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Time and distance can’t keep family apart
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Time and distance can’t keep family apart

Descendants of three sisters come together for a picnic tradition

A big hurrah from four generations of the Trost family — 59 members in all — gathered for a reunion picnic on June 21 in Warinanco Park. Matriarch Ann German is seated in front, to the left of the sign.    
A big hurrah from four generations of the Trost family — 59 members in all — gathered for a reunion picnic on June 21 in Warinanco Park. Matriarch Ann German is seated in front, to the left of the sign.    

What with college, marriage, and retirement, growing up and growing old, members of the Trost family — like so many other families — have scattered across the country. But on June 21, 59 of them managed to come together for a picnic in Warinanco Park, in Elizabeth/Roselle, not far from where their American story began.

Three sisters, Bella, Ida, and Yetta Trost, all born between 1885 and 1895 in the town of Hrubieszow in Poland, immigrated to the United States with their husbands at the turn of the 20th century. All three couples — the Rosenbergs, Zunks, and Germans — settled in Newark. Their children, and many of their grandchildren, were born in Newark Beth Israel Hospital.

The sisters passed away many years ago. Ann German, 90, Yetta’s daughter-in-law and a Convent Station resident, is the oldest surviving family member. Her husband, Louis, to whom she was married for 68 years, died two years ago, but she remains active and engaged with both the family and the broader community. In an e-mail and over the phone, she told NJ Jewish News the background for the festive get-together.

“In 1949, the cousins who lived near one another in Newark, Hillside, and Irvington formed the Trost Family Circle,” she said. “Members met monthly at one another’s homes, picnicked together annually — sometimes at the Rosenberg egg farm in Warren Township — spent a weekend together each year in the Catskills or Lakewood, enjoyed a night out together in NYC (at a kosher night club, of course), and sent an annual cash gift to the Trost sisters’ brother and his family in the newborn State of Israel.”

As the sisters’ descendants spread out across the country, the circle ceased to meet regularly, but the members still got together whenever they could. For example, in 2000, a group of them gathered in Morris Plains, at the home of German’s son Arnold. Five years ago, they celebrated her 85th birthday with another big party.

The June 21 picnic was their largest in a long time. German’s two sons and her daughter were there, with five of her 11 grandchildren and her three great-grandchildren. 

“Most people came from the Greater MetroWest area of northern and central New Jersey, others came from as far afield as Arizona,” she said. “Four generations were represented, headed by patriarch Lou Rosenberg of Union (Bella’s son),” and herself. “Games at the picnic included a raw-egg tossing contest, a favorite when the family picnicked at the Rosenberg farm.”

What delighted her most, German said, was this simple fact: “Everybody still talks to everybody. It was beautiful!”

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