Saturday, June 30, 2012


This is my newest discovery.  What is it, you ask?  Let me show you the inside.....

That's film strips rolled up and put into each little case.  It's hard to see but written on the paper on the top of the box describes what is in each section.  The dates are all in the mid 1940's which means these are photos my dad took.  Several of the rolls are from Europe so I'm guessing he took a lot of this while he was serving in the military.  One of the rolls is marked Nuremberg - my dad reported from the trials for a few days.  How organized can someone be?

Here's what the film looks like when unrolled.

So what do I do with it?  Anyone have any ideas about how to get the film developed?  I know I can go to a camera shop but I thought maybe someone has seen something like this before.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

School Girl Days

Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer
c. 1915
As graduation ceremonies are being held across the country right now, it seems appropriate that I discovered a gem this morning.  This memory book was the property of my paternal grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer!

There are so many details in this little memory book that bring her years as a young girl so vividly to life.  Her classmates are all listed and each autographed the book - Mary Pittman Salterbach, Helen Cole Thompson, Hallie Agnes Hitchcock, Grace Layton, J. Meyrl Pugh, Howard Hatton, Maude Sophia Scudder, Louis G. Vierra, Luis F. Wolter, Alta Irene Lyoue, R. Deane Smith, John Ebert Hitchcock, Clayton Philip Salterbach, Karl Dayton Klaumann, and Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer.  The classmates are also listed on the commencement announcement which also includes Wilhelmina L. Clark - I wonder why she didn't sign the book?  Was she absent the day Loraine took her book to school?  Were they not friends?

Here's a page from the book.  What a historic photo of Montery County High School in 1915.  Loraine even added the '15' in gold felt, probably because the school colors were white and gold.  It also shows that the motto was "Duty and today are ours" and the school flower was a white carnation.

Here's the bid, as we used to call them, for the senior ball. 

Inside it shows the order of the dances, starting with the Grand March-Waltz, and next to each dance the young man she danced with signed the card.  Her date was Harry McMahon but I don't see on the card that he even danced with her.  It doesn't look like Harry was in the same class - I wonder who he was? 

The dance was held on Friday evening, June the Eleventh, at eight-thirty o'clock at the Hotel Del Monte.  I'm not sure why Loraine's mother, Bertha Gunzendorfer, is listed on this invitation.  Maybe because she was listed as a Patroness she actually invited the students?  And it says the invitation needed to be presented at the door.  I wonder if they returned the invitations later so they could be saved as a memory or if this was a duplicate.

And here's the announcement for the commencement exercises.

As I'm getting ready for a "big" reunion in a few weeks, I can't help but think about my grandmother's graduation from high school 97 years ago.  I can only imagine how excited she was to get out into the world and start her life.

And I have proof that she did, indeed, graduate - here's her diploma!

Both the book and the cover for the diploma are in a velvety suede type material. 

Loraine was a beautiful woman and I'm honored when I hear people tell me I look like her.  As I've found more and more of her belongings from her early years, I am beginning to feel a bond to her that I've never had before.  She really was one of a kind.

I wonder if this was her dressed up for her Senior Ball.  Or since she didn't have a formal wedding, maybe it is her wedding photo.

Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer

I'm so fortunate that my grandmother was in my life until I was nearly 30 years old - what a gift!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Father is Born

This is the 7th Father's Day without my dad and while I miss him every day, Father's Day is particularly hard.  The stores are filled with reminders of that special man in our life and when he's no longer with us, its like a slap in the face.  The few days before that one Sunday in June gets particularly frenzied as people pour through cards trying to find that perfect card for their perfect dad.  But I just walk on by.

While going through the treasures from the storage unit, I ran across my dad's baby book. 

Mr. and Mrs. Sig Levy are the parents of a baby boy, this being the second son.

Gordon Floyd Levy was born February 11, 1927 at  Burnett Sanitarium in Fresno, California.  He weighed 8 pounds, 3 ounces and was 20 inches long and by his first birthday had grown to 22 pounds, 4 ounces.

The baby book is filled with all of his 'firsts' - first tooth on August 31, 1927, crawled for the first time at 7 months, stood by himself two weeks later, and then walked alone at 13 months.  I know what gifts he got for his first Christmas, his first words (mama and dada), and how he spent his first birthday.  But the description of his first outing really had me laughing.

Gordon Floyd Levy received his first outing with an automobile ride on February 27th.  He and his mother came home from the Burnett Sanitarium in an ambulance on February 20th.  His mother was up for the first time on February 22nd.
Boy have things changed in the last 80+ years!  Mother and baby stayed in the hospital for 9 days, came home in an ambulance, and mother didn't get out of bed for 11 days.  Today new mothers are up moments after birth and often times don't even go to a hospital!

It's strange to think of our parents as babies and I'm sure when Dad was born his parents never thought about him one day being a dad, a grandfather, or a great grandfather.  And someday in the future, some budding genealogist will think of him as their 4th great grandfather or 7th great grandfather or some other ancestor who they will get to know through documents, photos, and maybe even this blog.

Here's the first photo of Dad from his baby book.

March 6, 1927
Robert and Gordon Levy
Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy and Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer
I've written a lot about Bertha (Birdie) in the past (most recently here) but now here she is as a grandmother. 

This pose cracks me up.  Like we can't see the hands of the person hiding while holding him up.

July 4, 1927

And since it's Father's Day, I just have to include this photo with my dad, his brother, and my grandfather, Sigmund Levy.

Sig looks happy with his two sons

And here's my dad as a 2 year old looking a little mischevious - I sure would love to know what he was planning at that moment.

April 5, 1929

I've sure loved learning more about my dad and his family through all of these photos, books, and other things I've stumbled across.  And it is especially fun to see him as a baby and think about what life was like for him before he was my dad.

Happy Father's Day, Dad!