Meet The Goldbergs

Welcome to Becoming America’s Stories Know the Neighborhood. Meet Lily and the other characters in the books and the places they lived and worked.

The Bakery

The bakery, on Hester Street, is Lily’s special place. Even though she is not as skilled as Margaret, she feels like a big kid helping the family by baking Daily Bread each morning. The best part of the bakery is Mrs. Goldberg, the baker’s wife. Lily loves beautiful Mrs. Goldberg who shows Lily ballerina exercises and shares an artists’ heart. Lily believes Mrs. Goldberg is magical.

Every day Lily arrives at the bakery basement on Hester Street. She mixes, kneads and shapes a loaf of bread, Daily Bread. Mr. Goldberg, the baker, bakes the bread in the big oven. He charges the children three cents a loaf instead of the usual five cents. Mrs. Goldberg gives Lilly and the other Daily Bread bakers Knot Surprises for breakfast and midday lunch. Knot Surprises are strips of leftover bread dough, fashioned into a knot and topped with a dollop of sweet preserves or savory cheese.

The Goldbergs

The Goldbergs immigrated from Russia, escaping oppression and the cruel pogroms. They came with burdens and struggled to keep their true identities a secret. The Goldbergs work the bakery on Hester Street and provide the neighborhood with bread. 

Mrs. Goldberg is the beautiful baker’s wife. She brings light and joy to the dreary neighborhood. But she is also emotionally fragile. The memories of her old life haunt her and she forgets her place in the world. Mrs. Goldberg believes Lily is an artist, like her.

Mr.Goldberg is the kind baker, who is happy to have the children help in the bakery. He relies on Margaret to teach the children to bake beautiful bread and to make sense of the money til Mrs. Goldberg tries to manage each day. Mr. Goldberg loves his wife dearly and does everything and anything to keep her safe.

Aaron is the Goldberg’s nephew. He has a simple nature and cannot speak. But he is just as kind and a very strong young man. Aaron lifts and carries heavy sacks and trays. He shovels the coal into Dragon, the bakery furnace, Lily likes his pumpkin smile, a wide grin that brings out everyone’s smiles. 

Note that the photos displayed were found in the Library of Congress and Wiki Media Commons.

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Becoming America’s Food Stories


Hope you are hungry. Becoming America’s Food Stories recalls the tales that have been told around my family’s dinner table. The histories explain the motivations over bowls of macaroni, antics play out while slurping soup, and laughter echoes throughout the dining room. Pull up a seat. There’s always room.
The Heart of Bakers and Artists is set in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, 1911. The story follows nine-year-old Lily, an American-born child of Sicilian immigrants, who wants to prove she is not a little kid. To be a big kid in the crowded tenement neighborhoods, she must tackle bigotry, bullies, disasters, dotty bakers, and learn to cross the street by herself
The Dreams of Singers and Sluggers picks up where The Heart of Bakers and Artists left off.Lily has big dreams to sing out with her powerful voice, but must do EVERYTHING, since Mama fell into a deep depression, the baby is sick, and the “Black Hand” terrorizes the neighborhood, threatening her chance to sing at the New York Highlanders Fourth of July baseball game.
Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year of breast cancer treatment.

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