(I am the last one left of that era to tell their story.)

 Russia (about) 1898

My grandmother Fanny Lopatin

My grandfather (Lieutenant) Max Lopatin, Russian Army.

My grandparents’ first born, my Aunt Rose



         Max and Fanny Lopatin, with their daughter Rose, arrived in New York in 1906. They joined the Lopatin families in Freehold in 1908 where he opened the Outlet Store on South Street. My mother was born January 1909 and her twin sisters, Nora and Gloria about 1911.



The Early Beginnings in Freehold

(about) 1914 or 1915

Now, a family of six, including my mother (not including the horse)

Photo: Max Lopatin & family with horse and buggy (Ford was to follow) 

The Loving Family I Grew Up With

(Like the construction of any good story, there was a beginning, middle, and an end.)


      They were, mostly, all there in Freehold when I was born in October 1928. In Russia they were dairy farmers until the end of the 19th century except for my grandfather, Max Lopatin a lieutenant in the Russian army.        

      The Lopatins arrived, at the beginning of the 20th century, in the small town of Freehold, New Jersey, USA. (See: Ida) My grandfather became a haberdasher (the Outlet Store), Great-Uncle Sam became a homebuilder and Great-Uncle Jake became an electrician. There was Great-Uncle Dave Lopatin, Great-Aunt Gussie (Lopatin) Lewis and Great-Aunt Rose (Lopatin) Chaitin who all settled elsewhere. There was also Great-Uncle Nathan Lopatin who was killed by a Pennsylvania railroad train along with his wife and two children in the month of June 1914, in Freehold, fourteen years before I was born. (See: Two Killer Trains)  


     To better understand how I fit into the chronological picture, Great-Uncle Jake’s youngest child, Irving (my mother’s first cousin), was just two years older than myself and was my friend.




         From the very beginning (my beginning) on October 27, 1928 I was a Lopatin in both heart and soul. And...what a beginning! According to my mother the 13 cousins were caring to each other and rarely, if ever, fought. That, however, didn’t apply to  their fathers, the three brothers living in Freehold. My grandfather, Max, was a Democrat, Great-Uncle Sam was a Republican and Great-Uncle Jake was a Socialist (Incidentally, Great-Uncle Dave was a Communist.) Actually, my grandfather and his two brothers, Sam and Jake, didn’t really fight, they argued. Their arguments never interfered with the caring that they and their families felt for each other.




         The Lopatins affected Freehold life from the schools to the business world. There were Lopatins everywhere in town. There were Lopatins in the grammar schools, in the intermediate school and in the high school. The farmers came to town on Saturday nights and bought their clothes and shoes and coats at Max Lopatin’s Outlet Store on South Street. And Max Lopatin gave them the credit to make those purchases in those depression years, getting paid 50 cents or 75 cents or a dollar at a time when he went out “collecting” (See: Two Killer Trains).


         When there were houses to be built, Great-Uncle Sam Lopatin and his son Bill (See: IDA) built them. When houses were to sold and insured Sol Lopatin sold and insured them.


         Great-uncle Jake and his eldest son Nathan (not to be confused with Nathan Lopatin killed by the Pennsylvania Railroad train) took care of wiring the new houses and repairing the electrical problems in the old houses.


         Most everybody in Freehold knew each other, particularly the Lopatins and especially my grandmother Fanny, Great-Aunt Ida and Great-Aunt Hannah. Their talents were many, particularly as bakers and family overseers. Much more than that, they knew (it seems) everybody in town. My grandmother worked, as needed, in the family’s Outlet Store and was on first name basis with most of the surrounding famers.


         Freehold was “Lopatinized”




         There came that time, like all good things, the Lopatins of Freehold came to an end.


         Bill and his younger sister Jenny were the last of Sam and Ida Lopatin’s children. Bill, when he was 92, danced with his sister Jenny at her 90th birthday celebration in Washington, D.C.  And, I was there.


         Two years later as Bill lay dying we spoke on the telephone. His voice was soft but matter-of-fact. The one thing that stands out for me in that conversation were his last three words to me, “Bob I’m ready.” Jenny would die in Washington D.C., two years later, closing out the 20th century.


         Bill would be the last Lopatin in Freehold. With his passing the Lopatin era in Freehold would come to an end. The benign ghosts of the Lopatins are all that remain.

IMG 3828

 From Top Left to Right: My Great-Grandmother, Aunt Rose, My Grandmother, My Grandfather; Middle: My Mother (with Ukulele); Bottom Left to Right: Aunt Gloria and Aunt Nora

Bob Flicker

January 2015


 © robert 2014