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.