My seven year old son recently received a homework assignment to write a biography on someone. He chose, without any provacation from me, to write about his deceased grandfather, Alfred Feller. I was very touched that of all the people he could have chosen, living as well as non-living, he picked my dad. My son was given five questions to answer. Although I wanted him to write a few sentences to answer each question fully, I soon realized that his large print would only allow one sentence at best to be written in the space he was provided. I decided that as I help my son do his homework, I was going to expand on his answers and write it down as well. He wrote his on paper, I wrote mine on Treelines.
Question #1: When was he born?
My son's answer: March 31, 1935.
Alfred Feller was the third and youngest child of Russian immigrant parents, Samuel and Sarah Feller. The eldest sibling, Jean, was seven years older, while Murray was four years older. Brothers fought as brothers do. My dad had told me as a child how Murray would throw knives at him. I gather there was some tension in the household.
Question #2: Where was he born?
My son's answer: Brooklyn, NY.
Al, as he was usually known, was born at Brooklyn's Womens Hospital. He was named after his maternal grandfather, Aron Dorfman. Aron was already a widower with a daughter when he met and married my great grandmother, Ethel Sirota. They had five children together including my grandmother, Sarah Dorfman. Aron Dorfman was killed in 1919 during a pogrom in the town of Kublich.
Question #3: Write a story about something that happened to him when he was young.
My son's answer: Alfred was hit in the head with a bottle.
At the age of 13 while at a Bar Mitzvah party, Al was sitting among a circle of friends playing a spin the bottle game. Out of nowhere, the bottle had flung up and hit Al on the head. He was a bit dazed but mostly embarrased. Sitting in the circle was a girl he had just met for the first time, Annette Faust. Nine years later, Al and Annette married.
Question #4: Where did he attend school?
My son's answer: PS 182 Elementary School
For elementary school, my dad went to PS 182 on Dumont Avenue which was right around the corner from where he lived on Wyona Street. For middle school, my mom thinks he went to PS 149. For high school, he attended Brooklyn Technical High School followed by the City College of Brooklyn where he majored in Engineering. He excelled in math and science, and had a fine attention to detail. These attributes directed him towards one of his first jobs as a draftsman.
Question #5: He did _________ for a job.
My son's answer: electronics.
It was hard to explain to my son my dad's occupation while trying to finish as his attention span for this assignment was loosing steam. My dad eventually took a job that brought his wife and two children to Chicago, leaving behind parents, siblings, and cousins in New York. He became a manufacturer's representative for microwave electronics used in the defense industry. He did well for himself and his family, supporting four children and giving them excellent educational opportunities.