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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Alcaraz

Selma Dankberg from Pennington Gardens Assisted Living & Memory Care

Selma Dankberg - Selma’s Parents

“My parents were Hungarian before World War II. There were inklings of terrible things happening to Jewish people. Hitler zeroed in on them to make himself look powerful. They belonged to associations or groups or studies, I don’t even know what they were called and each person would file for entry or exit out of Hungary to come to America. My mother came first. She got a job as a seamstress in a sweatshop. She was here for about two years when the agency that sent her here asked her if she would go back and bring someone back with her, preferably a gentleman. They paid, I guess they paid for her fare back to Europe and they introduced her to my father. My father happened to have been a couple of years younger than my mother and I think it was originally arranged to be ended at some period of time which I never did!”

Selma Dankberg - Selma’s Parents Settle In

“My father came over with my mother. My father was a shoemaker. He could make a pair of shoes from a flat piece of leather into beautiful boots. He came to America, of course they both had to learn how to speak English little by little and become Americans. A few years later, I was born in the Bronx, New York. A very ethnic, mixed ethnic neighborhood. They were Italians and Irish. All kinds of people in that part of New York. I befriended a little girl around the corner who was Italian. My parents being kosher Jews at the time and me being friends with an Italian who was not Jewish obviously, was interesting. Both sets of parents didn’t know how to explain it to us. We were young, four or five years old. But we played in the streets like everybody else did. We had chalk on the sidewalk.”

Selma Dankberg - Selma’s Parents Invest

“A few years later my parents decided to go into real estate with the eight of our relatives who had also come over from Europe and what they planned on doing was taking over roomy houses or old apartment buildings and turning them into single sleeping privileges. Things were very different in those days. And then World War II broke and some of those rooms that were in our rental area, some of the neighbors also did the same thing, would rent it out to three different shifts. My father managed to turn that little apartment building into something that was worth something and he became quite comfortable taking care of us. Me and my sister. And that was basically our beginning!”

Transcription and Audio Edit by Ileana Chavez.

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