Saturday, March 6, 2021

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Fearless Females 2021

I haven't posted much recently, but I couldn't miss doing something for my grandmother's birthday today.  And what do you know — tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post from Randy Seaver fits the situation perfectly!

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

1.  Check out Lisa Alzo's "Fearless Females 2021" blog post prompts and write about one of them.

2.  Put it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link in a comment to this post.

What a great coincidence!  Today, March 6, is my maternal grandmother's birthday!  So I noticed the prompt for March 6 which Randy had used and thought it would be perfect.

"Describe an heirloom you may have inherited from a female ancestor (wedding ring or other jewelry, china, clothing, etc.).  If you don’t have any, then write about a specific object you remember from your mother,grandmother, or aunt (scarf, hat, cooking utensil, furniture, etc.)."

Something my grandmother gave me before she passed away was a set of china.  She told me she had used it as her Passover dairy dishes when she kept a kosher household.  The amazing thing is that she acquired it one piece at a time from a grocery store during its weekly dishware sale, or at least that's what she told me.

For those not familiar with this practice, many grocery stores would sell a specific piece of china from a set for a very low price, or sometimes free, every week.  If I remember correctly, you had to spend a minimum amount in purchases at the store to get the china on the special deal.  If you worked at it, you could biuld up a nice set.

Bubbie (Yiddish for grandmother) had full settings for fourteen people:  dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl, coffee cup and saucer, dessert bowl.  She also had two large serving platters, two large serving bowls, a gravy boat, a creamer, and a sugar bowl.

That's a lot of trips to the grocery store.  I think Bubbie was an overachiever.

The set is "Golden Wheat" (by Homer Laughlin, according to Replacements, Ltd.).  The back of some of the dishes (not all of them) says, "Golden Wheat / Made in USA / — 22K Gold — / Oven Proof."  The 22K gold was used on the wheat design on the observe, on the rim, and for the lettering and design on the reverse.

I have to admit that I am amused by the fact that the dishes are safe to put in the oven but not the microwave (because the 22K gold will set off the micro).

I still remember picking up the set from Bubbie.  I lived in California; she lived in Florida.  One day, out of the blue, she decided it was very urgent that I should come visit because she wanted to give this set to me and have me take it home.

The first problem was that she insisted on this right when I was planning my foot surgery.  No, she didn't care that I wasn't going to be fully mobile.  It had to be that month, December 1997.  Sure, I just had foot surgery and I had to be pushed around the airport in a wheelchair, but I could figure out a way to handle this, right?  But it was my Bubbie, so I went.

The second problem, which I didn't find out until I got there, was that she didn't give me an accurate idea of just how much she wanted me to take home.  This was a lot of china, even if I hadn't been working with only one good foot.

Somehow we managed to pack everything into one duffel bag, with a reasonable amount of padding to protect the pieces.  But it wasn't secure enough that I could check it as luggage; it would have arrived as a huge bag of china shards.

So I had to lug the bag around with me at Fort Lauderdale Airport, and at my transfer airport, and at Oakland Airport.  All while being pushed around by very nice airport personnel who were very, very annoyed (but tried to keep a good face) that I had this big bag of china on my lap during the entire time.  I explained to each of them that I was very sorry, that my grandmother had insisted I had to pick up the china now, that I didn't want to do it right after my surgery.  I don't think it helped a lot.

But the good news is that the china and I arrived safely and in one piece back at Oakland Airport.  I managed to get home also.  I don't remember if I drove or had a shuttle pick me up; it was likely a shuttle, because the surgery was on my right foot, and I don't think I was ready to drive yet.  But we made it.

And I still have the set.  I brought it to Oregon with me.  Only a couple of pieces have been broken over the years I've owned it, one being the gravy boat.  I think I lost one of the small plates also.

And I use it for my Passover seders, although I don't keep kosher.  Bubbie stopped keeping kosher after her father-in-law passed away, which was in 1953, so the dishes were already trafe by the time I got them.

And now that I've written all of this up, I'll print out ths post and include it with the dishes, so I have documented them and why they're important, just as I did with the silverplate flatware that used to belong to my great-grandmother.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Lily and Abe: A Love Story

Lily and Abe were my maternal grandparents, Lillyan E. Gordon and Abe Meckler.  I knew them as Bubbie and Zadie, Yiddish for grandmother and grandfather.

Lily was born Esther Lillian Gordon on March 6, 1919 at 1575 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, New York.  Her parents were Joe Gordon and Sarah Libby Brainin.

Abe was born Abram Meckler (I think) on July 23, 1912 in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York.  His parents were Morris Meckler and Minnie Zelda Nowicki.

Bubbie lived in Manhattan until shortly before 1930, when her family was enumerated in Baltimore, Maryland.  In 1940, her parents were enumerated in Brooklyn at 231 Livonia Avenue, and the census taker indicated that they were living in the same house in 1935, so sometime between 1930 and 1935 they moved there.

As far as I know, Zadie lived in Brooklyn from birth through to when he and Bubbie left New York and moved to Florida in the 1940's.  In 1930 he was at 420 Junius Street with his parents.  I have not yet found his father in the 1940 census (his mother died in 1936) so don't have a possible address for 1935, assuming he was living with his father at that time.

I don't know how my grandparents met.  Bubbie told me that they met on September 15, 1937 in Manhattan but didn't give me more details.  So they were both living in Brooklyn but met in Manhattan.  In 1940 they were at 484 Livonia Avenue, Brooklyn, only a couple of blocks from her parents.  The census shows that both were living in Brooklyn in 1935.

Bubbie and Zadie were married October 29, 1939, not in Brooklyn, not in Manhattan, but in The Bronx.  It was a double wedding, of sorts.  Bubbie's older brother, Alexander "Al" Gordon, and Roslyn "Rose" Rubin were married on October 28.  I was told that Jews are not supposed to have double weddings and so Al, being older, was married first and then Bubbie and Zadie were married.  Because the dates that I was told are from the civil calendar, that would suggest that Al and Rose were married just before midnight, and Bubbie and Zadie just after.  But Judaism uses sunset as the divider between days, which could mean that sunset was the breakpoint between the two, and perhaps the consecutive secular dates were used on the marriage returns for convenience.  I probably won't find an answer to that question, or why they were married in The Bronx, now that all four of them have passed away.

Right now I can't find the name of the rabbi who performed the marriages, but I do know that Jan Peerce, the well known Metropolitan tenor, sang two songs, because Bubbie suddenly blurted that out one day.  She couldn't remember what he sang but did recall that the cantor's son sang "Because" (maybe this one) and "Oh Promise Me."

Bubbie and Zadie were in love with each other for their entire lives.  They were always so good to each other and went everywhere together.  For each of the 50 years that they were married, Zadie gave Bubbie a big, flowery Valentine's Day card.  Bubbie used to call Zadie her "little man" because she was taller than he was.

Zadie was ill for the last years of his life but lived long enough to attend the big 50th wedding anniversary party that their three children coordinated for them.  It was held in Las Vegas, and lots of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relatives came.  I think Zadie really wanted to go to the anniversary and held on so he could.  He died shortly after it took place.  Bubbie missed him so much after he was gone.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Sylmar: 50 Years Ago

With me being from California, I've experienced several earthquakes.  Today, February 9, 2021, is the 50th anniversary of the Sylmar earthquake (also known as the San Fernando earthquake), which struck the Los Angeles metropolitan area early in the morning in 1971.  My family was living in Pomona at the time, about 50 miles to the southeast, and I remember that we felt it.  I don't recall any damage to our house, but hey, we did move to Australia less than two months later.  That had been in the works for a while, though, so really couldn't have had anything to do with the earthquake.

I've had a vague memory for many years that my brother slept through a big earthquake while we were living in California.  I recently asked him about that because of the Sylmar anniversary.  See, I thought he had slept through a quake in La Puente, where we lived before Pomona.  I can picture my parents and me standing outside of our house, but not my brother.  I'm not sure if that was in La Puente, but it was definitely not the house in Pomona.

Unfortunately, I didn't ask either my mother or my father about that memory, and they both have since passed on.  My brother does remember our mother waking him up to see if he was okay, but he thinks it was in Pomona, which would have been the Sylmar quake in 1971.

He found a Wikipedia page about a quake in 1968, the Borrego Mountain earthquake.  Now that was about 150 miles from La Puente, a pretty good distance, but that quake was felt as far away as Las Vegas, so there's a decent chance it was felt in La Puente.  It occurred in the evening, and my memory is that we were standing outside in the dark, so that could be the picture in my head.

On the other hand, that means I don't have any visual memory of the 1971 earthquake.  Maybe it was too early in the morning, and my brain was still fuzzy from being woken up?

Wait a minute!  I just put two and two together.  If my brother was asleep when the earthquake happened, it must have been in 1971, because that was early in the morning.  He was 5 years old in 1968 and probably not taking naps in the early evening.  So I've been mentally misidentifying it all these years.  Well, feh!

My father used to tell me that he had actually seen a sidewalk roll during an earthquake, but he never said which quake it was.  Considering that the Sylmar quake occurred at 6:00 a.m. in February, I don't know if it would have been bright enough to see the sidewalk do that.  Maybe it was one of the aftershocks.

I've been wondering if my father might have photographed any damage from the earthquake, but all of my father's photos are still with my sister in San Antonio, Texas.  Maybe one of these years I'll get ot see them and find out if he documented any of the earthquakes.  He was originally from New Jersey, and he admitted to me once that the quakes kind of freaked him out.

I have been in two other big earthquakes, 1987 Whittier Narrows and 1989 Loma Prieta, which I thought was a significant number.  I met a woman at a conference once who had been in the same three as I had (I'm not counting Borrego Mountain) but also was there for 1992 Landers and 1994 Northridge.  Maybe she's bad luck to hang around?

The collapsed Newhall Pass interchange, where California Highway 14 merges into Interstate 5, after the 1971 Sylmar earthquake.  The overpass was deliberately repaired quickly, before seismic codes could be upgraded, and collapsed again in the same manner during the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

A DNA Success Story

I have written previously about my searches for my paternal grandfather's biological father, possibly a Mr. Mundy, and for the son whom my aunt gave up for adoption in 1945, both using DNA as the most promising tool.  So far I haven't made any real progress on either of those, although I continue to search and look for new approaches (hope springs eternal).

I have had another DNA search going on in the background, one I haven't posted about.  My sister had a son in 1981 and gave him up for adoption.  A few years ago, she asked if I could help try to find him.  So I gave her all the warnings (informed consent!) and bought an Ancestry DNA test for her.  When the results arrived, I downloaded her data and put it on GEDMatch, Family Tree DNA, and MyHeritage.  And waited to see if she had any close matches.

That waiting came to frution last month.

She has a match indicated as "son."

He reached out for contact via his girlfriend, who sent a message through the MH system (paraphrased):  "Hi, you show up as my mother.  Are you willing to talk with me?"  When I read the message, I shouted out, "Oh my god!"

I then immediately called my sister.  When I read the message to her, she shouted, "Oh my god!"

I guess we really are sisters, huh?

And I wrote back saying yes, she was indeed willing to talk with him and was looking forward to it.

That turned out to be a pretty nice Christmas present for both of them.

They have spent the past month talking a lot, from what I hear.  And this past week my sister flew out to see him in person and help him celebrate his 40th birthday.

I guess it makes a good birthday present also.

And yes, I do have permission to tell their story and post their photo on my blog.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Our "Academy of Genealogy and Family History" (AGFH) Nominees

Tonight Randy Seaver of Saturday Night Genealogy Fun fame should be saying, "And the winner is . . . ." while he opens an envelope.

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along; cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!):

(1) Does anyone recall the Academy of Genealogy and Family History (AGFH) awards from back in the 2008–2012 timeframe, hosted by Jasia on Creative gene?  Geneabloggers would nominate blog entries in different categories, and Jasia would collect all of them with links to each blogger's post.  The bloggers selected their own posts for nominations.

(2) This week, let us nominate the "best" posts from 2020 that we wrote in these categories:

*  Best Picture (a photograph)
*  Best Screenplay (a story)
*  Best Documentary (a series)
*  Best Biography
*  Best Comedy

(3) Put it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a link in a comment to this post.

I have never heard of the AGFH awards or Jasia before, but I can play along.  Not only does this sound fun, but I get to use Blogger's endless page that I just complained about yesterday!

• Best Picture

This is (probably) a photograph of my great-great-grandparents Avigdor and Esther Leah (Schneiderman) Gorodetsky and their oldest child, Etta, taken in Kamenets Podolsky, Russian Empire, circa 1890.  It's my oldest family photo and my favorite.  I posted it on April 4 for a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge.

• Best Screenplay

On January 3 I wrote about the long, twisting path I took over about 20 years to find my great-great-grandmother Ruchel Dwojre (Jaffe) Brainin and her three youngest children immigrating to the United States, the last members of that part of my family to do so.  It had drama!  Comedy!  Suspense!

• Best Documentary

I didn't have any series of research posts, so I'll have to go with my Wordless Wednesday photo collection.  Those document the past, right?

• Best Biography

On July 23, I wrote about my maternal grandfather, whose birthday was July 23.

• Best Comedy

I also didn't write any comedy posts last year, so I'll have to settle for this goofy photo of me with my sling, posted on September 2, about a week after my shoulder surgery.