The majority of freshmen know very little about their future roommate, except for a slight notion from a brief questionnaire and a phone conversation. Freshmen Keith Rosenberg and Gary Feder, however, were to find out they had more in common than most.
Weeks before the two were scheduled to move in together, Rosenberg came to an unforeseen discovery. ?When the roommate information sheet came in the mail, I immediately recognized Gary?s last name as my grandmother?s maiden name.?
When the roommate information reached Feder at his house about an hour south of Rosenberg, he did not come to the same realization.
?I had no idea that Keith and I were related. I?d never heard of him before we talked,? Feder said. ?I never even knew that I had family that I didn?t know.?
Rosenberg called Feder not only to discuss the room, but to share the news with him.
?I guess you could describe it as a normal roommate conversation. We talked about our personalities and about the room,? Feder said.
During the course of the conversation, Rosenberg asked Feder about his family history, and the two realized that they were cousins, after Feder inquired of his grandfather.
?When I got off the phone with Keith, I told my parents, and they were interested in finding out more about it,? Feder continued.
After speaking with their grandparents, Rosenberg and Feder soon learned that Feder?s grandfather, Arby Feder, and Rosenberg?s grandmother, Loretta Feder Rosenberg Bagon, are first cousins, and have not seen each other in about fifty-five years.
?We decided to have a reunion at my house, and invited both sides of the family,? Rosenburg said. ?It was cool, because our grandparents recognized each other right away, even after so long. They brought pictures along with them to the reunion, and they both had pretty much the same pictures, which is kind of strange after so long. They talked about the things and family members that they remembered.?
?Their reunion was a nice thing to see. I?m sure it was more special for them than for us because they hadn?t seen each other in so long,? Feder added.
When Loretta Feder Rosenberg Bagon got married, she moved to Queens, which was too far to keep in contact with the rest of the family. As a result, the two grandparents lost contact, and have not seen each other in over half a century, Rosenberg said.
?There were no cars then, so it was hard to keep in touch,? Feder said. ?It was like a different world.?
Speaking of the more personal aspects of being assigned a room with his cousin, Rosenberg said, ?Being cousins hasn?t affected our roommate relationship at all. We don?t think of each other as cousins, we think of each other as friends.?
Schnee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.