The Grandpa Eddie’s Bus Story
The story as told by my Grandfather Ed Lazaroff
How the New Haven Orange Street bus Line got started
Written 2010 Rewritten 08/06/2015
This story was written to assist anyone that is researching the Lazaroff family history.
In 1953, I was 14 years old, living in New Haven Connecticut, and like many teenagers at that age I didn’t socialize very much with the extended members of my family on either side.
I remember the Lazaroff family, which was my mother’s side, because they had yearly family functions in New Haven. The functions were usually held on holidays like Passover, where once a year I got to meet all the relatives and make believe I knew who they were. It was the time of year when half a dozen women I didn’t know would come over and squeeze my cheek saying how big I was getting.
I knew that most all of the older relatives had originally come from Russia, and I was told by my mother that my grandfather Eddie was responsible for bringing many of them to the United States. I was also told that my grandfather Eddie was one the first in our immediate family to make the trip to America. But I later found out saying that may not have been accurate, because when my grandfather first came to New Haven he lived with a cousin who was a blacksmith and had probably sponsored Grandpa Ed to come to the United States. My cousin Allen who is the son of my aunt Adel, who was Grandpa’s second oldest daughter, he has researched and found that Eddie first entered the United States at the port of Boston, The rest of the family later came through Ellis Island.
After volunteering and serving in the U.S. Army, Eddy returned to Russia to try and bring his immediate family out. There was his wife, Malka (Molly), my mother Bluma, (Betty), and my mother’s younger sister Chaja (Adele). (See the Escape from Russia Story it tells what a real hero grandpa Ed was).
We know that Eddie served in the military as I have seen pictures of him in uniform, and he told me that he cheated a little when he returned to Russia, he dressed up as an U.S. Army officer, complete with a swagger stick. He felt it was far more prestigious being in Europe as an officer. The truth was if he was caught by the Russians he would be killed either way as a spy.
I was told that over a period of years, Eddie had returned to Russia several times to bring out his other brothers and relatives. However, no one has ever explained how my grandpa Ed could afford to do all of this, and now there is no one left to ask.
Grandpa Eddie told me that he worked as a plumber, while raising his family in New Haven,
And he explained to me what the New Haven plumbing test was like.
I know that he eventually left plumbing and went into selling insurance for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. He told me that he carried a “Book” for Metropolitan Insurance Company, which meant he probably knocked on lots of doors every week to collect twenty five cents for life insurance policy payments. Grandpa Ed worked for Metropolitan until he retired in the 1950’s and moved to Florida.
I can remember Grandpa Ed selling my mother a three thousand dollar life insurance policy on me, which I still have. But back in 1954 when I was fifteen, she was concerned that I might be killed, as I was mountain climbing at the time. She didn’t think I would make it to sixteen.
Over the years my mother told me that Grandpa Eddie had started the Orange Street bus line in New Haven, and she also said it was taken from him by family members when he returned to Russia. So one day, when my aunt Lillian (Eddies youngest daughter), and my mother were all together, I asked them all what my grandfather Eddie had to do with the Orange Street bus line in New Haven, I was curious, as at the time, because the Orange Street bus line was still running on Orange street in New Haven.
At first, the sisters were very hesitant, and then they started telling the story, each one remembering something and correcting the other. What they told me was the following: They said that in the 1930's there were rumors of a major taxi and bus strike in New York City. My grandfather bought an old bus and went to New York with it, and when he returned, he had a lot of money and he didn’t know what to do with the bus, so he started the Orange Street bus line which at the time was in competition with the existing bus line in New Haven, that was called the Connecticut Company. Then with the money he earned in New York, he left the Orange Street bus company in the hands of relatives and he went back to Russia to bring other family members to the United States.
When Grandpa Eddie returned from Russia, he found that his bus company had been taken from him, and that was all the sisters knew about any of it. They said that they were all very young at the time when all of this happened.
The bus story intrigued me.
So one day when Grandpa Eddie was over for a visit, I asked him to tell me the story about the bus and taxi strike in New York, he got wistful and he told me the following story.
“One day I was in Milford Connecticut, and everyone was talking about the impending bus strike coming in New York City.” They all said that New York City would be shut down completely if the buses stopped running, and if that ever happened, the taxi drivers would also support the strike.
“That’s when I saw an open air bus for sale, it was parked on the side of the old Boston Post Road. So I went over to take a look at it. It was an old bus, open air style with a canvas roof on it, and worst of all it had hard rubber tires. But I found the owner and bought the bus.”
Eddie said he drove all night up the pot holed, Boston Post Road, until he reached New York City. He said, the Boston Post Road was the only way to get to New York at the time.
Once he arrived in New York City, he hadn’t realized it, but the bus strike had already started, and when he stopped at a street corner, people started getting on his bus. Each person gave him a nickel which he stuck in his pocket. After he filled up all his pockets with nickels, he asked a young boy to go and find him some kind of bag or box to hold the money.
The boy returned with two horse feed bags, the kind you put over a horses head with feed in it, so he used them, filling both up with nickels. That night he slept in a barn using the money bags as a pillow, he said his greatest fear was of getting robbed.
Grandpa must have put the money in the bank as he said he filled the bags many times during the week, until the strike was over.
When he returned to New Haven with the bus, he started looking for something to do with it.
He wanted to sell it, but every one told him that Orange Street in New Haven was poorly serviced by the Connecticut Company bus line, and he should think about using his bus. So he said, he started driving up and down Orange Street, and it soon, he became known as the Orange Street bus line.
I was really impressed because the Orange Street bus line that I knew back in 1954, had big modern equipment, with token machines in front of the bus as you got on. It was a first class company in New Haven. But it appears the Orange Street bus line never had a transfer agreement with other New Haven carriers and it was eventually taken over by the Connecticut transit Company in the 1970’s
I asked Grandpa Eddie “why he didn’t still own the bus line?”
“That’s another story,” he said, and with that Grandpa Eddie got up and walked away.
I looked up the Orange Street bus line and found that it was sold to the Connecticut Bus Company in 1970.