Saturday, January 31, 2015

Are you ready for some football?

Here in the great Northwest, we ARE ready for some football!  The region is abuzz with excitement and everywhere we turn we are reminded of a really big game to be played tomorrow.

I come from a long line of sports enthusiasts.  My parents were always big sports fans, although they followed college much more than professional sports.  And not just any college but their beloved Stanford Cardinal (formerly Stanford Indians).  What a thrill to go to the 1971 Rose Bowl (Stanford vs. Ohio State) with Mom & Dad – I’m sure they were so excited to watch their team!

The morning of the game, we were lucky enough to have tickets to see the Rose Parade.  Sure anyone could go but we actually had bleacher tickets so were able to sit down and watch the floats pass by.  Too bad we were behind a light post!

My beautiful picture

And our favorite hometown (San Jose) boy, Jim Plunkett, was the starting quarterback that day.  What a thrill to not just watch the team play, but to see them defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes 27-17!

My beautiful picture

The Stanford Band has always been a kick to watch.  So much fun that Dad took some pictures of them.

My beautiful picture

Even though Dad was a track star in high school and college, he passed on his love of football to his three kids.  Looks like little brother gave the sport a whirl!

My beautiful picture

And while the girls tried our hands at Powder Puff football (thankfully, no pictures have been discovered of that yet), our real claim to fame was cheerleading at the high school games.

My beautiful picture
My sister Cary, second from left

My beautiful picture
I may not have played football, but I did fall in love with a football player and am still married to him today.  Here we are in 1972 after a big game.

Debi_Ron 1972

I don’t think my dad ever played competitive football but he played enough to have a few photos taken on Christmas Day, 1927 when he was almost 11 years old.

Xmas Day 1937

Football Xmas Day 1937

So get out the snacks and park yourselves in front of the TV tomorrow.  And don’t forget to root for your favorite team.  Go Seahawks!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy birthday, Loraine!

My grandmother, Loraine Gunzendorfer, was born 119 years ago today, January 20, 1896.  Sadly, she has been gone since 1982 but I feel like I know her 1000% better today than I did back then.  I am so thankful that she left bread crumbs about her life and I feel so honored she entrusted me to share her life with her family and anyone else who would listen.

I recently thumbed through my photos to refresh my memory on what was here when I ran across this photo of Loraine.

Sweet 16 post card front

I remember thinking she was always an old woman and I never really thought about her life as a child.  But having spent the last several years really getting to know her and discovering so many pictures of her, I have a new appreciation for just how beautiful she was.  And I don’t think I’ve seen too many photos of her without that beautiful smile on her face.

So the photo above wasn’t too different – a beautiful young woman with a big smile on her face.  But what else did this tell me?  And then I turned it over and saw this.

Sweet 16 post card

Looks like this was Loraine’s “Sweet Sixteen” photo.  Sure she was closing in on 17 but someone (by the look of the handwriting I’d say it was her father) deemed this the perfect photo to declare as her “Sweet Sixteen” photo.  And then he had the wherewithal to make a postcard out of it.

I’m not sure what the intended use of these photo postcards was but my guess is that they were used to distribute to friends and family.  Maybe it was an early version of a senior picture?  Whatever it is, I’m glad to have it!

Happy birthday, Grandma!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A new clue!

Last week I showed a photo of two people, whom I believe to be my grandmother, Loraine Gunzendorfer, and some mystery man.  You can read it here.  In order to get everything combined, here is the photo in question.

Loraine in front of house

My dad was an avid photographer and always had a camera around his neck.  And he always, always took slides.  And then he’d put them in to the old Kodak carousels and there they would sit,in most cases never to be seen again.  After Dad died in 2005, we always knew that at some point we’d have to tackle those slides, as well as the reels and reels of movies, but I don’t think any of us could face it.  Fast forward to 2013 when Mom died and we were faced with the daunting task of cleaning out the home they’d lived in for over 55 years.  And it was then that the reality of those thousands of slides and movie reels hit us in the face.  What to do?  The good news is that technology had improved considerably between 2005 and 2013 so we were pretty sure we could handle this task by ourselves.  So my husband and I packed our van with slides, and the reels of film left with my brother, and off we went. 

Thanks to the Technology for Genealogists Facebook page, I received many, many recommendations for a small scanner that could handle the task.  And thankfully, my husband was anxious to get those old carousels out of the garage so he tackled the project.  The rule was if there were no people in the picture, out they’d go – and we still had over 1,000 slides to scan.

I’m not sure if my dad just wasn’t a great photographer or the years had taken a toll on the slides but for the most part, they were so dark you could barely see them.  I spent some time lightening them up but it became an overwhelming task and I put it aside for months.  Until yesterday when a cousin on my mom’s side sent me a photo of my great grandmother standing next to her sister (thanks again, Kris!) and my interest in old photos was piqued again.  I was flipping through the slides to determine what was there when I ran across this photo of Loraine and my grandfather, Sig Levy.

My beautiful picture

Nice picture but WAIT - look at those stone posts.  Something looked very familiar about this house.  Could it be???

Loraine in front of house cropped My beautiful picture

Look closely – it is the same house!  Which tells me that this was a very, very special house in Loraine’s life for her to have gone back years later and posed for a picture with her husband.  And since her parents lived in the same house at 430 (later 456) Pacific Street in Monterey for close to 40 years, my hunch is that this is the house!  But how cool would it be to have a photo of your son in front of the house you grew up in?  I’d say pretty darned cool!

My beautiful picture
Gordon Levy

Based on the age of those in the later photos, I’d guess this to be in the mid to late 1950’s.  Which is somewhere around the time that the house was demolished to make way for the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies, now the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Certainly not a slam dunk but the clues are leading me back to Pacific Street in Monterey!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Who is this Mystery Man?

It started with this photo.

Loraine in front of house

Nice home but I don’t know where it is/was or who it belonged to.  But wait, could that be my grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer, in front?  A closer look.

Loraine in front of house cropped

Looks like it!  I can tell by the way she’s standing – she sort of puts her head forward.

Loraine Xmas 1912
Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer
c. 1912

So now that I’ve figured that out, who is the mystery man with her?  I’m leaning towards that being her dad, Abraham Gunzendorfer.  Look at this photo of the two of them, along with her mother, Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer.

Abe_Birdie_Loraine c 1919
Abe, Bertha, Loraine Gunzendorfer
c. 1919

It could be him!  Unfortunately, it could also be lots of other people.  Her brother?  A beau?  Could it be their home in Monterey which was located at 430 Pacific Street?  Or the later address of 456 Pacific Street?  Were 430 and 456 the same place just with a revised house number?

So many questions from just one little picture.  If I could just figure out who the mystery man is it might help me figure out where they are.  One picture always brings so many questions.  Sigh.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

More Details About a Wedding

I just can’t get enough of reading newspaper accounts of my ancestors’ weddings,  There is always so much to learn, especially when the article is filled with names of the bridal party, parents and guests.  And if there is enough detail, you can almost picture exactly what it looked like.  Or as my dad would have said “now I can visualize it”. 

So even though I've previously read and blogged about the engagement and wedding of my great grandparents, Bertha “Birdie” Schwartz and Abraham “Abe” Gunzendorfer, I couldn't get over the amount of information in this article from a Santa Cruz newspaper (Santa Cruz Sentinel?) on or about 9 Sep 1894 that I found stashed in the boxes of stuff my grandmother held on to all these years.

Stylish Wedding 9 Sep 1894 page 1
Stylish Wedding 9 Sep 1894 page 2

How ‘bout that – it was A Stylish Wedding!  Not just stylish but also filled with so many interesting facts.

I’d read about the bridal party in another article but this had new information.  Where before I only knew the Flower Girl and Ring Bearer were her niece and nephew, this goes on to say that they were Hazel Steen, daughter of Samuel and Rachel (Letter) Steen, and Colemann (Colman) Schwartz, the son of Louis and Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz.  Samuel was the brother of Rebecca Schwartz, Birdie’s mother, and Colman was Birdie’s brother.  Both children would have been about 10 at the time of the wedding. 

Colman Schwartz 1890
Colman Schwartz
c. 1890

I knew that the bridesmaids were Dena Steen (sister of Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz and Birdie’s aunt), and Jennie and Bella Steen (daughters of Jacob and Pauline (Jacobson) Steen and Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz’ cousins), but the mention of Grace Barnet is new information.  Grace graduated with Birdie from Santa Cruz High School in 1890.  I’ve tried to find ancestors of Grace but from what I can tell, she never married so doesn’t seem to have left too many ancestors behind.  I need to ramp up my search.

The groomsmen were Chas. Berg (not sure who this is), M. A. Steen (Meyer Steen, brother of Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz and Birdie’s Uncle), Adolf Gunzendorfer (Abe’s brother), and Milton Schwartz (Birdie’s brother).

Schwartz Milton 2_28_1894
Milton Harry Schwartz
28 Feb 1894

Rabbi Jacob Nieto was a well known Rabbi in the area and much has been written about him and his importance to the Jewish community at the time.

Rabbi Nieto
Rabbi Jacob Nieto
photo courtesy of Magnes Museum

Many toasts and telegrams were read, a few of which seem so very sentimental based on the author.

“Cause and effect, responsibility of the cause; we desire his apologies for bringing us here, F. Gunzendorfer”  I’m not quite sure what this means but this was Ferdinand Gunzendorfer, Abe’s father and my 2nd great grandfather.

Our Birdie, she has flown into a cage; let us hope that she will be an exception to the rule that those who are in want to get out, Joe Schwartz”  Joe was Birdie’s older brother.

“Present at her birth, witness of her childhood, participant at her festivities, J. Steen”  I would like to think J. Steen was Joseph Steen, Birdie’s maternal grandfather, but since he died in 1866 this can’t be him.  So I’m guess it is Jacob Steen, Joseph’s brother.

Steen Jacob c 1880
Jacob Steen
c. 1880

Another uncle, thoughtful and humorous, Sam Steen”  Samuel was Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz’ brother and Birdie’s uncle.

A good example well set should be followed, J. Guzendorfer”.  “The only bachelor left, may he soon join the Benedicts, Adolph Gunzendorfer”  These were two of Abe’s brothers, Adolph and Jacob.  No mention of his oldest brother, Gustave Gunzendorfer.  Was he there?

Several Barnet family members were mentioned.  S. Barnet (Grace’s father, Samuel), Z. Barnet (Grace’s brother, Zacharius), Bertha and Emma Barnet (Grace’s sisters), H. Barnet (Herman, Grace’s brother).  It makes me think that the Barnet family must have been very close to Birdie and, perhaps, the entire Schwartz family.  Santa Cruz was a pretty small town back then and since the Jewish population was probably quite small, it makes sense that everyone worshipped together and were close friends.

Whenever I think of this beautiful affair, it saddens me to know that Birdie’s father, Louis Schwartz, died in 1893 so wasn't able to see his only daughter marry.  I wonder if her older brother, Joseph, walked her down the aisle or maybe one of her many uncles.  No matter who it was, I can imagine Birdie had an emptiness without her father.

I’m so thankful I ran across this article - I think it’s becoming apparent that I come from a very, very long line of packrats.