Sunday, October 14, 2018

52 Ancestors: Sports

I grew up around sports, mostly as a spectator, but I did participate now and again.  It probably started with my dad who was quite the track star in high school.  I remember seeing the pictures of him, as well as the banners, on the wall in his room at his childhood home.  He talked a little about it but I never realized just how good he was.  My dad wasn’t just a star to me, but he was also a star of his high school!

In 1942, when Dad was a sophomore, he was on the Class “C” Track Team at Fresno High school.  That’s him, second from the left on the bottom row.  And there on the bottom right was his childhood (and lifelong) friend, Jimmy Bradshaw.

Owl 1942 page 104

Owl 1942 page 104_2

An interesting side note.  A year ahead of my dad was Jae O’Hanian, manager of the Varsity Track team.  See him there – top row, far left?  Does he look familiar?  He went on to be known Mike Connors, star of the TV show, Mannix.

Owl 1943 page 89

In 1943, Dad must have been absent the day of photos but he still was a standout for the Class B team.

Owl 1943 page 90

His senior year, 1943-1944, showed he was now the standout of the Varsity Team and affectionately known as Flash.  I am so glad that I have all of his yearbooks to study.

Owl 1944 page 78

Owl 1944 page 79

As all true Levys did, my dad was also a scrapbooker.  So besides his yearbooks, I also have his scrapbook where he kept all of the newspaper clippings about his track days.  That’s Dad on the right.

Bright Outlook Fresno Bee 3_5_44

Dad was pretty fast for the day.  From what I’ve found, his best time in the 100 yard dash was 10.1 seconds (high school record was 9.9 seconds) and in the 220 yard dash was 22.3 seconds (high school record was 21.7 seconds).  Dad liked to remind people that he ran on a dirt track with sub-par shoes with less conditioning and no scientific diet.

Gordon Levy Sprinter

Star Sprinter

In 1944, the Fresno High School Warriors tied with the Roosevelt High School Roughriders, the first time a tie had occurred in the 14 year history of the Fresno city high school track and field championship.  Dad ran his heart out that day.

City Track Title Tie 1944

L-R:  Gordon Levy, Leroy Eiffler, Jimmy Bradshaw, Ted Matthews

The big meet every spring was the West Coast Relays.  I can remember an annual pilgrimage to Fresno each year so Mom and Dad could go to the track meet while we stayed at home with Grandma.

On May 20, 1944, Dad was the leading scorer in the meet with 7 1/2 points.  He won both the 100 and 220 and was the anchor on the winning relay team.

West Coast Relays Fresno Bee 5_24_1944

Dad did run some track at Stanford but, of course, he was a smaller fish in a much larger ocean there.  He said the main reason he was able to participate on the track team was because of the lack of upper class men who were all off to war.

Dad loved to tell the story of running both the 100 and 220 sprints against USC’s Mel Patton in the LA Coliseum.  This was about the time that Mel broke the record in both events and was known by some as “the fastest man in the world”.  Dad was always quick to tell people that on the day of their races, the world’s greatest sprinter vomited before both the 100 and 220 in fear of him and then Mel proceeded to beat him by 10 yards in the short race and a bigger gap in the 220.  When Dad told his roommate how badly he was beaten, his friend summed it up by saying “At that moment, you were the second fastest sprinter in the world”.

Something my dad always hung on to as he always liked to see the glass half full.

Friday, October 5, 2018

52 Ancestors: Ten

This week’s blog prompt had me scratching my head.
“Let's change things up a bit with a theme that is especially ambiguous: "Ten." Ten what? Someone who had 10 children? Someone with 10 letters in their name? Someone who was in the 10th Infantry? Someone who was born in October? #10 on your ancestor chart? (That would be your paternal grandmother's father, if you number it the standard way.)
Unfortunately, none of that spoke to me.  Hmmm. 

Wait, I’ve got an idea.  How about the 10th letter of the alphabet?  A, B, C…..J.  Okay, that’s it.  Let’s pick an ancestor with a name starting with J.  And that’s when I thought of my second great grandmother, Julia Horgan.

I don’t know much about Julia and after several hours of research, I’m no further along than I was before.  But I can share what I do know and hope that something along the way will spark a memory.

Several years ago I connected with a cousin, Patti, who also descended from Julia Horgan so we shared some notes and a photo or two and then the unthinkable happened and Patti was taken from us.  I wrote about it HERE.  How I wish Patti were here so we could talk again.  My hunch is that we still would be no further along but at least we sure would have had fun talking through it.

Julia was born in Derryleagh, Cork, Ireland in 1849 to Jeremiah Horgan and Margaret “Maggie” Callahan.  She was the 5th of 7 children of the couple – four older brothers (Michael, Cornelius, Andrew, John) and two younger sisters (Mary and Nora).

Julia married Matthew Fitzgerald in, I believe, June, 1869 in Black Station, Yolo County, California.  Julia and Matthew were living in Grafton, Yolo County, in 1870 where Julia was keeping house and Matthew was a Laborer.

By 1880, the family had grown – boy had it grown!

1880 Census

It’s hard to see but there with Matthew and Julia were the first of 7 children – John (b1871), Jeremiah (b1873), Nicholas (b1875), Mary Margaret (b1877), and Edward Francis (b 1879).  This is an especially meaningful census for me as Edward was my great-grandfather, a lovely man whom I remember well.  Two more children would join the family – Joseph (b1881) and Anna Teresa (b1883).  Those two children are also special as Joseph was Patti’s grandfather and I was always told that my middle name was in honor of Anna, my mother’s great aunt whom she lived with for several years.

But just a few years later, Julia was gone.  She died 4 Aug 1885 in Black, Yolo County.  I have no idea of any specifics but it’s not for lack of trying.  I just sealed the envelope requesting a copy of the death certificate which might give me more information.  Fingers crossed.

I did find an interesting article.

Horgan Reunion

Julia is buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Woodland, Yolo County, California.  I think she is beside Matthew as both show in Row 26-S, although Matthew shows he is in Plot 3 and Julia shows in Section 3.  One day I need to walk the cemetery and see for myself.

Fitzgerald Julia Horgan

Saturday, September 15, 2018

52 Ancestors: Closest to Your Birthday

This week’s blog prompt is Closest to Your Birthday.  Oh boy, this is going to be fun!

The first thing I did was print a calendar report to see which of my ancestors was born closest to my birthday, December 14.  No one.  There was one death and one anniversary but no one born on my birthday.  So I checked the day before and the day after.  My first cousin once removed, Stanley Fitzgerald, Jr., was born on that day in 1937 but since I don’t know much about him and believe he is still living, I decided that wasn’t a good person to write about.  Then I checked the day after, December 15, and found a favorite family represented with Mervyn Gunzendorfer, my grandmother’s first cousin.  Mervyn was the only son of Jacob Gunzendofer who was the younger brother of my great-grandfather, Abraham Gunzendorfer.  Score – I’ll write about Mervyn!

I started putting things together, happy that I had some photos to share, when it hit me – Mervyn wasn’t BORN on December 15 he DIED on December 15.  So back I went to my calendar only to find that the only ancestors (or descendants) I have born in December are either a very collateral ancestor or someone still living.  It was then that I said to myself – hey, this is MY blog and I can do whatever I want so if I want to write about Mervyn, that’s what I’ll do.

Mervyn Gunzendorfer was born to Edith Inez (Steinberger) and Jacob Gunzendorfer on 4 Apr 1896 in San Francisco.  Jacob was the youngest of the four Gunzendorfer brothers and was my grandmother’s uncle.

I first found Mervyn in a Gunzendorfer family photo from 1896.  That’s little Mervyn sitting on his mother’s lap on the right (Jacob is behind them and big sister Irene is sitting on the ground) and my grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer, sitting on her mother’s lap on the left with Abraham standing behind them. 

Gunzendorfer Family cropped
The Gunzendorfer Family
Standing:  Abraham, Gustave George, Minnie (Dautermann), Adolph, Jacob
Seated:  Bertha (Schwartz) w/ Loraine, Ferdinand, Fannie, Inez (Steinberger) w/Mervyn
Front:  Irene

Loraine was born 26 Jan 1896 so these two cousins were just a few months apart.  Within a few years Loraine would become a big sister to Wilton, and Mervyn would become a big brother to Helen.

This picture looks to be just a few months later.  Mr. Cutie Patootie Mervyn.

Gunzendorfer Mervyn c1897

And here’s Jacob with his two oldest children, Mervyn on the left and Irene on the right.  Look at Mervyn’s beautiful curls. 

Mervyn_Jacob_Irene Gunzendorfer cropped

The 1900 census shows the family enumerated as Yungendorfer – that’s a new one – and living at 1636 Buchanan in San Francisco.  By 1910 the family had moved to 3367 Washington Street in San Francisco where Jacob lived until shortly before his death.  With them were two servants plus the 3 year old son of one of the servants.

In 1910, The Technical World Magazine, Volume 13, wrote about a Clever Little Inventor.

Mervyn Clever Little Inventor

Yep, I know that Mervyn, along with his father and uncle Adolph, built a submarine for the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915.  You can read about that HERE

I found Mervyn in 1914 attending San Francisco Polytechnical College, a high school in San Francisco.  The high school yearbook, The Cogswell, shows he served as a government representative and that he had earlier (Nov. 1913) participated in the 120 pound class 440 yard dash, where it looks like his time was 58 seconds.  My dad was also a sprinter (100 and 200 yard dash) – must have run in the family.  That’s Mervyn sitting, second from right.

Mervyn SF Polytechnical College 1914

On 4 Jun 1917, Mervyn registered for WWI.  Still at 3367 Washington Street.

Mervyn Gunzendorfer WWI reg page 1Mervyn Gunzendorfer WWI reg page 2

This photo had been floating around in my unknown box but thanks to Irene’s grandchildren whom I connected with a few years ago (read about it HERE), I was able to identify it as Mervyn.  He sure looked handsome in his uniform!

Mervyn Gunzendorfer 1916-1917

By 1920, Irene had moved out, as she married in 1915, and the family was still on Washington Street.  I found Mervyn listed at UC Berkeley in 1921 where he served as the Fall Semester President for the Architecture Association.

In 1930, Helen had also moved out but Mervyn was still with Jacob and Inez on Washington Street, along with a maid.  He was listed as an Architect, Industry Buildings.

I’ve found many references to Mervyn in the City Directories.  In the early 1920’s he just shows a residence on Washington, and then some business listings as an Architect first at 60 Sansome, R100 and then at 405 Montgomery Room 1108.  Residence is always the same – 3367 Washington Street – except for 1937 where he’s listed at 3368 Washington Street (must have been a typo).  By the 1930’s he’d moved from Room 1108 on Montgomery to Room 820.

Somewhere along the line things changed for Mervyn and he joined his father’s business, Typewritorium.  He is shown as Office Secretary in 1937.  But later he was back to working as an Architect.

In 1940, Mervyn was still on Washington Street with his parents.  It showed he had a job, was a Merchant, worked 20 hours per week, and had an income of $900 for the 12 months ending 31 Dec 1939.  Maybe he split his time between architecture and typewriters?

My cousins shared this photo of Mervyn in 1957.  He seemed like a fun guy – I wish I’d known him.

Mervyn Gunzendorfer 1957

When Mervyn died 15 Dec 1959, his address is shown as 170 Vasques Street, San Francisco, where he lived with Jacob (Inez died in 1957).

Mervyn never married or had any children.  The only other male Gunzendorfer, my grandmother’s brother Wilton, also had no children.  So Mervyn and Wilton were the end of the line where Gunzendorfers are concerned.

Mervyn is buried alongside his parents (Unit 5, Catacombs, Tier 3, Crypts 33, 34, 35) at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma.

Gunzendorfer Mervyn

And now that I’ve finished this post, I realized I missed Mervyn’s little sister, Helen, who was born 9 Dec 1902.  So SHE would have been closest to my birthday.  Shoot Sad smile

Sunday, September 9, 2018

52 Ancestors: Work

This week’s blog prompt is Work.  I come from a long line of “work until you die” ancestors and unless something happens that I’m not expecting, I am NOT going to carry on this tradition.  Retirement here I come!

I decided to focus on the work of my paternal grandfather, Sig Levy.  Through much of his life Sig was a partner, along with his three brothers, in Levy Brothers, a real estate and insurance firm.  I always felt so proud to have a business named for my family.

Remember, my grandparents saved EVERYTHING, and my parents followed suit, so it’s no surprise this sign was found with all of my parents’ things.  Since my brother was the only grandson and only person with the last name Levy, we sent it home for him to treasure and I’m sure he has it hanging in a special place in his home.  Above the mantel, perhaps?

Preparing this blog post caused me to look again at Sig’s obituary to see what I could learn and, once again, a second (or third or fourth) look provided me with new details.

On the day Sig graduated from Fresno High School in 1906, he became a police reporter for the old Fresno Tribune.  Within months he joined the business staff of the Fresno Republican and handled the paper’s promotion activities. 

Occasionally he served as a reporter, with his largest assignment covering the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.  Sig graduated in January, 1906 so it makes sense that he would be working in April, 1906.  And it also makes sense as to why I’ve found photos of the destruction – my grandfather must have had quite a fascination with the event.  Who knew?  Of course now that I’m looking for the photos in the boxes and boxes of things I have yet to go through, I can’t find a single one.  But I did find this photo in Sig’s brother’s (Ben) autobiography.

SF City Hall 1906

In 1912, Sig became advertising manager of the Republican and in that same year he pioneered the idea of newspaper delivery by airplane when he sent bundles of the Republican to Madera by plane.  I wrote about that HERE

On October 1, 1912, Sig’s brothers, Herbert and Leon, formed Levy Bros. Youngest brother, Ben, joined in February, 1913 but it wasn’t until 1917 that Sig joined the firm and all four brothers were together.  About this time he also entered World War I and was in pilot training at March Field when the armistice was signed.  After the war he returned to the firm and specialized in property management, leasing and real estate.

Twenty years ago Sig joins Levy Brothers Fresno Bee 1_8_1937
Fresno Bee Republican, 8 Jan 1937, page 11, “Twenty Years Ago”

In the early days, Levy Bros. was located at 1933 Fresno in Fresno.  In 1917, the California Real Estate Directory, Volume 1-2, showed the firm there.  And in 1918, Jackson’s Real Estate Directory did the same.  But the real proof for me was the letters my grandmother wrote to Sig before their marriage and up until February, 1919 (the month of their marriage), her letters were all addressed to 1933 Fresno.  And we all know that true love wins!

In 1922, the Directory of Brokers & Salesmen (non-PC today), Volume 3-4, the firm was located at 1233 Broadway.  Sig even used some of their envelopes to store his cigar wrappers (more on that in a later post).

Levy Bros Envelope

In 1929, the ‘boys’ posed for a photo.  I have several photos from different time periods but this one seems the most natural.  Grandpa, why didn’t you join your brothers and wear a bow tie?

Levy Brothers Ben_Herb_Sig_Leon 1929
Ben, Herb, Leon Levy (back row), Sig Levy (front), 7 Aug 1929

As you may have read HERE, my grandfather was an avid scrapbooker – it’s a blessing and a curse!  There is so much historical information in his scrapbooks, much of it regarding Levy Bros., that I will never have the time to document everything (I’m a realist).  So once again I’ve packed them away for later but I did pull one out to include in this post.

This one is titled Business and Industry, Fresno County.  And there are pages and pages and PAGES of newspaper articles about Fresno County.  Here’s a few examples.

The Fresno Bee, Sunday, January 25, 1959

I wonder what stands there today.

And is the shopping center still there?  If I’ve got my directions right, it looks like its an assortment of restaurants, banks and other services.

Date unknown, likely 1956-1959

I always knew that something happened to ‘break up’ the brothers as a result of the business but never seemed to get all of the details.  But, Ben Levy wrote this in his autobiography:
“This foursome went along for years, then the break came.  It was a matter of principles involved.
The second generation was coming along and there was a difference of opinion between my brother, Herbert, and myself.  In the old days, the oldest male son was looked to as the one that should take over and carry on.  As far as I was concerned, what was fair for one was fair for the other.  In other words, if the second generation was to receive favorable consideration, this consideration should apply to the females as well as the males and all should be given the same opportunity.  I had two daughters, both very capable, and why should I not protect their interest.  As, my father was opposed to the granting of woman suffrage, the same feeling existed, as to women assuming responsible positions.  Today, our office has very capable women that can do as well as men, or maybe better.  I guess I was a little ahead of my time.  It caused my brother, Herbert, to sell his interest in the firm and establish his son, Herb, Jr. in business.  This was a situation that was not too pleasant and caused some family dissention, not, as far as I was concerned, as I tried to be pleasant, but received no reciprocation.  A new situation has just developed due to the sudden death of my brother, Leon, who died, in our office, of an acute heart attack.  He had planned to retire July 1st, but it wasn’t to be that way.” [Leon died 23 May 1962]
Herb died before I was born but I never remember hearing about him and I’m not even sure I knew about him before I started this journey.  And he spent the end of his life living around the corner from my grandparents and not once did anyone drive by and say “this is where Herb lived”.  The home has remained in the family since and his grandson lives there now.

Ben died 4 Mar 1965 which left Sig on his own.  I vaguely remember him joining a new firm (geez, he would have been 77 years old at this point) but I really had no idea when or why.  So he packed up his stuff and moved next door to Pearson Realty at 1225 Broadway.

Sig joins Pearson Realty Fresno Bee 4_1_1965 page 35
Fresno Bee Republican, 1 Apr 1965, Page 35

If my memory serves me correctly, about a week after his 80th birthday he worked in the morning and then checked into the hospital for surgery.  He never came home and died about a week later on 16 Aug 1968.

My grandfather, and his brothers, spent their entire lives in Fresno and were instrumental in the growth of the city.  And while it ended on a bad note, Levy Brothers was a very large part of that.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

52 Ancestors: School

One of the first treasures I found when I started this journey was related to School – my grandmother’s high school yearbook.  I remember thinking it was really cool to look through it online but when I somehow discovered that I could actually OWN it, I thought my head would explode!  Since then I have become the proud owner of the original high school yearbooks of my grandfather, Sig Levy, and his brothers and the high school and college yearbooks of my parents.  But this was my first and will always be a special treasure.


The original Monterey High School, prior to 1905, consisted of both Monterey High School and Del Monte Technical School.  In 1905, the two schools were joined to form Monterey Union High School.  The school serviced students from Castroville to Big Sur to all of Carmel Valley.

When the orginal three story wood building burned down (on the site where the District Office is today), the new school was built at 101 Hermann Drive where it stands today.

The Whisper was the original name of the yearbook, which was a collection of poems and pictures by the students rather than a ‘traditional’ yearbook.  The word whisper was used to reflect the “whisper” in the students’ voices in their poems.  Keeping with the Spanish tradition, the name was changed to El Susurro (Spanish for the whisper).

A couple of notable people (besides my grandmother) attended the school – former Secretary of Defense Leon Paneta and former NFL head coach and defensive back, Herman Edwards.

With the rich Spanish heritage in the City of Monterey, the Toreador was chosen as the mascot when the school opened in 1905. The original Mascot "Tony the Toreador" caricature served as the face of the school for 80 years.

Some interesting facts from about the time my grandmother attended Monterey High School:
  • The green and gold were chosen as the school colors in 1906.
  • Three new departments were added – Home Economics, Manual Training, and Biology – in 1912.
  • Eight seniors were in the graduating class of 1913, which increased to 133 in 1933.
  • The new high school building was officially opened in its current location on February 12, 1915.
And now on to the yearbook of 1915.

El Susurro Title Page

I love that a beautiful painting was included in the yearbook – it looks so “Monterey-like”.

Neptunes Garden

I guess you don’t need a huge faculty with only 16 seniors.


Luella Thurston was the yearbook adviser as the students dedicated the book to her.
“To Miss Luella Thurston who for five years has been ‘El Susurro’s’ staunchest friend, we now with our ‘good byes’ and warmest wishes dedicate our Journal”

Faculty Photos

And the graduating class of 1915.  So many names I’ve read about or seen pictures of.  My grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer, and that beautiful smile.  Her BFF was Hallie Hitchcock, who was actually a year older than Grandma, and her brother, John Elbert Hitchcock, was about 8 months younger than Grandma.  Another notable name on this page is Howard Hatton, who married Mary Salterbach on the next page.

Senior Class page 1

Clayton Philip Salterbach was younger than Mary by two years so not sure how or why he ended up with the class of 1915.  While the other names on this page are familiar to me, one that really stands out is J. Meryl Pugh who appeared in Loraine’s scrapbook.

Senior Class page 2

I lauged at the Senior Advice.  There’s Loraine advising the girls to never allow their hearts to “go adrift”.  I wonder who broke her heart that caused her to write that.

Senior Advice page 1
Senior Advice page 2 Class Poem

An example of a story included – Loraine snatched an apple!

Class Prophecy page 1
Class Prophecy page 2 Class Song

This collage of photos is interesting - can you find Loraine in the Before and After photos?

Photo Collage 2

Loraine’s younger brother, Wilton, was a Freshman at the time.  I know their father was often known as Gunzy so I’m assuming “Champ Gunzy” is Wilt.

Champ Gunzy

And here’s mention of Wilt again – president of his class!

Freshman Class

Even with a close up of the photo, I can’t be sure which young man is Wilt.  Perhaps the one on the left sitting on the steps?

Freshman Class Photo

Some more photos from El Susurro.

Our new school

Dining Room

Manual Training Shop

I can almost imagine my grandmother walking the halls of the school and sitting in the dining room.  But I cannot imagine her in the Manual Training Shop.

Another collage of photos.  Since dad Abe was a photographer, I wonder if he took any of these photos.

Photo Collage

I have to enlarge the Mermaids as you-know-who was posing.  Yep, that’s Loraine second from the left.


Grandma was the Assistant Editor!

Staff Officers

And no yearbook would be complete without advertisers.  I wasn’t surprised to find a very special advertisement.

White House Advertisement

The White House and the Gunzendorfers were a fixture in Monterey during the late 1800’s and until Abe’s death in 1944.  Nearly 100 years of a successful family business.

What a wonderful account of Loraine’s senior year in high school.  I am so happy to have a glimpse into her life as a young woman.