GORDON SKILL of Exeter is trying to trace an old school friend from Glossop. Gordon last saw Michael Sacks in 1950. His father was Abe Sacks, a well-known tailor and he had a brother David.
Gordon and Michael used to fish together in the local streams and attended Whitefield Primary School in Glossop before Michael’s family moved to Manchester. Write to 32 Gissons, Exminster, Exeter EX6 8AH or telephone 01392 833243.
Storyline could have come straight from Zena’s book
AUTHOR Zena Gevisser-Zulman found truth stranger than fiction thanks to the Jewish Telegraph.
Zena, who — with her husband Alan Zulman — has penned The Winking Cat, an anthology of short stories and poems, found long lost relatives through our Roots Directory.
She explains: ‘‘In 1922 Joseph Heller was taken to Leeds Infirmary with Scarlet Fever. He had been married to Rachel Pevy, his sweetheart of many years, for just a few months and she was two months pregnant.
‘‘They were both only 21. Joseph was due to be released and his wife was told to fetch him. Just an hour or so before Rachel arrived at the Infirmary a volunteer, handing out breakfast in the ward, made the error of giving him a piece of toast.
Zena’s father Samuel Heller, top right, with, front from left, brothers Philip and Joseph in the 1920s. The fourth man is a family friend.
‘‘The toast stuck in his throat opening some stitches and, before any nursing staff could reach him, he had bled to death.
‘‘The child born seven months later was given the Hebrew name Joseph ben Joseph which in an Ashkenazi world tells everyone the father died before the child was born.’’
Zena, of Somerset, adds: ‘‘When Joseph was three his mother married my father and the family left Leeds and settled in Blackpool. I was born three years later. Although we returned to Leeds during the war years Joseph never knew of any of his father’s relatives although he had a vague memory of a grandmother.
‘‘The name Heller caught my eye as I perused the Jewish Telegraph and I emailed a woman called Irene in Richmond, America. It turned out that her mother’s father was a twin to Joe’s late father. Through her my brother has made contact with first cousins in America.
‘‘Harry Heller in Canada has sent many photographs — including one of me! It shows my brother and me when I was a small child and on the back is written ‘Joseph and his sister’, so my name must not have been known.
‘‘Perhaps my mother sent it to her dead husband’s mother and it was handed down with other family photos. Had my brother made contact some years before he could have met his father’s twin brother and an aunt and another uncle. Joe was 78 on Monday. It was an exciting birthday present.’’
Zena with her brother Joe
lROOTS Directory was also a help to Merton and Barbara Kaufman of Canada.
The Ontario couple were inundated with replies following their appeal.
‘‘We heard from people we lost touch with nearly 50 years ago and these responses we received have brought us so much pleasure and wonderful memories,’’ they said. ‘‘Now we have reconnected with these people, we hope it will last for many years.’’
There’s been similar success for Naomi Barnett of Australia, who is now in touch with the Cohen family in Manchester.
‘‘I am so delighted and can’t thank you enough for the wonderful service you offer,’’ she writes.
To make an appeal, email MIKE COHEN at
Please include your home address.