“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

FrizzText’s photo challenge this week is “j”.

This post is a brief description of my parents  journeys from Jerusalem, and Jamshedpur to a city in Africa beginning with “j“…

My family has emigrated every generation since my grandfather left Odessa in 1885 at the age of fifteen. He was born in a cold country, my mother in a hot one, I was born in a hot country, my children in one with snow and ice…

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
– Lao-tzu, the Chinese philosopher who wrote the Tao Te Ching


bags packed for the journey.


In 1938 my mother traveled with her mother and sister from Jamshedpur, in India to join my aunt’s fiancée in Africa. As first class passengers on the ship they ate at the Captain’s table, the two sisters danced with the Captain, the first mate, and all the young men on the ship, and they all enjoyed shore excursion to places like Colombo and Zanzibar.

My mother with her mother and sister 1937

My mother with her mother and sister shortly before leaving India

My father wasn’t able to make a living as a fitter and turner in Jerusalem, and as the oldest son he felt pressured to go off somewhere to seek his fortune.

My father’s journey in his own words:

I wasn’t able to emigrate to the United States because the quota of  immigrants from Israel was full and I would’ve had to wait another two or three years before they opened it up again.

I was nineteen, I was impatient to start my new life, I didn’t want to wait two more years. 

I saved up an extra pound by scrubbing floors for a ‘piasta’ [two cents] so I could buy myself a double-breasted suit. I have a picture of me lying on the floor leaning on my elbow, that’s the suit I came out with.

I went to Africa on a cattle ship in 1929. It cost me eighteen pounds.  I also had to give another eighteen pounds security if I wasn’t allowed to land and they had to send me back. I borrowed that money from my sister Lilly. I paid her back right away. The immigration was strict, they examined us one by one on the boat on the top deck.

We didn’t get a cabin on the ship, we had to find our own place to sleep on the deck. There were about six of us poor young men traveling like that, sitting on the floor without beds, just a waterproof cover in case it rained… They gave us food that I couldn’t eat, disgusting big chunks of fatty meat. We had to go to the toilet, out there on the deck… excuse me…  I got so constipated I thought I’d pass away.”

My father arrived unable to speak English with “two shillings and-six-pence” (about twenty-six cents) in his pocket, but ten years later when he met my mother he was one of the most eligible bachelors in town, one of the few men who owned his own car.

My parents were married three months after they met.

My parents 1940

My parents 1941

In the 1980’s they journeyed again this time to join three of their children who coincidentally were living in the same cold northern country.


About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
This entry was posted in Families don't you love them, Not America, Wondering and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

  1. beautiful story amiga… i was expecting more of your story about the road to santiago, and i totally enjoyed this story!

  2. Great story – hopefully you will write some more!

  3. frizztext says:

    great tribute to your parents and forefathers!

  4. Keep writing! Fascinating story. How wonderful you have your father’s story written in his own words. The italics make the story so tangible and of course, real. Yes, I love your dad’s words in quotes.

    • dearrosie says:

      I’m so happy to know you enjoyed reading my early dabblings in my family’s story Georgette. I’m so grateful that I interviewed my Dad about 18 months before he died.
      Thanks for the feedback that the italics work .

  5. I love that quote, and the story of your parents’ journeys to where they finally met. I can’t wait to hear their continuing saga. Did your father actually write those words or did you interview him? If he wrote, that is marvelous for you!!

    • dearrosie says:

      I don’t often use quotes in my posts but this one was perfect for my parents story. Thanks Cathy.
      Although my father spoke about half a dozen languages he never liked writing in English. I got the story from interviewing him shortly before he died. I shouldn’t have waited so long because he’d forgotten a lot of the facts, and rambled a lot.

      • That is great that you were able to interview him and get his words on paper. All of us should do that with our parents. Maybe that will be my quest with my father when I return home!! I love that idea! Thanks for sharing, Rosie. 🙂

      • dearrosie says:

        I think interviewing your parents is the best advice I could give anyone. And don’t wait until they’re old and sick.

        I look forward to hearing your father’s story Cathy 😀

  6. Sybil says:

    I thin it wonderful too that you have the story in your dad’s words …

    • dearrosie says:

      I wish I’d thought to interview my father when he was younger and could still remember the stories, but I’m grateful that I have something in his own words.

  7. I’m so glad you shared such a lovely piece of story about your mother and father, Rosie. Their wedding photo is a treasure. I am so impressed by the differences in the way they traveled, of course, doubly impressed with your father’s sense of spirit, willing to travel under such nasty conditions all so he could get on with his life! Do keep the story going. I want to learn more about such interesting people.

    • dearrosie says:

      I’ve wanted to write about my parents but “didn’t know where to start” so I didn’t do anything. Hah! When I started blogging I had no idea I’d be sharing my family stories here! Thanks to bloggers like you and your encouraging comments I’ve started. I think I’ll use the alphabet challenge to carry on … 😀 I feel so lucky to have such supportive blogging buddies.

  8. What an amazing story, Rosie! Your parents sound like they were adventuresome world citizens, determined to travel, work hard, and sacrifice in order to carve out better lives for themselves, or at least more interesting lives. Your mother’s wedding dress is so lovely, and she looks positively radiant on her wedding day! I cannot wait to hear more of your parents’ love and life story.

    • dearrosie says:

      My parents weren’t scared to travel to new countries to make better lives for themselves, and that’s a lesson I learned from them. I remember a relative whining after her husband died that she knew the house was too big for her, but if she moved she’d have to sew new curtains so she stayed in the huge empty house…

      My Mom does look radiantly happy on her wedding day. Thanks for your comment Barbara.

  9. larooby says:

    It’s such a rich and textured story, and you tell it in a voice that is so clear and practical, empathetic and with attention to the details that make it alive. This story has resonance for so many of us travelers… and it’s just a taste …well done!!!

  10. aFrankAngle says:

    Thanks for this story as I treasure journeys like that of your parents. Hi Rosie … I’m back! 😉

    • dearrosie says:

      Hey nice to see you back Frank. Thank you for your great comment. I know you have similar stories to share about your parents journey to the United States.

  11. i.e. fullstop says:

    What a fabulous story. And what a gorgeous photo of your mother!

  12. You parents story of how they followed their dreams, then followed their hearts to love and share those dreams every moment of everyday is truly an inspiration to us all. Their story has that excitement and magic that people from various countries when they move to America.They found more than just a dream, they found each other.

    • dearrosie says:

      You also know how to follow your dreams and start over again in a new country where no one knows you or your family. Its exciting, but its so lonely when you walk down the busy streets and don’t recognize a single face. Even though we’ve lived in LA for over ten years I still think its thrilling when I go somewhere and see someone I know.

  13. Kathy says:

    What a lovely story, Rosie. You are blessed with ancestors who weren’t afraid of journeys…

  14. Robin says:

    Such a beautiful, adventurous story, Rosie. Travel seems to be in your blood. 🙂

  15. souldipper says:

    Rosie, you are a chip off those blocks! I think of you being so open to so many things. I wonder which one gave you the wonderful attitude that shows up in your writings, photos and stories.

    • dearrosie says:

      Thank you for this great comment Amy. You’re so observant. I’m very moved to know that you understand so much about me just from my words and pictures.

      I think I’m a combination of my parents: my father loved telling stories and my mother was gregarious and could also talk to strangers. I also look like my father.

  16. restlessjo says:

    You can’t stop there! I need to know what happened next, Rosie?

    • dearrosie says:

      Gosh you’re too kind Jo. Perhaps I should stop blogging and write the damn story! Its so hard to work full time and keep up with blogging that I dont have time for *writing*

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