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RECOLLECTIONS OF NAOMI BARNETT

 

 

 

Naomi Barnett, of Melbourne, Australia, has been my research partner for the Brzezinski/Dobrzynski (Rose/Samuels) family since 2001. She has contributed endless hours of work to a family which is not even her own, but that of her husband, Merv. The descendants of Merv's grandparents, Myer Rose and Sarah Cohen, spent decades living in various countries in the southern hemisphere, never spending very long in one place. As I was trying to construct a family tree for this branch (Sheet D12), I asked Naomi for the dates of, and some of the reasons behind, such frequent migration. This "e-mail interview" was the result of several e-mails over a number of months in 2003 and 2004.

 

 

THE EFFECT OF PERSONAL AND POLITICAL EVENTS ON MIGRATION WITHIN A FAMILY

 

Saul:

Please can you remind me of the years of migration for Addy and Victor, yourselves, Fay and Harry, and their descendants. It's international migration I'm really looking for.

 

Naomi:

Addy, Victor, Sandra and Mervyn emigrated from Leeds, England to Salisbury, Rhodesia in 1948. Mervyn then left Rhodesia in 1964 to settle in Adelaide, Australia. After I met him in January 1965 (and swept him off his feet), he moved to Wellington, New Zealand, and we married in January 1966. We left there in February 1968 to settle in Melbourne but, in July 1969 (just after Neil Armstrong) walked on the moon, actually), we moved to Salisbury, Rhodesia. We stayed until August 1973, when we came back to Australia, for ever!

 

Addy left Rhodesia in 1973 to settle in Melbourne.

 

Sandra and her husband, who she met in Wellington - long story, won't bore you - moved from Wellington in 1972 to go back to Rhodesia. They stayed there until 1974, when they moved to Capetown. They stayed there until 1976, when they emigrated to Melbourne.

 

Fay and Harry Reuben went from Leeds to Salisbury with Addy and Victor in 1948. In 1964, they decided to emigrate to Adelaide (and Merv went with them). They only stayed in Adelaide for a few years, and then emigrated to Israel in November 1968. They stayed there until April 1973 and then emigrated to Capetown, where they stayed. When Michael Reuben married in 1983, he moved to New York and then Teaneck, New Jersey.

 

Saul:

Why and when did Sandra go to Wellington? You said she and Stan met in Wellington and went to Salisbury in 1972, until 1974, then Capetown from 1974 to 1976, then to Melbourne. However, the tree you sent me in January 2002 gives the twins' births in Salisbury in 1971. Help!

 

Naomi:

Sandra went to Wellington for our wedding!!! My mother-in-law and Sandra came in November 1965. We married in January 1966. Merv and I decided in 1968 that we didn't want to stay in New Zealand and moved to Melbourne. That left Sandra (who had met and married Stan in December 1966) in Wellington, and also my mother-in-law. Some time in 1968, they left (separately) and went to Salisbury again. They stayed there (all three of them, Addy, Sandra and Stan). In 1974, Sandra and Stan and the twins moved to Capetown. Addy left Africa in 1973 and came to Australia to be with us. The twins were born in Salisbury in 1971.

 

Saul:

If Sandra's husband Stan was born in London, when did he go to Wellington, in order to meet Sandra there in 1965, when she was there for your wedding?

 

Naomi:

Stan came to New Zealand a couple of years before they met, on what was known as the 10 scheme for British migrants to emigrate to New Zealand. He was living there when they met.

 

Saul:

Now to the big question: WHY?? Why did they all move to Salisbury in 1948? Why did you all move about the southern hemisphere so often? And it wasn't just one branch, it was all of you! All the time!

 

Naomi:

Addy, Victor, Merv and Sandra moved from Leeds to Salisbury in 1948 because it was away from England. Everyone who had been through the difficulties and deprivation of the war wanted to leave. The rationing was still going on. People were moving to places like Canada, the US, Australia and Rhodesia. The Barnett and Reuben families put all the names into a hat and Merv pulled out the paper which said Rhodesia. So they packed up and flew by DC3, over several days, I must add, to Africa.

 

Merv witnessed the results of the Mau Mau in Kenya and how the people just fled in their pyjamas. This in the 1950s. He remembered it because they came to Salisbury and the Jewish community there helped out. Anyhow, when his family disintegrated at the end of the 1950s, Merv finished his schooling and became a tobacco farmer. He was pretty unhappy and living on a farm away from the Jewish community and his friends. His aunt and uncle (Fay and Harry Reuben) decided to emigrate to Adelaide, South Australia. Merv said he wanted to go with them and so he did, in 1964. Merv and I met at a Bnai Brith Young Adults convention in Adelaide (I was visiting) in January 1965 and we "hit it off", as they say. I returned to New Zealand later that month, then Merv followed. When we decided to marry, Merv's mother and sister came for the wedding, and you know the rest.

 

I suppose "all of you, all the time" is because we are a very small family and Merv's mother wanted us to stay together. I can't say I blame her myself, now that I am a grandmother. She encouraged us to stay near and so that's what we tried to do. Africa was not the place for a white person and, when we left in 1973, it wasn't too soon. Because Australia offered such a great lifestyle and had no racial problems, it was ideal.

 

 

Text from e-mails edited by Saul Marks. Published by permission of Naomi Barnett.

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