Since I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about I decided to go into my treasure chest of “stuff” and see what caught my eye. And this is what I found.
Standing on the right is my great grandmother, Bertha “Birdie” Schwartz. I’d seen this photo a number of times but because it is fairly large, I’d put it into a larger box with some old newspapers and various other things and didn’t get back to it.
So I drug it out and showed it to my husband who promptly noticed the scrolls that each young person was holding and we wondered if it was some sort of graduation or something. That could be since there were two older people (teachers?) sitting with the young people. And that’s when he noticed Birdie’s left wrist and a bracelet she was sporting. “Is that your bracelet?” he asked. Oh my, I think he could be right!
One of my earliest blog posts was about Birdie where I showed a picture of the bracelet she was given at her high school graduation. You can read it here but here is the bracelet again.
Not a great photo and the bracelet is safely housed in the safe deposit box so I couldn’t take another one but compare it to this close up of Birdie’s wrist.
Yep, that’s it! This must be a photo of Birdie’s high school graduation!
On the back of the photo was this.
Property of Loraine Levy
To be given her after my demise
Since Birdie grew up in Santa Cruz, California and the Santa Cruz Sentinel is included in the newspapers.com collection, I decided to peruse the site in the 1890 time period to see if I could find out anything about the graduation. And look what I found!
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Saturday, 7 June, 1890
But that’s not all - one of the graduates was Bella Steen who just so happens to have been the first cousin of Birdie’s mother, Rebecca Steen Schwartz. Rebecca’s father, Joseph, was the brother of Bella’s father, Jacob.
I had also noted in the photo that the young lady sitting on the left looked familiar and I knew I’d seen her somewhere before. Which got me thinking – could the familiar looking girl be Bella Steen?
A quick look at some of my photos and I found this.
Could this unidentified woman be the same as the graduate who looked familiar to me?
I think they might be one and the same! Maybe my Steen cousin can confirm for me but I think it’s the same person.
I need to research Bella more thoroughly. I do know that she married Morris Benas who just happened to be a brother of Goldie Benas. That name probably doesn’t mean much to too many people but one of Goldie’s sons was Sigmund Levy, my paternal grandfather who married Bertha’s daughter, Loraine. I would be willing to bet that Bella and Morris were the connection to introducing my grandparents!
Just when you hit a slump a little nugget appears – so now I’m going to follow the headline of the newspaper and take it step by step.