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


  1. I love this! Pet names are so fun to discover -- calling Sig "Boy" is just too cute for words. My grandfather used to call my grandmother "Old Woman" and it always made me mad.

  2. Debi,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  3. I loved reading these letters just as I loved reading the diary. And, your little comments definitely add to the fun! I'm so glad you have been sharing these. Thank you!