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Grandma and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Tragedy March 25, 2018

Posted by judylobo in Zoo.

Much has been written about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory tragedy that happened 107 years today. 146 lives were lost. It was the beginning of a strong labor movement in NYC and many laws were changed to protect workers.

My grandmother, Anna Osipow Goldberg worked at that factory.  She did not go to work the day of the fire.  Why, you may ask?  I never got a straight answer to that question.  By the time I was old enough to understand the consequences of that tragic day, my grandma was consumed by what we called in those days, ‘senility.’  It was probably Alzheimer’s Disease, but that word was not in the lexicon way back then.  My grandma was a tough, stern, unsmiling, woman.  She did not want to talk about her childhood in Czarist Russia, she did not want to talk about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory – in fact – she did not want to talk of much at all.  Whenever she wanted to speak, it seemed to me as a child, that she spoke in Yiddish.  I think I assumed she did not want us ‘kids’ to know what she was speaking about.

All these years later – I wish I had asked the right questions.  I sure would like to know why she never smiled.  Maybe she was thinking about all of those lives lost – I do not know. The photo shows Grandma holding my mother along with my Grandfather and Aunt Katie.


1. Irene - March 25, 2018

We will never truly uderstand all the struggles that our ancestors endured to make a better life for us. Thank you Judy for today’s post. It is a reminder to be thankful for all the blessings that we take for granted.


Melvin Jones Jr. - March 25, 2018

She reminds me of my grandmother. Her parents both died early and she had to take of her two younger brothers. They lived in a very segregated community in Eastern Shore Maryland. Later shewa was accepted for stewardess training ( would have been first black ) but had to drop out when she found she was pregnant. She married and raised four children and worked two jobs. I found out at her funeral that sent money to her sister -in-law to help her niece after her brother was killed . She did this until the niece was 20. This why she cleaned a bank every night. I think strong sensitive people wear armor that isn’t conducive to laughter or chatter. They are like soldiers on duty and don’t trust anything farther than they can throw it. They are the foundations of their families.


judylobo - March 25, 2018

Thank you Mel for your poignant note.


judylobo - March 25, 2018

Very true. Thanks Irene


2. Terry Phelan - March 25, 2018

Thanks for the reminder….It’s hard to believe Morris had a slight smi


judylobo - March 25, 2018

I think that last word is ‘smile’ – and you are right. A rarely seen slight smile just might be there.


3. Ellen Lee - March 25, 2018

thanks for sharing. My Mom was also an Anna Goldberg. She changed her name to Anne Goldberg.


judylobo - March 25, 2018

Wonder why she made that change to here name?


4. Larry Coffman - March 25, 2018

PBS has a wonderful documentary about the fire and its aftermath.. The bravery of the women who demonstrated for better conditions was heart rendering. Their standing up to the company thugs and others set an example for us Americans as to what courage was all about.


5. Mark W - March 25, 2018

i assumed the same when my grandmother (also from russia) spoke to my mother (first generation american) in yiddish in front of us. wish i’d thought to ask her to teach it to me. and, likewise, according to my mother, my grandmother did not like to talk about the “old country,” so i never her asked her anything about it. regret that i never did.


6. fotobuff14 - March 25, 2018

Thank you Judy for sharing this. An interesting reminder to count our blessings.


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