The Personal Memories of Seltz: Bernie Lamb


It was June fifth in the year 1902 that I was born. I came along
the third son and the youngest of nine children. I remember
Seletz which had a total population including the nearby area of
about 20,000 people of which almost 2000 were Jews. There was only
one non-Jewish family in the Jewish district and he was the
postmaster as well as the only law officer. His home was the only
non-Jewish one in the Jewish part of town. This was on the eastern
edge of Seletz.This was also the business part of town. His house
was close to the stores and near a large field where county fairs
were held quite often. The circus came there to perform once or
twice a year. Beyond the business area was a large fenced church and
living quarters for the nuns and the priests. I don't remember ever
going in that direction.

There were three streets looking to the west with hundreds of wood
and brick homes lining the dirt roads. The streets had wooden
sidewalks to keep dry during rainy times. About half the Jewish men
had their homes and work places at the same location. Our family
lived close to the business section and the Auerbach family lived
next door. Their lumber yard supplied us with ample firewood for
our brick oven. The large oven supplied enough heat and enough
space for baking and cooking. I remember playing with the three
youngest Auerbach children and with my sister Ruth and
Mr. Auerbach was seldom home, always away on business.

My father, Arya Limasheftsky, (later Harry Lamb ), was at work at
the government distillery for six months of the year and
additionally another two or three months working in the fields
during the fruit harvesting season. One winter when I was about
four years old my father took me along with him while he was working
at the distillery. Also one summer he took me along while he was
busy with fruit harvesting. The Jewish men on the main street were
mainly teachers. They taught Jewish reading and writing, using the
Hebrew prayer book and the five books of the Old Testament as their
texts. They also taught Russian and Polish. All the Seletz Jews
spoke Jewish, Russian and Polish. The farmers, who were non-Jewish,
spoke only Polish and Russian and very few of them could either read
or write in any language. The children of these farmers typically
tended sheep or worked on the farm. There were only a few
exceptions, these being the rich or selected few. Just west from
where we lived was a carpenter and his wife and daughter. A
dozen or more small schools were around us. When the Jewish boys
became thirteen they were sent away for more education or else they
were taught a trade. Across the street from us and close to the
business section was the Synagogue and also a large
Temple that was
used mainly on holidays and on special occasions. In the temple
courtyard was a large bath house.

We received our water from a well on the Auerbachs's lot.
Several times a week a man filled two large water barrels on our
porch in front of the kitchen. In addition to the water, we had
barrels of sauerkraut and pickles on the porch. Underneath the
oven was storage space for onions and potatoes, flour and sugar and
for shelves of jam, jellys and wine. In the attic a there was
storage of apples and pears. A cow was in our back yard and it
supplied all the milk, butter, cheese and cream that we needed. If
we needed more eggs than we got from our chickens, we bought them
from a farmer or at the fair which was held often.

About 1906 we had a letter from sister Liz who was now in
Philadelphia and who was married and had their first child,
Isabelle. She was married to Samuel Yalkovsky who was from
Antipola, a village not far from Seletz. In the year 1909 we had a
letter from my sister Rose; she was married to Benjamin Almond. Ben
Almond was the son of Rabbi Gabriel Prozhinski of Shershevov. Rabbi
Gabriel was the best known Rabbi in the State of Grodno. My parents
were elated to have the son of Rabbi Gabriel marry a member of our

It was the year 1911, in the month of February that Arya
Limasheftsky, soon to become Harry Lamb, took his wife Ethel and the
rest of the children, Bessie, Ruth, Florence and Bernard, together
with all the personal possessions and had them loaded onto two sleds
and had the drivers take them to the railroad station in Rybnik,
which was about 15 to 20 miles away from Seletz. The next morning we
were met by Auerbach's son in Rybik and taken to his home. We
stayed there for a short time and then left by train for
While in
Germany we were all examined by a doctor, given
and were provided with health certificates, which made
our entrance into the
USA much smoother. We traveled by train from
Rybnik to Bremen Germany, the port of debarkation. ( Some time if
you care, I will tell your about our boat trip.) Seventeen days
later we arrived in
New York. Most of the passengers got off, but
about fifty of us went on another boat, the
Brandenburg, to
Baltimore. We avoided going through Ellis Island when we were in
New York. From Baltimore we got on a train heading for Chicago. The
date was
Feb. 12, 1911. Two days later we arrive at 1020 Washburn
in Chicago Illinois We were met there by Jack, Liz, Isabelle
and Mollie.






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