As narrated to us by Martin Civin of Spencer, MA
The Button Hole Maker
I am reminded of a story that my father told me many years ago. In the days
shortly before America entered World War I my father was employed as a dress
cutter in the New York garment industry. Working in the same factory with my
father was a man by the name of Lev Bronstein. Mr. Bronstein's trade was that
of a button hole maker. Making buttonholes was a highly skilled trade back
in those days because buttonholes were hand made.
Lev Bronstein was according to my father's story, pretty much of a loner.
At lunch time when the employees of the garment factory would congregate to
enjoy lunch, and for small talk, Mr. Bronstein would sit alone and smoke a
long Russian cigarette and drink tea in a glass. To sweeten his tea he would
place a sugar cube on the inside of his lower lip and suck the tea through
the sugar cube. That was a customary way for Eastern Europeans to drink tea
back in those days.
When the United States entered World War I my father was drafted and entered
the army. I don't know if at that time Lev Bronstein was still employed in
the New York garment industry. Back in the pre-world war days the melting pot
of the lower east side of New York City was a hot bed of Socialism. The
Russian immigrant Lev Bronstein first tried to publish a Socialist newspaper,
but either he was told by the authorities to stop, or he did it on his own.
Mr. Bronstein had to earn a living so he went to work in a dress factory.
In 1917, the troops of the Russian tsar's army started to desert the lines.
The Bolshevik revolution began. The leaders of the revolution were Valdimir
Lenin, Joseph Stalin and yes, the leader and founder of the Red Army, the
button hole maker, Lev Bronstein, who had now taken the name of Leon
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