Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father’s Day - 2016

I hate this day and have decided that it is the hardest day of the year for me.  Sure, it’s a time to celebrate the dads in our lives but there will always be that very special dad who is missing, except in our hearts. 

This morning as we were doing our weekly grocery shopping, we walked by the card section and even that early in the morning, there were people pouring over the Father’s Day cards.  Typically not being ones to procrastinate, we commented that those folks were sure waiting until the last minute to find that perfect card.  Then it struck me – at least they had someone to buy that perfect card for. 

So as I’ve done several times before in 2015, 2013 and 2012, I’ll take a moment to remember that special man, Gordon Levy, in pictures.

Here’s Dad on his 2nd birthday, February 11, 1929 (thanks again for labeling so many photos, Grandma).  I love his little friend!

Gordon February 11 1929

By 1931, Dad was ready to drive.  And look how he’s sporting that cute hat! 

Gordon Levy 1_5_1931

1936 brought a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia.  I’m not sure where else they might have visited on their vacation but they did stop for a photo.  And look, another cute hat!

Gordon Levy Vancouver BC August 1936

Off again in 1937 – this time to New York.  There they visited Jack Dempsey’s restaurant which opened in 1935 and closed in 1974.

Jack Dempsey Restaurant

Wikipedia states “most nights would find Dempsey's famous proprietor on hand to greet guests, sign autographs, pose for pictures, and hold court with people from all walks of life.”  And look at that – he posed for a photo with Dad!  I seem to remember seeing this photo hanging on the wall at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Fresno.

I’m going to guess this photo is from 1943-1944 when Dad was in his final years of school at Fresno High School.  He’s got the pose of today down with his hand on his hip.

Gordon Levy c1944

Mom actually wrote on the back of this photo – Stanford Grad 1949. 

Gordon Levy Stanford Grad 1949

After completing his Bacehlor’s and MBA at Stanford, Dad went on to have a successful career at Dean Witter & Co where he became Manager, General Partner, and Vice President.  I think this photo might have been a ‘marketing’ type photo from the early 1960’s.

Gordon Levy c 1960

Dad went back to New York in 1963 – hey, I just realized that I was there, too!  And on July 29th, he was back at Dempsey’s posing with a special someone.

Gordon_Jack Dempsey July_1963

One thing Dad never shied away from was a photo op with a celebrity or anyone who might become a celebrity and since one of his favorite things in the world was sports, it’s no surprise that I found this photo of him with John Wooden, famed UCLA basketball coach, in 1986.

Gordon_John Wooden_1986

But through it all, I think Dad’s proudest achievement was his children, and later grandchildren and great grandchildren.  While he didn’t tell us often that he was proud of us, he sure seemed to tell other people.  And deep down we knew how much we were loved. 

This photo seems to capture his feelings well – I just wish we had a similar pose after little brother had joined the family.  Although I’m sure if I give it time, I’ll run across one.  I’m not sure of the date but since brother wasn’t with us and Mom wasn’t pregnant, I’d guess this to be about 1959-1960.  A time when there was so much to look forward to – a growing family, a successful career, and a life full of happiness.

Gordon_Gerry_Cary_Debi c1960

My dad was one of a kind and while I miss him every day, Father’s Day is the day I miss him most.  Well I do!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Owl – June, 1908 – Society

I took a detour for a bit but am now back to documenting The Owl, Fresno High School’s yearbook.  I last wrote about The Commencement Number from June, 1908 here.  There are so many photos from this edition that I’m breaking it down into small pieces. 

Next up – Society


I love reading old newspapers – typically no horrible events were listed but if you wanted to know who was visiting who, newspapers were THE source of information!  And, apparently, the Society section of The Owl followed in those footsteps.

I love the first paragraph, but that might because my grandfather’s older brother, Leon Levy, was mentioned. 

Society p 72a

I’ll bet that dance was fun, especially since when you were tired of dancing you could go out on a boat.  I’d never heard the term terpsichorean before so I looked it up – found in Greek mythology, Terpsichore (“delight in dancing”) was one of the nine Muses and goddess of dance and chorus.

Photo from Wikipedia

It amazes me at times when I’m blogging or researching something and the facts I come up with are today’s date and this was no exception.

Society p 72d
It’s fun to see what the students had planned after high school – I sure wish we’d done that at our high school as there were so many of us who left school never to be heard from again.  Although Facebook has changed that!

Society p 73a
Society p 73b
Society p 73

And a small section of The Owl was this.

Just for Fun

I now officially know where my dad’s brother, Robert Levy, got his corny jokes.  He always had a joke to tell and more often than not, they were really groaners just like these.

Just for Fun 1
Just for Fun 2

Next up is Athletics with lots of team photos!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Owl – June, 1908 – Fraternities

I took a detour for a bit but am now back to documenting The Owl, Fresno High School’s yearbook.  I last wrote about The Commencement Number from June, 1908 here.  There are so many photos from this edition that I’m breaking it down into small pieces. 

Next up – Fraternities


Fresno High School students were very involved in activities and as I learn more about their organizations, the more it sounds like a college.  There were even fraternities represented on campus!

Delta Iota Chi was represented, although there isn’t too much information about them.

Delta Iota Chi
The names are hard to read so in order to make it easier, they are:  Dorothy Noble, Ann Collins, Bernice Pierce, Lynette Morgan, Marguerite McLane, Elise Hall, Doris Zieske, Leora Schaeffer, Verna Aldrich, Hazel Fisher, Eleanoro Webster, Isabel Hoover, Mila Cearley, Edith Noble, Anna Tupper, Elizabeth Hawes, Bernice Olney, Hazel Beall, Marfreda Danks, Elsie Worswick, Helen Miller, Alice Miller

Every one of them has their hair pulled back and look at the bows!

And then came Gamma Eta Kappa.  Many districts of this fraternity and the Fresno chapter (Lambda) was included in the Alpha District along with San Francisco, Stockton, Oakland, San Jose (my hometown), Santa Cruz, and Sacramento.  There were also representatives from Southern California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and New York.

Gamma Eta Kappa
Albert Becker, Hugh McNulty, Carol Liseby, Blaine Rogers, Floyd W. Cowan, Alfred Becker, Seaborn Phillips, Louis B. McWhirter, Robert Collins, James Beveridge, Chester Minard, George Beveridge, Cuyler Leonard, Penn Cummings, Dick Crawford, John Morgan, Clarence McKay, Ben R. Walker, Ralph Rehorn, Bertrand W. Gearhart, John Phillips, Niel McNulty, Edward Waterman, Will Tupper, Clinton Collins.

Another women’s fraternity on campus was Lambda Theta Phi.

Lamda Theta Phi
Marcia Edwards, Fredo Olufs, Ietta Wills, Elka Wormser, Margaret Cory, Jeannie Beveridge, Lewella Swift, Hazel Cartwright, Blanche Moore, Margherita Beveridge, Gertrude Swift, Violet Hodgkin, Beaulah Miller, Margaret Kenyon, Marguerite Vogel, Leota Marshall, Dorothea Burdick.

I’m starting to see some of thee same surnames in different organizations – siblings or cousins, I suppose.

And finally Pi Delta Koppa.

Pi Delta Koppa
Frank Short, Russell Hall, Perry Pierson, James Spratt, Harry B. Paulden, Gus Hoover, Edwin Einstein, Ronald Harris, Kenneth Elmore, George Spratt, Hollis Pierson, Everett Hickman, Alec Robb

What I found particularly interesting about this fraternity entry in The Owl was the Pi Delta Koppa Chapter Roll.

Pi Delta Koppa Chapter Roll

It is so interesting to see all of the schools represented, especially San Jose High School since it was in my hometown.  Our high school, which was fairly new in my day, played sports against San Jose High School and while I realized then it was an older school, I had no idea it was in existence in 1908 (or before).  So I googled it and learned that it is the second oldest public high school in California and was founded in 1863.  Who knew?

* Looks like Lowell High School in San Francisco, founded in 1856, is the oldest public high school west of the Mississippi. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Owl – June, 1908 – Organizations

I took a detour for a bit (again) but am now back to documenting The Owl, Fresno High School’s yearbook.  I last wrote about The Commencement Number from June, 1908 here and here.  There are so many photos from this edition that I’ll break it down into small pieces. 

Next up – Organizations


The Student Body was an important organization at Fresno High School.

Student Body
Top (L to R): Rainey La Rue, Carl Lisenby, John Kenney
Middle:  Victoria Cutten, Lynette Morgan
Bottom: Bertrand W. Gearhart, Robert Collins, John Morgan

First term officers were:  Robert Collins (President), Carl Lisenby (Vice President), Lynette Morgan (Secretary), Bertrand W. Gearhart (Treasurer)

Second term officers:  John Kenney (President), Rainey La Rue (Vice President), Victoria Cutten (Secretary), John Morgan (Treasurer)

And then the Senate.  I’ve read a lot about the Senate at Fresno High School as two generations of Levy men were involved in this organization.  And here is proof that my grandfather’s younger brother, Ben Levy (third row, far right), carried on the tradition from his older brothers and nearly 40 years later, my Dad followed in his footsteps.

Top (L to R):  Everett Hickman, Ben Johnson, Ernest Haggerty, Rex Carter, Robert Collins, Shirley Summers
2nd row:  Floyd Laning, Nelson Daniel, Ray Ingels, Henry Hopkins, Floyd Harkness, Lee Duncan
3rd row:  Carl Lisenby, James Moore, Hon. Geo. W. Cartwright, Joseph Reiss, Benj. Levy
4th row:  John Drenth, Wm. McFarland, Lester Brownell, Edwin Stiles, Joseph Bracker, Fred Reiss
5th row:  Charles Adair, Wm. Hunter, James Lochead, Geo. Hume, John Kenney, Arthur Douglas

Each member represented a state (Ben Levy represented Michigan) and the President of the United States was Senator Geo. W. Cartwright.

And the House of Representatives was all women.  The Owl described this organization: 

“Talk of your Twentieth Century Girl!  The Fresno High School girls are coming to the front and have organized a debating society under the name of House of Representatives.  The organization is fashioned after the lower house in Congress, and its purposed is to give the girls a chance to become acquainted with the general law making of our country, and to gain a better knowledge of the parliamentary rules and usages in debate. 

The girls do not intend that the boys shall in the 20th century be the wise and mighty ones, and there is not a doubt but that the Senate boys will have to do their work exceedingly well to keep ahead of the girls.

The House of Representatives was organized November 19th, 1907, by eight of the girls under the direction of Mr. Olney.”


House of Representatives
Left column:  Elmina Gardner, Esther Jorgenson, Bertha Douglas, Harriet Tuft, Ruby Reyes
2nd column:  Rinnie Connor, Pearl Edgerly, Lucy McGarry, Lottie Grounds
3rd column:  Ada Shirley, Ora Traves, Louise Alder, Daisy Wheeler
4th column:  Inez Turner, Christina
Ellithorpe, Edith Keyes, Vida Heitzig, Eva Dougherty

Mr. Olney served as President of the United States and each of the women represented a state.  I sure hope it wasn’t long before a woman could serve as President!

And there was an Orchestra and Girls’ Glee Club, too!


I’m not exactly sure who is who as the caption underneath just goes left to right:  Charles Shaw, Mattie Ronsel, Albert Becker, Lewella Swift, Ray Duncan, Harold McCourt, Alfred Becker, Robert Prather, Gertrude Swift.  I just love how they are dressed – what a difference from the high schoolers of today.

There is no picture for the Girls’ Glee Club but the members were:  Mayme Hodge, Mila Cearley, Allien Doyle, Olive De Yo, Ruth Cason, Nell Summers, Estelle Gray, Susie Cooper, Ruth Shelton, Gladys Carmichael, Geneva LaRue, Dorothea Burdick, Elsie Peterson, Lucy Walker, Hazel Lyons, Dolly Vogel.

It sure sounds Fresno High School was filled with talented and energetic young adults in 1908. 

If any of these individuals are your ancestor, please let me know and I will send you more information about the club and activities they participated in.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Will the real Harry Meals please stand up?

Oh boy, do I have a mystery on my hands!  And the farther I get into this, the more mysterious it becomes.

To start from the beginning, my husband’s paternal grandmother was Ethel Theresa Reussing.  All of his grandparents were gone by the time we started dating, except for Ethel, so I might feel a little closer to her since she was the only grandparent of his I ever met.  I also had the pleasure of meeting her younger sister, May Reussing.  They were the only two children who survived into adulthood of Cecilia (Gorham) and Carl Wilhelm Reussing.

One of our most treasured wedding gifts was a gift from Aunt May and from what I’ve learned, she was quite ‘famous’ for her beautiful grape trivets.  And since I don’t have many photos to share for this post, I thought I’d share a photo of the trivet - the grapes are actually made around bottle caps!

Ethel’s oldest grandchild and I have been researching and sharing information on the Reussing family for the last few years.  This family was in San Francisco during the earthquake in 1906 and there is so much to learn about them and how they survived the event.  Because the San Francisco Public Libary will do obituary lookups rather quickly, I decided it was time to look for an obituary for Carl Reussing who died in 1919.  SCORE!

Carl Reussing Obit
San Francisco Examiner
Monday, December 1, 1919

But wait – who are the two children mentioned?  Mrs. H.P. Ast (yep, that’s Ethel) and Mrs. C.H. Biesel (WHO?).  May was married to Harry Grant Meals and we’d always known her as May Meals.  So who was C.H. Biesel?  Was May married before she married Harry?

We went back to the records we had saved and reviewed everything again.  May and Harry’s first child was born in 1922 so we knew they were married in 1922.  So just what was up?

Here’s what we know about Harry.  He was born 13 Jun 1893 in Pennsylvania.  By 1900, he was in Alleghenny, Pennsylvania with his mother, Ella, and a new family she had with Edward McDonald and was listed as step son.  Okay, makes sense.  Harry’s father must have died somewhere between 1893 and 1900 and Ella had remarried.

By 1910, he was in Pittsburgh with the same family only now was listed as Harry McDonald.  I know that’s not uncommon for a step child to be enumerated with the same last name as a step father so it doesn’t set off too many red flags.  Unfortunately, we have been unable to find Harry or May in the 1920 census – where were they?  And what happened between 1910 and 1922 when their son, Robert H. Meals, was born?  And from that point on, there are several references to Harry and May, together with both Robert and his younger sister, Barbara, born in 1930.  So where did C.H. Biesel fit in to this story?

Back to reviewing all of the records.  And that’s when it hit me, Harry Meals’ U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Form!

Harry Meals Interment

Look closely at the name!  It was typed as Charles H. Biesel, crossed out, and Harry G. Meals was handwritten in!  And you can see it is him because it shows his widow as May Meals but under Remarks it says “Name legally changed to Meals, Harry G.  NOK wants MEALS on headstone”.  WHAT????

And then I found this.

Charles Biesel Interment

A nearly identical form with the name Charles H. Biesel clearly shown with the same reference to Harry G. Meals.  So Harry and Charles were the same person?  What the heck is going on?

And to add even more clues to the Harry/Charles mystery, I found both Charles H. Biesel and Harry G. Meals listed in the California Death Index.  And not only are they both listed, they are both listed with the same date of death and same social security number.  Cue the Twilight Zone music!

What’s really sending shivers down my spine is that while I was preparing this blog post this afternoon, I noticed a message in my ancestry account.  I’d forgotten that I’d sent a message a month or so ago to someone who was a DNA match with my husband and she had responded back to me.  Wanna know who she is?  HARRY MEALS’ GRANDDAUGHTER!  Is that music sounding louder?

And just to confirm that Harry is interred as Harry Meals, here is his headstone from Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California, where he is buried with his wife, May (Reussing) Meals.

Harry Meals Headstone
So now what?  Where do I go from here?

* No, I already asked Harry's granddaughter and she has never heard the name Charles Biesel before.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Now what have I here?

I have so many boxes of things in this house I never know what I’ll run across.  I have no idea why I even opened this box today as it is mostly filled with things I’ve printed as I’ve researched but this little gem caught my eye.

I have zero memory of this book – where, when, or even how it came into this house but here it is.  Hmmmm, let’s open it and see what I learn.

Look at that – a little photo album.  Of course I immediately surmised it belonged to my pack rat grandmother, Loraine Gunzendorfer, but I wanted to be sure.  So, the first thing I did was scan the photos and start to enlarge them on my screen so I could figure out what I have.

Girl at doghouse

I’m pretty sure that little cutie is my grandmother!  Her dad was an amateur photographer so it would make sense that he would fill a little album with photos of his adorable daughter. 

So I decided to dig a little deeper and then I came across this.


Wait just a minute – that house looks familiar!  Could it be the home of my 2nd great grandparents, Fannie (Goldstein) and Ferdinand Gunzendorfer?  Let’s compare the home I know to be theirs with their four sons in front.

Gunzendorfer home

Check!  The boys are (L to R) Jacob, Adolph, Gustave, and Abe (my great grandfather) Gunzendorfer.  So now I can be sure that this photo album belongs to a Gunzendorfer!

And a few more of the photos.


I’m pretty sure the woman on the left is my greant grandmother, Bertha “Birdie” Schwartz Gunzendorfer.  No idea who the others might be, though.

This could be my grandmother on the left with her father, Abraham Guzendorfer, and her cousin, Mervyn Gunzendorfer.  Loraine and Mervyn were born within months of each other and these kids look to be about the same age.  I’m fairly certain I have Loraine and Abe identified correctly but not sure if that really is Mervyn.

2 kids and man

Here’s the Gunzendorfer family in 1896 when the kids were just babies.

Back Row (L to R):  Abe, Gustave, his wife Minnie Dautermann, Adolph, Jacob.
Seated:  Birdie, Ferdinand, Fannie, Jacob’s wife Edith Inez Steinberger.
Loraine on Birdie’s lap, Mervyn on his mother’s lap, and Mervyn’s sister Irene on the ground. 

Gunzendorfer Family cropped

And another one with what I think to be Jacob Gunzendorfer.  Again, I would guess the kids to be Loraine, Mervyn, and maybe Irene?

3 kids and man

Now I’m pretty sure this is Loraine but who could this girl be with her?  Gustave and Adolph had no children and Irene was the oldest of the cousins so this is a mystery to me. 

2 girls in garden

Based on the other photos, this could be Mervyn, Loraine, and, and, and…..  Now I don’t think that could be Irene because it’s clear that this girl is younger than Loraine and Mervyn.  So now I don’t know who it is.

3 kids in garden

Look how cute Loraine is as she is holding her dress and rockin’ those boots!  And after so many years of hearing that I look like her, I can really see that now - this could be me as a young child.


There are so many cute photos in here I can’t stop!  I don’t even want to guess who these kids are (Loraine on the left?) but their outfits and hats are so cute I can’t stand it.  And they are holding hands – so sweet.  Would these outfits be for some sort of ceremony or special occasion?

Holding Hands

Looks like there were animals to tend to.

Feeding Geese

Feeding Chickens

But there was time to play, too.  Cute swing but it doesn’t look like it’s far enough off the ground to provide much of a thrill ride.


It’s so fun to see my ancestors doing every day things and capturing those moments for me to see more than 100 years later.  And once again, I’m thankful my grandmother was a packrat!