Fred Klotzman furnished this letter saying it had been dictated by his mother Mary Klausner Klotzman
to his older sister Betty around
1940. Betty used her skills taking "shorthand" dictation
and then typed the letter. Its full text is
view a scanned copy of the two-page letter,
Mary (Mareem) Klausner was born Dec. 1907 [ed. actually
1896] in Bershtevk,
Kiev, Russia. Parents: Mindel and Schmuel Klausner. S.K.
was a cooper who had a little shop in the yard of his
house. His sons worked with him. When he was busy he
sometimes hired other young men to work with him also.
When Rose was few months old, work was slow so he went
to Odessa to work for the winter. A couple of the older
sons also went. (I don’t know which ones – not Jacob
though). Mary went along. She enjoyed the big port city
and was fascinated by the various people, Turks,
Indians, and Chinese. She said she could not believe her
eyes when she saw the veiled women. The docks and ships
were a whole new world opening to a 10 year old girl
from a shtetl. They went back to Bershtevk in the spring
and Rose was no longer an infant. She was walking.
Mary loved visiting her father’s mother who was a short,
chubby cheerful woman who lived in their town.
Occasionally Mary stayed with this grandmother when
Mindel went to Tetiev to visit with her own mother and
Uncle Beryl. Mindel was a busy woman with running the
house and helping Schmuel with the business. Harry was
Mary’s responsibility. She looked after him when her
mother was busy. Sarah took care of Rose. The 3 older
boys escaped Russia with forged passports to get out of
doing military duty which was almost a death sentence
Although the Klausners were prospering and they even had
a wooden floor in their comfortable house, they decided
to go to America so the family could all be together.
They sold everything, got legitimate passports and
traveled by train to a northern port. It must have been
what is now Leningrad since they were on the train for a
couple of days. Mary loved the train, and she said it
was fast and clean. They were met by a young man who had
worked for Schmuel at one time. He took them for a walk
in a park. At 11 o’clock at night it was still light
outside. This was August, 1910 or 1911.
Before boarding their ship all passengers had to have
physical examinations. The doctor said Jacob had
something wrong with his eyes and not be allowed to
board. Of course they wouldn’t leave him alone, so
Mindel, Sarah, Abe and Rose stayed. (Mom said she
thought it was a matter of money since each emigrant had
to pay for their keep for each day they stayed at the
embarkation point. She didn’t think anything was really
wrong with her brother’s eyes.) Schmuel, Mary and Harry
left for America on the ship. Mary said they went
steerage but it was a lovely ship. The sailors were very
nice to her and Harry. While they worked, the sailors
sang and told stories all the time. None of the three
got seasick although many of the other passengers did.
All the steerage passengers ate together at long tables
in a common room. They ate a lot of herring to prevent
They docked in N.Y. and took a train to Cleveland. The
train was really very dirty and noisy compared to the
Russian train. Upon arriving in Cleveland, they stayed
with Mindel’s brother and family for a couple of days.
Since he too had a big family, Schmuel and Mary went out
and rented rooms for the Klausner clan. Then Mary
started buying furniture and kept house, getting ready
for her mother’s arrival. The cousins taught her and
Harry English. Mary took care of Harry of course. Her
father went to work as a cooper. Harry was never any
problem. He was always happy and cooperative, and
everyone loved him.
Mary had never even seen a banana until she got to
Cleveland. After she tasted the first one, she had
another and another and another until she was bloated
and had a terrific stomach ache. After that experience
she refused to eat another banana for at least 25 years.
In November the rest of the family arrived, all well and
happy to be reunited. (Irene, remember thanksgivings at Bobba and
Zada’s house? I guess it was a real Thanksgiving for the
the Klausners in memory of their family all being
Mary went to school for about 2 years then went to work
in a shop running a sewing machine and then attended
night school. Before the year was over, Mindel decided
the shop was not for Mary. She was needed at home, and
the men were earning a good living. Mary was then the
sewer for the family. She made dresses, night clothes,
shirts and pants. I have no idea where she learned. She
followed patterns and also combined them to get the
effect she wanted.
She met Isadore Klotzman (Issie) through her friend Ida
who was Issie’s younger sister. Ida later married Carl
Kupersmith. Issie was the only son of Esther and Sholom
Klotzman who came from Tetiev (Mindel’s home town in
Russia). Issie also had an older sister Becky who
married Morris Kaufman. Issie was born May, 1894. The
Klotzman family came to Cleveland in Aug. 1907.
Mary and Issie were married Feb. 9, 1919 a few months
after World War II ended. Issie had his own butcher shop
at that time. (Your mother Kate was one of his
customers). They had three children.
Betty born 1-9-1920 m Sam Bernstein 9-1-40 – Monte 1941
– Gary 1946
Ruth born 10-11-1922 m Marv Yelsky 11-4-45 – Lanny 1946
– Marilyn 1950
Fred born 11-17-1927 m Judy Vision 6-17-51 – David 1952
– Kerry 1955 – Bruce 1957
Isadore died 8-29-1971 [ed. born July 4, 1894]
Mary died 9-8-1975