Sophie Broche and Karen Quest

Recorded November 5, 2009 Archived November 5, 2009 01:16:06 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: SFB000563


Sophie Broche, 80, talks with her cousin Karen Quest, 54, about the family that they have in common and about their own lives.

Subject Log / Time Code

Sophie tells about her family’s migration from the Ukraine, at the time of the Russian Revolution, to the United States and their new home in Pittsburgh PA.
Sophie recalls family gatherings and holidays.
Sophie tells about meeting her husband at a Purim dance.
Sophie talks about her own 3 children.
Karen asks Sophie about her own father and Sophie’s impressions of him.
Karen’s mother is described by Sophie as very funny.


  • Sophie Broche
  • Karen Quest

Recording Location

San Francisco StoryBooth


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00:07 My name is Karen Quest. I'm 54 years old. Today's date is November 5th, 2009 or the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, and I'm here with my second cousin.

00:24 My name is Sophie prochet age 80.

00:30 November 5th 2009. I'm in the story Corp boost, and I'm with my second cousin Karen Quest.

00:49 Okay, so Sophie.

00:51 Please tell me about your parents.

00:56 Well, my parents came over in 1923 from and I had they left friends. But the part of the story I like to tell is that my grandfather grandmother your grandmother and my aunt either and my and my Uncle Joe who is not even thirteen yet. Just like in Fiddler on the Roof they walked out of the public is a little town they were from can you tell me the country Russia and do remember the exact part of Russia in the Ukraine?

01:37 And then they need my father and mother also came and then my mother married my father just before they left and my father and mother could speak Russian very very well. They were educated in Russian and the others spoke Russian light you could trade like a Jewish person hasn't an accident. They had a Jewish to ask so they put me that I couldn't notice right away. So Mom and Dad where the spouse and they would go out and find a place for the next time but why did they have to leave because of the the

02:17 Revolution the rapper and the Revolution and so a dad and mom got them to Belgium and from there on my own Uncle Nathan an anthro. She was also with them and their two children. He had a cousin who's who was a World War 1 veteran and he could get special permission to get the family over but since my father and mother were in from that side of the family only the my grandparents and Aunt Rose and Uncle Nathan and the kids went and Mom and I stayed in Belton and daddy my father made it was a hustler and he met this man who asked him if he couldn't get him some passports he we had to leave France because they discovered he was he was he came illegally so my dad said sure and found counter fitter.

03:17 And made passports for the Batman and his wife and that's it and make one for me and my wife to and put it on his bill. So so that's how they got there and they lived in France and my mother had my elder sister there. Her name is Willie brochelle, but I didn't know that until she was in high school. We call her Becky. Anyway, how many children did your mom have my mother had three girls.

03:47 And

03:49 That y'all settles in Pittsburgh?

03:53 From there and that's theirs that's their tracks. I'm so glad to get it recorded because I think it's a wonderful story. So do you know in Russian the name of the nearest Village or town that the deficit on the ad. Papa Roach Papa Roach Coach to Belgium now they went they went through my Mom and Dad didn't like the Romanians because they would turn them out of they would accommodate them the letting some sleeping Barnes and things but when when the morning came they had to

04:31 Get going and my mother never forgave the Romanians for that.

04:37 So they went from Russia to Romania and then across Europe.

04:45 And sometimes by night and sometimes out in the day by Mother and Father Like I said, we're the ones who scouted out what was safe and where was safe and then was safe.

04:57 And your grandmother my aunt Eva was in Pittsburgh and your grandfather was visiting from Canada. And the reason he came to Pittsburgh and even visited them because they all came from the same Village. In fact, when when your grandfather and Brian was Frank bathroom was in an instant. They had my mother ship and like babysit him and he started crying and she rocked too hard and she rocks them right out of the out of the rocking crib and for the rest of his life he heard from my mother I should have left his mother. Oh, yeah, she was teasing but but that's how far the family and anfisa and Uncle Frank that's your grandparents right got married, and they I don't know if the kids saved, but they had a great big wedding.

05:57 Picture so my eldest sister Becky would tell people that my father and mother weren't married. And my mother said, why did you say that because you don't have a wedding picture and I was very close to your mom and her sister and her brother. I was going to ask you about what it was like growing up with my mom and my aunt and my uncle we got until you know, I never got into trouble of a came to visit and they came off inside the grandfather and grandmother lived with us. Did you did you live in Squirrel Hill know where he lives on the hill in Pittsburgh? It's like the Hill Street Blues.

06:38 TV show that's where we live. So how far am I how many blocks or was walking to know 20-25 minutes? Yeah. I'm just saying I love yelling. And then when the Halloween came out on a Saturday, my mother would take me to Squirrel Hill to to your grandparents house and the three of the best sippy sippy and Sammy there for me and myself and my sister Becky cuz it's early was a late child what we would be sorely sorely guess. She's ten years younger than myself and it is our Becky and sorely still alive, but we used to like to go to Squirrel Hill because I gave good goodies. And that was fun. And like I said, I always thought you might like this one time. Somebody gave my grandpa.

07:38 Hurricane and touching either. He had like palsy and it was beautiful card and I decided I was going to show up show off and play with it and twirl it and things didn't turn out that broke up. I thought my parents would just bring me up a lie, but then they were very cool and calm about it. Thank God we had company that day.

08:04 And daddy did sex with you put a little brace around it. And what did your father do for a living? He was a butcher the whole family was Russell Frank was a butcher and your mother worked in his his britches store and Sammy works in the Butcher Store and my dad always went into mom and pop a little sore and he wasn't a very good businessman because he was in and out of the business something more times out then in but he was the favorite uncle and his name was William and I called them Uncle Bill Uncle Bull because one of the kids couldn't say Uncle Bill and that sort of stuck and they always they always even your mother told me you're so lucky because your parents know how to have fun 000. Yeah. She she loves again. Did you did you think that Frank and Eva were pretty strict?

09:04 They they you know, the children were you know. Why you bother me types of things and where my dad like when we went swimming at the Willows my Dad. What's the Willows The Willows with a public pool and your grandmother would rent a car. They had Cottages we would come because we we came on you can come as a visitor. So we will you they have pools and your fault your grandfather and grandmother, you know, where in the cabin sort of thing near Pittsburgh Pittsburgh area and

09:47 Your mother was such a gymnast and she she swam and she did all kinds of things with that. She and her sister and my cousin sippy your answer be used to do intramural competitions. They were both very very limber and they did all kinds of things and they swam and they did it and I would say I have a picture of myself standing there with my finger. I look like a little refugee.

10:22 I was afraid of the water and I was afraid of this and merry-go-rounds made me dizzy. So yeah, I was but my mom and my aunt were really just athletic good. I think that had Benton born in this generation like put have in a was and had parents that were interested. I'm sure they would have been in some kind of competition winning. They were very good.

10:54 And your uncle Uncle Sam he had an ear for music and he was in the choir the synagogue which made everybody very proud and he could you was just just wonderful to feel like I said Lynette the family got together. It was so much fun and one pass over the passover's or over my our house. My father's mother has the grandparents were there. So the whole match Booker came to to the to the Seder and after the interview have break in the middle for to eat. They would say Mercy on us makes a okay Kids Go.

11:34 Play and we still upstairs and there are all the floors in the house with hard work and we would take the fur coats for ladies had and wood slide across the floor. Did they ever know that I don't remember being reprimanded and pretty soon and I'll say this for long because my grandfather insisted that you eat in in Haverhill and then you read it and Jewish. So that's why they they had pity on us and I'm sure I can't remember but I'm sure we were asleep up there by the time they were finished. Maybe you slept in the first. Yeah. It's that was one of my great memories of memories you have of a growing up with my grandfather.

12:29 I like sitting and you have a really long beard and I like sitting on his lap and taking his beard and putting it over my head and fur trapping I was blond.

12:44 And what else?

12:46 An old when I'm call Frank at was your grandfather had a I had a company from out of town and he had a lot of relatives in Chicago and Canada. I would come to visit. We just loved it because he would take the whole gang and push us into the car and take us for Country drives. Yeah, we always loved it. When I go Franklin company because we could we got to go for a ride and things because my family never had a car, right? Well the story that asked if he told me is that the sauce keys that was their name but Frank changed it when he got to America because at the point of entry know it wasn't say that something I'm learning from Eli. Well, anyway, they went from they came in from England into Canada.

13:47 And that's why I'm not so I can't remember their name some of his brothers. But I'm at them into the Toronto. I still have relatives too. Well once removed not really bright eyes of blue, but we we enjoyed everything the Troopers and can't remember her name.

14:11 She should live to be a rifle day because I want to listen and Southern California. I just keep in contact with her. Now the story that if he told me also is that Marty Cooper invented the cell phone? Yes. Yes, and I actually saw it. I was all by myself and it came on Channel 9 and that's Marty and I jumped up and I'm out living all alone, and I couldn't even call anybody. It was late at night. That's Marty. I know it is. So you grew up in Pittsburgh. And when did you know? What age did you move? Did you go to college? Did you know I went to Robert Morris business college and I just took enough of the bookkeeping.

15:06 To get me as well. I was doing bookkeeping but I didn't know why I was putting things in these columns. So I went to Robert Morris to find out why I was doing this and making some sense out of it and the funny part about it and it was it was one of these little colleges upstairs and you know, just a plain vocational thing and how's it going about 3-4 months ago? I'm a football fan. I saw Robert Morris.

15:38 At as one of the play and getting one of the game tonight at I didn't even have a Panthers when I went there. But that's where I learned most of my bookkeeping that for that way and then I was fortunate to have a very lazy boss when I was working in his Accounting Office that was here in California and I learned more from him because he wanted me to do everything and I just sort of picked it up by the seat of my pants. It is your parents encourage you to get educated know my mother thought that the only saving grace I would have is if I got married my elder sister was a nurse and she when she passed she was 16 years old and all she had to do to get her PhD was to write her thesis, but she died before she could get that done. She suffered quite a few years and then my

16:38 If younger sister Sorel Lea was a teacher and she fight by choice she chose to teach and the

16:49 Areas, where the kids were mostly black and and they were real Rowdy and she also was a devoted teacher and when she passed they had to close the school cuz all the kids wanted to come to her funeral know where she live she passed away nowhere to did she live she lives in Pittsburgh. I left in 52 and my sister was was a director of nurses in Toledo, Ohio and was close enough where she could drive, you know, I'm weekend but so he's the one that took care of my mother until my mother passed. Yeah. She was a very good child and what is it? What was the event that sparked your journey to, California?

17:41 Okay, I quit my job because the boss yelled at me and I said my father told me that I don't have to take that from anybody and I walked that I was about 18 years old and I don't want to start didn't want to start looking for a job yet. Some other says well you have relatives in California always visit us go girl. So I went and when you were about 18 at will by then I was about 21 or so to hunt around and everything that I waited till my the stone on my father's grave was unveiled and then I went so it was I left about February something like that and I came and I decided I like California what what where when I went to Los Angeles and I stayed with

18:35 My brother's not my father's sister. That was a relationship and then I met his other sister and

18:45 I just wasn't ready to go and my money ran out. So I got a job with this very lazy accountant.

18:53 And I was pretty brave of you at that time right as a single woman.

18:58 And I'm really not very sophisticated at the time and I met my husband wear at a Purim dance. And I was the only one in the crowd that petango.

19:13 So he was impressed. Where did you learn to tango? Well, I was pretty lonely here. And that's the only thing they had out in California you could mingle is

19:26 Dance, they had tea dances in heel of them. Did you dancing in Pittsburgh? Not that well, not that much.

19:36 Because I think that he did and check out your mother. And do you know that I went to Arthur Murray in Los Angeles and I learned to sort of the basics that I could feel like I was comfortable doing it and not really.

20:01 I was are you learned it so that you could add so I could go to a dance and then I decided Well, I've had enough of Los Angeles and want to come home to Pittsburgh and I start saving my money for the fair and at that point I met my husband at that dance and we met in at the Pointe Dance with March. We got married in June that's fast very fast. And it was in the rabbi study with just my mother and my cousin so your mother, can she fly or did you see food while my mother got mad at me because he comes to visit to get married, but that's the way the cookie crumbles and I've gone back to Pittsburgh for Jennifer vacations to see my mother mainly about once every third year and then when everybody passed I don't think I'll go.

20:56 When was the last time you talked to sippy?

20:59 I sent her an email when she never answered and told her about the demise of my car, but you never answered it but I'm sure she has not picked up the phone and there she is in an accent our conversation guys have a lot of shared history. Oh, yeah, she was born on January 3rd. I only I was born in 29 and she was born in 30. And so we always like that lately really like that part of it, but we do have birthday celebrations together. Did you remember that whenever I don't remember if we cool, but we used to pack while I was waiting to come out to California. I got a job in her real estate office when she was a secretary or something. And so we be with each other all day long. I mean in Pittsburgh and then when we when we went home we call each other.

21:59 What's a crossword? Oh, that's so sweet. Yeah, she was really sweet. I don't know we love her and then I of course I wasn't in Pittsburgh for you for her wedding and I'm trying to think I don't think I was in Pittsburgh for your mom's wedding either cuz I I have wedding pictures somewhere in the house, but I don't have I don't recall being either. Did you stay in touch with my mom when she moved to St. Louis? No, but when she moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles area. She called me and told me and we reconnected and we celebrated hanukkah's together with your dad and mom and my kids and you kids and then we celebrated Thanksgiving.

22:50 But and Lisa visit

22:54 Yeah, and what what the part of La where you living in then at that time? I was living in near the borscht belt in the Fairfax in Fairfax VA effects and on the side of it and then and they lived in Studio City Studio City right now and

23:22 It was we didn't see each other, but it's just on Sunday. Sometimes we go up for Sunday visits, but

23:35 When she passed but we sort of.

23:39 Address where you at the funeral I was only nine, you know, so I looked at the funeral.

23:49 And the

23:52 I just you know your father remarried and

23:58 I guess it was I was like part of the past that you can send that to.

24:04 Well wasn't up to us was it? No, but and then I bumped into your sisters by accident.

24:14 Which one?

24:17 Jamie but it did when my goodness. When was that? It's a Jamie or Cheryl Cheri Cheri. I was I was working in an office as a bookkeeper and in in the city or in the in the Valley San Fernando Valley and this girl kept calling and for our office our sales manager and leaving messages, but you'd only say her first name.

24:45 And for some reason

24:48 I asked her her her last name and then the light bulb went on and then I told her who I was and to all my gosh.

24:57 And that's how I bumped into them.

25:01 Which one it was but you mean the boyfriend? No, I want what boyfriend I know she had she had she actually he was not a nice person. I wasn't happy that she was seeing him. So I did not help you is too old for her. But who am I to you know, she's not my kid, right? Well, I couldn't imagine you think it was Sherry. You'll have to ask her ok.

25:25 And so we did is we connected and I do remember coming to my house in this evil and I lived in Reseda. I have a vague memory. Yeah, I'm not strong. But yeah, long time ago that's ones after that. I really lost touch with the kids and everybody.

25:44 Well, I'm just so glad we reconnected. I love it. I love it to pieces.

25:50 So tell me more about your kids. I have three children Adrian Gabrielle and Cory and Adrian is he only one married and she didn't want children. So she's just married and she's a real estate agent. She she went to France and was became a French pastry.

26:16 But it didn't work out because it's a lot of things with our hands and she's got arthritis. So she took something that didn't hurt her and Gabrielle who is 3 years younger is a clinical psychologist types of person and she has her own Works. She has her own practice and where does she live and she lives in port on Main and she's lived there for a long time. So yeah, and she's not married and she's not married. She's like to be like her and then there's Corey.

27:00 And he sort of can't find himself but he buy I'm not even going to give you the story of how he got down to Houston and text Texas. That's where he lives and that's where he lives and hates it but he's involved in the restaurant thing and he emailed me or the gave me the address to go on computer. And what do you call a website they have it is so impressive and then once he even emailed me or somehow sent it on the computer, I write a review of one of the critics and you think the guy was paid by them that's out of the Raves about it. So I'm real proud of that because Corey took a little while and finding himself, but he's happy to know he's not happy. He hates sex is he just wants to get out of there and he has in the he he he got married to a Japanese girl and games.

28:00 Most wonderful wonderful grandchild, she's just what's her name? Her name is Rose.

28:08 Rosalind and we all call her Rosie and one time we were in the market and she said she was very small then and she saw the rosie chickens there's a brand called it is named after me they didn't do that after me sweet of you know, how old she is. Now. She's 12 years old and we do keep in touch and her mother remarried and had another little girl whose name is not what will her mother remarried because she like my son. Did she divorce my son. He went to Japan right out of college because he was a business major and he thought that would be nice and so I told him not to get married, but he did she kept riding him come to Japan have all kinds of opportunities and he wound up teaching English in the berlitz sing and then she became pregnant. He definitely want them to come.

29:08 So they waited a year and meanwhile, they applied for her green card. And as soon as you got in the United States, she said that I don't think it's that sad but hey, it happens. But if he's just crazy for his little girl, in fact for Halloween, he flew from Euston to to a Santa as that's where they live in Santa Ana and just to take her trick or treating all that's very sweet and she let him know if she's getting too old for that. She's 12 and Adrian made her actually cut out a pattern and made a vampire costume for her and so he was going to take her to Disneyland because she's too old to

29:57 To trick-or-treat and she's an Avid Reader. He's she was 11. She finished all the Harry Potter books and we can't we can't get her enough always but now I realize that I sent her the little car. You should pick their own.

30:16 And so and she comes once a year and visits. That's really nice. So she come at any particular holiday. She usually comes for Hanukkah and she usually comes for Passover. But this year she didn't I know because I took over so

30:35 That's the way that took off.

30:42 Let's see. Is there anything that you'd like to ask me?

30:47 Yeah, how did you get into the vocation that you did well in a cruel twist of fate when I was in college, I learned how to juggle.

31:04 And then I learned how to ride a unicycle.

31:08 And then I learned how to eat fire and we're sort of one thing at a time and

31:18 I just ended up hanging out with a bunch of jugglers and really getting into the art form and getting really serious about juggling and

31:28 I was trying I was on the 13 year college plan. I don't know if I ever told you that but I started off as an English major went photojournalism and then photojournalism and then when I called my GE major, which is getting just the requirements done and then ended up as a theater major.

31:52 And I moved up to Los Angeles to take a Year's worth of sign language in one summer.

31:58 And then end up staying and then they had to death theater.

32:02 Program so I joined that and then they dropped that and then I dropped out of school again and just was toying around with the juggling and the acting ended up going back to school with a theater management focus and then I got a job in 1977 juggling at Magic Mountain. I'm impressed. Oh, well, it's a theme park. Don't be that impressed, but

32:35 It's just one thing kind of led to another led to another and then at one of the juggling conventions. I learned I saw this little cowboy older Cowboy guy that was doing trick roping then I thought that's fascinating because it's just one thing it's not five things or eight things like juggling and I kind of got hooked on that. Will you certainly have your mother's what do you call a sense of timing or or agility? Because she would try anything. You know, I have never felt bike ride. I never skated. I was afraid I was afraid your mother did everything. I never knew that she was a really good swimmer to did you?

33:22 Where were you seeing her lot when she was dating my father. Did you ever meet him when in fact, what can you tell me about him?

33:32 Do you remember your impressions? I really didn't like them know it's the truth and I think he tolerated me.

33:45 I I I wasn't very good about keeping how I felt about him. And and I remember one time it was in the winter time and Sophie and myself and a girlfriend who could drive the mother was living in Cleveland and will Howard was just an innocent and we drove up and everything goes back to Pittsburgh snow. No, no, that's all right, but she loved him. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, and they were a nice couple to night night. You know.

34:24 My husband was intimidated by him and it made me feel bad and your husband was intimidated by your dad because he was very very successful.

34:35 We also always struggled.

34:39 And you know she hardly when we came to visit he hardly talk to my husband and that sort of hurt is that type of thing. He was your father was very successful.

34:55 And I think that if your mother if your mother were born in this generation, she could have been a CEO or something. She was bright and snappy. She was so funny. Oh, yeah, and we went to a movie one time. I think it was called.

35:12 Something general it was with Danny Kaye and we were laughing in the movie. She actually fell on the floor. I think the name of the movie The Inspector General. Yeah, that's it. And she was a very open person and you don't like I said, even when you were living in the in Los Angeles and before she died were you talking on the phone with all your regularly and I'll yeah. Yeah, but especially when she got sick. She asked to see me and visitors were quite limited because she was born day off until I would come up and you know go up because I'm driving then and I

36:03 Visit of her and it broke. My heart is broke my heart. Yeah, you know, I took me until I was in my early twenties to make my father sit down with me and tell me what happened.

36:17 Do you know and then not until 99 when sippy told me she had an ectopic pregnancy while I never knew why she needed the transfusion. That was never we never knew that or what did they say when you had hepatitis? That's all I've got's all I knew because she knew had a blood transfusion in the blood. Didn't you? Sue the hospital. He said in 1964 people to send didn't do that. She was such a vivacious person. That's what I wanted to say and so full of everything that she didn't listen to the doctors. She didn't slow down. No,

37:07 And that's you know what that you have to be very very sedate that wasn't your mother's calling.

37:16 Listen, I want to thank you so much for making the trip out here from Walnut Creek and doing this. Oh, I want to thank you for letting me in on it. I think this is a mutual party.

37:32 Okay, so we still have a couple of minutes anything else you want to ask I mean on.

37:39 No, I love you. Just the way you are. I love you too so much. And I just thought it's still have to know anything else about you because you came into my life and I love it.

37:54 Thank you.

38:00 I hate the sound of my voice.