Mollie’s existence, life and characteristics are mysterious to her children and grandchildren. Her son Isadore Goldstein relates that she was described as having had a beautiful singing voice, loved opera, was well-put together and that her siblings were not in favor of her marriage to Sol Goldstein, who they felt he was “not good enough” for their baby sister.
Because the 1915 New York State census says that Mollie had been in the US two years, one can assume she arrived some time in 1913 or early 1914. She lived with her sister Chaike (Ida) Zlotnick, her husband Morris and their baby son, Izidore at 318 E 33rd Street in Brooklyn, NY until she married at age 21 in November, 1917. Based on her age at marriage, she was probably about 19 in 1915 and therefore around 17 when she immigrated (these numbers are necessarily fuzzy).
Translation of postcard below:
March 8, probably 1914New York, NY
Chaike & Morris: I am sending this postcard to fulfill you report to keep my promise. Write, Chaike, when you expect to come visit us. Best regards from me to all. Yours, M. Chalofsky
Sol and Mollie met at a Purim ball, where she was dressed as a gypsy, her long hair loose down her back.
Mollie suffered from depression that appears to have been post-partum. Isadore Goldstein related that her mother Anna Goldberg was also reported to have had depression and committed suicide after the birth of her second child (there is no known record of a second child who would have been Mollie’s sibling). Sol took Mollie to see doctor after doctor, even taking her to Detroit where her brother Harry lived to consult there. Sol would tell her to “snap out of it,” but of course, she could not.
In 1926 the family, now with children Isadore and Jeanette, lived at 949 47th Street in Brooklyn. On the third day of chol hamoed, the intermediate days of Passover, Mollie dressed seven-year old Isadore and almost-three-year old Jeanette nicely and sent them outside to play. When Isadore returned, he found his mother with her head in the oven; she had suicided using carbon monoxide poisoning.
She was 29 years old; she was buried on April 4 in the Workmen’s Circle section of Mt. Lebanon Cemetery, Glendale, Queens, NY.; her daughter Jeanette turned three years old two days later.
Jeanette was sent to live with her Tante Chaike, Ida Zlotnick’s family (Mollie’s sister); Isadore and his father lived with Sol’s brothers, Shimon and Meier, in turn. Mollie was never mentioned again; it was a tragedy and a shondeh (a scandal), not to be discussed publicly nor, apparently, even privately. After all, talking about it would not bring her back.
Seven months later, on November 20 of the same year, Sol married Mary Katz Garfinkle, a widow with a five-year old daughter named Annette, and the family was reunited. In a sad twist of fate, Sol and Mary took out their marriage license on November 17, which would have been Sol and Mollie’s ninth wedding anniversary.
According to Isadore and Jeanette, it was not a happy marriage for many years and the home life was unpleasant. Isadore begged Sol to divorce her but was told, “I can’t, I need her.” Jeanette related that Sol was always fair to Annette, making sure she had whatever Jeanette had. These are their memories from childhood and undoubtedly, Mary’s would have been different; I have no idea what it was like for Annette, her daughter. As the children became adults, things calmed down, at least on the surface.
Due to this background, when grandchildren appeared, no one told them that Mary was their step-grandmother; they did not want to upset the apple cart and introduce anything that might have created distress. The truth came out in 1967 as I have described in the blog post, “Reuniting the Challov Family.”
Given the circumstances of Mollie’s short life, the results of my years of research have been limited; many of the usual documents are either non-existent or have not yet found, such as her ship manifest. She would have become a citizen under her husband’s naturalization in 1919 – women only became citizens on their own merit in 1922 – so there are no naturalization papers for her (unless she took out “first papers,” the Declaration of Intent, which remains elusive). Her birth registration, if it exists, would be somewhere in the Ukraine. She didn’t live long enough to apply for Social Security. Her death certificate, the birth certificate for her son Isadore and the US and New York census records simply list her as being from “Russia.” Not helpful. Her tombstone provides no clue. Only her marriage license, which lists her birthplace as Kamenetz Podolsk, provides anything more specific than “Russia.” It is probable but not yet proven that she was born in or near the same place her siblings were, Krivoye Ozero, in what is now Ukraine.