The Saga of Bessie


The following history, of Grandma Bessie Cedarbaum Posner, was written by my mother, Florence Stadlen/Faygele Posner, 9th of 10 children of Bessie and Sam Posner. She composed this on a variety of typewriters and word processors, and eventually entrusted it to nephew Danny Schneider. Left in sometimes confusing condition, it was given to me to decipher some of the confusion. In transcribing this I have very deliberately maintained her own phrasing and the story of Bessie’s life unrolls in Florence’s own literary voice; the voice of the child who’d heard family stories filtered through stories shared by her elders and of her direct experience and perceptions growing through adulthood.

Whether Florence intended to bring the family story further into the future is unknown. What she has left us is this paean to her very remarkable mother; she has given testimony to the early years of toil and struggle, the family lore, which had shaped her and her siblings. She has given us a very personal and intimate description of the lives of Jewish immigrants of that era.

2 thoughts on “The Saga of Bessie

  1. Susan Volk

    Sam Rubel of Rubel Ice and Coal was my great uncle on the Shapiro side of the family. His daughter, Honora, was my favorite aunt.

    Contrary to your description of my grandmother, Rose Posner, as being cold, she was an amazingly warm, caring and loving grandmother. She taught me how to bake when I was six years old, and gave me all of my great grandfather’s recipes. I use them to this day. When I was 4 years old, I expressed the desire to fly in a plane. So, my grandparents took me to LaGuardia airport and flew me to Providence to visit Aunt Marion and Uncle Alan Sydney for the day. When I was 8 years old, Grandpa Max and Grandma Rose took me on a vacation to California for 3 weeks. They took me to Lake Tahoe so I could learn how to snow ski and then to Los Angeles and on to Disneyland. My grandfather was wheelchair bound by that time, but he never let that interfere with our relationship and memorable outings. Later on, they both were extremely supportive of my career choice in the arts and helped me in talking my parents into letting me attend the University of Pennsylvania for a masters program in Material Culture. I still remember my vacations and time spent with my loving grandparents as if it were yesterday. My husband, Jeff Volk, loved spending time with my warm, caring and loving grandparents. We spent many vacations with my grandparents at their Palm Springs home and have amazing memories to pass on to our daughter.

  2. Susan Volk

    I would like to introduce myself. I am Max and Rose Posner’s eldest grand-daughter. I am also Samuel Rubel’s, of Rubel Ice and Coal, grand-neice (In the beginning of your post, Rubel Ice and Coal was mentioned in a ditty about someone robbing my ancestors’ business).

    In defense of my grandparents, Rose and Max Posner were two of the kindest, loving, charitable and generous people to ever inhabit this earth. I have many fond memories of my grandparents from my earliest recollections commencing at the age of two years old. The other fact that was left out of your recollections of Bessie Posner and her relationship with her son, Max, was that my grandfather supported Bessie and many other Posner family members financially his entire life.

    As a young girl, and right on through the early years of my marriage, I spent many weekends at my grandparents’ home. Even though my grandfather was wheelchair bound and bedridden by his Parkinsons disease, he never let it stop him from interacting with and taking his grandchildren on outings…trips to the Bronx Zoo, annual trips to Ringling Brothers Circus and to the Macy’s board room to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade with the Chairman, outings to see every Broadway musical and all of Elliot Feld’s new ballet productions. And of course, my grandmother was right there by his side enabling and encouraging him to do all of these activities.

    At a very young age, during my sleepovers at my grandparents home, my grandmother would bake and teach me all of the recipes her father handed down from his bakery in Brooklyn. It was a time for us to bond and talk about life.

    As the eldest grandchild, my grandparents often took me with them on their travels, and trips to visit Aunt Marion and Uncle Alan Sydney in Providence. I remember when I was four, I expressed the desire to fly on a plane. So, Rose and Max called my Aunt Marion and flew me to Providence for the day so I could experience a flight on an airplane! When I was eight, my grandparents took me to California for 3 weeks to visit my Grandma Rose’s two sisters and my California cousins. During that trip, we went to Lake Tahoe and Grandma Rose enrolled me in ski school at Heavenly Valley so that I could realize my dream of learning how to ski. Even though my grandfather was in a wheelchair at that point, we still went to Disneyland so I could meet my hero, Mickey Mouse.

    My grandparents were great role models for me. They valued family, education and charity to others. They were the warmest, most supportive people I knew and were instrumental in helping me achieve my life’s goals.


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