Sunday, February 19, 2017

I told you so!

In case you’ve somehow missed it, I’ve told you over and over again that I come from a long line of scrapbookers.  I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing that the legacy ended with me but in my defense, I have so many scrapbooks already that I don’t know who would ever even look at the memories of my life.  It’s always been my goal to get the scrapbooks documented for future generations as the years have not been kind to them.

My grandfather, Sig Levy, seemed to have been OBSESSED with scrapbooking.  When we cleaned out the storage unit and our parents’ home of over 50 years we found many scrapbooks that Sig had left for us.  The books themselves were beautiful but I just couldn’t let them go without looking through them and, hopefully, documenting them.  I put them in several different boxes, glanced through some of them, and then put them aside for a rainy day.

Today is the day (and yes, it’s raining)!  I decided there was no time like the present to get started on this project as I’m hoping to donate the scrapbooks at some point to a historical society so that they could be enjoyed by others for years to come.  I pulled them all together and set them on a table.

You probably can’t tell from this photo but there are about 20 scrapbooks here (how I hope I didn’t miss any).  Once they were all together, I wondered where or how I would start.  I’d looked through a few of them over the years and found them to be newspaper clippings about events that had happened in Fresno, the city where my grandfather spent his entire life.  And being that he spent the majority of his career working in commercial real estate, most of the information seemed to be stories about buildings being sold, business being moved, etc.  Probably not much family history which is why I thought I’d one day donate them to the Fresno Historical Society.  This is a random sample of the pages in the book. 

So where to start?  I originally thought I’d try to sort them somewhat by date and go from there.  But there was something nagging at me as I looked at the stack of books.  All of the books were leather bound except for the one on top which looked much less ‘professional’. 

So I opened it up to see what was inside.

Hmmm, this looked a little different than the others.  A real scrapbook rather than an assortment of newspaper clippings. 

This was interesting but it didn’t tell me the year of this trip or who took part.  Sure I can see that Sig went on vacation but who went with him? 


And then I turned the page and saw this.

I know it’s hard to read but it’s a handwritten description of the family’s vacation traveling the Redwood Highway June 30-July 23, 1940!  Now I don’t know for sure if my dad wrote this (doesn’t look his adult handwriting) or his brother, Robert Levy, but the description is wonderfully detailed.

On Sunday, June 30, we started on a long, but enjoyable motoring trip which took us to the northern part of Oregon, Portland [oops, they got this in the wrong order].  On this day, Sunday, we went to the “Exposition City,” better known as San Francisco.  After a quiet night we went to the famous Hotel Benbow, on July 1, which is situated on the Eel River.  Robert and Gordon [so did Sig write this?] participated in boating there.  That day we also met the Leon Levy [Leon was Sig’s brother] family who were just returning from a northern trip.  The Hotel itself was very nice and had a lake of its own in the back.

On Tuesday, July 2, we traveled to Eureka, Calif. and on that day we saw one of the most gigantic and the most gorgeous scenes we had ever seen.  These, of course, were the famous California Redwoods.  The day before we were almost disappointed because we saw few trees and groves.  But this day was forgotten as we viewed nature’s contribution to Northern California – trees, thousands of years old, and hundreds of feet high.  In Eureka, we stayed at the homelike Eureka Inn  On Wednesday we were set to make our destination, Medford, Oregon and stop at the Oregon Caves for a quick trip through them.  As we were too late to make a trip through the Caves we went in just to see what it looked like, at 1:15.  The Chateau looked pleasant and our stopping point was at the Oregon Caves that night.  Rob & Gord went into the Caves and enjoyed the trip to the utmost.

On the next day we toured to [sic] world famous Crater Lake.  Arriving in mid afternoon, the weather was warm but one look at the deep blue lake took all thoughts of heat out of our heads.  The Lake, 6 miles in diameter, deceives you but it is gigantic.  That night we stayed at the Crater Lake Lodge.  The day at Crater Lake was well spent as Dad [who is writing this, anyway?] had a letter to the superintendent of the Park and he told us interesting things about the lake.  On the next morning we drove to Roseburg, Oregon – a small town but pleasant for a “one night stand”.  Then on Saturday, Portland loomed up and here was our northern destination.  On Sunday, we drove to Jantzen Beach Amusement Park which is on the shores of the mighty Columbia and 2 miles from Portland.  On Monday we drove on the Columbia River Highway and out to Bonneville Dam.  On Tuesday, July 9, we drove along the spectacular Oregon Coast to a small town called Coquille, halfway down the coast.  The hotel was not the best by any means but it was satisfactory.  The next day we went to Eureka and enjoyed it.  After some discussion, our next day was spent at Benbow.  The on Friday, July 12 our northern trip came to a close as we motored back to San Francisco.  Thus, the Sig Levy famiy ended its first motor trip of a great distance, successfully.

What fun to read about their motoring trip and I’m excited to go through all the pages to further explore the photos and other memorabilia. The more I look at the handwriting, the more I think it might have been written by my dad who would have been 13 at the time – just looks like 13 year old handwriting to me.  Oh geez, I wish I could ask!

I’m so excited I started with this scrapbook!  But with so much information, I’m not sure I’ll live long enough to get all of the scrapbooks documented.  Come back next time for more about the Levy motoring trip.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

90 Years Ago

Gordon 2_1977
Gordon Levy, 50th birthday, February 1927
90 years ago today, my dad, Gordon Levy, was born.  90 years!  How in the heck can that even be possible?  But even though the years are swiftly passing, I can’t let him be forgotten.  He’s been on my mind a lot lately as we’ve been converting home movies from VHS from the 1970’s through the early 2000’s and, of course, there are lots of memories of Dad.  Father of the bride (my sister) and, later, grandfather of two brides (my daughters).  Toasts at each of the weddings – what a joy to actually be able to hear him after all these years.  But probably the most memorable to me was the family gathering we had in Napa to celebrate Mom & Dad’s 50th anniversary in 2000.  In true Gordon fashion, he brought notes with him so when he stood up to give us his thoughts, he wouldn’t forget anything.  And while he spoke to the small crowd of 15, he got a little choked up when he shared cherished memories of each of us.  And, of course, I got a little choked up listening to him all these years later.

Several years ago I wrote a bit about Dad’s baby book – what a gift to have that to look back on.  You can read about it HERE.  So today I pulled it out and revisited Dad’s early life.


Interesting birth announcement.  From what I know, the Sciots’ are a Masonic organization and this must have been a newsletter.  I wish I knew the date of this but I’m guessing it wasn’t too long after the birth.

Dad and his brother, Rob, were always close but it’s good to know that bond started when they were young.  Here they are in September, 1927 – Dad was 7 months old and Rob was approaching his 7th birthday.

Gordon_Rob 9_1927

In 1928, Dad celebrated his first birthday.  I love that Uncle Wilt, Grandma’s brother, sent a telegram.  And it seemed like Wilt’s name was butchered quite a bit – he probably got used to being called Will.

Telegram from Wilt 1928

And a cute little card from Uncle Leon, Grandpa’s older brother.  I’m so happy Grandma put the date on it.

Birthday Greetings from Leon 1928

What fun to read about Dad’s first birthday party.

First Birthday Party

And look at that – we know that along with the birthday card Leon sent $5.00, which was close to $70 today.  Grandma and Grandpa would have been Bertha (Schwartz) and Abe Gunzendorfer as both Levy grandparents were gone by 1928.  Hermina and Gilda Levy were Dad’s cousins (Ben Levy’s daughters) as were Herbie and Barbara (Herb Levy’s children).  The only name that doesn’t look familiar is Ruth Ann Winkler.

This picture of Dad is from about 1928.  My brother as a toddler sure looked a lot like him.  And that sure looks like an interesting bike.

Gordon c 1928

Dad is adorable in this little bathing suit and it looks like he’s having fun in the sandbox.

Gordon Sandbox 5_13_1928

Then came his second birthday – thank you again, Grandma, for labeling things for me!

Gordon 2_11_1929

And a few other photos from 1929.

Gordon c 1929

Rock the hat, Dad!

Gordon Hat c 1929

I love to see families together – it gives a good snapshot of a moment in time.  Here’s Dad with his brother, mother, and grandparents, Abe and Bertha (Schwartz) Gunzendorfer.  Nice looking family!

Abe_Bertha_Loraine_Gordon_Rob 6_1930

The years flew by and one birthday ran into the next.  And while I don’t have a picture of his 78th (and last) birthday, I do have a photo from just a few months later.

Gordon Levy c 2005

Happy 90th birthday, Dad!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Now who is THIS guy?


This handsome gentleman has been in my box of unidentified photos for as long as I can remember.  There are only two clues.  1)  I know it had some meaning to my grandmother, Loraine (Gunzendorfer) Levy, as it was in her boxes of things.  2)  The photographer was Hartsook with studios in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, Oakland, Sacramento, Visalia, Bakersfield, Pasadena, Santa Rosa, Pomona, Fresno, San Diego, Stockton, San Jose, Long Beach.  So, clues that are really not much help.  And, my grandmother didn’t help me out by writing the name of this gent anywhere on the photo.  Not many bread crumbs to go on.

A few weeks ago one of those Facebook memories popped up.  I love when those pop up with a blog post because it gives me an opportunity to go back and read what I wrote years ago.  Because at my age, I barely remember what I wrote last week.  And this was the post that came up.  More invites  My grandmother loved to socialize (and especially loved to dance) so I smiled as I opened it up to read about one of her parties.  But what hit me in the face was this photo.

From Earle

Could that be the same unidentified soldier?  I wondered later if it could have been Grandma’s friend (beau?), Earle Norton, and wrote about it here.  And now more dancing

Some thoughts:
  • The ears on both men look the same. 
  • Both have on a uniform.  But I’m betting plenty of men did in those days.
  • While the photo of the couple was found in the scrapbook on the page that said “Earle sent me these from San Luis”, the photo was loose on the page.  So after 100+ years, there’s a pretty good chance it was on the wrong page and he never sent her this particular picture.
  • Once again I’ve contacted a few people on ancestry asking about Earle Norton.  One has quite a bit of information about his wife, Marguerite, but she is one of the individuals I contacted three years ago about this mystery and she never responded.  So I’m betting I see the same result this time.
So here I go down another genealogy rabbit hole as I try to solve this mystery.  Do you think these two men are the same or am I reaching?  If they are the same, what now?