Saturday, May 30, 2015

Family Photos - Christmas and Birthdays

I continue to go through photos, albums, and other family items in order to document things for future generations.  Next up, a family photo album that was stashed away in my parents’ home.  To read part 1, click here.

The next page of the photo album shows us sitting with Santa.  Although we were raised Jewish, my mother just couldn't bear to leave Santa out of our lives.

Santa's Two Dolls
This was right about my 2nd birthday.

Santa Claus is Coming

Which one is Cary

Ha!  I think my dad's captions are almost as cute as the photos.

Merry Xmas

My mom used to tell me that she hated the letter I.  I'm not sure what the letter I ever did to her but this spelling of my name, Debbe, must have been her attempt to wipe it out of our lives.  She must have been crushed when I changed the spelling to Debi in about the 7th grade.

And then came my sister's birthday in April, 1957, along with a friend, Doug Montgomery.  

Cary's Party

Doug Montgomery's Party

Oh boy, look at that TV!

A helper with the candles
Look at that, it's the original photo of The Greatest Photo Ever Taken in the previous blog post.  It must have been quite an event, and probably pretty costly, to get the photo cropped and printed.  Now we would have it done in seconds.

Young Lady
Sitting Nicely

Wonder what we were laughing at.  Maybe we were reminiscing about The Greatest Photo Ever Taken.  

Looking behind

A big grin
Cary's Party

WAIT - what?  It looks like I'm opening the present while my sister, the birthday girl, looks on.  Was I one of THOSE kids?

And on to another Christmas.

Xmas Carolers
I think my dad must have some dates wrong because last time I showed this picture which was dated 1956 - looks like I'm in the same clothes.  I can't imagine I would have been wearing the same size one year later.

In other news, I was able to confirm where the photo of my parents at Comstock Bonanza (from part 1) was taken.

I wrote to the Virginia City Tourism Commission and asked about the photo and received this reply.

Yes, this was in Virginia City, the tour was of the old Occidental Mine off State Route 341 two miles off C Street, our main drag.  This was the first mine tour that we know of in Virginia City.  It was bought by a private citizen and opened up in the early 1950s.

And the she asked ME if I had any more photos!  You just never know what you have that might be of interest to others.

Monday, May 25, 2015

In Memoriam – William J. Brooks


William J. Brooks was my 2nd Great Grandfather and is the closest ancestor I know to have been killed in the line of duty.  On this Memorial Day, I honor him and his service to our country.

William J. Brooks, son of Bartlett Brooks and Monima Williams, was born in South Carolina in 1835.  He married Sarah Jane Miller (1836-1923) and together they had four children – Albert Preston (1857-1935), John B (1859-1935?), Frances Maria (1860-1936), and William W. (1862-1934).  On July 1, 1862, shortly after William W. was born, William enlisted for a 3 year term in Co. G, 3rd Regt., So. Carolina Volunteers in Columbia, South Carolina.

Battle of Fredericksburg

I don’t know much about William’s service in the Civil War until his company, commanded by Captain R.P. Todd, entered the conflict at Fredericksburg, Virginia where 163 men, including William, were killed.  Killed.  December 13, 1862.  Died in a hospital.  And that’s about all I know.  I don’t know how, I don’t know when, I don’t know exactly where.  All I know is killed.

Which might be all Sarah knew when she met with the War Department on February 10, 1863 in order to secure the money that William never received for serving his country.  5 months and 13 days fighting for his country which netted Sarah a grand total of $98.13.  Four small children, one of whom was my Great Grandmother, to raise with $98.13. 

I do know that Sarah came from an affluent family so I doubt that she was homeless but I can’t imagine the heartache and trials she faced as she went on with her life.  As the story goes (correct me if I’m wrong, cousin Terry) William left his pocket watch with his friend, John H. Anderson, and asked that it be delivered to his wife, Sarah, in the event of his death.  A romance blossomed between the two and they ended up marrying and having three more children.

William J. Brooks is buried in Dials Cemetery, Laurens County, South Carolina.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Family Photos

I continue to try to go through photos, albums, and other family items in order to document things for future generations.  Next up, a family photo album that was stashed away in my parents’ home.  It doesn’t look too exciting from the outside – just a plain album.

But open up the cover and the early years of my family start to unfold.  My plan is to go through the album page by page and document every photo. 

Someone took a lot of time and care in putting together the front page.  I’m guessing this art work was completed by my older sister – she has always been the artistic one of the bunch. ;-)

And then the photos start and, fortunately, my dad did a good job of providing captions and dates for the photos.  This is the first page in its entirety so you can get a flavor of how he mounted the photos with mounting corners (there is even a supply left for me inside the front cover of the album) and captioned them with silver ink on the black pages.

Here’s a close up of the photo – I’m the little one on my mother’s lap.

Page 1 - The 3 Girls - May 1955 - Quite a Family
The 3 Girls
May 1955
Quite a Family

The next page has a few random shots. 

Page 2 - Our Mommy
Our Mommy

Page 2 - Our Mommy June 1956
Our Mommy
June 1956

This one cracks me up.  Maybe I was stunned that my sister was spitting on the cake?

Page 2 - Greatest Picture Ever Taken - Carys 5th birthday - 1957
The Greatest Picture Ever Taken
Cary’s 5th birthday

On to the next page – these seem a bit out of order.

Page 3 - Carys 4th Birthday 1956
Cary’s 4th Birthday

That is my sister at the head of the table.  Look at the little blonde guy blowing on his party favor.

Page 3 - On the Capitol Steps 1956
On the Capitol steps

Check out my curly hair – that didn’t last long!  This would have been in Sacramento, California.

Page 3 - Chris Kringle and Friends 1956
Chris Kringle & Friends

We both look pretty excited to be holding hands with St. Nick.

Page 3 - The Gold Miners 1956
The Gold Miners

WAIT JUST A MINUTE!  When we were scanning all of the slides we ran across this photo – I smile every time I see it (which is daily since we printed a copy and have it sitting next to our TV).

My beautiful picture

Is this the same place?  I think it could be!  My best guess at this point is that it is some place in Virginia City, Nevada so I’ve written to the Historical Society in the area and asked if they could give me any information on it.  Hopefully they’ll have something to share with me – stay tuned.

I hope you’ll join me over the next few weeks/months as I continue to go through the family photo album.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A to Z Blog Challenge: What I Remember – Part 3

For the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of bloggers posting as part of the A to Z Blog Challenge.  From the website the challenge began in 2010 and the challenge was this:   Can you post every day except Sundays during the month of April?  And to up the bar, can you blog thematically from A to Z?

I never took the challenge, even though it looked interesting and I enjoyed reading many of the posts.  So this year I’m doing my own abbreviated challenge – What I Remember from A to Z.  And I won’t do it daily, or even complete it in April, but will condense it into several posts.  You can read Part 1 and 2 here and here.
S = Stubblefield Sisters

Often times when we’d stay with Grandma and Grandpa in Fresno, we’d visit with their next door neighbors, the Stubblefield sisters.  That’s all we knew about them – the Stubblefield sisters.  I do remember that at one point in Dad’s life, one of them was his elementary school teacher but since they were both teachers, I’m not sure which one was his.  I don’t know for sure but I think this may be them with my Grandmother (right).

My beautiful picture

I knew that neither had ever been married so I decided to research them a bit and see what I could find.

The oldest was Ethel Lacy Stubblefield, born 31 Oct 1897 in New York and died 4 Nov 1978 in San Francisco County.  Hmm, my grandmother didn’t die until 1982 so she would have known Ethel died but I don’t remember anyone ever speaking about it.  The younger sister was Gertrude Scott Stubblefield, born 2 Nov 1903 in Oklahoma and died 7 Nov 1996 in Santa Clara County.  Geez, that time period from October 31 to November 7 was quite a week in the Stubblefield’s lives!  They were what looks like the only children of James S. Stubblefield and Verna W. Lacy.

I’ve thought about these two sisters on so many occasions and always wondered what happened to them and why they never married.  And how sad it is now that they are pretty much lost to the world since there are probably not too many people out there looking for them.  Maybe someday someone will find my blog and realize that they were an important part of my grandparents’ lives and, thus, ours as well.

Ethel and Gertrude are buried together in Los Gatos Memorial Park which is, coincidentally, just a few short miles from where I grew up and my parents lived until their deaths.

photo from

T = TV

There is so much to say about TV and how far they’ve come in my lifetime (no comment about just how long that is).

My first memory of TV was black and white when the only way to turn it on/off or change the station was to – GASP! – get up off the couch and do the work for yourself.

Photo by smidge girl

Then color TVs made an appearance and life began to change.  My grandparents were the first in our family to buy a color TV and we always loved to be at their house on Sunday nights to watch Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.  Not only was the show in color, but before the show started NBC showed the peacock IN COLOR which left us awestruck.  And then one of our neighbors got a color TV so we could go to their house and watch some of the few programs which were shown in color.

Some of my favorites:

3305829885_29e6109c33_o Carol Burnett
I Love Lucy
photo by
Carol Burnett Show
photo by The Bees Knees Daily

5527100796_318c177e93_o 2131042026_6c16f1e063_o
photo by
Mr. Memphis1982
The Dick Van Dyke Show
photo by

U = Uncle Rob

Most people have lots of aunts and uncles but in my family, they were few and far between.  My mom had no siblings (unless you count the two half-siblings that she never met) so no aunts or uncles there.  And my dad just had one brother and, ultimately, his wife so all I had was one uncle and one aunt.

But what an uncle he was!  Uncle Rob (or Robo or Bobo) was quite a character and he and Dad were both so devoted to each other all through the years.  Uncle Rob was quite the jokester – he loved to tell corny jokes and I’m sure we heard the same ones over and over again.  But, sadly, now I can’t remember a single one of them.

I think this is my favorite childhood photo of Dad and Rob together – I came across it many, many years ago and have had it hanging on my wall all these years.

Rob & Gordon Levy 12_1930
Robert and Gordon Levy
December, 1930

Rob and Dad were both in the military – Rob was an officer.  We always laugh that there are so many pictures in our family of people shaking hands – this one doesn’t disappoint.

Robert and Gordon Levy
July 15, 1943

I can remember when I was pretty young that Rob had a brain tumor removed and while I don’t remember too many of the specifics, I do remember how worried and anxious Dad was for the surgery to be over and to learn that his brother was going to be around for many years to come.  Unfortunately, the surgery left Rob with some medical issues and he had difficulty walking from that point forward.

Rob came to Seattle in 1996 for a visit and we went to lunch (or was it dinner?) down the street from one of the most popular attractions, Pike Place Market.

Rob 1996
Robert Levy
September, 1996

After we finished our meal, we took a slow walk to cover the block or so to the Market.  For anyone who has been to the Market, you know what I’m talking about when I say there are always quite a few characters around – typically pretty harmless but a little unsettling when you’re taking that slow walk with a disabled person.  One very odd individual approached us, made some random comment, and it was at that moment that I thought to myself “how in the heck am I going to be able to protect my uncle?”.  Fortunately, the guy must have figured we were too easy of a target and not too challenging and left pretty quickly to go bother someone else and I realized it was time to get back to the car and get out of there!

V = Vacation

We were pretty fortunate that Mom & Dad took us on many vacations.  We went to Hawaii a couple of times and I remember on one trip our tour guide was Nelson Waikiki – what a character he was.  His favorite name for me was Miss Daybie

Since we lived only about 400 miles from Disneyland, we visited there a few times.  We would climb in the car and make the long drive, often times with a stop for Andersen’s Split Pea Soup in Buellton.  There were just a few “E” ticket rides in those days and I still remember some of the attractions that have long since been retired.

One of the most treasured trips was our visit to Washington D.C., New York City, and Williamsburg, Virginia.  I don’t remember too many specifics as far as traveling there but I do remember some of the sights.  At the time Norman Mineta was a U.S. Congressman serving San Jose so we were able to visit with him.  I also remember how hot it was when we were in NY and at one point we had to take salt pills so we wouldn’t get dehydrated.  One of the cousins I just re-found reminded me that we met them when we were there – they lived in San Francisco so I don’t know if it was planned or just coincidence that we were there at the same time.

And Las Vegas was a favorite.  My grandparents loved the city so several times Mom & Dad would travel with them and we were able to tag along.  I can remember standing outside the windows at the casinos looking inside while Mom & Dad were inside gambling.  And shows!  Grandma and Grandpa loved the shows so a few times we went along.  The most exciting show, and their favorite performer, was seeing Liberace.  Now I realize that probably doesn’t seem too exciting but on this occasion his opening act was a new singer and boy could she sing!  Just a newcomer that no one had ever heard of by the name of Barbra Streisand.

My beautiful picture
Gordon, Gerry, Sig, Loraine Levy

W = Wilt

We didn’t know too many of our grandparents’ siblings (family rifts will do that) but we did spend time with Grandma Loraine’s only sibling, Wilt Gunzendorfer.  I’m not sure I really understood how we were related until I was in my teens – do we ever really think about our grandparents having a little brother?

My beautiful picture
Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy and Wilton Gunzendorfer
c. 1980

During my childhood Wilt and his wife lived in Beverly Hills, I think either next door or around the corner from Jack Benny.  They also had a cute little bird (parakeet?) who would look into the stainless salt shaker and chatter away. 

X = Xanthic

I know you’ve been worried about how I would address a memory starting with an X.  Believe me, I was too.  But I was able to come up with the word Xanthic which means of or relating to yellow or yellowish color.  Yellow has always been my favorite color so I should probably just stop there.  But I do have another, albeit unpleasant, memory relating to yellow.

My grandmother, Clara, smoked quite heavily when we were kids.  I’m sure the endless hot summer days working with the eggs were boring so maybe that’s why she took up smoking.  But what I remember is that her fingers always had a yellow hue to them from the unfiltered cigarettes she, undoubtedly, smoked.  Of course in those days people didn’t have the knowledge and education that they have today so looking back, it didn’t seem too odd that she smoked.  In fact, Mom smoked in our early childhood, as well.  And somewhere along the line without any fanfare (at least that I can remember) they both quit and I never thought about it again.

Maybe not a great memory but at least we all learned a new word.


Dad was involved in so many service organizations but one that was very close to his heart was the YMCA.  One of the best parts about his participation in the organization, at least to me, was the wonderful times we spent at the YMCA Camp Campbell in Boulder Creek.

Camp Campbell offered family camps and we went for a week every summer and a weekend in the spring – what a blast!  There was so much to do – folk dancing, canoeing, hiking, swimming, horseshoes.  It was a time when kids could run off and be kids and parents could sit back in the mess hall and be adults.  Sure wouldn’t happen like that today.

I don’t remember too many specifics about events at camp but these photos have helped jog some memories about Crazy Hat Night.

Camp Campbell 1
What the heck?

Camp Campbell 2
Sisters – and funny hats!

While I have so many wonderful memories of camp, one not so wonderful memory has been with me all these years.  We were on one of our weekend trips and my friend, Linda Frye, and I were allowed to go on a hike with the big kids – we must have been about 7.  We followed along behind them and in an instant, we were alone.  Just two little girls in the woods not sure of how to get back to camp.  We wandered around for what seemed like days (it was probably about 2 hours) when we finally came to a road and started walking.  Fortunately it wasn’t too long before we came to a house, knocked on the door, and a couple of guys (men? teenagers? boys?) came to our rescue.  They drove us back to camp and the minute we drove up, the giant bell that signaled a meal started chiming as they were announcing to the rest of the camp that we were back!

Z = Zwieback Toast

I remember my kids loved these and would suck on them and gum them for hours.  They would get all mushy and before we knew it, they were covered in mush and needed a bath.  Do they even make this stuff anymore?

Thanks for following this journey with me of Things I Remember!