Monday, January 7, 2008

Dr. Saul, family doctor

Shortly before I began researching my family history, my Uncle Lenny began writing short stories about growing up in Brooklyn. He was born in Brooklyn in 1932. He had some of the facts wrong but these stories game me insight into the events that helped shape his personality and my father's personality. One person mentioned in several stories was Dr. Saul, Solomon Lutsky, the family doctor. Len figured he was related but wasn't sure how. I will refer to this Solomon Lutsky as Dr. Saul (the professional name his patients knew him by) to distinguish him from Solomon Lutsky (Zaide Solomon), my gg-grandfather.

Len referred to Dr. Saul as the Dr. Schweitzer of Brooklyn. I never met Dr. Saul but he was there for most of the families medical emergencies so they looked up to him. When Len was 28, he and some friends stopped at an outdoor trampoline center called Jumpin Gyminy. For 60 cents per half hour, they could jump around and do some tricks. Unfortunately the trampoline he was on didn't have padding all the way around. On one of his tricks, he landed head first on a large support beam, breaking his nose. The newbie doctor in the emergency room wanted to just set the broken nose but Dr. Saul arrived and insisted that Len see a surgical specialist. This not only guaranteed that Len wouldn't end up looking like a has-been boxer and also helped his sinuses in the long-term. Len also recalls a story from when they family was living on Bristol Street. He was playing a lively game of tag with several friends. When trying to tag one of these friends, he flew head first into a brick wall. As he stood up, he saw his mother approaching and all of friends standing around him looking scared (one friend was still laughing at having gotten away). By the time his mother reached him, a huge bulge was growing out of his forehead. Dr. Saul came to their apartment (back in the good old days of house calls) to check him out.

So how is Dr. Saul related? It took me a while to solve this mystery. Then one day a few years ago a person name J (to protect his privacy) responded to my post on mentioning Dr. Saul. After a quick e-mail exchange we concluded that my Dr. Saul was his grandfather. Dr. Saul and wife Flo had 2 sons M and B, both doctors. J is the son of M. My aunt Linda can remember being in Dr. Saul's office and seeing Flo chase M & B around the office trying to get them to sit down. I spoke to J & M in one short phone conversation and then nothing. J hasn't responded to single e-mail or cell phone message. A few months ago I sent M a snail mail letter to his medical office (couldn't find a good home address) and got no response. Whatever! I have enough information to make the connection.

Dr. Saul died in California in the mid-1990s so I was able to get his death certificate confirming that his parents were Joseph and Rifka and that he was born in "Russia". J had told me that my gg-uncle Israel (the Jewish Philosopher) had gone to Europe in help Dr. Saul's family arrange passage to America. I found the family on a 1921 ship manifest sailing from Le Havre to New York. Uncle Israel wasn't travelling with them but I did find his return voyage shortly after that. The manifest shows Joseph & Rivka with 5 children including Solomon, the future Dr. Saul. Joseph was a chemist (probably a pharmacist). They listed their last residence as Zvenigorka which is Zvenigorodka, Ukraine, located near the other towns I traced my family to.

Joseph died in Manhattan in 1946. According to his death certificate, his parents were Benjamin Lutsky and Mirka Cherkassky. My gg-grandfather's 1944 death certificate shows his parents as Benjamin Lutsky and Miriam (no maiden name). Mirka is a nickname for Miriam. Here was the connection. Joseph and Zaide Solomon were brothers. This means that Dr. Saul is the 1st cousin of my g-grandfather Louis even though he was the same age as my grandma Irene (daughter of Louis).

I don't know why J and M won't contact me. Maybe they were just curious and I came on too strong with all of the facts I had (wouldn't be the first time). It's too bad, they are both direct male descendants on the Lutsky branch of our family tree and would be perfect candidates for the Y-DNA testing with FamilyTreeDNA.

No comments: