My Brother's Death and Life
My brother Martin went into the service in 1943. We were a very patriotic family and he volunteered and in the end he got drafted. They wouldn't take him in the Air Force because he was color-blind, nor in the submarines because he was too tall. Then later they found they could use people in the Air-Force who were color-blind.
He went into the service and never returned. He was 19 years old when he died from a brain tumor. You are named after him. He was a beautiful boy. He was the only boy on my mother's side of the family because we are all girls.
My mother was living in Logan on Franklin Street and I was living with Sam in my house on Mayland Street when we got the news about Martin. Marilyn was going to be a year old.
I had been going every day to my mother's house with Marilyn. Eddie Borowsky, my neighbor, would drive me because Eddie's mother lived not too far away and every day Eddie would go to see his mother because he didn't have to go to work early at the movie theater. He owned two movie theaters and the movie theaters didn't open until the matinee. And so every day he took me to my mother with Marilyn. My mother had a crib there and everything. And that week my mother said, "Listen you should stay home one day. So don't come today. You can come tomorrow." I arose in the morning and I had this horrible feeling. Every once in a while I get crazy things in my head. People get these things. E.S.P
I got the baby ready and I called Daddy at work and told him I was going to my mother's. And I said to Eddie, "Eddie are you going to your Mom's?" He said, "Yeh. Do you want me to take you?” I said sure. When I was at my mother's house that day I put the baby, Marilyn, to sleep. My mother said, "I think I'm going to take a rest."
And then the telegram came.
It was a regular Western Union telegram but it had a Defense Department star on it. I don't remember who brought it and I didn't open it. Neither did my mother.
The messenger must have been from the army because he said "I'm sorry to bring this news."
I screamed for my mother to come down.
I gave the telegram to her. It was horrible. Horrible. I thought my mother was going to lose her head. She shook so, her head was bobbing up and down. I called the doctor. He came right over. My father was doing business in Easton. I called Dad. He came. I never saw your father cry like that. He cried and cried. And then he went to get Harriett at work.
I was the one who made all the telephone calls. I had to call my grandmother Kessler. She said, "Why didn't they take me?" I called my Uncle Jack and Aunt Mabel. I called everybody. Minnie was in Florida and we didn't tell her at that time. My mother said, "What's the use in telling her. It can not bring him back." We didn't have a Rabbi come over. My parents didn't belong to a synagogue. Rabbis then weren't like they are now. You didn't see a Rabbi. You saw him at a funeral. And that was it. Rabbis weren't really, I would say, educated like they are now.
My father couldn't sleep at night in Easton after my brother died. He had to come home.
Martin's death was a very big blow to our whole family. He was very lovable, very handsome. It took me a long time to say Martin after that. This is an odd thing, my brother, as much as we called him Marty, always signed his letters Martin.
I didn't think my Mother would ever come through it. I would say that Marilyn saved my mother's life because the only time my mother would laugh was when I would bring Marilyn and whatever she would do would be funny. My brother died in March. In June we went down the shore.
I never liked the shore but everybody advised me to go and stay with my mother, so I had an apartment near my mother because with the baby there, she could get immersed in helping take care of Marilyn. So Marilyn was very, very special to her.
Marty's greatest pleasure, when he was on leave from the army, would be to visit. I had a piano and his girl friend Bea Lazar was a pianist and she would play.
Her mother's name was Irene. After Marty died, my mother walked around the block with Bea and told her, "You can't do anything and I want you to live a normal life, get married, go out." And I think a few years later Minnie and Uncle Phil took all of us, all the nieces and nephews, you were the only nephew, to a nightclub and invited Bea. She brought that guy with her, but she was only married to him for a short time before they divorced (I don't know whether she had a child with him), Then the next thing I heard was that she went to the West Coast and she committed suicide. I used to hear from Aunt Mary, who was friends with Irene, Bea's mother, who lived a few doors from her. Bea never got over Marty and neither did her family.
World War II had the most influence on my life. World War II was really frightening.
June 17, 1924 - March 2, 1944
Pearl's brother, Martin, went into the service in 1943 and never returned. This tragedy cast its shadow over Pearl's life throughout all her years.
The following episode is extracted from Pearl's autobiography My Story as Told to My Son.