In Her Words
Candid profiles of strength told by the women of Northbridge
Throughout the month on March we have collaborated to celebrate Women’s History Month and the rich history of the amazing women living in our communities. Their candid stories are brimming over with love, happiness, passion, family values and the markings of individuals who have truly lived well and loved life.
Lorraine’s Story (Resident of Laurelwood at The Pinehills)
My name is Lorraine Kaplan and I was born in July of 1924 in Brooklyn, NY to Nathan and Sarah. I was named Lorraine after a character in a book that my mother read. My Hebrew name is Leah. I moved to Fall River around 1930. My family owned a factory in Fall River and manufactured women’s sportswear. My parents came from a country near the Russian/Poland border. My mother went to night school to learn English – she ended up having no accent at all. My father moved over when he was younger than she. He went to school until the 8th grade – when he had to go to work. He worked in a factory, his path to owning one later in life.
Girls in my day weren’t treated the same way as boys, they didn’t have bat mitzvahs for the girls back then. However, I attended a Jewish folk school 3 times a week – where I learned to read and write Yiddish. I took lessons along with my brother. At the end of the program, there was a graduation where I wore a white dress. It was an important accomplishment. [It wasn’t until years later, while at a national convention in Washington D.C. – I spoke to a Rabbi and asked if he would arrange a bat mitzvah for some of the women, and he said he would. I partook and was bat mitzvah’d in my 40s.
When I was young I liked to go to the beach and to the Jewish center after school for Bridge, card games, plays, etc. The Jewish center is where I met my husband, Samuel. I was 16 and he was 19. Soon after we started dating – he went off to war. We married when he returned and had four beautiful children: Robin, Jerri, Neal and Priscilla.
I was very involved with my children’s activities. I was a den mother, and my husband was a cub scout leader. We even had a room in our home dedicated to those meetings and activities. I remember making covered wagons out of cardboard boxes.
At the same time, I was extremely involved in the Jewish faith and tradition. I volunteered for the Jewish War Veterans where I would go to Veterans hospitals and bring food and entertainment for people. I was the President of the Ladies Auxiliary.
I also volunteered for over 20 years as “The Friendly Visitor.” Through this program I would visit with house-bound Jewish people. I was also involved with an organization called Hadasha, a program that worked to bring Russian Jews to America, where they didn’t have to practice their faith in hiding. In many instances when the families relocated to the states, they would stay in my home until they got settled. We would help them find a house and get them set up.
Samuel and I both worked in a factory together – I was the bookkeeper and he was the manager. When presented with the opportunity to buy the factory from the owner, we did! It was a manufacturing factory – makings sportswear, maternity clothes, etc. I always wanted to go to college but my parents couldn’t afford to send me – as they had sent my two brothers. So, in my 40s, while working full time, I attended classes. I earned my associates degree – it took me 4 years, but I did it!
My husband and I ran our factory until my husband had a stroke at the age of 50. When he passed away at the age of 55, I closed the factory.
A few additional, and amazing, life moments for Lorraine:
When I was in my 60s, I wanted to visit Israel. So – I joined the Israeli army! It was a volunteer program – and my tour in the Israeli army lasted for 6 weeks. I slept in the barracks, wore fatigues and helped with different projects. I also had the opportunity to travel and see the country.
After closing our factory, I worked as a substitute teacher – until the age of 80. When I retired, I packed up and moved to Las Vegas for almost 10 years.
Tell us about your life at Laurelwood at The Pinehills:
Today I am one of the most active residents at Laurelwood. I participate in everything from daily exercise to computer classes, to discussion groups, games, outings, etc.
I love seeing movies, joining in on discussion groups, and I love pottery and painting. I like to give the pottery and painting pieces I’ve done to my family – something for them to remember me by.
One word to sum up your personality:
Warm; I like to be nice to everyone.
What are your hopes for your family?:
My hope for my grandchildren is for them to be happy and successful. After all I’ve done in my life, the thing I’m most proud of is that I have 4 wonderful children who are accomplished and happy.
For more information about the wonderful way of life at Laurelwood at The Pinehills, click here.