Unit 01-Family History
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Q: I'm Aimee Mardenborough and we're at the law offices of Harry Lott, 271 North Avenue -- what building is this? A: Now it's the ''K" building, formerly the Pershing Square building. Q: In the "K'' building, formerly the Pershi ng Square building, interviewing Mr. Harry Lott, a well-known New Rochelle attorney. Good morning, Harry. I want to know all you remember about New Rochelle long ago and also what your father told you. A: Good morning, Aimee. You've already put me on the spot, testing my memory, but I'll accept the challenge <Laughter> Q: I know you have a good one! A: The record will show one way or the other. In any event, my father, Sam Lott, came here to the City of New Rochelle at about the turn of the century in 1900. He was born in Latvia, which is on the Baltic Sea just below Estonia and lived there his entire life before coming here. It was a small town and my mother was also born there. Q:Did they meet there? A: No, they did not. They did meet there, there were only 500 residents of the town, I believe, but he lived on the other side of the tracks, so to speak, in a log cabin with a dirt floor. Where she lived in a house on the top of the hill and they had maids and all. She would come shopping -- she was a bit younger than he was -- she would come shopping for her mother because she was the eldest daughter out of 10 children. There were seven daughters and three sons in that family, in my mother's family. Q: Oh, I love romantic stories like this. A: And -- we'll try to make it as romantic as possible , especially today, with this being my British wife 's birthday -- Q: Oh, wish her a happy birthday for me! A: Thank you, Aimee. But the gist of what happened in Latvia was that my mother really never spoke to him there because of the difference... Q:The class difference. A: Yes, well not necessarily class but the social difference, if there was such a thing in that era. Because when I saw the play, "Fiddler on the Roof," it reminded me to some degree -- I don't think it was as drastic, or maybe it was worse -- the stories that I had heard. In any event, my father was drafted in the Russian Army. Originally Latvia was under Prussian domi nation, and it kept going back and forth. As a result, my mother could speak and write German, she had tutors and things like that. But when he was conscripted for the Russian Army, in those days it was seven years of hardship and you did what you were told and you had no options. Ah, he did get a park marksmanshi p after about three years of service had passed and he went across the Baltic Sea to Germany -- incidentially, he got across borders on l and i n the area of Latvia under a wagonload of hay. Q: People went through a l ot of difficulties getting to this country. A: Yes, sure. Q: And they still do. A: Yes, and then when they get here it's a little difficult, to put it mildly, at the outset. But in any event, he did get across to Germany and got a boat and landed here at Ellis Island. And the name "Lott" was probably the biblical name, "Lot," because it was the only thing he had was his Russian Army papers. And they used a double-base for the "T" and consequently at Ellis Island they separated the double-base and made two "T"s out of i t. That's why we have such a long name <laughter>. And hard to pronounce. But then there was a person from his town that was a butcher in New Rochelle, so he came here. He had no pl ace to stay and he sl ept in the -- to use fine terminology, i t would be the basement -- but it was the cel lar of the old Anshe Shalom Synagogue, which is probably one of the oldest in the county. And that was on Bonnefoy Place in New Rochelle. After,he did various jobs and he learned to speak English and read it on his own. He didn't go to school. He opened up a store on Rose Street in New Rochelle. Q:Oh, the famous Rose Street. A : Yes. Q: It was a short street, wasn't it? A: Very short, but it had many, many stories. Q: And many memories. A: And a tragic fire where an apartment burned down and some people lost their children. Old-time families from New Rochelle. Q: Tell me some of the customs your parents brought over to this country. Because we're a real melting pot still. A: Ah, the mere fact that he stayed at the synagogue when he had no place to stay, they were brought up in Orthodox Jewry . And my mother always maintained a Kosher home and her answer to that was that it was easier for her to adhere to that than to change. And there was nothing wrong with that. You could eat off the kitchen floor. And she was a good cook . I realize that more now. But later on -- and my grand mother was very religious, but never flaunted it. She, in other words, adored people. Period. And that was on my mother's family. I do remember my father's mother vaguely. Q: You mean they all came over? A: Well, he brought his family over later to New Rochelle and then he met through mutual friends, he heard that the Shefts girls were in New York so he went down to visit them and that's when... Q:Now, which girls? A: My mother's family name was Shefts. S-H-E-F-T-S. And so they went down to visit and, as I say, my mother was the eldest of seven daughters. So they got married and he brought their whole family to New Rochelle. So all of my mother's sisters were here -- the seven and the boys went their own way, to Memphis , two of them, and to Jersey. So that I had a very fortunate and I wish my children had that -- a very close relationship with my cousins. Q: An extended family. A: Yes, and actually we were very close. We were l ike brothers. My own brother was seven years older than I was and when you're a youngster, that's a big difference. And we all went to Trinity School and later Isaac Young, 'cause we all lived in the southern tier of New Rochelle. And New Rochel le High School. And sometimes we'd go to a party and the young ladies would find out we were cousins and they'd take back in surprise and say, "Oh, we thought you were just friends." So we'd explain to them that cousins could be friends. We were very, very close and my mother was very close...and my grandmother. We'd see her very often, almost daily, even though we didn't live in the same part of town. Well, back to Rose Street. That is the part of North Avenue between Main and Huguenot. And North Avenue, let us call it north and south, which is not an exact direction. But on the southern tier end of Huguenot Street and beyond Main Street, there was no street across. Opposite the southern end of Rose Street was the old Loew's Theaters, I remember as a youngster. Q: Come back to that interesting family of yours. A: Thank you. (Laughter). You mean, putting me back on the track. Back to my father, as I say, he started a grocery store. He worked until heavens knows what time . Q: Was this all the time you were growing up? A: No, it was before I was growing up. When he took one look at me he retired! <Laughter>. And then, although I was actually born in the house on Rose Street, I was several months old and he bought a home down on Alpha Place, which is up the hill from Sutton Manor and down below -- it was there history-wise, on that creek. Q: That's a very interesting area. A :Oh yes, especially Sutton Manor. And this is a farm where we were, and we were an Alpha Place. And I understand that the gentleman that built the homes in that area and put the roads in -- it's not like a development the size we see today; we're talking about 10 or 20 homes -- his daughter's name was Alpha. And that's where we lived, on Alpha Place. Up at the top of the hill was Acacia Terrace and it was all li ned with acacia trees. And then down at the base of the hill was Pelham Road, which originally was known as Shore Road, and that was alongside the creek of the Hudson Park area. It was a creek sort of coming in from the tail end of Echo Bay, and Echo Bay ended in Sutton Manor. Q: Harry, how many brothers and sisters did you have? A: I had an older brother, Sidney, and a sister, Etta. My older brother became a lawyer, too, but he died as a young man at 45. He had two children.
|Title||Unit 01-Family History|
|Date of Interview||1988-04|
|Description||Harry Lott is a well known attorney who practices in New Rochelle. His father was born in Latvia and immigrated to the United States. While in Latvia, he served in the Russian Army. He eventually traveled to Germany, where he met his wife, and they came over to the United States via boat to Ellis Island. His father and mother settled in New Rochelle around 1900. His father chose New Rochelle because a friend from Latvia had settled there. His parents were raised orthodox jewish and were practicing orthodox jews. He and his cousins all went to Trinity Grammar School, Isaac Young Junior High School and then New Rochelle High School.|
Emigration & immigration
Emigration and immigration--Social aspects
Ellis Island Immigration Station
Synagogue records and registers
|Personal Name||Lott, Harry|
Ellis Island Immigration Station
Anshe Shalom Synagogue
Trinity Elementary School
Isaac E. Young Junior High School
New Rochelle - Westchester County - New York
Community & Events
Immigration & Ethnic Heritage
|Publisher.Digital||New Rochelle Public Library|
NRPL Oral History Collection
New Rochelle Public Library
|Contact Information||1 Library Plaza, New Rochelle, New York, 10801; 914-632-7878; http://www.nrpl.org|
|Rights||This item may be protected by copyright. It can be used for research and educational purposes only. Please contact the New Rochelle Public Library for further permissions.|
Q: I'm Aimee Mardenborough and we're at the law offices of Harry Lott, 271 North Avenue -- what building is this?
A: Now it's the ''K" building, formerly the Pershing Square building.
Q: In the "K'' building, formerly the Pershi ng Square building, interviewing Mr. Harry Lott, a well-known New Rochelle attorney. Good morning, Harry. I want to know all you remember about New Rochelle long ago and also what your father told you.
A: Good morning, Aimee. You've already put me on the spot, testing my memory, but I'll accept the challenge