Monday, August 31, 2009

A New Oral History of Life at 97 Orchard Street

Derya and Dave in the Curatorial Department give an update on their recent research:

Last Friday we trekked to Vorhees, New Jersey to interview Jaqueline Burinescu Richter, who was born in 97 Orchard Street in 1919. Ms. Richter remembered many things about her days as a girl at 97 Orchard Street, including stories about the Katz sisters and Mrs. Rosenthal, who cleaned the building.

Visitors might remember that Ruth Katz's name is scrawled on a fourth-floor apartment wall and that Fannie was in charge of 97 Orchard Street from 1918 to 1941. The family changed their name from Rogarshevsky to Rosenthal, and while we use the former name on the tour, Ms. Richter would have remembered her as Mrs. Rosenthal.

Ms. Richter also told a story about going to the bath houses on Allen Street as a girl and hiding behind a wall when people came to check the tickets because she wanted to stay there longer than her ticket permitted.

Ms. Richter’s father died during the 1918 flu pandemic. Here is a photo of him that was made into cufflinks!

Ms. Richter was a very friendly girl and knew everyone who lived in the building. She introduced her mother to John Fiorentino, an immigrant from Malta who lived on the fifth floor. Eventually her mother and John were married in 1929.

The family also has a trunk that was used by Ms. Richter’s mother or father when they immigrated to America. She is interested in donating to the museum. We will keep you updated as we learn more.

- Posted by Derya Golpinar and Dave Favaloro

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