Phillips Avenue at Pocusset, “What’s a Mikvah?” by Mike Torkos

In 1968 my parents, Pat and Mike Torkos, purchased their home at Phillips Avenue at Pocusset. While touring the basement, they noticed an unusual structure: a wall about 3 feet high enclosing an area about 3 and 1/2 feet wide and 6 feet long. When they asked the Realtor, she replied, “Oh, that’s a mikvah.” Being Catholic, they had never heard of such a thing, but they learned. The house was previously owned by Rabbi Pittman, who apparently constructed the mikvah. We used the area for storage. Once when we had company, one of us asked “where’s the lawn chair?” And my mom answered, nonchalantly, “Downstairs in the mikvah.” Which prompted lively discussion with our guests! In the 1990’s we dismantled our mikvah to make room for a new bathroom. Some time later we saw on the news that only two mikvah were known to survive in the Soviet Union, having been destroyed by the communists. Yes, we were unsettled by this information. NOTE: In the 1980’s, my father, who was an excellent gardener, was digging along the Pocusset side of the house. As he dug he discovered a layer of ash, probably from the original coal furnace. His curiosity piqued, he continued to dig until he uncovered a small pond, long buried in the garden. This pond would have met the requirement for a ‘cistern containing rainwater’ to supply the mikvah! His beautiful Japanese Red Maple tree now grows in that spot.

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