A Pierogi, A Polish Village, A New Start.

Irving chose a rainy night to escape the concentration camp, finding cover in a forest and comfort from Polish villagers who offered him food and clothes. One kind woman welcomed him into her home, and offered him a pierogi, cottage cheese and a potato — a meal Irving later described as "amazing." She allowed him to stay with her for months.

Irving and his brother, Levy, were the only members of his family who survived the Holocaust.

Displaced persons camps, knows as DP camps, housed more than 250,000 Jews in Germany, Austria and Italy until 1952. The camps were a joint effort by the allied authorities and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. In the camps, former prisoners attempted to reunite with families and new families were formed — weddings and births were common. The DP camps soon fostered their own Jewish cultures as schools opened, religious holidays were celebrated and other social gatherings were had.

After finding a job working on a highway alongside the Russian Army, Irving made his way through Czechoslovakia, Poland and Germany before settling into a displaced persons camp — where he would meet a woman who would become his wife.

Irving and Rosie were married in that camp. They welcomed their first child in that camp. And they embarked on a new beginning, together, in that camp.


Emigrating To America

Irving and Rosie waited four years for the proper paperwork to arrive from Irving's aunt in New York that would allow them to move to the U.S. But, even after sending the paperwork, Irving's aunt attempted to dissuade him from emigrating — cautioning him that rent was high and work was hard to find.

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Irving, Rosie and their infant son move anyway, living in a small basement as Irving searched tirelessly for work — any kind of work. He eventually found work as a tool and die maker, and learned the trade so well that his foreman told him he would need two men to replace Irving if he took a week off.

The factory, though, felt too familiar to Irving. He worked seven days a week, 10 hours a day, as he had as a prisoner. He was ready to try something new and thought the furniture business seemed like a good fit.

But, a furniture business wasn't for sale.
A restaurant was.

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"If someone would offer me five dollars for a week, I would sell myself happily."

— Irving Guttman