My grandfather, Martin Moses, was born on this day 132 years ago. He was the oldest of his generation in my family that I knew well growing up, my link to the 19th Century. As a toddler I called him “Papa” instead of the more appropriate German “Opa”, and the nickname stuck. I had hoped to be “Papa” when I became a grandfather, and in a similar fashion Rosa insisted on calling me “Pa”. But in every other way, he remains my model of what it is to be a grandfather.
He was born in a village, was conscripted into the German army for World War I, and after the war became an “entrepreneur” whose business ventures eventually brought him to Berlin. There he met my grandmother Rosel (Oma) and started a family. Just weeks before Kristallnacht they fled the Nazis and emigrated to Ventura, California. I was 40 years old before it sunk in that, when he was older than I was then, Papa started over in a new country, with few possessions and no English, and he and Oma managed to build the world of family and support I was born into.
He was a part of my life the whole time I was growing up, and I remember our times together often as I now play the role of grandfather. Here are some of the family photos I’ve collected from his life.