This is my family and me. The photo was taken in Tiraspol in 1929, after my parents moved there. First row from left to right: my paternal grandfather Mikhail Balan, my brother Abram, my brother Natan, my maternal grandmother Leya Korsunskaya, nee Lev. Second row from left to right: my mother Fira Balan, nee Korsunskaya, me and my father Mark Balan. My maternal grandmother Leya was born in the town of Bobrynets, Elisavetgrad district, Kherson region, in 1870.
After the wedding, my grandparents lived in their own house in Novoukrainka. I don't remember this house. My parents and I went to Novoukrainka, but I was too young to remember any details. My mother told me that my grandparents were very religious. They strictly observed kashrut, and shohet slaughtered poultry. Their four children were brought up religiously. They observed Jewish traditions and rituals. The family spoke Yiddish. In 1922, after the Civil War, the Soviet authorities arrested my grandfather for some reason. Grandfather Gersh did not return home, and we do not know how he died. The authorities offered no explanation for what happened. After the arrest and death of my grandfather, my grandmother Leya lived alone in Novoukrainka, since all her children had left their parental home by that time.
In 1934, her older children, Godya and Sonya, persuaded her to move to Australia, where they lived. She lived in the house of her son Godius. In 1936, my grandmother died by accident: she drowned in a bathtub. She probably became ill, but there was no one around, and she drowned. It happened when she was visiting her daughter Sonya.
Grandma Leah was buried in Perth, Australia. My parents got married in Mostovoy in 1919. I don't know what kind of wedding they had, but knowing the religiosity of my grandfather Mikhail, I think they had a traditional Jewish wedding.
After the wedding, the newlyweds spent some time with my mother's parents in Novoukrainka. A few months later, in 1920, the newlyweds moved to Odessa. At first they lived on Chicherina Street in the city center, but it turned out to be very cold there, and they moved to another apartment on Nezhinskaya Street in the same part of the city.
My brother Nathan was born in December 1922, Abram in 1925, and I in 1928. I looked so much like a girl that my mother called me meydele [little girl in Yiddish].
In 1929 my parents moved to Tiraspol, where life was not so expensive. My brother Aron was born there in 1930. He died of scarlet fever when he was one and a half years old.