Sunday, December 3, 2017

It started with a hat

As I was going through things a few weeks ago to prepare for a blog post, I found an interesting little “package”.



Hmmmm, wonder what was inside?



Was that my grandfather’s Shriner’s Hat (or Fez, as they are called)? 

The inside of the hat was stamped with Los Angeles Fraternal Supply Co. (LAFS Co.), 3704 S. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007.  This Fez belongs to ___________________.  It’s blank? 

I found that the LAFS Co. was founded in 1945 and moved from 3704 S. Main Street to Carson, California in 2009 so this could be anyone’s hat.  Of course I don’t know why my grandfather would have saved a hat that wasn’t his but maybe it was my dad’s?

WAIT!  I remembered that Grandpa had sailed to Honolulu for some sort of Shriner’s event in 1949.  In fact, I blogged about it HERE.  And then I remembered I recently found a group picture of a bunch of Shriner’s.  Time to get out my handy dandy Flip Pal scanner and get that photo scanned.

Shriners 4_27_1949 Sig_Loraine

Normally I find my grandparents in the front row (that’s what being about 5’1” to 5’4” will get you but I didn’t see them.  And then I zoomed and found them (circled above).  And then I zoomed in even farther.

Shriners 4_27_1949 Sig_Loraine cropped

Yep, sure enough – that’s them.  But Sig has on a Tehran Fez with Tehran being the Fresno chapter.  There were some other men in the photo wearing Islam Fezzes and as you can see here, a few had on an Aloha or even Hello Fez. 

The notation on the photo says “Luke’s Photo Studio, April 27, 1949, Honolulu” so I have proof that they were there.  In fact, even more proof when I found the passenger list.

Passenger List
Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Honolulu, Hawaii, 1900-1953; (National Archives Microfilm Publication A3422, 269 rolls)

There they are on the last two lines.  And after some further research, I learned that they arrived in Honolulu on April 27, 1949 so the photo was taken on their first day on the island.  What a crowd!

I went through some menus that I had and found what looks to be the last dinner menu from the Lurline on April 26, 1949.



And inside was ‘A word about the subject of the cover painting’.

Dinner Menu 4_27_1949 Message

Since it’s saying Aloha it makes me think this was their final dinner on board.

I also found some menus from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel the first week of May (I also found some from January and March, 1949 which is another mystery I’ve yet to solve) which tells me they stayed for a week or more to enjoy a relaxing vacation.  So I thought I’d look through more passenger lists and see if I could find their return trip and I did!

Passenger List HNL_SFO United Airlines 5_10_1949
Registers of Persons Held for Boards of Special Inquiry at the San Francisco, California, Immigration Office, February 1910-May 1941

WHAT?  They returned to San Francisco by plane?  May 10, 1949, United Airlines #648.  I only remember them traveling to/from Hawaii by sea so I was surprised to find this.  It’s really hard to see but they are on line 21 (Mildred) and 22 (Sigmond).  But their address of 1549 Echo Avenue, Fresno is listed so I know it’s them.  Of course the first thing I thought was how long did it take to make that trip by air in 1949?  And from what I could find, it took 7 hours, 20 minutes as opposed to 5 hours, 5 minutes today.

I don’t think the note above about Persons Held for Boards of Special Inquiry means much but it is an interesting notation.

So back to the hat.  Was it Sig’s?  Or maybe my dad’s?  I’m always so happy when I’m left with bread crumbs but, unfortunately, I didn’t get any this time.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

100 Years Ago – Thanksgiving 1917

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandparents, Loraine Gunzendorfer and Sig Levy, because I have all (or at least most) of the letters they wrote back and forth as they fell in love during the years 1916-1919.  Wow, these are all 100 years old and in such great shape it’s amazing.  So I thought it would be fun to take a look back at Thanksgiving weekend 1917 and read what they had to say to each other.

I knew that the week of Thanksgiving they had spent a few short hours together in Oakland and that Sig returned home to Fresno the day before Thanksgiving, which in 1917 was on November 29.  So I first picked up on Sig’s letter to Loraine on Thanksgiving Day, 1917. 

11_29_17 Envelope

Notice the number 31 in the top left hand corner?  Loraine not only left these letters for me, she numbered them so I’d know what order they were in without having to rely on the postmark.  Smart thinking, Grandma! 

And I love how the end is torn open – I can just imagine how anxious she was to receive this letter.  Back in those days, you didn’t even need a return address but Sig was kind enough to let her know just who had written the letter.

11_29_17 Envelope Back

And here’s a picture of the first page; however, the entire letter is transcribed with my comments in [ ].

11_29_17 page 1

November 29, 1917
8:30 pm
Thursday 

My dearest Loraine,

Well I'm back again, all alone after a most delightful few hours - honestly dear it was a wonderful visit. And now you have had your big party last night. Did you enjoy it a lot or did you long for a certain someone's company? [I doubt he really had to ask as even I know the answer to that]

You know that my going up really seems like a beautiful dream. It was so quick and pretty and did you enjoy it as much as I did. You told me yes and I'm so glad and only wish I could do it often. [I’m sure Loraine had the same wish]

Had a nice trip home - the train was crowded and had several extra coaches. I knew every nearly everyone on board but I kept rather quiet thinking hard of you, my little dear, who I left behind. I was wondering if you were happy [again, we know the answer to that] and if you went through the day's work alright. I know you did and that you retired early last night and had a fine sleep - did you? But you must have as I slept like a brick and believe me I was a little tired, as you know I covered quite a bit of ground.

Just finished a big Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's home [wish I knew which brother as he had three] a while ago. The entire two [which two?] families were there and I enjoyed it immensely. There was only one missing, dear, and that was you - and it made me think of we two at our cute little table at the Palace, all by ourselves with beautiful surroundings. [wouldn’t I just love to see a photo of that?]  Wasn't it a happy few hours and don't you wish it could have been perpetual. Pardon my writing Loraine as I bumped on to a bum pen or most likely I'm tired but I'm sure it's my punk writing but I must have some excuse for its poorness.

I'm not going to talk about the war as I must wait for news and I'll let you know just how things are progressing - until then we will try and forget it.  [It wouldn’t be long before they could no longer forget it] 

Listen dear - have you kept all the nice promises you made and are you going to do it always. That's a sweet girl, and I'll always bank on you for that.  [do I want to know what her promises were?]

I wish you could have seen the breakfast I ate when I returned to the Palace.  [Returned to the Palace?  So, just where did he spend the night if he got back for breakfast?] It was large enough for a giant, but I wasn't hungry until I returned after leaving you - I was too happy to be hungry. [awwww!] 

Didn't do hardly a thing until train time excepting that I called on a couple of business friends and also went out to visit one of my big clients who is ill at the St. Francis hospital. He appreciated it a lot and thanked me so much for coming. 

And then I met a load of different people that I knew at the hotel and chatted around until train time. I sure would get fat [one thing I could never picture is Sig fat] if I followed that life - but it can't be done.

Tomorrow it is back to the hard old labor and routine. I have been told that our new theater opened in a blaze of glory. 

I want to know Loraine, if you are wonderfully happy as I want you to be always, and remember that I am always close to you. And please make me your newest little partner. If it's anything whatever, you'll know Sig is always ready, won't you? 

And now I am a couple of letters ahead so I can't wait for the nice long loving letter I'm going to get.

I haven't been away from you but a few hours so don't know anything new, so goodnight my dear little girl, and heaps of love from 

Sig 

and are we thankful on Thanksgiving? Yes.  [and I’m thankful you left these letters for me!]

And the next day, Loraine responded.

11_30_17 envelope
11_30_17 page 1


November 30, 1917
8:30 pm
Friday

My own Sweetheart 

Returned a few minutes ago from town where I have been bumming [one thing Loraine never did was “bum”].  There was no school today but I stayed there until 3, came home to get your letter and went down to get my tickets for matinee tomorrow. Am going to see “Pollyanna”, “The Glad Girl” hope she’ll have a good influence on me [boy did she love going to the theater].  Met one of the boys who was in our party last night and while we were discussing current topics on the corner of 14th and Broadway [funny that she was so specific about where they were], the third girl in the party came along. And I have spoke of visiting in Fresno, Myrtle Jacobs. [boy, that name sounds familiar]  And what do you think of her?  [was Grandma jealous?]

My dearest, we have an awfully good time last night. It was entirely different than Tuesday night – a small crowd. After dinner we went into the little ballroom and danced until 11:30. Some men invited fifteen soldiers to have dinner with him there so we all danced with them and it was a friendly affair. Of course, Tues night appealed to me more, because I had just you, I would not liked to have been alone with anyone last night, the big crowd was much better and we all had considerable “pep”. No, dearest, I didn’t drink anything and so far have kept my promises to you. [there we are with the promises again!]

I felt terribly blue all day Wednesday because I missed you so and you weren’t out of my thoughts a minute. And I wasn’t happy – I am afraid that I am selfish as I wished so hard that you could have stayed indefinitely but shall try to think that everything will come out for the best, as you say, it should and must.

Am glad you enjoyed Thanksgiving – we had a nice little dinner at the house [this would have been the home of her Great Uncle Sam Steen and his wife, Rachel] and then I had another at night, so you see I was a sport. Mother phoned at noon to see how I was and we enjoyed a nice little chat. 

Aunt Lena said she met Mrs. Shumann [this might have been the mother of Sig’s sister-in-law, Madeline Schuman, who was married to Herb Levy] on the street the day she went down and she said something about you coming up to take me to a dance and wanted to know what I was like and all about me. Did she say anything to you, Sig? So you see we can never do anything but the whole world knows it [Fresno was a smal town]. But we should worry about it.

Dear, the lady that won the prize in the second elimination dance won a saffire [sic] and pearl pin – pretty nice, wasn’t it. Someone told me what it was.

Really, sweetheart, it seems just like a dream to me that you were up here. I keep thinking about Tuesday night and wondering if it all happened [do I want to know the details of what happened?] – guess it must have or I wouldn’t have even the memory of it.

I’d love to hear from you oftener than twice a week – shall we make it three times?  [Twice a week seems like a lot but times were different then]

Will write a long letter next time, this is just hastily written. 

Remember that I love you – my own and I know you love me, so we should both be happy. [I’d say they were both definitely happy] 

Lovingly,Your own

Loraine

What a beautiful time in their lives and I feel so honored that they chose to share it with me, even if it was indirectly.  Oh how I wish I could have talked to them about it.

And just because I love to visualize (as my dad would say) things, I think of Loraine reading the letters from a very special beau.  They were so in love – who knew?

Loraine reading

Note to self:  Get back to transcribing these letters!



Saturday, November 11, 2017

Thank you for your service

To all of those who have (or currently do) served in the military, thank you for your service.  So many of my ancestors served – Revolutionary War, Mexican-American War, Civil War and World Wars I and II – and I wish they were here today so that I could thank them personally.  But since that’s not possible, I try to keep their stories alive so that in my own way, I am thanking them.

I first wrote about my 2x great grandfather, Emery Waller, and his service in both the Mexican-American War and the Civil War.  What a thrill to “find” him in an unmarked grave and then having the honor of obtaining a headstone for him so that he would no longer be forgotten.  You can read about him here:  Emery’s First Veteran’s Day.

I also had a Special Veteran’s Day post so that I could honor all of my family veterans.  My dad was such a handsome soldier in World War II! 

Today as I was gathering things for this post, I opened up the boxes of military uniforms I have to see if there was anything I had missed.  It seems like just yesterday that I combed through those boxes with my mother but since she’s been gone now for close to 5 years, it’s obvious that time has really gotten away from me.  But I was rewarded with a nice surprise – my grandfather’s WWI military overcoat! 



While it definitely needs a good pressing, it’s done pretty well for being just shy of 100 years old!  And it completes the set with his uniform and hat (you can see that in the Special Veterans Day post above).

And look what else I found today!  Obviously from a more recent time (he has it dated June 6, 1957) but look at the hat he’s wearing!  Could it be?  Could he have found a reason to pull out his then 40 year old Flying Cadet hat to wear to the Fresno Realty Board function?

Sig Yesterday and Today 1957

I’m going to say YES!



I love to be reminded of this day 99 years ago and the loving words my grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer, wrote to her future husband about the excitement of the day.  In her words:
November 11, 1918 – 9 PM 
My dearest Boy 
I was so overjoyed this morn at the wonderful news that I just had to telegraph you and hope you received my telegram O.K. At 4:20 A.M. I was awakened by whistles blowing and bells ringing out the joyous news of peace. They kept the racket up for two hours and started it again at nine this morn. Then at two this aft all the automobiles who could paraded and everyone was so happy. Everything was closed up so we went for a lovely ride around the 17 mile drive and just returned. 
My, but I was busy this afternoon down town receiving congratulations from friends I met, dear. It was rather hard to recognize people in their masks but I managed to.And to think that my boy is really flying. Received your letter this morn and was so happy to get it and to learn that your first flight was so successful and I hope the rest have been likewise. And now that the war is a thing of the past, love, am so anxious to know what they are going to do about discharging you. Guess now that you have had a start at flying you would like to continue but I’d rather have you safe on terra firma. And I hope my wishes will have some weight. But it must have been a wonderful sensation – flying 2000 ft and I am so proud to think of my boy being so brave and fearless. If conditions hadn’t changed you would have probably been driving alone in a very short time. I am wondering and wondering if they will still continue to train you. Hope not. So please, let me know, sweetheart, about it as soon as you can.
 
It’s days like today that having the personal history to connect to is so meaningful.

Thank you for your service to all those who have served!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Scrapbook #3 – Jim Jeffries Obituary

Sig 1910 Ben Lomond Close up

I shared this photo back in 2014, although at the time I didn’t know too much about it other than that the man on the right was my paternal grandfather, Sig Levy. I knew it had something to do with Jim Jeffries in 1910 when he was training for a fight with then heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, but not much else. You can read about it HERE.

As I went through Sig’s scrapbooks this year, I learned more about Sig’s role promoting Raisin Day in Ben Lomond – you can read about that HERE

And then just a few months ago I found another reference to Sig’s involvement with Jim Jeffries, although it was a newspaper article from 1950 that referenced things that had been going on Forty Years Ago.  HERE.

I didn’t expect to find much more about Jim Jeffries, which was ridiculous since I’ve learned that my grandparents (and my parents) saved EVERYTHING.  Did I really believe that would be it? 

What kind of crazy self-talk was that?  Look at this lovely gem from The Fresno Bee, March 8, 1953, page 6-B found on the next page of the scrapbook.

Jeffries Obit with photo Fresno Bee 3_8_1953 Page 6B

BOOSTING THE RAISIN – James T. (Jim) Jeffries, second from right, who died Tuesday night at the age of 77, is shown munching raisins at his Ben Lomond training camp near Santa Cruz in 1910.  He was in training for his heavyweight title fight with Jack Johnson at the time.  This old photograph is the property of Sigmund Levy [and now in 2017 his granddaughter, Debi Austen], far right, a Fresno realtor who took a couple of cartons of raisins to the Jeffries camp to publicize Fresno’s Raisin Day.  On the left is Al Quadros, who drove Levy in a buggy [a buggy?] from Santa Cruz to the training camp.  Holding the poster is Wick Adams, a New York hotel ownre and friend of Jeffries.

And his obituary followed.

Jeffries Obit Fresno Bee 3_8_1953 Page 6B

Jim Jeffries is buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

Jim Jeffries grave

Meeting Jim Jeffries was obviously a very important event in the life of my grandfather, Sig Levy, and he spent time in his later years reminiscing about that meeting.  Who knew?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Scrapbook #3 – 1914 Governor’s Day

Before I start, I have to say that I hate my cr*ppy memory!  Geez, I know I’ve seen this picture before but for the life of me, I can’t remember where.  And I don’t have the patience to look thoroughly so if I’ve shared this before, I apologize.

Now that I have that out of the way, the next page of the scrapbook showed me this from The Fresno Bee, Thursday, October 1, 1953, page 5-A.

Governors Day 1914 Fresno Bee 10_1_1953
EARLY DAY EVENT – Governor’s Day at the Fresno District Fair was quite an event in 1914.  Shown left to right in the grandstand are the late Frank Hill, Mayor Alva E. Snow, J.E. Dickenson, Governor Hiram C. Johnson, George H. Warlow, H. Wingate Lake, William Stranahan and H.E. Patterson and Sigmund Levy.


ExFair Director Recalls Governor’s Day Celebration


Governor’s Day at the Fresno District Fair in 1914 was recalled today by Sigmund Levy, a Fresno real estate and insurance man who was the fair’s director of exploitation from 1914 to 1918.

“I can remember it as though it were yesterday,” Levy said.  “We needed a lot of help in those days to put over the fair.  The governor drew a larage crowd.”

Levy has a photograph taken in the grandstand that day.  In the picture are the late Governor Hiram C. Johnson, Mayor Alva E. Snow, Frank Hill of the Fresno Traffic Association, J.E. Dickenson, the fair director; George H. Warlow, the fair president; H. Wingate Lake, a hotel manager; William Stranahan, Fresno public works commissioner, and H.E. Patterson of the Fresno County Chamber of Commerce and Levy.

Levy declared the exhibits at more recent fairs were similar to those in 1914.  Each night a dance carnival was held in those days.

“It really packed them in,” he said.

C.G. Eberhart, a retired vineyardist who was the fair manager from 1911 to 1920, recalled one of the big features of the fair 32 years ago was a “train wreck” which drew an attendance of more than 25,000 persons.

Eberhart said two old locomotives, purchased from the Santa Fe Railway, were started from opposite ends of the infield, but many of the spectators decided the seeing was not nearly as thrilling as the anticipation of the collision.

“The grandstand was jammed,” he declared.  “There was a hush among the spectators as the locomotives approached.  Bombs on the engines enveloped them in clouds of smoke as they came together with a deafening crash.

He inaugurated the initial five gaited saddle show ring for purebreds during his first year as manager and said the fair boasted three of the fastest harness horses in the United States, trained by Billy Durfy and owned by Clarence Berry of Fresno. 

One more Fresno event my grandfather was involved in.  Who knew?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Scrapbook #3 – Fifty Years Ago (plus one more)

The next ‘clippings’ in the scrapbook tell us about life in Fresno in the very early 1900’s.  My grandfather, Sig Levy, was a young lad at that time but 50 years later, he found a way to get himself mentioned in the newspaper.  And as he loved to do, he saved all of these clippings and put them in a scrapbook (thanks, Sig).

Fifty Years ago - Fresno Boys Athletic Association 10_17_1954

Thankfully Sig pointed out where he was mentioned in the Fresno Bee – I might have missed it otherwise.  So there he is in high school and it seems he’d already perfected the art of getting involved.  None of the other names look familiar to me although I’m not sure any of his school mates’ names would be.

Speaking of school, look at this article that mentions the mid year graduates of Fresno Grammar School.  I don’t know the grade levels of this school and I couldn’t find anything to tell me the date – he graduated from high school in 1906 so would that have been when he graduated from 8th grade?  So 1902?

Fifty Years ago - Fresno Grammar School

I was able to locate a photo of the grammar school from about 1916.  As my dad was so fond of saying, now I can visualize Sig walking through the front doors.

Fresno Grammar School

While I know now that Sig was an avid tennis player, it’s fun to see mention of it again in the newspaper.  Sorry to read that the home team lost, though.

Fifty Years ago - Easton vs Fresno Tennis 5_14_1955

An interesting story at the end about the death of two horses at the “death gap” crossing.

I realize I’ve shared this photo before but I’ll use any excuse to share it again.  How ‘bout them shoes?

Sig Tennis

And then I remembered that I have Sig’s tennis racquets hanging on my wall!  I remember back in the early 80’s after Loraine died and we were cleaning out her house.  I asked my dad if I could have the tennis racquets and he looked at me strangely and said “um, sure”.  I’m certain that he, along with my siblings, thought I’d lost a brain cell or two and honestly, there were times I might have agreed with them.  But now after hanging on our wall for nearly 35  , I’ve grown quite attached to them.  I wonder if one of these is the one Sig is holding in the photo?



And more news about tennis.

Fifty Years ago - Fresno Tennis 12_11_1955

The other stories are sure interesting – arrested for allowing freight cars to block the street for more than five minutes?

And then a random article from 1937.  I know that the Sig Levy family went on a road trip in 1940 – I wrote about the scrapbook someone kept of the trip HERE.  But now I learn they went on a month long tour of the East!

Return from Tour 7_26_1937

I don’t remember my dad talking about this trip but I guess since he was just 10 years old, he might not have had many memories of it.  I can’t imagine being gone for a month!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Scrapbook #3 – Forty Years Ago

Next up in the scrapbook is lots of little articles from The Fresno Bee telling us what was going on in the area years before - if we missed it the first time, we were able to read about it 40 or 50 years later!

In the 1950’s, there were many references to things Sig had done much earlier in his life and, as was his habit, he was sure to add the ‘clippings’ to his scrapbook.  Thanks, Sig!

Forty Years Ago - Visits Los Angeles 4_28_1952

Sig didn’t add the date but that didn’t stop me – off to newspapers.com to see what I could find.  Sure enough, there was the article on page 24 of the Fresno Bee Republican from April 28, 1952.  I guess in 1912 it was big news for two young men to visit Los Angeles.

And while I was looking, I also found this from March 22, 1952 – wonder how Sig missed this?  

Forty Years Ago - Visit Fresno County 3_22_1952

Oh BOY would I like to know more about this!  Sig went to Tijuana?  And what did the excitement look like?  Did he have trouble getting back into the country?  I’m going to have to keep my eyes peeled for more information!

Forty Years Ago - Tijuana 10_28_1954
 
I know that Sig loved to play tennis and, apparently, was quite good at it.  I’m sure he was thrilled to see this in the newspaper on October 10, 1955.
 
Forty Years Ago - Tennis Championships 10_18_1955
 
It seems that Sig and E.A. Berg seemed to spend a lot of time together – this is the first I’ve heard about the Fresno County Fair.
 
Forty Years Ago - Fresno County Fair 8_20_1955

Street dance?  Street dance?  I realize Sig was involved in a lot of organizations and activities but a street dance????

Forty Years Ago - Street Dance 11_15_1955

Now I need to keep my eyes peeled for the American City – I’d love to read more about the Fresno Commercial Club.  I know Sig spent the majority of his career in commercial real estate - I have a TON of scrapbooks with articles about development to prove it!

Forty Years Ago - Fresno Commercial Club 11_12_1955

Earlier in the scrapbook (HERE) I shared a newspaper article and now I’ve found the original photo.  If not for the newspaper account, I would have no idea what was going on here on October 26, 1952.

Realty Board 10_26_1952

And a very fun article (with a photo) from July 17, 1953.  I’ve found lots of photos and other ephemera from their cruises (HERE, HERE, and HERE) but I’ve not seen anything from cruising in 1953.  I’m so glad there’s a newspaper article to tell us and even show us a photo!

Travelers - 7_17_1953

Six weeks?  Now THAT’S a cruise!

Thanks to both of my grandparents for being packrats and scrapbookers!