|Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer|
I’ve learned a lot about my grandmother, Loraine Gunzendorfer, over the past year but I have no idea why she’s posing in a wash basin for this photo!
Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer was born in Santa Cruz on January 20, 1896 in Santa Cruz, California. And I have this to prove it!
A few years ago I requested her birth certificate from Santa Cruz County and the response was “no record found”. So between that response and this document, I’m assuming she was born at home and my guess is that her mother, Birdie Schwartz, came home to her mother’s house to give birth. Which would mean that Birdie and her daughter were born in the same house, the home of her parents, Louis and Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz which was built in about 1870.
|Louis Schwartz home|
Santa Cruz, California
Louis Schwartz is standing on the grass in the front yard but I’m not sure who the kids in front are. If you enlarge the photo you can see an adult and a baby peering out of the window on the left!
Loraine grew up in Monterey and I’ve written a lot about her over the last year as I’ve gone through her scrapbook. I like to think about her being a young girl and what life was like for her over 100 years ago. This letter gives me a glimpse into what she was like.
Monday, Oct 10, 1905
My dear papa
I am feeling alright to-day except I have a swollen glands but I am allright otherwise brother sends his love to you Papa I herd you shaved off your moustache I think you look funny are you busy in the store in Monterey I am lonesone. for you papa brother says his lonesone for you to we are having a good time here.
Mama is writing to to you. We are both writing to you papa I am writing any-old thing.
I dont know any more things to tell you.
but I am going to close my letter.
but I have to say good-by.
Your loving daughter
Loraine & Wilton Gunzendorfer
What a sweet letter! And even sweeter that her father, Abe Gunzendorfer, made a note at the end to “answer this letter”.
I was fortunate to have my grandmother in my life until my late 20’s and it seems like just yesterday that she was here with us. How can 30 years have passed so quickly? Here’s some things I remember about her:
She was always dressed very stylish, as evidenced in this picture.
I remember the last time I saw her she was sitting in her wheelchair at the nursing home dressed in a beautiful silk suit from Saks Fifth Avenue with bright red lipstick fresh on her lips.
Grandma had a lot of sayings that I still think about today. When she wasn’t particularly impressed with something she’d say “I couldn’t give it much” and if something didn’t work out the way she liked she’d proclaim “that was bunk!”.
Grandma wasn’t the best driver, as I recall, and even as a young child it was a little unnerving to ride in the car with her. She must have realized she wasn’t a great driver – as she approached an intersection she’d always beep her horn to let others know she was coming through. Even today if I hear a little beep while a car goes through an intersection I think of Loraine and smile.
Loraine’s mind was sharp as a tack and she loved to hear my oldest daughter, and her only great-grandchild at the time, say her name. The two of them would be together and she’d say to my 3 year old daughter “who am I?” and she would exclaim “Great Grandma Loraine”. Grandma would beam and then after a few minutes she’d ask again “who am I?” and the answer would be repeated. One day my daughter said to me “doesn’t she know her own name?” Ah, Grandma, you were one of a kind.
Grandma loved to go out to dinner and she was only too happy to pay. We still laugh at the memory of her telling us to order whatever we like and as we each placed our order she’d immediately look at the menu as she said “where’s that?” so she could check out the price. And when we’d go to the Country Club with my parents, Dad had to sign for the bill and it would be added to his monthly total. Of course Grandma wanted to pay so right there in the restaurant she’d get out her checkbook and write Dad a check to reimburse him for the total. It must have made quite an impact on me because I even took a picture of the event.
|Mildred Loraine (Gunzendorfer) Levy|
Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy died on my oldest daughter’s 7th birthday, which was Mother’s Day that year, May 8, 1982, in Santa Clara County. She joined her husband of nearly 50 years in Fresno, their home for their entire married life, at Chapel of the Light.
While I feel so fortunate to have so many of her belongings which helps me learn more about her, I sure wish she were here so we could share in this journey of her life together.
Happy 117th birthday, Grandma!