Essay: A true story | Jewish News from Detroit
Judy Hall remembers a story told to her by “Miss Anna”.
MHis father worked hard to raise four children, moving us from an African-American neighborhood on the east side of Detroit to the northwest side, which was predominantly Jewish at the time. One day, as I was walking home, I saw one of my neighbors with whom I liked to chat and particularly liked. Sometimes she would make tea and we would sit in her living room and chat. She was always interesting and I liked her accent when she spoke.
That day, I was about to learn how really interesting she really was. That day she was standing in her yard by the sidewalk, which might have been where she was when I first met her. She could have been 75; she was short, stocky, and wore a dark blue dress. It seemed that she always wore dark dresses. I don’t remember her name anymore, as the conversation took place over 40 years ago, but I remember what she told me – like it was yesterday.
I’ll call her Miss Anna. You see, Miss Anna told me about her travels around the world. I was amazed and I could only think and say, “Wow, wow and wow. I must mention that I was in my mid teens and was already much taller than Miss Anna.
I must have said “wow” once too many because she suddenly grabbed me by the shoulders and started to shake me. Her eyes fixed on mine and she shouted in my face, “This was no pleasure trip!” We were fleeing Hitler!
I felt confused. She released me quickly and stepped back. Then she rolled up her sleeve to reveal dark green numbers tattooed on her arm. She had been a prisoner in a concentration camp. I don’t remember exactly what happened after that. My heart pounded and the rest of the visit was blurry. I remember how scared me that was. Later that day, I told my family what had happened.
A day after that, Miss Anna said, “I have things for you. Do you want them? “
The two things that stood out to me were a cook and a super big bag of used postage stamps from around the world and through time.
I later found out that Miss Anna had moved to Southfield. I went there to try to find her but without success. All these years later, I decided to celebrate Miss Anna’s life and her sacrifices by using the postage stamps she gave me to retrace the steps she and her family took to escape tyranny. and oppression.
When I called my sister to ask her to borrow her drill for my tribute to art, she asked me, “What are you building – a robot?” I laughed and said I was trying to tell the story of Miss Anna, who had such a big influence on me. My sister cut me off and just said, “I remember when you shared this experience with the family. And I understood that I was not the only one to have been impacted by Miss Anna.
Judy Room grew up on Indiana Street in Northwest Detroit and never forgot “Miss Anna”. She currently lives in Midtown Detroit.