Sunday, February 24, 2013

Oh what a week!

Looks like my grandmother, Loraine Gunzendorfer, stayed in the Bay Area after her visit to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in October, 1914.  She certainly was one busy young lady!

First stop was The Key Route Inn, which was a major hotel in Oakland at the time.  The wood framed structure opened in May, 1907 and was located at what is now Grand Avenue along the west side of Broadway.  The major feature of the hotel was a large archway and corridor through which the tracks of one of the rail lines passed – it was there that a stop connected to the main lobby of the hotel.  The Inn sustained major damage from a fire in September, 1930 so between that event and the Great Depression, the Inn was demolished in 1932, just 25 years after it had opened. 

Key Route Inn Photo
Key Route Inn
The archway can be seen under the “hotel” sign
I’m wondering if Grandma stayed at the Key Route Inn while she was visiting as she had two meals there on October 20, 1914 with her grandmother, Rebecca Steen

Key Route Inn

And here’s another menu that shows a pretty nice meal for $1.00.  I definitely inherited the “love” of collecting menus from Grandma!

Key Route Inn Menu

Next stop was the Industrial Fair Coliseum.  Not sure what this was but Grandma thought it was odd.

Industrial Fair

After a few days rest, it was time to go to the theater.  October 23 found Grandma at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco to see a “poor show” with her cousin, Irene Gunzendorfer.

Orpheum Program Orpheum Ticket

And the next day she went to The Columbia Theater to see Disraeli.

Disraeli Program Disraeli Ticket

I researched this play a bit and found that George Arliss was awarded the Best Actor Oscar in 1930 for his portrayal of British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, the role he played in 1914 in the play Grandma attended at the Columbia Theater.  He began his career in theater and toured the United States for 5 years in Disraeli.  He then went on to star in silent films before transitioning to the “talkies”.  Coincidentally, he was also nominated that year for Best Actor for his role in The Green Goddess, a remake of the 1923 silent film.  Interesting piece of trivia to learn on the day we will celebrate the 85th Academy Awards.  Who will join George Arliss as Best Actor this year?

George Arliss
George Arliss as Benjamin Disraeli
The Theatre magazine, 1911

Next stop was a “surprise party at Balkin’s” on October 25, 1914.  I don’t know anything about the Balkins – was it a person or a place – but she must have enjoyed it enough to keep a napkin in her memory book.

My grandmother sure got around and had a pretty full week in October, 1914.  And all of this while she was still in high school!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – Ancestor Roulette!

Thanks to Randy Seaver at geneamusings, it's time for some Saturday night genealogy fun!  This week it’s Ancestor Roulette!  Our mission:

1) What year was one of your great-grandfathers born? Divide this number by 100 and round the number off to a whole number. This is your "roulette number."

2) Use your pedigree charts or your family tree genealogy software program to find the person with that number in your ancestral name list (some people call it an "ahnentafel").  Who is that person, and what are his/her vital information?

3) Tell us three facts about that person in your ancestral name list with the "roulette number."

4) Write about it in a blog post on your own blog, in a Facebook status or a Google Stream post, or as a comment on this blog post.

5) NOTE: If you do not have a person's name for your "roulette number" then "spin" the wheel again - pick a great-grandmother, a grandfather, a parent, a favorite aunt or cousin, yourself, or even your children!

Here’s mine:

1)  My great grandfather, Abraham Gunzendorfer was born 28 April 1869, which makes my “roulette” number 18.69 or 17.

2)  The person in my “Ahnentafel List” at number 17 is Fredericka (AKA Frances) Wilzinski.  Fredericka is my 2nd great grandmother.  Her vital information is:

Born 20 April 1840 in Germany.
Married Benjamin Benas in 1875.
Died 4 October 1915 in San Francisco, California.

3)  Three facts:

* Fredericka and Benjamin had 4 children – Isaac (1863-1951), Goldie (1864-1926), Max (1867-1928), Morris (1872-1929).  Goldie was my great grandmother, mother of my paternal grandfather, Sigmund Levy.

* Fredericka was the daughter of Tobias Wilzinski (1816-1890) and Amelia Jackson (1816-1902).

* Fredericka was also known as Frances, I’m guessing in an effort to “Americanize” her name.  I had a hard time finding her grave at first as the listing showed as Frederick (and at the time I only knew her as Frances) so I thought she was really a he!  She is buried at Hills of Eternity in Colma, California.

Benas Fredericka Wilzinski Benas

I don’t know much more about Fredericka and I have not photos of her.  At least no photos that I can identify as her.  I hope one day I’ll be able to rectify that.

Thanks for the fun!

Monday, February 18, 2013



As I’ve worked through the scrapbook, this little piece of redwood has been quite pesky as it wasn’t fastened in any way and just kept slipping out whenever I’d open the book.  What could it be and what significance did it have?  Today I have figured it out!

Grandma wrote this in her scrapbook:


So that’s why it says “The Submarines” on the redwood – she got this at the Panama Pacific International Exposition when she was there on October 18, 1914.

As I researched the Submarines Exhibit from the Pan Pacific International, I ran across a description of the Submarines from “The red book of views of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition”:

The first thing to greet the eye of the visitor to this great spectacle is an allegorical front, with cascades of moving water typifying the restlessness of the ocean.  Neptune sits proudly over all, basking in the beams from a near-by lighthouse.  At the dock the passenger enters a steel submarine, is taken beneath the waters where he sees a shipwreck, marine animals, and a typical ocean floor.  Landing again, he is taken through the labyrinths of Neptune, a succession of wonderful scenes by H. Logan Reid of New York City. 

And when I looked at this photo from the San Francisco Museum, it looked very, very familiar to me.


And here’s from Grandma’s scrapbook!

Building 1 Building 2

Now I’ve figured out what those buildings were – sounds like it was a pretty cool exhibit back in 1914.

From Images of America, San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition, by Dr. William Lipsky:

In some ways ahead of its time, the Submarine Ride was one of the largest attractions on the Zone – and one of the most expensive to build.  Fairgoers entered through one of the shark mouths, then wandered through coral caves or voyaged under the waters of the seven seas aboard a facsimile of a U.S. Navy submersible.  Among other sites, they visited Neptune’s workshop, tropical sponge beds, sunken galleons, blue grottos of Capri, mermaids and mermen, and Davy Jones’ locker.  But it wasn’t all smooth sailing: a violent storm battered the submarine before returning it safely home.

And based on this ticket, I can verify that she was, indeed, there on October 18, 1914.


I wish I knew the story about why the date (12) was crossed out and a new date (18) was written in.  But I do know that she was there on the 18th because not only does the redwood and the ticket show that date, but this little memento of her ride on the Hippodrome Carroussel with MG.


The Hippodrome Carroussel was built by Charles I.D. Looff (1852-1918), who was a master carver and builder of hand-carved carousels and amusement rides in America.  He built his first carousel at Coney Island in 1876 and during his lifetime manufactured over 50 carousels and built the famous Santa Monica Pier. 

And then there was this gift from Al, whomever that might be.

Scotch Mints

Grandma must have worked on this memory book (or scrapbook, as I’ve called it) for many years.  Because in 1918 she wrote this to her then fiancĂ©, my grandfather, Sigmund Levy.

Letter Part 1 
Letter Part 2

Oh Grandma, how I wish I’d had the opportunity to talk to you about all of this stuff!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Out and About

My grandma, Loraine Gunzendorfer, is out and about again!

Loraine Gunzendorfer

The next pages of the scrapbook shows Grandma back to the theater.

Iphigenia in Aulis 

Greek Theater
Greek Theater
University of California, Berkeley
Photo courtesy of UC Berkeley

The Heart of Paddy Whack

“The Heart of Paddy Whack” opened on Broadway on November 23, 1914 and ran for 17 performances.  So my guess is that Grandma saw this in Monterey on May 29, 1915. 

The Clansman 

Twelve reels?  Can you imagine the person who had to change the reels right at the precise time during the film?

Birth of a Nation
Theatrical poster
Wikipedia Commons
The Clansman was the original name of the silent film known as The Birth of a Nation which was released on February 8, 1915.  According to Wikipedia, the film was highly controversial due to the portrayal of African-American men (played by white actors in blackface) as sexually aggressive towards white women.  The movie was used as a recruiting tool for the Ku Klux Klan and under President Woodrow Wilson, was the first motion picture to be shown at the White House.

I sure wish Grandma had made notes about her impression of the film – somehow this doesn’t seem like something she would have enjoyed.

Lowell Grad page 1  

Lowell Grad page 2 Lowell Grad page 3

I wonder who she knew at Lowell High School.  The names of those graduating are on the back but since it is glued to the scrapbook, I’m hesitant to remove it.  From the portion I can see I don’t see any familiar names - I might just have to get brave one day and remove it.

Lowell High School was originally known as Union Grammar School and by 1915, had moved from Powell Street in San Francisco to Hayes & Masonic Streets.

My grandmother sure loved to be out and about as a young woman and my recollection is that she never changed!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What happened to Arnold?

The Levy Brothers, c. 1889
Leon, Sigmund, Herbert
These three adorable boys are my paternal grandfather, Sigmund Levy (1888-1968), and his brothers Leon (1886-1962) and Herbert (1884-1952). 

But I’ve learned that there was a fourth brother, Arnold, who was born in 1890.

Arnold Birth

Herman Levy, the clothier, was very happy yesterday.  The cause was the arrival of another Levy heir --- a fine boy.  “For three years past” said Mr. Levy in explaining the situation, “Mrs. Levy has presented me with a fine boy.  We concluded that we couldn’t skip this year, and for the fourth time Mrs. Levy has shown her devotion to me.”  ---Fresno Evening Expositor, 4 January 1890.

So based on this account, Arnold Levy was born 3 January, 1890, and the Levy family had expanded once again.  But sometime between that joyous event and April 28, little Arnold was gone.

Arnold Death
There is no Death! what seems so is transition;
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
Whose portal we call Death.
In Loving Remembrance of
Arnold Levy.
Died April 28, 1890
A precious one from us has gone,
A voice we loved is stilled;
A place is vacant in our our home,
Which never can be filled.
God in His wisdom has recalled,
The goon His love had given;
And though the body moulders here,
The soul is safe in Heaven.

After less than 4 months, little Arnold was gone.  What happened?  How did he die?  So many questions that will never be answered.

The family did grow again two years later when the youngest son, Benjamin (1892-1965) was born and once again there were four sons in the family.  I don’t remember hearing anything about little Arnold as we were growing up – maybe my grandfather never knew about him or maybe it was just too painful for him to share. 

While the sons grew apart over the years, there were some happy times when they were all together.

Levy Brothers Herb_Leon_Sig_Ben
The Levy Brothers
Herb, Leon, Sig, Ben