Sunday, December 28, 2014

Top 10 Genealogical Finds of 2014

Photo by Pierce Place

As 2014 comes to a close, I’d like to step back and reflect on what I’ve learned over the past year.  So in my best David Letterman voice, I bring you my fourth annual Top 10 genealogical finds of 2014.

Number 10:  Thanks to some help by my new found cousins (see #2), I was able to identify a mystery photo that I've had stashed away in a box.  This handsome man is Mervyn Gunzendorfer – cousin of my grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy.  And they also shared a photo of him from later in his life.

Mervyn Gunzendorfer 1916-1917
Mervyn Gunzendorfer
c. 1916-1917

Mervyn Gunzendorfer 1957
Mervyn Gunzendorfer

Number 9:  My great grandfather, Abraham “Abe” Gunzendorfer, was an amateur photographer in Monterey in the early 1900’s.  I have quite a few photos marked “Abe Gunzendorfer, Photographer” and I’m never quite sure if the photo was of a family member or just a photo that he took.  But it was pretty clear what was going on in May, 1901 – President McKinley visited the area and Abe took photos!  I wrote about it here and shared some of the photos – this one gives a pretty good idea of the scene.  And it was right in front of the family mercantile!

Addresses Citizens Close up

Number 8:  I found my grandmother’s diary!  Actually, I found it a few years ago but I stashed it in a drawer and just re-discovered it this year.  It really wasn’t much of a diary, per se, but it did have some very poignant items she shared with her “little friend”.  No matter how hard I try not to think about it, I just can’t forget her words about Ernest “breaking her in” before he left for Stanford.  Lalalalalalalala.

Number 7:  After nearly 2 years, I finished documenting my grandmother’s scrapbook.  I started here and finally finished it here.  What a gift to be able to share my grandmother’s teenage years with her!

Number 6:  I still can’t get over seeing my great grandmother, Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer, pregnant!  While I’m not 100% that’s what I’m seeing, I truly believe that it is.  I need to do a little more research about that house and see if it could, in fact, be their home in Monterey.

Bertha in front of house c 1895
Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer
c. 1895

Number 5:  Louis Schwartz had a father!  Well, of course he had a father but I think I know his father’s name!  Over the summer I received a call from Victoria, the researcher I’ve connected with, and she told me she thought she’d figured out his name.  I wrote a bunch of notes, and I know she has notes, but the short story is his name was Bendusch (or Bendel) Schwartz!

Number 4:  I just love seeing old houses, particularly when they were the home of my ancestors.  I’m pretty sure I’ve discovered not one but two homes that Ferdinand Gunzendorfer and his family lived in during the late 1800’s.  I wrote about the first here – the home of Ferdinand and Fannie (Goldstein) Gunzendorfer in about 1880.  And following that, I received a copy from another cousin, one generation older, of another house that he said was also the home of Ferdinand and Fannie.  As I looked at the photo a flood of memories came forward as I KNEW I’d seen that house before!  Sure enough, I went through Abe’s photos and there it was – the same house! 

Ferdinand Gunzendorfer House Pacific Grove
Home of Ferdinand Gunzendorfer
c. 1893

What’s especially interesting is that he told me the home, on the corner of 5th St. and Ocean View Blvd. in Pacific Grove, had been turned into a B&B and was called Green Gables.  So I looked online and sure enough, here is the Green Gables.  Same house, right?

Green Gables

I wrote to the Innkeepers and the house history and dates they provided to me doesn’t really match up just right so I need to do some more research.  Add that to my list for 2015!

Number 3:  Last year I wrote about connecting with a Fitzgerald cousin and this year she shared a very special photo with me – the photo of my 2nd great grandfather, Mathew Fitzgerald!

Matthew Fitzgerald
Mathew Fitzgerald

I wrote about Mathew here and was hopeful that a volunteer would get a photo of his grave for me.  Look what appeared just a month or so ago!

Fitzgerald Mathew – Memorial #126404259 – photo by Seth Pearl

And as an added bonus, here’s his wife and my second great grandmother, Julia Horgan Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald Julia Horgan – Memorial #126404793– photo by Seth Pearl

Number 2:  Probably the greatest gift I’ve received as I’ve gone through this journey is connecting with cousins.  My Gunzendorfer family is so very, very small that while I have connected with cousins of both of my maternal grandparents’, as well as my paternal grandfather’s side, I really didn’t hold out much hope of ever connecting with a Gunzendorfer.  After all, as my mother proclaimed years ago and what started me on this journey, there weren’t any Gunzendorfers left in the United States (darnit, I hate when she’s right).  But I knew there were Gunzendorfer descendants with different last names and this year I found some!  And it was truly genealogical serendipity when I heard from the first one THE NIGHT BEFORE I was planning to write about her great grandmother!  Read about the genealogical serendipity here.  My new cousin connected me to a few other cousins and we’ve had fun sharing information.  What really brings this full circle is that one of the other cousins I knew as a child and now he is back in my life!  My family just keeps getting larger and larger and I couldn’t be happier.

Number 1:  The bracelet.  Sure this wasn’t a new discovery – I inherited “the bracelet” in 1982 after my grandmother passed away – but a discovery that became much meaningful in 2014.  Grandma had always kept a list designating who would receive what after her death and I had always known I’d get “the bracelet”, even though I wasn’t sure what was so special about it and why I would want it.  I learned in 1982 that it had belonged to her mother, Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer, and had been a gift for her high school graduation in 1890 as the bracelet was inscribed with the words BS, Graduated June, 1890.  That bracelet has been a part of my life for over 30 years but it wasn’t until this year that I really had a good appreciation for just how important it was in my family.

And one day, as I struggled for inspiration for a blog post, I ran across this photo.

High School Graduation
Santa Cruz High School Graduation
June 6, 1890

That’s Bertha (aka Birdie) standing on the right.  You can read my post from May 4 here, but the Cliff Notes version is that she’s wearing “the bracelet”!   Look closely at her arm!  It’s such a treat to know the history behind a family heirloom but even better to actually SEE it. 

Bracelet on wrist

And from there I did a little research and connected with the great grandson of the young man in the photo, Harry Wanzer, and shared the photo with him.  I’d love to be able to contact descendants of the other graduates but, unfortunately, I put it aside and never got back to it…..until last night.  Maybe getting the graduating class’ descendants together might be my top find in 2015!

And that’s what I’ve been up to in 2014.  While I feel like it’s been a bit of a quiet year, I realize how far I’ve come and the treasures I’ve been able to share with my family. 

Who knew?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas, 1917

As I wrote in my last post here, I have hundreds of letters that my grandparents, Loraine Gunzendorfer and Sig Levy, wrote back and forth to each other from about 1916-1919.  My goal is to some day get them all transcribed and put in chronological order so that their letters become a story of their courtship and, ultimately, marriage.  But, unfortunately, I tend to go gang busters on this project for awhile and then put it on the back burner for weeks or even months.  But I thought it appropriate to dig out the letters from Christmas, 1917 and see what was up in their worlds. 

I started the transcription project with Grandma’s letters to Sig because her handwriting was better and since I was 28 when she died, her handwriting was much more familiar to me than Grandpa’s who died just before my 14th birthday.  So today was the first time I really studied any of Sig’s letters to Loraine.

Envelopes to Loraine

I started sorting them out by year, then month, and then to put them in date order.  As I got started with the month of December, I noticed something very interesting in the top left hand corner of the envelopes – Grandma left me bread crumbs!  The numbers (42, 43) indicate that these were the 42nd and 43rd letters he wrote to her – she put them in chronological order for me!  See, I know she wanted me to find these!  And interesting that the stamps are all missing.

And the back of the envelope is interesting.

Back of Envelope

I love how he just wrote ‘Sig’ on the back – I’m sure her heart skipped a beat when she saw that.

So here’s excerpts from the letters right before Christmas, 1917 with my comments [ ].

December 22, 1917 – 6 pm [From Loraine to Sig]

My dearest

Your letter didn’t arrive until this morn, guess it was held up on account of the holiday rush. I looked for it last night but was disappointed.

Well, my dear, I’m home again [Monterey] and it seems wonderful – really it does and I do feel very happy. Everyone has seemed so glad to see me that it makes me feel as though I have been missed. And once more I am getting acquainted with my family. And I’ve been practically living in my brother’s machine [she always called the automobile the machine]. He took me for a ride yesterday aft and also this morning and has promised to teach me to drive it [remembering that she wasn’t a great driver as an adult, do we have her brother, Wilton, to blame for her poor driving?].

The Alumni of the High School are to give a dance Christmas night and before I even came home I was put on the refreshment committee, so you see, dear, they want me to work even if I am just visiting here. Quite a bunch of my friends are to be home over this week-end, enlisted boys and the like, so it will be like old times.

And now about war again – I’m so sorry, dearest, that you weren’t accepted in the non-flyers but guess it can’t be helped and now that you have actually enlisted in the flyers, even though I am against it, I am glad, because it seems as though all the best fellows enlist in that branch and no branch is too good for you. And it is all just a great big chance of life or otherwise I guess after all, whether it is flying or trench work. But all anyone can do is hope for the best and that is what I am hoping for you at this very minute.

And, dear, I don’t know when you are going to get that picture of me [which picture, Grandma?  I have several and want to know which one it is]. It hadn’t been finished when I left Thursday so I left orders to send it to me, so you’ll get it sometime before New Year’s, I hope.

Believe me, I had to come home to lose my cold. My mother doctored it up last night [wonder what the magic cure was?] and today I am feeling great. We are having glorious weather down here, sunshine and the like but no fog. But we surely had a lot of fog in Oakland before I left, both night and morning and now you are getting a taste of the same kind of weather.

Tomorrow we are going for a little ride up into the country to get some Christmas berries and I wish you were here to go along.

The point of the fountain pen I’m writing with is very hard and I can hardly write – my letter looks it, too. So if you can’t read it don’t blame me, blame the pen [HA – blame the pen!]. And I do hope you hear soon from the aviation dept so you’ll be coming up shortly for your examination as I’d like to see you, dear.

I must bring this to a close now as I’ve promised to meet one of the girls in a short while. Write so that there will be a letter waiting for me Wednesday night in Oakland, that is, if it won’t inconvenience you [one thing my grandmother wasn’t was passive aggressive].

And my wish to you for Christmas is that everything will turn out to your liking, sweetheart, and that you will enjoy the day, even though we won’t be able to enjoy it together, but as long as we will be thinking of each other, we’ll try to be happy. And if you care to [what if he didn’t care to?] I wish you would convey my best wishes to your family for a pleasant holiday season.

As always much love
December 23, 1917 – 6:30 pm [From Sig to Loraine]

My dearest Loraine,

Just a tiny note in answer to yours just received. I know you are a busy girl and this note will just come in between so it won’t be so long a wait. I’ll answer your letter properly so one will be waiting for you Wednesday in Oakland [good boy, Grandpa].

I thank you, my love, for your wonderful wishes in my behalf and I know with these thoughts that nothing but good will come to us.

The weather here is miserable and it was even too foggy to play tennis today [never thought about it being too foggy to play tennis] so I have been loafing all day.

Glad you are having such a wonderful time. I know you won’t enjoy the letter [oh, I’m sure she enjoyed it], but I didn’t want you to wait until Wednesday even if it is just “hello”. So that is all for tonight and I’m happy your cold is better.

A big lot of love to you, my dear, Sig

Am late getting home – the reason for the rush.
I just love this photo of Sig playing tennis.  I ‘rescued’ a couple of his rackets from their garage after Grandma died and they have hung on my wall for over 30 years.  I never knew just how much he liked to play tennis.
Sig Tennis
December 25, 1917 – pm [from Loraine to Sig]

My dear

Your “Merry Xmas” telegram [I found the the telegram!] came a little while ago, and this is what I said, “The thoughtful boy”. I did sort of want to phone to you just to wish you the season’s greetings, but didn’t know just where I could reach you so let it go [Grandma, why did you give up so easily?]. Your few lines came last night, also. [did she not enjoy it like he predicted?]

Am spending a very quiet day today as it is raining! Do hope it doesn’t storm tomorrow as I leave in the aft for Oakland, accompanied by Mother. Have been thinking of you today as have been knitting on your sweater and it is nearly finished! [again, she was crafty?]

You’ll probably not hear from me again until Friday as I’ll get in so late tomorrow night I won’t be able to write.

And what are you doing today? When do you expect to be called for examination? Probably your letter will tell me all details.

Love from


December 24, 1917 – 11 p.m. [from Sig to Loraine]

My dearest Loraine,

Well my love it is Christmas Eve, and can you believe it, I just came to the club and it is certainly delightful out. Rode around the residence section [exact address, please] and really it was a pretty thought to see all the Red Cross service flags [Grandpa was involved with the Red Cross for many years] in the windows with the spot lights behind them. Gee I wished that you were with me to ride around on a nice quiet night to see all the people enjoying themselves in their different ways of happiness.

Early this evening we had a pretty tree for the baby at my brother’s home [brother would have been Herb and the baby would have been Herb Jr. who was born 10 February 1917] and it was cute – our first little one to have a tree [was this the beginning of the non-Jewish traditions?] and he was so excited with all his presents but of course he is too young to know what it all means but nevertheless he enjoyed it thoroughly – but the saddest part is that my father is not well enough to be up and see it all. [father, Herman Levy, died just a few months later, 6 March 1918]

Fresno was a busy little city today and you would really think this was a military center – so many soldiers and sailors. They are all home for Christmas and you know Fresno leads almost every city on the coast for enlisted soldiers. The visiting soldiers even had a big baseball game today.

Did I tell you I saw Dick [I need to figure out who Dick is]. Well he sent word that he was coming through the other night and he arrived at 12:30. Two sections to the train and they were just loaded with soldiers all bound for Texas for aviation. There was a mob at the depot and poor Dick was all in – he had an awful cold [he had a cold, too?] and said he had spent the toughest week of his life. The poor kids had no Pullman and they were just packed in – It was anything but an inviting looking future and Dick hated to break away from the bunch. It certainly looked strange to see him in a uniform. He is going to write me all about the life as soon as he hits Texas.

Dear I think we will go “over the top” on our Red Cross drive. It looks like 25,000 members for Fresno. How do you like that? Has Monterey done its share? [I sure hope so!]

The Red Cross dance the other night was also a huge success. All you hear or see down this way now is war. After this next call, dearest, there’ll not be a young fellow left. I haven’t received my questionnaire but they are already getting ready to call for the physical examinations. I will get mine I think in about a week. In the meantime I am hoping for a call from S.F. but nothing yet has arrived. Talked with one of our aviators today and he said the course at the university was about the stiffest thing yet. Only eight weeks to learn about everything and to bed every night at nine-thirty.

I’ll bet you have been stepping around since you left for home and I hope you haven’t worn your little self entirely out [see, he knew Grandma liked to party!]. And now that you are back I suppose it seems like another little dream. And sweetheart, have you had any real dreams about someone down this way in the last few days? [please say YES, Grandma!]

At any rate I hope this letter is waiting for you when you reach Oakland – was it and did you really look for it the first thing you did? Honest dear?  [tell the truth, Grandma]

And dearest you soon start with your new work and please don’t work too hard [one thing I don’t think Grandma ever did was work too hard] and tell me all about it. I should receive a great big loving letter [loving?] from you now, as you no doubt have a lot to tell me even if you must take time off this very night just for me.

The new year is soon to come – a year of something no one knows. I hope for you it will be wonderful. I’ll do my best. Keep well and happy, sweetheart.

As always with love, Sig
I was going to stop there but I just had to see if Grandma actually looked for the letter first thing and SHE DID!  This story just keeps getting better and better……..
December 27, 1917 – 8 pm [from Loraine to Sig]

My dearest

On my way home a short while ago I beheld the moon just rising and you should have seen it – a huge ball of fire and so pretty and then I wondered what the date was as the moon was full and it is the 27th – a month ago tonight you and I were at the Palace! How the time goes.

Here I am, back in Oakland and I don’t know whether I am glad or sorry. When it grew to be train time yesterday I didn’t want to leave, but Monterey is so quiet that had I remained, in another week I would, in all probability, want to come back. Arrived at 10 o’clock last night after a pleasant trip with Mother, and, in answer to your question, I did look for your letter immediately upon my arrival [NICE!]. So, your letter was here to greet me if not yourself.
And that’s where I’ll stop.  Just a glimpse into the Christmas holidays from 1917 thanks to my grandparents, Loraine Gunzendorfer and Sig Levy.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Who will marry us?

Last week I wrote about my grandmother’s “little diary” which she stopped writing in after she married my grandfather on February 23, 1919.  It started me thinking about what else was happening in the days leading up to their marriage and, fortunately for me, I have the letters that they wrote back and forth from about 1916-1919.  I’ve been slowly transcribing these letters (note to self – get back to that project) so I decided to skip ahead to the last few letters she wrote to see what was she was thinking about.  It seems that one of the important things on her mind in the week preceding their wedding was who would officiate the marriage.  Here are some excerpts from those letters [my comments included].

Envelope to Sig 2_15_1919 Letter to Sig 2_15_1919

February 15, 1919 [Saturday] – postmarked 6:00 p.m., Monterey, California

My Dearest Boy [she called him “Boy” quite a bit],

Have nothing of note to tell you today so shall write just a tiny note.  Received your letter last night and shall say a word or two in regard to where we shall stay Sunday night [after the wedding].  Dear, it would be perfectly ridiculous for me to take a trunk with me as I don’t imagine we shall be gone any longer than four days.  I can get what I need into a suit case and you can too.  Then the folks will send the rest of my things direct to Fresno as I wrote you yesterday.  No one bothers with a trunk for a few days if it can be helped.  And as far as needing a bridal suite – we can do without that – just a nice room and bath will give us all the comfort we desire.  I really prefer staying in S.F, because we can get away so much better from that side unless you want to go the valley route.  As far as we know, Mother and I, no doubt, will stay at the Oakland [Hotel Oakland, site of their wedding] when we go up Thursday and it is my preference to have Sunday as I do not care about being too conspicuous in a place like that.  It wouldn’t matter so much if we weren’t going to stay there and also be married in the hotel.  But I’ll leave it to you, after making the suggestions, and you do what you think best.  Hope you have heard from Franklin [prospective wedding officiate] by now and that he can come, otherwise we will have to get busy and get Dr. Myer [sic].

….Bushels of love and some nice kisses to my sweet boy.  Your, Loraine

February 16, 1919 [Sunday] – postmarked 6:00 p.m., Monterey, California

Sig sweetheart

Was sorry to hear last night when I received your letters that Rabbi Franklin would be unable to officiate, but it can’t be helped I guess.  So I immediately sent a special delivery to Dr. Meyer asking his services and that he advise me accordingly by return mail.  It may be that Franklin will be back but not well enough to perform a marriage ceremony.

As far as we know this minute, love, we shall stay at the Oakland from Thursday on, so if you come in that night I’ll be able to see you when you arrive [please no more details, Grandma].  Then the next morning before we do anything else we can attend to the license and get that off our minds.

….Just think, dear, – next Sunday!  Can hardly realize it, can you?  Wish the excitement was all over and we were on our way.  I dread the ceremony, however short it may be – having so many eyes gazing upon us and picking us to pieces, as it were. [I am her granddaughter, that’s for sure, as I have always disliked being the center of attention].  I’ll be so glad when it is “the day after”.

….Much love and many kisses, dearest, and we will see each other before very long, lover boy.  Your own, Loraine

February 18, 1919 [Monday] – postmarked 8:00 a.m., Monterey, California

Sig dearest,

….So my boy is very busy getting things ready for his “wife to be”.  Believe me, dear, we’ll be a happy couple.

The girls gave me a delightful little tea today at the Gift Shop and I dolled up in my “going away” outfit [dang, where’s a picture of THAT?].  It looked quite swell and I hope you’ll like it.

Yes, sweetheart, we expect to stay at the Oakland as far as we know, which I told you in yesterday’s letter.  About the trunk – unless you want to bring it for your things, dear, I can’t think I shall need it as I expect to get a nice suitcase when I get to S.F. and will hold all I need as far as I know as I don’t expect to take too many things along.

Haven’t heard from Rabbi Meyer yet.  Hope he won’t disappoint us or we will be up against it and shall have to scurry around for someone else.

….Am so glad to hear that the boys will be out shortly.  With them coming, though, it means that we’ll have to look for a place to live in.  Shall write a letter tomorrow.  Stacks of love & kisses, dearest boy.  Your, Loraine.

February 18, 1919 [Monday] – postmarked 6:00 p.m., Monterey, California

Sig dear,

I waited for the noon mail to come in today and thought surely there would be some word from Dr. Meyer as to whether he will be able officiate or not, but none came.  It isn’t enough that I have other things to attend to, I have to bother about getting the Rabbi, too [uh-oh, sounds like she’s a little irritated].  And you know we can’t wait until the last minute or we won’t be getting married at all.  By rights you should have attended to this [maybe not just irritated but actually mad] as soon as you knew the date, but it cant’ be helped now as we waited on Franklin.  A few moments ago I wired to your mother and told her to find out if Meyer will be with us, if not to get Nieto [Rabbi Nieto was a very prominent Rabbi in the Bay Area and, in fact, officiated at the marriage of my great grandparents, Bertha Schwartz and Abraham Gunzendorfer in 1892] at once, altho’ I would rather have the former, and to answer me one way or the other.  It is a pretty late date now to be hunting someone to marry us on Sunday.  We’ll be in fine luck if everyone is busy on that day – preparations, etc. and no one to perform the ceremony.  We’ll have to trust to luck, that’s all.  You’ll have to get busy Friday if we haven’t secured any up to that date.  But I hope it will be settled before then.

Two presents came today – one from Mina and Morse [no idea who this might be], the other from the Benas family; Gertie, Hortense, etc. [Sig’s mother’s maiden name was Benas].  Will tell you about them when I see you.

This will be may last letter to you, dear, until we meet in Oakland [it’s almost time!] and I’ll be waiting for you at the Oakland.  Your mother sent a list this morning for more announcements.

I’ll be so glad when all this excitement is over – it is getting to be too much for me [Grandma didn’t seem to have much patience for stuff like this] especially when you are so far away that I have to do the figuring [complaining again].  I do hope we will be able to land some Rabbi [funny, she doesn’t seem too particular now].  That is the worry I have now.

….All for today.  Loads of love and kisses, dearest, and I’ll see you Thursday.  Your, Loraine

3:30  Just received a wire from your mother saying that Meyer will officiate but he didn’t think I wanted an answer.  So that is settled, thank goodness.

THANK GOODNESS!  Can you imagine how my life might have been different if Dr. Meyer hadn’t agreed to officiate?  Would they have found another Rabbi?  I’m glad we don’t have to worry about the answer to that question!

But they did get married – and they were able to keep one of their announcements.  Again, thanks to my Grandmother for hanging on to it for me.

Sig_Loraine Wedding Announcement

Some photos from about that time period – wonder if they were taken during the wedding celebration or honeymoon?

Loraine c 1919
Mildred Loraine (Gunzendorfer) Levy

Sig Levy c 1919
Sigmund Levy

Abe_Birdie_Loraine c 1919
Abe, Birdie, Loraine Gunzendorfer

Abe_Birdie_Sig c 1919
Abe and Birdie Gunzendorfer, Sig Levy

Sunday, November 30, 2014

My Little Diary

I found a diary!  It’s just little, both physically and in number of words, but it’s another small glimpse into the life of my paternal grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer.

Diary Cover 1916-1919 Diary pages 1916-1919

Look at that – she started it when she was single and finished it after she was married. These pages were all loose in “the box” I recovered and I've done my best to put it into chronological order and added comments in [] where I knew something about what she was writing about.

I like to think that this picture was from about this time period.

Loraine c1917

This must be June 22…..morning for Berkeley where I expected to enter summer school.  Irene [Gunzendorfer?] met me at the depot, had lunch at house there, met Hal and crossed bay with her.  Home in eve.  Like the house quite well.  Have my own room. 

June 23 – went down to see Grandma [Rebecca Steen], had lunch there, went to town, saw Uncles Col & Milt [Colman and Milton Schwartz]; met Hazel [Steen, daughter of Samuel and Rachel], had dinner there – came home at 8:30.

June 24 – Went to University but accomplished nothing.  Saw Addie Huff.  This afternoon Hal [Hallie Hitchcock?} and I visited with Grandma.  This eve we went over to Dorothy’s and Chester’s.  A cute place they have.

July 8 – Have not written in my little [even she calls it little] confidant since June 24.  Not a great deal has occurred since then save that I am now regulated in my school……..  Hallie, Ebert [Hitchcock] & I went to the reception but it amounted to nothing.  Have heard from Ernest over the phone and he promised to come out but as yet I have heard nothing from him.  How I wish – but then what is the sense of wishing for things that can never come to pass.  Went to the city today with Aunt Chas. [Charlotte Haley Schwartz, wife of Milton] to see Maude Fulton in “The Brat”.  Just splendid.  Had lunch at the Golden Pheasant.  Saw Geraldine Farrar in “Marcia Rosa” last night.  Quite good.  The city folks have gone to Lagunitas for a couple of weeks.  I know nothing more to write tonight – news is at a premium so may not write again until something comes forth.

Tuesday, July 11 – Erny called up about 6 last night and asked to come out.  So he came.  It was the most glorious night [methinks there are more glorious nights with my grandfather to come later] and after we sat out on the porch a while we went down Shattuck to go to the “movies”.  It was too crowded so we had some ice cream and came back.  Enjoyed each other’s company – will probably not see him again as he is going to Monterey shortly.  Do I still care for him?  Little diary – you above all should know.  God was good to me to let me have him for a little while.

Monday, October 10, 1916 – Decided that I would drop my diary entirely last summer as I had no time to write in but have decided to write in it again.  May write once a week – just to keep account of happenings.  Am working as a bookkeeper for Pacific Fish Co – started August 17 – Ernest broke me in [broke me in – do I want to know what that means?] before he went to Stanford.  I do not hear from him at all.  Our little romance……over my……..

Not sure of the date of this page - call.  My, but it is with everything in the world to be interested in someone and cheer him along dark paths, made so by this terrible war of ours.  We have started to collect Thrift Stamps together and hope for a big collection.  Am now working at the City Hall in Board of Edu and am planning on taking Civil Service in 2 wks!  Here’s hoping I am successful.  Matt and I have some good times together.  He and I went to the Palace the other eve to dance.

Not sure of the date of this page – diary of last year.  I see where it was at its height around this time.  Some one else has stepped in – in the person of Sig Levy [yay – she finally met him!] of Fresno.  Met him at Hazel’s the Sunday before I came home and we have corresponded ever since.  He is a very thoughtful fellow to me, has sent me candy twice.  He probably likes me [that’s being confident] but to me he is only a friend.  He is not my ideal of a man in looks [oh come on, Grandma, he was a cutie!], little diary, but then what are looks if the heart is there?  Nothing exciting is happening in our city and I look forward to no event.  I wonder if I will or shall ever meet a man that I can care for? [hang on, Grandma, I think you will]  It all seems so in the distant future – caring for any one?  Will it ever come?  Will anyone ever care for me?  I doubt it [where’s that confidence?]

November 2 -  Tonight is another merchants’ dance – will I ever forget the first one I went to with Ernest?  And tonight another.  Am going with the folks and do not expect a good time - (I didn’t have it either).

November 12, 1916 – It is so hard to keep up this diary – there is nothing to chronicle – I hear from Sig occasionally.  Have no suitors [I think Sig is trying to be one] and lead a dull life [one thing I know is that her life was never dull].  Chaperoned Maude Albington to Carmel last night.  Met her man Friday night.  Have my evening dress but no place to go to wear it – always the way – I wonder if I will ever see Sig.  Only know him thru’ his letters – why doesn’t he come to see me?

December 10, 1916 – Once more I’ll scribble a few words in here for old time’s sake.  Ernest was down over Thanksgiving.  College has changed him I think.  We chatted a little about college.  He probably should have come over to see me but it stormed the whole time he was here.  Went to the basketball game Sat. night in P.G. [Pacific Grove] – saw Harry – all “dolled up – he said he would call me up when he came home at Xmas.  We’ll wait and see.  Sig wanted to come over for the merchant’s dance next week but I wrote no [why did you say no?]  Had my pictures taken yesterday – now for the proofs.

August 9, 1917 – Dear Little Diary.  Am going to talk to you again.  Was home for three weeks in June and had glorious times and with Harry McMahon.  Have lived in Oak [Oakland] since Jan 8, 1917 – attended Heald’s Business College for 6 months.

Oakland, August 14, 1917 – was surely a very lucky day for me – I was offered the secretarialship at Heald’s where I attended for six months.  A very good position for a beginner, and never realized that I would ever be offered that place.  And Sig proposed to me.  [YAY!]  Told me how much he cared for me [see, someone would care for you] – loved me [awwww!] and hoped I cared a little for him.  I was very cold [temperature cold or distant cold?] and listened to him appeal without sympathy.  The next day he left for home [maybe with a broken heart].  Forgot to state that he was here for nearly two weeks and I saw him continually.  The day he left I met him and he bought me flowers.  When he finally told me good-bye I knew I cared for him and had a crying spell at home [I wonder if he was crying?].  To cap the climax the ticket he bought and presented to me won $1 – so we each have a buck piece of 50.  Funniest thing in the world how I should care for Sig after having trouble and not liking him at all [what’s not to like?] – But funny things come to pass it seems.

September 4, 1917 – We received long letters from Hazel today from NY which told of the wonderful time she had while there.  The dear child is receiving no more than she deserves after her years of hard work and I only hope that everything is successful.  Yes, my little [and we all know he WAS little] Sig is very attentive and I hear from him regularly.  He likes me and I like him but the war will interfere with us and if we should ever plan on anything, the plans will be upset – He is the dearest boy.  Have taken charge of my position since Thursday, Aug 30 and like it very much.  Shall only chronicle important happenings from now on.

October 31, 1917  - Well, at last Mary [Pittman Salterbach?] has announced her engagement.  Wrote it to me today and I phoned my congratulations tonight.  Think of it, little diary, my life-long pal engaged to be married,.  Can it be possible?  And we used to wonder who would be the first of the three of us to go.  Don’t expect my time to ever come tho’ if I would listen to Sig’s pleas it would be right now [listen, Grandma!].  He’s a sweet boy, I love him terribly much but can’t promise anything as yet. [but we know you will, Grandma].  He surprised me on the 13th of this month – saw him Sat eve and Sun Mother met him, too. Still hear from him twice a week – He phoned the other night – Do wish he would come up again as I want him muchly [FINALLY!].  I can’t realize that I like him so much after detesting him at one time.  And he’ll have to go to war soon, too.,  Heartless world.  No more tonight diary – all I know is that I’m lonesome for Sig – why or wherefore I don’t know.  Have worked at Heald’s 2 months!

Nov 18, 1917 – Well I have two invitations to dinner dances – one for 27th at Palace and one for 29th at Granada.  …..of us are going to the Granada – Melvin Schwarzbaum is to be my escort.  Sig wrote and wanted to know if I would go to the Shriner’s affair at Palace.  Haven’t decided yet [you need to GO!]  Mother is here again.  Came Wed – We have an auto at home.

April 10, 1918 – Cannot seem to keep my little dairy up.  It is many months since I chronicled anything herein.  Sig and I are still lovers [!!!] and love each other dearly.  Have seen him very often lately.  He enlisted in Aviation, was accepted and is now awaiting his…….

Oct 20, 1918 – Sunday – Sig graduated from the ground school at Berkeley Friday and has a bad cold so is in the hospital for a few days.  As soon as he comes out we are going to announce our engagement, I hope.  [YES!]

Tues – Oct 29/18 – Sig and I have announced our engagement – think of it!  I have found that he is the man for me [took you long enough].  I have a lovely ring – which I had to buy by myself [now that’s sad] as Sig is in quarantine.  Took it to Berk and he put it on my finger [romantic].  Our romance has surely been an odd one.

Feb 23, 1919 – Sig and I were married on this date at Hotel Oakland at a very nice afternoon family wedding.  Girlie [hmmm, not sure who that was] was my only attendant.  I wore flesh gorgette beaded and a maline hat to match.

Feb 28, 1919 – Arrived in Fresno today after a nice little honeymoon of four days to Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.  We stayed at the Potter Hotel in S.B. and had a lovely time.

And that’s the end of the diary.  I don’t think this was her wedding photo based on her description but maybe it was one of her ‘evening’ dresses.

Loraine Wedding

Grandma, I know the diary was little but I love reading about how you met Grandpa, his proposal, and finally, your marriage.  Thank you once again for being a packrat!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Newspaper clippings

My family collected newspaper clippings.  Lots and lots of newspaper clippings.  And they were always called clippings – never articles, never stories, ALWAYS clippings.

So what do you do with a bunch of little clippings?  You paste them on to a piece of your family business paper, of course.

White House page 1

This single sheet of paper has quite a bit of information on it.  First of all, is the top section which shows The White House, the Gunzendorfer family business.

White House Logo

It’s hard to read but here’s what it tells us:

The White House, F. Gunzendorfer & Sons – check, we knew that.

The address of 110-112 Alvarado Street, Monterey – got it.

The Hollenbeck Block, Pacific Grove – now that’s interesting.  Was that a separate store in Pacific Grove?

San Francisco Office, 19 Battery Street – another interesting fact.  What was that?  I did a little research and found that this location was different businesses over the years for clothing/hats.  In 1884, S.L., Leszynsky & Company was established and had the largest and most extensive variety of ladies’, misses’, and children’s cloaks, wraps, and jackets.  By 1894, the store was owned by Geo M. Franks and was known as Judd & Dunning Hat Company.  And in 1906, the store sold men’s wear.  Definitely something I need to research further.

And in the top right corner, very hard to read, it tells us that The White House is the sole agent for Eskey Kid Gloves, every pair warranted.  A quick search didn’t give me much additional information on that.

And then below it says Pacific Grove, Cal……..189   Wonder what that means?

But what’s really interesting about the clippings is that they all describe the engagement of my great grandparents, Birdie Schwartz and Abraham Gunzendorfer!

On the left side are clippings from many different papers.  Sounds like this was quite an announcement!


And on the right side was this:

The Examiner

Look at that – they horned in on the wedding of Birdie’s brother, Joseph Schwartz, to announce their engagement.

And on the back were more clippings!

White House page 2

This is hard to (and long) to read so I’ve “clipped” a few important facts.
The guests at the wedding.


A few interesting facts here.

I know the ceremony was performed by Rabbis M.S. Levy and M.F. Friedlander – did they call Rabbis Rev. then?

Look at some of the guests – Mr. & Mrs. S. Steen (Samuel Steen was the brother of my 2nd great grandmother), Mrs. R. Schwartz (my 2nd great grandmother who was widowed by 1894), Mrs. H. Brownstone (Mr. Brownstone was a business associate of my 2nd great grandfather, Louis Schwartz), Mrs. H. Steen, Mrs. A. Leszynsky – WAIT!  There’s the name Leszynsky from the clothier at 19 Battery Street – Mrs. Gunsendorfer (spelled wrong but which Mrs. Gunzendorfer was this?), Mrs. Lobliner (Henry Lobliner/Loobliner was a cousin and business associate of Louis Schwartz).  And other guests were more Steens and Leszynskys and an important one, Kolman Schwartz.  I’ve been trying to confirm that Kolman Schwartz was the brother of Louis Schwartz and I’m pretty close to saying that he was.

This was a cute tidbit.

Birdie_Abe engaged


One single piece of paper thrown into a box 120 years ago and here we are today reading all about a very special engagement!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Another little gem

A few months ago I wrote about discovering a photo of my Great Grandmother’s, Birdie Schwartz, high school graduation from Santa Cruz High School in 1890.  You can read about it here.  I love the photo so much that I just have to post it again.

High School Graduation
Santa Cruz High School
Graduating class – 1890
Bertha Schwartz – standing, far right
And now I’ve discovered this.

Bertha Schwartz 2A
Bertha Schwartz

It looks to me like Birdie’s portrait from that very special day.  I just love all of the flowers and decorations around her – sure not something you’d see today.  I’ll bet there is some significance to it all but I’m not sure I’ll ever know what that might be.

I have so many photos of Birdie over the years.  This is probably the earliest one I’ve found of her.  I think she looks to be about 3.

Bertha Schwartz1 c1876
Birdie Schwartz
c. 1875

It looked like this before I cropped it – could it have been a little Christmas ornament or something?

Bertha Schwartz

My parents kept this photo on a table in the living room and always said I looked just like her.  I sure would have loved wearing those clothes as a young girl!

Bertha Schwartz c 1878

And here is Birdie as a young woman.  Look at that beautiful blouse!

Bertha Schwartz 3

And this is Birdie near the end of her life.

BerthaSchwartz2 cropped

What a treasure to be able to see my great grandmother throughout her lifetime.  Once again, I have to thank my grandmother for being such a packrat!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Speaking of houses

Several years ago I wrote about an important home in my family – the home of my paternal grandparents, Sig and Loraine Levy, in Fresno, California.  You can read about it here.  But I’ve found some new photos recently that prompts me to revisit this very special home.

The home was built by Taylor-Wheeler Builders in 1934 for Sig and Loraine in what is known as the Wilson Island historic district.  The name “Wilson Island” is a local term that refers to the initial plan for the neighborhood where Wilson and Echo Avenue were designed to dead-end at Carmen Avenue, which formed a backward “P” shape or “island”.  The district qualifies for Fresno’s Local Register of Historic Resources (  The home is a Spanish revival home with a Monterey influence, which is interesting since Loraine was raised in Monterey, California.

Sig and Loraine were, obviously, quite taken with their new home and took these photos on July 4, 1934 to remember what it looked like as they moved their young family in.

Front 7_4_1934
Front of house
1549 Echo Avenue
Fresno, California

If you look closely (and with help from the zoom tool), you can see the sign that shows it was built by Taylor Wheeler Builders.  I wonder if they’d moved in yet or were just getting ready.

And another angle with more of a view from the side of the house.

Front_side 7_4_1934

The room upstairs with the balcony was my Uncle’s bedroom with windows both on the balcony and on the side of the house.  My dad’s bedroom was upstairs on the corner in the back.  What’s interesting is that the three corner windows on the first floor on the side corner were about where the den would have been.  And I always remember that den being very dark without any windows on that side – did they remodel at some point and cover those windows up?  I do remember that was the wall where the cuckoo clock hung (that bird was NOISY!) and there were no windows there.  Maybe my cousin who knows the people who own the house today can confirm that for me.

And a view from the back.

Back 7_4_1934

The upstairs windows on the left were my dad’s bedroom – and the windows on the right were my grandmother’s room.  The little window to the left of my grandmother’s room was the bathroom but I don’t remember what the other little window was – maybe there were two windows in the master bath. 

My grandmother was good at labeling these photos – here’s what she wrote on the back of that photo.

Back Description

I find it interesting that even in 1934 when she had been married for only 15 years, she called out that it was “her” room.  I remember that it was her room and Grandpa had his own room but I’m surprised that they weren’t sharing a bedroom back then.

And there are even photos of the kitchen!  These photos were taken by Laval Commercial Photography on August 1, 1934.  I wonder why they had a professional photographer take photos of their kitchen?

Kitchen 8_1_1934

Looks like they had new fangled contraptions in the kitchen – a phone and a mixer.  I’ll bet those were hot items in 1934!  This is pretty much how I remember the kitchen and there never seemed to be much out of place as Grandma didn't do much cooking.  I do remember arriving for the weekend and she’d bring out the ice cream and make us a milk shake.

Kitchen_hall 8_1_1934

This is another angle of the kitchen.  Check out the washer and dryer in the hallway!  To the right of the washer and dryer was the side entrance door and to the left was a bedroom that was used by the maid in the early days.

I don’t know why but when we went to help clean out the house in 1982 after Grandma died, I took pictures.  I guess even then I was interested in my family history and wanted to remember forever the home my dad grew up in.  Things had changed just a bit in almost 50 years!

Front 1982

Front_side 1982

And the back of the house – you can’t even see the windows in Dad’s bedroom anymore.

Back 1982

The house was in disarray that day, but I’m glad I snapped a few photos.

Loraine Piano
Living room
Dad learned to play on that piano

Dining Room 1982
Dining Room

Hall 1982
Hallway with Grandma’s bedroom in the background
Loved the banisters!

And a very special photo of my two daughters in the backyard in front of the citrus ‘orchard’ – I’ll never forget those cheesy flamingos! 

Back yard 1982