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The Pelta Story – Arrive in USA – San Francisco (1951) (chapter 15)

Grandpa Leon and Szyfra Pelta arrived on January 18, 1951 in the city of New York in the United States of America, via the Queen Mary ship. They did not stay in New York City, but rather immediately boarded a train directly to San Francisco. They thought it made sense to live near their Uncle Abe, who sponsored their immigration. However, once they arrived, Abe Hirshchberg felt he more than did his share and did not give the Pelta’s any more financial assistance.

After a one week journey aboard a train, they arrived in the city of San Francisco California. They needed to find a place to live. The place they rented was a hovel in a basement.  They did get assistance and clothing from the local Salvation Army. Grandpa Leon worked so hard trying to make an income upon arrival to San Francisco that he was soon hospitalized with his first heart attack.

Grandpa Leon built for himself an excellent reputation as a master custom tailor and an expert in making Fur coats and custom suits. His Store was named “Leonards” located on Geary Boulevard in the Richmond district. Initially, they started off as a laundry business. My grandparents arrived in the USA with minimal finances and did not receive any welfare assistance from the USA government.

The first home they purchased was on 15th Avenue. Years later they were able to purchase a second home on 22nd Avenue. They eventually bought the building on Geary that housed Grandpa’s store on the ground floor and rental apartments were located on the floors above. This building was next door to the “House of Bagels” Bakery.

Grandpa Leon and Grandma Szyfra, with no formal business education or training, were able to build for themselves a small real-estate empire. They had the foresight to invest in real-estate in order to own “part of America”, when others did not see the value in such investments. They owned property in San Francisco which included houses, apartment/office buildings and a mall. Their “dream summer house” was custom built in Napa Valley Calistoga (wine country).

About the Author
Arie E. Pelta, M.D., a Board Certified General and Colorectal Surgeon from the USA , made aliyah with his wife and 7 children in 2013. Received Rabbinical ordination in 1997. He is also a active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Currently practicing in Laniado Hospital in Netanya; speciaizing in the surgical care of all problems of the colon, rectum and anus.
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