In These Uncertain Times

by Nina Rosoff '65 PhD

No whining, please! Scripps women are not inclined to whine. Yet these are tough and uncertain times.

At 2:00 a.m., it’s hard to sleep. Still awake, at 4:30 a.m, I sip my Costco green tea. A sardonic grin pulls at the left corner of my mouth. I chuckle quietly to myself, and a full blown smile sweeps over me.

My grandfather, Harry, was 14 years old in the late 1800s. He boarded a boat with his girlfriend, Anna, and her sister, Fran. It was the middle of the night. The Cossacks had just rounded up their next group of young boys to take to the Siberian work camps. There they would die.

Harry, Anna, and Fran’s parents agreed to force all three children out. Their “hope” was for their safety and life in these uncertain times. With two brass pots filled with flour and sugar water, and the clothes on their backs, they headed for the ship going to America before the Cossacks came. They crossed the Atlantic, landing safely in Philadelphia. Harry, Anna, and Fran spoke Russian but had neither skills nor a way to make a living, and knew no one in these uncertain times.

Harry and Anna were my father Ray’s parents.

Lee married Josie. They moved from New York to Philadelphia. He’d come up with the idea of refrigeration to replace the big trucks leaving blocks of ice at their door each day. It was 1929. He was about to lose everything. He did… in these uncertain times.

Lee and Josie were my mother Polly’s parents.

Harry became a barber. He and Anna had four children. They were poor; dirt poor.

Lee built a successful company. He and Josie had two children. Lee fought his way back from the Great Depression and was no longer penniless.

Ray and Polly fell in love in high school, went to the University of Pennsylvania where Ray became a lawyer, Polly a social worker. They boarded a train to Texas the night they married. Ray and Polly had three children; I am one.

Today, January 18, 2009, the world of prosperity is but a memory; 25% drop in the housing market; Wall Street, the auto industry, retail fail daily.

You know what, these are… Uncertain Times…yet, for many of us, we have what we need: food, family, friends, faith, freedom, and our health.

I walk into the kitchen to fill the beautiful teacup my daughter gave me. Both hands feel its warmth. I chuckle, shake my head, and think, if these great women before me, Anna, Fran, Josie, and Polly, along with these great men, Harry, Lee, and Ray, could do what they did in uncertain times then I’d better, right now!

I’m less scared, a little excited about the next chapter in our history books and wonder what each sentence will say… in these uncertain times.

No whining!

Scripps women are made of faith, peace, purpose, and hard work. We’ll do fine.


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