Sunday, August 20, 2017

Eclipse Fever

There is so much talk about the eclipse tomorrow – people are flooding into the areas of totality, special glasses have flown off the shelves long ago, and there is great interest in what our animals will experience as day turns into night.  Here in my area, we’re expecting about a 92% eclipse.  The last total eclipse in the Seattle area?  1979.  The last total eclipse that spanned the country?  June 8, 1918.  I wonder what the excitement was like nearly 100 years ago as they prepared for the eclipse in a time without social media and instant access to information.

I’ve heard that in 2017, animal shelters are providing special glasses for pets.  Is there a danger that a dog would look directly at the sun to take a peek?  Did they provide special glasses in 1918?  Was this dog, perhaps, getting ready for the eclipse in 1918?

Smoking DogPhoto by Abraham Gunzendorfer, Monterey, California

The path of the 1918 eclipse started south of Japan, went across the Pacific Ocean, and then across the United States. The largest city to see totality was Denver although many could theoretically see it as the size of the shadow was between 70 and 44 miles across as it travelled across America. The longest duration of totality was in the Pacific at a point south of Alaska. The path of the eclipse finished near Bermuda.  From wikepedia

My family was in California (Fresno, Monterey, Santa Cruz) at that time and I wondered what they were hearing and seeing.  Big newspapers of that time were in San Francisco and Oakland and from what I found with a quick search, much like today there was a lot of hype about the upcoming event.

There was a pretty good description of what to expect on page 4 of the June 7, 1918 edition of the Oakland Tribune.

Oakland Tribune 6_7_1918, page 4

Looks like they were anticipating a 79% shadow in the Bay Area.  Lots of excitement for an event that would last somewhere between 45 seconds and 2 minutes.  Hope my ancestors had their smoked glass ready!

And on the day of the eclipse, June 8, 1918, the San Francisco Chronicle got people even more excited with more information on page 3.

San Francisco Chronicle 6_8_1918, page 3

I can just imagine people standing together with their glasses on.  No instant communication back then – you either saw it or you didn’t.  Tomorrow I imagine many of us will be streaming it into the comfort of our own home.

Eclipse glasses

And the day after brought us more pictures as seen here from page 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle, June 9, 1918.

San Francisco Chronicle 6_9_1918, page 1

What an exciting time that must have been.  And then it hit me – I have letters that my grandparents wrote back and forth to each other in 1918.  Could they have talked about the eclipse in their letters?

A quick scan of Loraine’s and I found nothing of interest.  But there in the box of letters from Sig to Loraine waiting to be transcribed, his letter of Sunday, June 9, 1918 caught my eye.

After some sweet nothings and explanation of how business was going, he got to this:

"Did you see the eclipse of the sun yesterday.  It was absolutely perfect down this way.  I looked at it through smoked glass – you know we only see that once every hundred years so I guess you and I won’t see many of them.”

So he was right – they didn’t see any together.  But did they ever in their wildest imaginations envision their grandchildren, great grandchildren, and even great great grandchildren experiencing one a century later?

Enjoy the eclipse tomorrow and if you’re planning to watch in person, be sure to wear your special glasses (if, in fact, you were actually able to score some).

Saturday, August 19, 2017

National Aviation Day - 2017

Who knew there is a National Aviation Day, which falls on Orville Wright’s birthday, August 19?  It was established in 1939 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to encourage interest in aviation in the United States.

I’ve learned that my grandfather, Sig Levy, had a fascination with aviation.  He was training to be a Flying Cadet in 1918 when the war came to an end.  And through his scrapbooks, I’ve found more evidence of his fascination.  I wrote about Glenn Martin HERE after finding some interesting things in Sig’s scrapbook.  And then about Lincoln Beachey HERE

So in honor of National Aviation Day today, I went through some boxes to see what I could find in the way of photos of flying machines.  First up, Sig Seeing San Francisco!

Sig Seeing San Francisco 1913

This is a postcard with a postmark (actually two postmarks) of June 10, 1913.  But in another place it shows it came from the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915.  Plus it clearly says 1915 on the flag above San Francisco.  So not sure where 1913 comes from.  Anyway, that’s Sig driving on the left – not sure who the young lad is with him.

I’m not sure what to make of the large manilla envelope filled with 8x10 glossys of airplanes I found in his things.  But a couple of them stood out for me.

Maybe this photo fascinated him because of the mention of Flying Cadets.

Flying Cadets Witness Aerial Demonstration Randolph Field TX

Flying Cadets Witness Aerial Demonstration

Flashing overhead in wave after wave, 250 low wing monoplanes of the Gulf Coast Air Corps Training Center at Randolph Field, Texas, recently demonostrated the might of Uncle Sam’s expanding air force to 25,000 spectators and the 900 future pilots, now in training at the “West Point of the Air.”  An involuntary cheer went up from the Flying Cadets, formed in ranks along the field’s edge as veteran flying instructors flashed across the airdome wing tip to wing tip.  The occasion ---- gala press preview of “I Wanted Wings,” motion picture of Flying Cadet Life, made in cooperation with the Air Corps.  3-26-41

Another one from Randolph Field.

Prized Skyships

Prized Skyships in the Hands of Experts

There’s an old saying in the Cavalry, “The horse eats, drinks, and sleeps before the soldier.”  While the Flying Cadet of Randolph Field, Texas, the U.S. Army’s huge basic training school, has a sleek, high-powered low-winged monoplane for his mount, it gets the same loving care.  Only the most skilled mechanics can approach one of these swift trainers, to keep it in shape for its hours in the air.  Here the carefully trained men check over the basic trainers after a day of flying, pump in gas and oil before “bedding it down” in the hangar for the night, tuned up and ready for another day of perfect performance.  11-23-40

This shows passengers and equipment being loaded onto a Douglas Transport, C-39, Selfridge Field, Michigan.  Not sure why this might have been important to him, other than because it is a plane because heaven knows, he didn’t have enough photos of planes (I’m sparing readers the other 50 or so that I have with no identification).

Douglas Transport C39 Selfridge Field MI

Skipping ahead a few years, I found a couple of photos of interest from the scrapbook my dad kept (yes, he scrapbooked too) during his time in Europe as World War II was ending.

Dad captioned this Gen. Spaatz comes to call.  And from the dates of other photos, I know this is 1946.

Gen Spastz come to call 1946

That would be Gen. Carl Andrew Spaatz, 1891-1974.

And he captioned this one Gen.. Carl Spaatz, then commanding the USAF, and Colonel Stewart bid each other fond goodbyes.  “Well, Tooey….”

Gen Spastz and Colonel Stewart 1946

Turns out Gen. Spaatz’ nickname was Tooey.

This photo of the United Airlines plane was in my dad’s slides.  At first I thought I could be the girl in the back with what could have been my brother in front of me.  But as I look closer I’m wondering if the man at the back of the line is my dad and I’m the little one in front of him. 

My beautiful picture

If that’s true, this could have been from about 1960 when we flew to Las Vegas.  I have a horrible memory of flying into Las Vegas with severe turbulence.  I remember getting so sick that I um, um, you know….got sick all over my clothes.  When we finally landed mom got me out of my clothes and wrapped me in one of the wool blankets that the airlines provided.  Wool?  In Las Vegas?  I just remember feeling mortified as I was led through the airport WRAPPED IN A BLANKET so that we could get to the restroom and get my clothes changed.  So maybe this was the plane.

What’s this?  Mom at Kemayoran Airport?  I’d never heard of it before so looked it up – it was the principal airport in Jakarta, Indonesia from July 8, 1940 to March 31, 1985.  My parents went to Indonesia????

My beautiful picture

In 1986, we headed north for the Expo in Vancouver which featured, coincidentally, transportation and communication.  I’m not sure what happened to the rest of this plane!

Expo 86

Not to forget other modes of aircraft, I came across this photo of a supply helicopter from one of my husband’s fishing expeditions to the Queen Charlotte Islands.  I think I’m happy I wasn’t there.

Supply Helicopter

Okay, so I had to also throw in something that was a little more tame.  Our daughters rocking that plane in 1980.  Seems like just yesterday……..

Erinn and Megan in plane 1980

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Scrapbook #3 – Sig Levy

Time to move on to Scrapbook #3, the next of Sig’s scrapbooks.  I love that he scrapbooked so diligently, especially when he added interesting photos and newspaper articles.  So he started this scrapbook here.

Sig Levy

No question who the scrapbook belongs to and in his own handwriting, he confirmed his date of birth.  I really like this photo of him.

A few other photos on the first page – a couple of which are ones I’ve seen before.  No telling if he added these to the scrapbook because they were his favorite photos or maybe he just had extras.

Sig Kneeling back of house

Sig on phone

This might not have been one of Sig’s favorite photos but it sure is one of mine.  He looks cool as a cucumber as he walks down the street.

Sig Whistling

And then came the newspaper articles.  Interesting to see that the population of Tokyo wasn’t all that much different than it is today.  But North Korea, a country top of mind right now, has gone from a population of 10,089,000 at the end of 1960 to 25.37 million in 2016.

Tokyo Population 1961

Boy have things changed at Coca Cola!  Revenue in 1961 was $500 million compared to $9.702 billion in 2017.

Coca Cola 10_11_1961

I don’t know much about the Sciots organization and nothing about D.A. Deeter, but it was interesting enough in 1961 for Sig to add it to his scrapbook.  Although I will admit that Sig found pretty much everything interesting enough to add to his scrapbook.  Maybe one of Mr. Deeter’s descendants will find my blog.

Sciots Install D A Deeter Fresno Bee 10_22_1961

And, of course, no scrapbook would be complete without some articles about Sig.  I love hearing about his 50th high school reunion – I probably shouldn’t admit that mine is just five short years away.

1906 Fresno High reunion

There were only 16 people attending?  Although that’s a pretty good turnout for a class with only 31 of 46 graduates still living.  I don’t recognize any of the names mentioned.

Fresno High Reunion 1956

And look – an article with a photo!

Realtors Honored Fresno Bee 10_26_1962

REALTORS HONORED.  C.S. (Doc) Colhouse, past president of the Fresno Realty Board, gives certificates designating these real estate men as honorary presidents.  Left to right, O.S. Fassett, who joined the board in 1922, George Peterson, 1920, and Sigmund Levy, 1912.

No, Sig is not sitting down nor are the others standing on steps. 

And once again he is the proud dad of Robert Levy, my dad’s only sibling.

Rob Levy Separator LA Times 8_1_1955

Come back next time for more from Scrapbook #3.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Machines and roadsters and cars…..Oh my!

While looking through the hundreds of photos I have, I started to notice a theme – CARS!  It seems like my family had a fascination with cars, which I would never have thought much about if it weren’t for these photos.

As I’ve transcribed the letters between my grandparents, I’ve learned that my grandmother referred to this form of transportation as a machine.  I guess when you’re a high school student/young adult in the early 1900’s, it sure must have seemed like a machine.  If only she could see where we’ve come today.

I don’t know the date of this photo but I’m guessing it to be about the “machine” days that Loraine referred to.  If you look closely, I think that might be my grandfather, Sig Levy, in the middle seat on the right side.

Unknown maybe Sig middle right

I have no idea if any of these folks are family members as the only notation on the back says Tire Troubles, by Ben Epstein, 1910.  I found some references to a Ben Epstein in Fresno about that time but without further research, I don’t know how, or even if, he is in some way related to my family.  Even in 1910, someone had a camera ready!

Tire Trouble 1910 by Ben Epstein

This photo is of Loraine’s father, Abraham Gunzendorfer, posing in front of a car.  I think the little guy on his knee is my dad’s brother, Rob.  If I’m right, since Rob was born in November, 1920 this photo must be from about 1921.

Abe_Gunzendorfer Robert_Levy abt 1921

Here’s a handsome car, and one that someone was apparently pretty proud of.  It looks like this could be in front of Abe’s house.

Gunzendorfer Car possible date unknown

What do you think – same house?  I think it is!

Loraine in front of house

I think this looks like the same car in front of a different house.  While my grandmother didn’t tell me the identities of the people in most of these photos, she did tell me the dates.  This is from March 22, 1922.

Mar_16_1922

I think it’s fun to see the people peeking out from inside so, of course, I had to enlarge it to see if I could make out who they were.  Sure enough, that’s Loraine in the passenger seat!  I wish I knew who was in the back – the baby doesn’t look old enough to be Rob as he would have been 17 months at that time. 

Mar_16_1922 cropped

By June 28, 1926, there was a new car to take a photo of.  Nothing here looks familiar – wish I had more details.

Jun_28_1926

Another photo of Abe, this time with his wife, Birdie Schwartz, in front of a car.  Was this another new one?  Unfortunately grandma forgot to date this one for me.

Bertha_Schwartz Abe_Gunzendorfer

By April 5, 1936, Grandma was taking photos in front of a car.  Was this a new car?  And who is the woman with her?  Maybe a cousin or sister-in-law?  I can tell it’s in the back of the house in Fresno my dad grew up in but that’s about it.

Unknown_Loraine 4_5_1936

Christmas Day, 1937 shows Loraine in front of a car – is it the same one as above?  Or, could it have been a Christmas present from Sig?

Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy 12_25_1937

Based on other photos I have with Birdie dressed like this, I think this photo might have been from 1942.  Love that she had her white gloves in her hand!

Bertha Schwartz possibly 1942

This is probably from the same ‘event’ – that’s Abe Gunzendorfer (Loraine’s dad), Gordon Levy (my dad), and Sig Levy (his dad).  This could have been in any number of cities.

Abe_Gunzendorfer Gordon_Levy Sig_Levy 1942

Now who are these lovely ladies?  I do know that’s Loraine on the right and the date was March 12, 1943 but nothing else looks familiar.  But there they are having a laugh in front of a car!

Mar_12_1943 Loraine on right

How about this car?  That’s Loraine driving and since she didn’t go far, this would have to be in Fresno.  I remember having a car like that when I was very little – it makes me wonder if at some point the car was passed down to my parents.

1955

Loraine posing again in the back of their house in Fresno – the photo is dated October 9, 1955.  She looks pretty proud.

Loraine behind Fresno house 10_9_1955

I know nothing about this photo other than that it’s my dad, Gordon Levy.  I don’t know where he is but I’m guessing he’s on vacation somewhere.  And it looks to be the late 1950’s or early 1960’s.  I wish I could see the front of that bag he’s holding but it looks just like the Pan Am bag that was filled with “stuff” that we pulled out of a closet at their home a few years ago. 

Gordon Levy

I’m sure I’ll find more photos with cars and other modes of transportation.  Between that and houses, it seemed like a good back drop for a photo!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Scrapbook #2 – One Proud Dad

One thing I know about my grandfather, Sig Levy, is that he he was so proud of both of his sons.  Oh, I know he was proud of his grandkids, too, but since we were just in our teens when he died, he was never able to know us as adults.

I’ve come to the last page of the scrapbook (with many, many more books to go) and it makes my heart full to see it filled with newspaper articles about Sig’s oldest son, and my uncle, Robert Levy.

Rob and Pat Honeymoon

I’d seen this article from the Fresno Bee Republican, February 21, 1952 on newspapers.com but here it is again glued in Sig’s scrapbook.  It’s always fun to read about weddings and honeymoons!

Rob Research Grant 9_17_1958

I love that Sig, apparently, typed the name and date of the paper – little did he know that it would be important all these years later.

I always thought it was so cool that Rob was a biochemist.  I’m not sure I even completely understand what exactly it is but it seemed so mysterious and important.

Professors Receive Research Aid_Courier Journal Louisville

I know this came from the Louisville Courier Journal but I don’t know the exact date.  I would guess it to be very near the above article so maybe some time in February, 1958.  Thanks to a reader's comments, I've learned that this was published on August 26, 1958 on page 3.

This last article was too large to mount in the scrapbook and difficult to scan so I put it in two parts.  Thankfully, the date and publication was left intact – The Fresno Bee, July 20, 1966.

Rob Fresno Bee_7_20_1966

Boy he looks like my dad here!  And here’s part 2.

Rob Fresno Bee_7_20_1966 Part 2

I’ve run across research that Rob published throughout the years but that will be for a later post.

And that’s the end of Scrapbook #2.  Onward!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Scrapbook #2 – This and That

As we come to the close of the scrapbook (one more page to go), there were several miscellaneous articles and photos of interest.

Sig Levy Bros

I don’t remember the specific office building but the Levy Bros. logo will be etched in my mind for the rest of my life.  I always thought it was cool to have a business with my last name.  This photo of Sig is marked February, 1952 – he looks pretty dapper all dressed up and ready for work.

After the death of his last brother, Ben, on March 4, 1965, Levy Bros. was dissolved and Sig went to the office next door, Pearson Realty, to finish out his career.

Pearson Realty

While the date was not included with the article in the scrapbook, I was able to find it electronically – this is from the Fresno Bee Republican, April 1, 1965.

This article from the Fresno Bee Republican, April 4, 1965, was not included in the scrapbook but I found it interesting and tells a bit more of the story.

Levy Bros firm closes Apr 4 1965 Fresno Bee Republican

The real estate and insurance business was in the family’s blood.  Sig’s oldest brother, Herb, had his son, Herb Jr., follow him into the business.  I don’t know the complete story but I know that at some point, this caused a disagreement between the brothers which, ultimately, led to them parting ways.

I belive this article was from February-March, 1965 – most likely also from The Fresno Bee Republican.

Herb Levy

One last photo really hit home – this photo of Sig’s father, and my great grandfather, Herman Levy.  Years ago I blogged about him HERE and was so pleased to finally determine the identify of the mystery photo I had.  And now I have confirmation again.

Our Dad Herman Levy

I can’t help but think about Sig cutting the photo out in order for it to fit in the scrapbook but I’m sure glad he did!