13 January 2009

Warm fuzzies: One reason for this blog!

There are many reasons for Tracing the Tribe. While its primary reason for existence is to inform readers about Jewish genealogy innovations, resources, books, events and more, there is also a a personal motive. As a researcher, I am always hoping that long-lost and far-flung relatives will chime in as well - and some have.

Today, I received this comment from a former patient of my great-uncle Dr. Louis Tollin, in response to a post titled Maryland: Jewish Museum and genealogy.

Oh my; you are a relative of our beloved Dr. Louis Tollin of Edgemere, Maryland? There are thousands of us from coast to coast that he delivered and took care of our whole lives out of his office in the front of his home on North Pt Rd.

He would come to our houses in the 1950's in what I remember to be a Nash Rambler. I was a child then, but remember him pulling up. He was so funny, always telling jokes to keep us from being scared as he stitched us up in his office or gave us a shot, examined us for eyeglasses or made our medications himself in the little back room.

His son Max I believe worked at "Four Roses" distillery in Dundalk. Mrs. Tollin was his nurse and had red hair.

When I go back home and drive past the home that used to also be his office, it is sad. He was and is a legend in our town. Dr. Louis Tollin will always live on in the Sparrows Point/Edgemere/Fort Howard area of Maryland through the hearts of generations of patients.

What a great way to start a blogging day! Thank you, dear writer, for what is now my favorite comment!

I knew Uncle Lou from his brief summer visits to my grandparents' (his sister Bertha was my maternal grandmother) large bungalow colony in Kauneonga Lake, New York. The only tidbit I had ever heard about his professional life was that he was devoted to Sparrows Point and would never consider moving, despite family suggestions.

It really made my day to hear from this former patient (there was no name, email or location to identify the person or I would have written personally and thanked the writer).

I will expand on this at a later date and add snippets of documents as befits a genealogy blog! But for now, here's a photo of Lou (bottom left), younger brother Samuel, my maternal grandmother Bertha, and their parents Aron Peretz ben Menachem Mendl Talalai (Tollin) and Riva bat Tzalel Bank (c1910; Newark, New Jersey).

The story in the family was that Uncle Lou was afraid of blood. When he was accepted to medical school - the ultimate achievement for every immigrant family - everyone was worried. A relative found him a summer job in a slaughterhouse, which apparently cured him of his fear.

Uncle Lou/Leib was named for his father's illustrious ancestor, Rabbi Leib ben haRav Mikhel Talalai of Mogilev. Lou's father, Aron Peretz ben Menahem Mendl, lived in the Vorotinschtina agricultural colony (adjacent to the hamlet of Zaverezhye) , very close to Mogilev, Belarus, where the main Talalai family lived; Talalai were among the colony's founders. There were other early Talalai branches in Novgorod Severskiy (Chernigov gub., Ukraine), St. Petersburg, Moscow, and elsewhere.

Aron Peretz' wife was Riva bat Tzalel Bank - whom we called Little Grandma for her diminutive stature - was from Petrinisky near Kovno, while Tzalel's brother Gedalia and family lived in Keidan.

Louis was 2, Bertha 5 months old, when they arrived at Ellis Island and settled in Newark, New Jersey. Aron and Riva's family grew with the additions of Samuel (Shmuel), Abe (Avraham) and Harry (Hirsch). Zayde Aron's brother David and his family (his wife was a Visotsky from Bobruisk) also lived in Newark. Extended family had emigrated to New York, Philadelphia, Springfield/Boston, and elsewhere.

Are there any more of Uncle Lou's former patients out there?


  1. Anonymous11:44 AM

    Thank you so much for writing back! We live on the West Coast and my husband is standing here beside me in awe hearing about Dr. Tollin and seeing a childhood photo. He delivered my husband and all nine of his siblings. He delivered my sister, who was a preemie and almost died, but he saved her life. He came to my house when my mother was having anxiety attacks. Everyone has a story about the great Dr. Tollin. He was like a part of everyone's family and has saved so many of us. I don't know when he ever got a second for himself. He had long office hours and you never needed an appt, just showed up. When he wasn't seeing patients in his office, he was out at our homes taking care of us. I am here to tell you that his medications that he assembled in his room, were far superior than anything out there today. He made them himself and they were amazing. He had an incredible sense of humor. I used to talk his ear off as a child and he always told me that he thought he mistakenly vaccinated me with a phonograph needle. :) I remember bleeding profusely and going to have my head stitched up in his office late one Friday night. He froze the area with an ice cube so it didn't hurt me. To hear the story that he used to be scared of blood and how he overcame it was hilarious. Glad he did as he had lots of bloody situations with his patients over the years. We had no specialists; he had be a jack of all trades in the medical world. And he was. He was an incredible man. The people of the community were his life. I have never seen any doctor, anywhere but Dr. Louis Tollin that was as dedicated as him. (and I have worked in a hospital most of my life) We knew that he was from New York and that sounded exciting to us as kids. I heard from someone that Mrs. Tollin moved back to New York after her husband died. Just know that your great-uncle was a miracle to our community. He stuck with us all of those years when others chose a larger profitable town for their practice. It wasn't the money for Dr. Tollin, it was his calling. I have to smile when I think of him, as he was so funny that he could have easily been a comedian with his dry sense of humor and delivery of jokes. I cannot wait to send the picture of him to my sister back East, who I am sure will pass it on to many others. Thank you again. (sorry the only way I know to send this is the choice of anonymous on this post, as I don't have a google account, etc.) Nancy

    1. I remember Dr. Tollin when he had his office in the Green house in Edgemere on North Point Road, my Grandmother would take me to him, and he was nice. I was 6-7 years old. And I remember his wife and her red hair running around the office. He was great with giving shots and that's about all I remember about him . He used to stitch my older brother up when he got hurt playing football, my Mother would just send him to Dr. Tollin by himself, because it happen so often. She would call Dr. Tollin and let him know my brother was coming in to get stitched up again.

  2. What a beautiful story! As an aside, Schelly, I see a resemblance between you and your great-grandma (great-little-grandma?) Riva.
    Judy Simon

  3. Thanks for sharing such great interesting story here. Thanks for writing it to here. I like it. I like this post very much and I like this site too. It is nice to post here.

  4. It's an interesting story. Thanks a lot for writing for us. It was so touchy.