step-great aunt Dvora /Dora before and during WWll in Poland. For further explanations see previous post.

In the first quote, Dora writes that she graduated from high-school on May 31, 1938. My question was whether it was reasonable to assume that she was 18 – was that the age that people graduated back then as well?

At the moment I do not have an answer but I would meanwhile like to thank Baiba Svenca and Beata Gulati for looking into this question.

Today’s question relates to a word I  can’t make out – something Dora received as a graduation gift. Perhaps YOU can figure it out?

In the second part of the letter to New York, dated May 31,  1938,  Dora writes (in English, using a dictionary at times, mistakes left as they were) of her bleak prospects for her educational future. Her unknown gift is mentioned at the end:

” But now I have nothing what to do with myself, till today at least I had an occupation and now what I have to do? To study in the university I have not money and also a place, because in Poland Jews are not accepted willingly at the university. Besides this it is not safe because each day I can get with a stone in the head. My studies must remain only a dream.

… How do you do? In America must already be hot. Do you bathe this year in the river? Becasue I did not take any bathes here is almost cold… I got a beautiful veticule from Bluma’s friend the day when I passed the examination. “

Here’s a screen shot of her handwriting. Perhaps it says “reticule”? It doesn’t look like an “r” and that’s a very odd word (which I just learned of now, as I write) but that would mean a type of handbag, perhaps. What do you think?

unkown word from letter

Saturday’s Mystery: Who Were You, Dora? Crowdsource Q. 1

Dora by car
Dora by car

I usually post about books that I read on Saturdays, but for a while I would like to share & enlist your help with unusual reading material I am totally engrossed in at the moment.

Through a combination of the wonders of the Internet and sheer luck, I am now in touch with distant relatives whom I hadn’t known about. Not only is it wonderful to get to know such nice new relatives, I have now received letters and pictures related to my family from Poland (today Belarus),Israel and Argentina, dating back to the 1930’s, all the way to 1940.

One of the most mindboggling aspects of all of this, is that an apparition of a mystery girl has suddenly materialized in my life. I’ve always known that one of my grandmother’s biggest sorrows was that her half sister was not able to leave Europe with the other siblings in time. I knew her name was Dvora /Dora, and that she lived in Brest, Poland (today Belarus). That’s it. No picture or any other information.   Nothing. Now, like magic, I  have letters written by Dora, in her handwriting,  on my computer.  And suddenly I have a strong desire to find out everything I can about her and her short life.

Which is where all my friendly Internet pals come in. I’m sure you can help me.

Crowdsourcing question number one: When was Dora born? When she speaks about graduating high-school below, would she have graduated at the age of 18 or was it 17 back then?

In a letter dated May 31,  1938 Dora writes (in English, using a dictionary at times)

“At last I am free and write to you a letter, after such a long time of silence. The 19th May I passed the finally examination and I got a certificate of of completed secondary education (tistat zvetasa in Russia). But till today (even there passed nearly two weeks) I could not concentrate my thoughts and I was very tired. During two months I slept four hours during the night. The examination itself did not last a whole hour, because I answer only from language, history, mathematics and physics. From the rest I was free. In spite of this I was very nervous before the examination and I feared very to write {a letter}.”

So, do you think she graduated at the age of 18 and then was probably born in 1920? Or was the education system back then organized differently?

Mind boggling!