This is the third part of a series about my grandfather, Alexander Silver.  You can read Parts I and II by following the links.

 

Alexander Silver married Pauline Bublick in November of 1896.  He was twenty years old and she was eighteen.  In 1900 the young couple and their first child, Ethel, were living with his parents on the Lower East Side of New York.

Pauline and Alex about 1896

Alex and Ethel

 

 

At the turn of the twentieth century the Lower East Side was a neighborhood teeming with newly arrived immigrants, half of them were Jewish, upwards of 350,000 people and they were all crammed into two square miles at the tip of Manhattan.  The Silvermans were living at 31 Forsyth Street, a typical tenement building.

 

Hester Street 1903

 

Forsyth Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the women in the tenements worked in the garment industry.  Conditions in the factories were difficult, long hours, low wages and terribly unsafe working conditions.  Even with the brutal conditions these jobs were sought after.  Many women and children did piecework if they couldn’t get a factory job or needed to be home with young children.   I found an interesting photo of an unknown female relative from this period.  I don’t know who this woman is, but the back of the photo holds a typical list of piece work either to be done or already finished.

Unknown Woman

Piece work list

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By 1902 my grandfather was involved in the growing labor union movement in the United States.  He became a recruiter for the Capmaker’s Union and spent at least ten years traveling the country working for the union. Although his citizenship papers say that his second child, Sylvia, was born in New York my grandparents and my aunt always said that she was born in New Orleans while he was working for the union. By 1907 they would be living in Detroit where my father was born in 1909.

Pauline, Alex, Ethel, and Sylvia

Alex, Pauline, and Stanley with family friends

 

 

 

 

 

Grandpa and Grandma never spoke much about this period in their life.  By 1920 they would be settled in Philadelphia where Grandma’s family was already established.  They would spend the rest of their lives there.

I’ll say more about their years in Philadelphia in my next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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