Tuesday June 11
We're on the road back to Vinnytsa, this time taking a route which started west of Balta. This road is much worse, lots dried mud from the rains and flood last week. Alex says that the road was much better last November, but during the winter there were wild fluctuations in temperture, which churns up the road.
Back to yesterday in Balta:
When we were finished with the cemetery on the Polish side, we thanked the caretaker Natasha and I gave her a small donation (she is not paid for her work). Then we headed to the cemetery on the Turkish side of the river.
Alex called the caretaker, Olga, for that cemetery, and she said she would meet us. When we got there, she showed us several Polesar graves. Grandpa Bernie's paternal grandmother was Pesse Polesar.
Again, we found an interesting person:
Leonid Gutmanovich Polesar, 1915-1994. Pesse had a brother, Gitman, and her father's name was Levi-Itshok. The Hebrew name for Leonid may have been Levy, and an Ashkenazi Jewish naming convention is to name a child after a deceased ancestor. Though we never knew of Leonid Polesar, it's very likely that he is our relatve.
A few more Polesar and Tsatskin graves were found (Grandpa Bernie's aunt Ruchel-Leya Mishurisman married Moshe Tsatskin; they stayed in Balta when the rest of the Mishurisman clan left in 1920). Unfortunately, that was it, no Mishurismans, no Flicksteins.
Olga had an index of tombstones, and Alex took careful look over all the names, but nothing more could be found. I asked if I could take pictures of the index, and Alex suggested giving a donation first. Some caretakers are concerned that a digitized index will end up on the internet and then tourists have no incentive to visit the cemetery.
I gave Olga a small donation and then Alex asked her; she was agreeable so I spent a few minutes taking pictures. Olga and Alex talked politics while I did so -- Olga voted for the new president, whom she thinks can bring an end to the war with Russia, whereas Alex thinks he is an inexperienced actor with no qualifications, a corrupt tool of an oligarch (the current president is a comedic actor famous for a tv series where he plays a teacher who accidentally becomes president).
One intriguing bit of information which Olga passed on to us is that 8 years or so ago, some people from Moldova came looking for the surnames Polesar and Tsatskin. Not sure if it it will amount to much, but I can think of a few avenues to look for them.
After we said our goodbyes to Olga, we decided to look for a restaurant and talk to Vadim after lunch.
Alex has an interesting method for looking for a restaurant (yelp doesn't work here): we drive along a street, and stop the car near a pedestrian or someone sitting, then Alex asks if that person can recommend a place to eat. Then we try to follow the rough directions.
In this case, the recommendation was for the Flamingo. We drove around in circles for a little while, then asked another person, who gave the same recommendation and directions. We continued to drive in cricles until at last the person we talked to said it was right there, but now it's called Kabob Heavan. I had the borsht soup, it was pretty good.
Next email -- the interview with Vadim.