Sunday, October 28, 2012


Photo by MarcelGermain

My grandparents are now officially engaged and letters of congratulations started rolling in.  As I've sorted through things, I've been lucky enough to have run across a few very special letters of congratulations!


Dear Sig:

You are going to be my nephew, gol darn ye, and you deserve congratulation - not for that, but because you are going to marry my niece, no, not for that either but because you are going to marry Loraine who happens to be my niece. Anyway, old top, sincere felicitations and welcome, twice welcome, to our little bunch.

Of course, the engagement was a tremendous surprise to us - had no idea of it in the world. But the more we get used to it the better we like it. You have our earnest wishes for a speedy marriage, a happy settling down into a normal civilian life and a long, long life of perfect bliss and comfort with your little frau.

Much success to you, likewise, in your military career and the best I can hope for you both is that it will be short and sweet.

Your "Aunt" Charlotte joins me heartily in everything I say and everything I have left unsaid.

Sincerely, Milton

And then "Aunt" Charlotte included her own message:

Your Aunt Charlotte wishes to say for herself that she would like very much to see you before you depart, but if that is impossible she wishes you God-speed and a quick return.  I will try and comfort your little sweetheart if she stays around here but guess she will go home for a time.  I think that is best myself and I know it will make both her mother and you happier.

Sincerely yours, Aunt Charlotte

Milton Schwartz (1878-1958) was the younger brother of Loraine's mother, Birdie, and Charlotte Haley was his first wife.  Sadly, Charlotte died about two months after this letter was written.

Milton Harry Schwartz

And another letter of congratulations to Sig!

Dear Sig,

Are we negligent in not offering congrats sooner?  Did not know address nor could we get Lorraine.  Anyhow we are all more than delighted, little chap, & wish you both everything you wish youselves.  Let us hope there won't be much delay in tying the knot.

Sort of looked for mother today but guess the elements frightened her.  I know Lorraine was distressed. 

She has news of Lionel's fortune - which is a little doubtful as we haven't had it from official quarters.  We were surprised that mother was not at the funeral.

The male portion of the house is out working on the garage.  May it some day get finished!  We herewith sign our names and send love.

Aunt Bella
Uncle Morris
Cousin Lionel

Aunt Bella was Bella Steen, Loraine's first cousin, and Uncle Morris was her husband, Morris Benas.  Morris was Sig's uncle, his mother's brother.  The first incidence, but not the last, of the families being intertwined!  If I had to guess, I'd guess that Bella and Morris were instrumental in introducting Sig and Loraine.

And then a very special letter found it's way to Loraine's mailbox.

From Granada Hotel S.F.

San Francisco Oct. 30/18

Dear Loraine:

Accept my congratulation.  I was very happy to hear the good news, and will be happy to welcome another daughter in the family.  I was glad to hear Sig is feeling better and hope he will continue to improve and if God spares him in good health you are a very lucky girl.  He has always proven a good son, always attentive to his family, especially to his Mother, and I know will make a good husband.

We hope this cruel war will soon end, and all come back safe and sound, and wil we will have nothing but joy.  Hoping to see you soon, with love.

Mrs. Herman Levy

So look at that - another letter of congratulations from one of my great grandparents!  Herman Levy died in March, 1918 so Goldie must have been staying in the Granada Hotel during her time of mourning.  Sig was the second of her four sons to marry - it must have been exciting for her to add new daughters to the family.

It's official - my grandparents are going to be married!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Back in Time

Photo by gerbache
Campanile (Sather Tower)
University of California, Berkeley

Now that I've found the newspaper articles detailing the engagement of my grandparents, Sigmund Levy and Loraine Gunzendorfer, I decided to look through some of the other things I have for more information.  And because of that, I need to go back in time a week or two to capture the entire story.

Sometime in late October, Sig proposed to Loraine at the foot of the Campanile (Sather Tower) on the UC Berkeley campus.  I can only imagine how excited Loraine was to finally have her man!

On Monday, October 28, 1918 my grandfather wrote to Bertha and Abe Gunzendorfer, Loraine's parents, asking for her hand in marriage.  He mailed the letter from Baracks "K", Berkeley the following day, October 29.

Berkeley, October 29, 1918 9 pm
Mr. and Mrs. A.B. Gunzendorfer
Monterey, Calif.

My dad was always active in the YMCA - I guess his father shared the passion.  I find it curious that Jewish men spent their lives giving to a Christian organization.

As I've read letters and newspaper articles, I know Sig had been sick with the flu during the horrible flu epidemic of 1918-1920.  Thankfully, he was well enough to write this letter.

Dear Folks:

This little army message is quite different I know but this is the way I'm situated, and as I have no freedom I'll write this little note as per army channels.

I suppose Loraine has told you of my hard luck, but I am again on my feet and getting strong again.  But it was a dreadful thing; but the way conditions were I couldn't escape.  I was so happy though that Loraine and Wilton missed it.

I have wanted so badly to ask if you would consent to have your daughter become Mrs. Sig Levy some day soon but it seems that misfortune has always prevented.  But Loraine and I have taken for granted that you will approve and we want to announce our engagement.  There is no question of our sincere love for each other and I will do everything within my power to make her a happy girl.  No finer girl than Loraine ever lived and she certainly is entitled to a happy life to come, so I shall endeavor to give her a future that shall be worthy of your admiration.

I am hoping that you will forgive the way we have gone at this engagment but I feel that you understand the trying circumstances.

But now, I have graduated and soon hope to be an officer - and most of all I am hoping that this awful war will soon be over, and then we all can settle down to our homes and be happy.

I am trusting that my request will meet with your hearty approval and that you will always be proud of your son-in-law to be.  Thanking you a big lot and hoping you all are in the best of health I remain

Sig Levy

And this is the letter he received back just a few days later.

October 31, 1918
9 pm

Oct 31/18

My dear Sig:

We read with pleasure your letter telling us that you were rapidly recovering from your illness & we hope that this will be the end of all your troubles while in the army.  Loraine kept us posted from the time you were taken sick & we were glad always to hear you were daily improving.

Thank God Loraine & Wilton have escaped so far & I only hope they will not get careless and take chances at any time.

It surely has kept us worried most of the time, the epidemic has been so virulent and so far reaching.

As far as giving our consent to our dear daughter's some day becoming Mrs. Sig Levy, I guess we will have to, as you both have decided for yourselves some little time ago, & as long as Loraine is happy, we can't ask any more, as parents ??? in life is the happiness of their children.

It is hard to give her up but I am sure you will cherish her & take care of her as she has been at home.  Loraine is a darling girl & I know you will do all you can to make her happy, she deserves it all & I know she in turn will do likewise to make you happy.

Knowing your dear mother & father for so many years, also your own splendid record we do not feel like we are giving her to a stranger but that we are gaining a son whom I know we will love & respect.

Wishing you both all the happiness in the world & that from now on you will keep well & not have to go too far away.

We remain with love
Loraine's mother & father & some day yours

I've studied some of the other things I've found in order to determine if this was written by Bertha or Abe.  Part of me thinks that Abe would have responded as her father.....but since it is signed with 'mother' first I think Bertha may have written it.  I'll have to keep my eyes open for other handwriting samples to compare it to.

I guess it's official - my grandparents are going to be married!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Grandma Gets Engaged

When I started blogging about Loraine Gunzendorfer's scrapbook, I swore to myself that my posts would stay in the order that I found them and I wouldn't skip ahead.  Unfortunately, Grandma didn't pay attention and here's where things get out of chronological order.  But I've decided to just keep with my original plan and will post things as I find them.

Sometime in late October, Sig Levy "popped" the question to Loraine and she said yes!  In my off time I've been transcribing letters between Sig and Loraine as they courted beginning in 1917.  What I've learned about my grandmother is that there were many times when she worried about never finding a man and living happily ever, but things seemed to have changed when she met Sig.  I've learned through the letters that they were quite secretive about their relationship and even though their families were intertwined by cousins marrying each other, they still kept their romance relatively quiet.

Until they became engaged.......

Miss Loraine Gunzendorfer
Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A.B. Gunzendorfer, of Monterey,
whose bethrothal to Sigmund Levy is an interesting, recent

Interesting recent announcement?  I guess it was interesting since it was a surprise to so many people but I wonder if there was something else behind that word.

Several times I've found various newspaper articles with a photo included and then I find the original photo in my collection - this time was no exception!

My family loved to clip newspaper articles and we've found numerous scrapbooks with clippings in them.  In this case, I'm sure glad she saved these articles and in some cases, even noted the date and the paper it came from.  Thanks, Grandma!

The Fresno Morning Republican
Wednesday, November 6, 1918

There's that word interesting again. 

Monterey, Monterey County, California
Saturday Evening, November 9, 1918
Sunday, November 10, 1918

And then there was this.....

I'm sure Grandma was just like any young girl about to be married and dreamt about her new calling card that would say Mrs. Sigmund Levy.

Once the engagement was formally announced, congratulations started pouring in from their many friends.  Next time I'll share some of the special congratulations!