Anna Newman Taylor
Three of my grandparents and parents were Viennese. My maternal grandfather came to Vienna from Poland in 1900. I and my brother were also born in Vienna Austria. Both grandmothers had dress salons. Prior to World War I, at the turn of the 20th century, my maternal grandmother, Juliette Beck, was the dressmaker for one of the Kaiser’s daughters, Princess Valerie. In the years between the World Wars Julia and my mother travelled quite extensively not only in Austria-Hungary, but also in France, particularly to Paris where they studied the latest fashions, bringing back designs for their dress salon. I was in utero on my mother’s last trip to Paris in 1933. My father, Arthur Newman, served as a lieutenant in the Austrian army in World War I. He graduated as a mechanical engineer from the Technische Hochschule of the University of Vienna. In 1922 he established a bicycle factory, Fulgur (the German word for lightening) which he ran until it was absconded by the Nazis in 1938. He was imprisoned in October 1938 and upon his release my parents and maternal grandmother immediately initiated the necessary and difficult proceedings for immigration to America. My parents, brother and maternal grandmother and I sailed from Rotterdam on Christmas Day 1938 on the Holland America Line’s Nordam and arrived in NY on January 1, 1939. In March, my father obtained a position as a draftsman at the bicycle company, Murray Ohio, in Cleveland. After immersion into nursery school in NY, my contacting lice and undergoing tonsillectomy and my brother contacting scarlet fever and undergoing a mastoidectomy, we followed my father to Cleveland in June 1939.
My brother, John, and I attended public school in Cleveland. This was an outstanding school system and we were fortunate to qualify for its Major Work program. This unique program for gifted children enabled us to study conversational French daily commencing in the first grade and every elementary school summer in the demonstration course for French teachers led by Dr. Emil DeSauze and our teacher, Therese LaMarca. My mother made sure that we had a full load of extracurricular activities, with daily Hebrew school, and weekly music lessons and art classes at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and sporting activities, such as skating, tennis, biking, swimming, some of which remain hobbies even to this day. She even introduced me to skiing upon graduating from high school.
For more information please see the Living History Video Talking Points below.