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

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The house built for Louis Schwartz

I last wrote here about the home of my 2nd great grandparents, Ferdinand and Fannie (Goldstein) Gunzendorfer.  What fun it is to see the homes our ancestors lived in and imagine what life was like for them.

So to continue on with the house theme, here is the home of another set of 2nd great grandparents, Louis and Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz. 

Schwartz House

The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture, by John Leighton Chase, described the house in Santa Cruz in about 1970:  “Schwartz lived in the symmetrical clapboarded, story-and-a-half house at 222 Mission Street.  The main feature of the design is a steep central gable, containing a pedimented window inset with carving, and a crisp sawn-wood Gothic bargeboard.  The original portico has been removed.  The front door is similar to that of 207 Mission Street, and there are box cornices above the windows.”

Sounds like the house!  If you look closely at the house above, you can see Louis standing in the front behind the fence.  And I’m fairly certain the girl on the left is my great grandmother, Bertha “Birdie” Schwartz Gunzendorfer. 

Schwartz House close up

Again from The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture, I also learned a little bit about the two houses next door.  “214 and 218 Mission Street are two clapboarded, storey-and-a-half cottages built for Louis Schwartz in 1867.  They have Chinese-railed porches across the front and sawn-wood brackets in their gables.” 

And look at this, I have pictures of those houses, too!  I believe one or more of the three sons lived in those houses at one time.

Schwartz Tuttle Mathews House

And a close up to see Louis and the kids again.

Schwartz Tuttle Mathews House close up

This home had some special moments throughout the years, many of which I know about for certain and some that I can only assume.

In 1872, Birdie was born and since the family was living in the home at that time, I would bet she was born in that home.  Several, if not all, of the other children were also probably born in that home.

In 1880, Louis and Rebecca celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary and just four years later, they held a party celebrating Birdie’s 12th birthday.

By 1888, the house was enlarged when two rooms were added.

Another anniversary party for Louis and Rebecca was held in 1890 – this time for their silver wedding anniversary.

After Louis’ death in 1893, Rebecca lived alone while the youngest children completed high school at Santa Cruz High School.  And a year later, the grand event of the marriage of Birdie Schwartz and Abraham Gunzendorfer was held.  I sure wish there were some photos of that day!

The December 29, 1895 edition of the Santa Cruz Sentinel describes Birdie traveling from Monterey to Santa Cruz to visit her mother.  Since my grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer, was born on January 20, 1896  in Santa Cruz, I like to think that Birdie was visiting while she waited for the birth of her first child and that my grandmother was also born in that home.  It seems like it would make sense that Birdie would want her mother to be with her to help.

By 1897, Rebecca had moved to Oakland and the house on Mission Street was rented and later sold. 

Fortunately, the house still stands today.  During a trip to Santa Cruz a few years ago, we were able to take a drive down busy Mission Street and so that I could see it for myself!

222 Mission Street

My mother was with us and had always remembered that there was a little studio in the back of the house where Birdie did her art work.  I wish I’d had the guts to knock on the door that day.  

Last year I finally got up my courage and sent a letter to the current occupants of the   house - imagine my surprise when an e-mail arrived from them just a few days later!  They told me that the lot had been subdivided into four smaller lots and modern homes had been built on the lots in 1990.  And, sadly, the little art studio was no longer standing.  I shared the photos above and they graciously shared some photos with me of the painting project they had recently completed.

It is so much fun to see where our ancestors lived, especially when the homes are still standing.  I still have a few more to share – stay tuned!