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Memories of My Youth

Marcia (Unger) Kravitt: Posted on Thursday, January 12, 2012 10:32 AM

I spent summers in Woodmont from 1921 until the mid 1940s. My parents were Ben and Tanya (Tatiana) Unger. My younger sister Lee and I spent summers with our parents at 12 Soundview Ave. (It has since changed to #36.) All of the neighbors were friendly with each other and got along well. Our immediate neighbors, the Grahns, had two younger sons who were like brothers to me.

We lived in New Haven and my father ran Unger’s Car Repair on the corner of Elm & Howe Streets. In the summers we’d come up to Woodmont. We lived up on “The Hill.” Most of the neighbors were from different towns. There were eight houses on our side of the street, and almost all of them were Jewish. On our side, from the bottom of the hill to the top, lived the Barons, Chapovskys, Epsteins, Ungers (us), Grahns, Rommels, Dooleys, and Bakers. Pearl Baker was very involved in the synagogue. Across the street lived the Fritzes, Johnsons, Coopers, and Franzens. The families on our block formed the Soundview Avenue Association. We started it to keep the walkway in good condition and later, we combined resources to build the concrete walk and maintain the hedges. On July 4 we’d have a cookout and a fireworks display.

We would spend most of the day in the water, swimming. We also used to go for walks every evening. I had a good friend in the Morningside area, Sydelle Berman, and another, Dolly Hyman, who lived near the Anchor. We played cards and bridge. We would visit our friends. Together the neighborhood children put on shows to raise money for the Register’s Fresh Air Fund. I vividly recall how all of the mothers would call each other by their proper titles: it was Mrs. This and Mrs. That—never by their first names, even though they were such good friends! We would go down the boardwalk (later this became the concrete walkway connected to the “Giant Stairs” which are still there today) to go down to the beach. Schiff’s Grocery was on the waterfront near Sloppy Joe’s. Mrs. Schiff’s nephews were the delivery boys. My mother would call in the order. I remember vegetable peddlers selling vegetables. Our family had a car, but we often rode the trolley on Edgefield Avenue for the fun of it. We would take it to go to Savin Rock. Tokens were 3 for a quarter, and it was 2 tokens to New Haven.

During the war years, there were several families in New Haven who took in refugee children. When they came to Woodmont for the summer, the children would come with them. The Freidman family took in three children—one was Hans Goldschmidt and another was Walter Krohn. I remember spending time on the beach with them. I can clearly recall when one of the Poli daughters got married. The family was still living in their mansion. Their daughter married a marquis from Italy, and a seaplane made a water landing to pick up the couple and take them on their honeymoon. Everyone in the neighborhood came out to watch. We were up on the hill and were able to see everything!

I was an actress. I acted at the Long Wharf Theater and at the Jewish Center. I studied at the Yale School of Drama. I met my future husband, Samuel Kravitt, in 1941, after he began regularly frequenting the men’s clothing store where I worked. We were married in 1944. My husband was a well-known, successful photographer and won many awards as a filmmaker of documentaries, news films, and fashion films. I still live in our home in New Haven. My immediate family members all live in other states, but they visit me here in New Haven. I became a great-grandmother when my grandson and his wife adopted Tes, a beautiful Chinese orphan.

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