Ethel Gordon

My Story...

In 1896 my father, Abraham Philip "Fivel" Malian (originally Trachtenberg), was born in Chatin, Bessarabia. As a young man he immigrated to Winnipeg to begin a new life. He worked at a variety of jobs including delivering bread for City Bread and buying and selling goods as far afield as Saskatchewan, soon earning enough to bring his fiancée, Sarah Widergorn, to join him. My mother was born in Noviselitz, Bessarabia in 1906 and was twenty years old when she arrived in Winnipeg via Halifax. They were married shortly after she arrived, and established their home on Martha Street. They worked hard at their little store on Aberdeen Avenue and were soon able to bring her parents and four siblings (Jack Wilder, Lil Elchitz, Clara Eskow, Rose Kerr) to join them. Sister Gittel (Adelman) arrived later.

Subsequent homes were on Boyd, Inkster and Smithfield Avenue. My parents started Tri Cola, a soft drink company, behind Kelekis and Economy Drug at Redwood and Main. My father later delivered soft drinks for the Kik company and went on to open his own store. My parents also bought tenement homes and repaired them as best they could - my Dad was the original recycler! - into livable dwellings. In spite of problems, my father persisted in employing neighbourhood men; believing the best in others was his character.

I was born in 1935, my sister Evelyn (Hecht) was born in 1941 and my sister Seema (Ariel) arrived in 1945. I attended I.L. Peretz Shule, Machray School and St. John's Tech. As a young person I was always busy. I was very involved in both volleyball and basketball and my teams won the City of Winnipeg championships for both. Clubs were important - my club at the Y, Habonim, and the clubs I formed, like the "Personality Club" where my friends and I discussed everything from boys we liked to crafts to sports! And of course there were summers at Winnipeg Beach.

After high school I studied education at the University of Manitoba, graduating in 1955. I was involved in the Panhellenic Association and a member of the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority. I have good memories of attending the Phi Sigma Sigma Conference in Washington, DC. At the same time, I was dating Ralph Gordon and we married on June 19, 1955. I taught at Victory School and, after starting our family, at Talmud Torah, Herzlia and then physical education at Ramah Hebrew School for 25 years.

I first saw Ralph on a tennis court behind the Children's Hospital. I was 13 and was going there to play tennis with a friend. We first dated at Winnipeg Beach. It was the fabulous 50's — I was in bobby socks and he in draped pants. We played tennis, went golfing, and enjoyed the romance of moonlight dances, drive-in theatres, Jack's place, the Copa, the Rancho Don Carlos and the Moracco. Life with Ralph has always been an adventure!

Ralph and I are very proud of our three children and their families. Sherwin, born in 1956, is married to Nancy Rykiss, a travel agent, and they have two children, Carly and Adam. Sherwin is a Commerce and Management Accounting graduate and is now in corporate management in Toronto. Kayla, born in 1959, is married to Arthur Maister and they have two children, Avril and Aaron. Kayla is a graduate teacher and has her master's degree in Theatre. She has devoted much of her career to numerous local theatre productions, served as Artistic Director of the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre, and is a professor of acting and musical theatre at the University of Winnipeg. Art established and manages Crosstown Dental Laboratory. Marshall, born in 1961 is married to Amy Watkins, who has her Masters in Education and is presently teaching. They live in California. He attended university on a tennis scholarship, trained in music and education and worked as a high school band teacher but is currently working in general management for a Toyota dealership. We are pleased that each of our grandchildren is pursuing higher education.

In 1985 I went back to the University of Manitoba and earned two additional degrees. I have always loved learning, and being involved with a variety of interests and pursuits. When my children were young I was very involved with PTA, Hadassah including a term as President, and with National Council of Jewish Women. Those were busy times with many fundraising activities. I have continued to play tennis, I love to ride my bike and to garden, and Ralph and I have remained passionate about dancing to live music. Back in the 70's, we even won a disco championship!

My teaching career at Ramah has given me a special connection to our Jewish community. Wherever I go, I meet former students or their families. Ralph and I also have many lifelong friends and whether we're in Palm Springs in the winter, or Westhawk in the summer, all of these connections intertwine. We especially enjoy hosting big family dinners for the holidays and other family celebrations. All in all, we have the good life that my father came here to find.