Finally Finding The Three Rosenberg Sisters

12 Sep

I have had such a mystery. I have found out much about my great grandparents Abraham and Sarah Rosenberg. I know that they got divorced. I know that they lost one daughter, Celia, to the Spanish Flu and a son, Samuel, to a mental institution. (See blogs below.) They were their two oldest children. Other children in this family disappeared from our family connections.  I have been trying to find them all for over 20 years.

In order, the children were Samuel, Celia, my grandfather Harry/Hersh, Jacob/Jack, Bertha, Edith/Esther, Hady/Hatti/Hanna, Minnie/Muriel.  I have found Jacob in England, where he moved.  I have found out some about Muriel.  I did know my Aunt Hady when I was a small child.  (See blogs below.) But Bertha and Edith/Ethel were still a mystery.

At several times in their marriage, in which my great grandmother had 12 pregnancies and eight live births, my great grandparents had major issues, they eventually divorced, which in the 1920s was uncommon.  There was a period of time when their three middle daughters did not live with them: Bertha, Ethel/Edith and Hattie/Hady/Hannah. At first, I could not even find them anywhere in the census reports.  But then I posted a request for help on the Tracing the Tribe group

The mystery starts in 1900.  I found the family in Kings County, New York census. There were two girls are named Rose and Esther.  Rose is a name that was often given to a daughter in this family and then changed!  (See blog below).  And I believe Esther became Ethel/Edith.

In the 1905 New York census, none of these three girls were living with their parents.  But another Tracing the Tribe member (Sherri V) found Bertha living with a family headed by Lous and Rose Salomon/Solomon. She is listed as their niece. The list of family includes Benny, 22; Rebeka, 20; Moses, 19; William, 18; David, 16; Sadie, 24; Esther 13; and. Bertha 11.  Esther is not listed as a Rosenberg, but I have to wonder if she is Ethel.

I found the family again in both the 1910 and 1920 census.  This time all three girls were living with Louis and Rose Solomon and their sons Bernard, Morris, William and David. The three girls are listed as Bertha Rosenberg, 17, Ethel Solomon 15, and Hanna Solomon, 13. in 1910.  Later in 1920, Louis is living with William, and David, along with Bertha Rosenberg 24 and Ethel Solomon 23.

Although Ethel and Hanna are listed as Solomon, it is possible that they actually used these names when living with their aunt and uncle. These three girls seemed to go back and forth between their parentsmother and the Solomon family.

I posted the above information along with these questions to the Tracing the Tribe group: How is the Solomon family related to my great grandfather, Abraham Rosenberg, or to his wife, Sarah Ritt/Writ/Rith/Rosenberg. They lived in Kings County New York.

Kaye H. was kind enough to do some research for me.  She posted:  According to their marriage record, Rose’s maiden name was Rosenberg. Her parents were Jacob Rosenberg and Rhoda Anna Cohen (I think, it’s a bit hard to read). Does that line up with Abraham’s parents? https://a860-historicalvitalrecords.nyc.gov/view/7950837

Well that was a very good question.  I did not know the names of my grandfather’s parents.  He was born in Russia, and he was married in Europe.  I have been unable to find his parent’s names.  I have my great grandmother’s death certificate, so I know her parent’s names, but have been unable to find anything about my great grandfather.

My family lived entirely in Kings County once they came to the USA. But there is a rumor that my grandfather left the family and moved to Seattle.  A few years ago, when I was in Seattle, I went to the public library to see if I could find any records of him.  With the help of tw o lovely librarians, I found a few Abraham Rosenbergs, but no one that really matched my great grandfather.  I am thinking that I was looking too early.  I assumed in went around 1900. But now I think if he went it was closer to 1905.

My great grandfather was born about 1861.  Rose/Rosa, who is perhaps his sister, married Louis on January 4, 1882 in New York City. She was 17 or 18 when she got married.  Making her birth about 1865 and she was born in Russia. Rosa/Rose signed her marriage license with an X. Louis, her hsuband , was educated enough to sign his full name in Hebrew.

Because Bertha is listed as a niece, I have to believe that Rose is Abraham’s sister.  In fact, Abraham and Sarah did name their fourth children, Jacob, and the custom is to name after a relative that died.  It would make sense for Abraham to name a child after his father.  With this mystery uncovered, I now know the names of my great great grandparents, which was the only set of great great grandparents I did not know.

I want to thank Kaye, Sherri V., and others from the Tracing the Tribe Facebook group who are always willing to help solve a genealogy mystery.

Island Adventures on Lake Huron

4 Aug

We did it.  We left the confines of our home and took our first cruise in almost three years.  I was a bit hesitant and anxious.  But we chose a cruise that stayed close to home, sailing the Great Lakes between the USA and Canada.  It was a cruise I had been thinking about for years.  This seemed like the perfect time to take it.

Two of my favorite stops on the cruise were islands that are adjacent or within Lake Huron.  Both were the home of the Ojibwe nation, but one is in the United States and one is in Canada.

Mackinac Island

Years ago my husband and I lived in Michigan.  We heard over and over again that we had to go to Mackinac Island.  We never made it there during our two-year time. But it has been on our list of places to see ever since.  We had a most delightful day!!!

I will start by telling you that the original native Ojibwe name was Michilimackinac.  When you say it, you realize that the name Michigan was also a native name. It means Big Turtle, because the island is somewhat shaped like a turtle. The entire island is just about eight miles around.  So it is easy to walk from one place to another.

In July we found out why people love it so much.

First, there are NO CARS on the island!  The only transportation is foot, bicycle or horse drawn carriage.   WOW.  (Fire engines and ambulances are an exception.) It is interesting to go around an island on an open carriage. When we got off the ship, very close to downtown, we were loaded up into a carriage that had about 20 people.  This took us on the first part of the ride, through the downtown, past the Grand Hotel, and to a place where we were transferred to a larger carriage drawn by three horses for our tour through the park to the historic Fort Mackinac.

Second, there is the GRAND Hotel.   It is pretty darn Grand.  With its stunning Victorian décor; the large veranda with excellent rocking chairs (yes I checked them out); ice cream parlor; excellent views; the Grand Hotel lived up to expectations.  I especially loved the sign that said after 6 pm all men must wear jackets and women must wear dresses.  To be honest, I would never stay there because my husband would not want to dress up each evening.

However, we did go the Gate House Restaurant that is part of the hotel and had a delicious lunch sitting outside and enjoying people watching and horse watching.  There is a little stone church across the street from the restaurant that we also visited.  It is actually called the Little STONE Church.

Third, there is lots of history surrounding the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the lives of the Native Americans and how the changes from French to British to American impacted the First Nations Peoples, especially the Ojibwe nation, which is also based in Canada.  We spent an hour or so walking around the Fort and we even got to see a cannon fire.

After we at lunch at the Grand Hotel, we walked into town to visit some of the sites, including  the Biddle house which is now a small museum about the impact on the Native Americans.

We had an excellent time walking around the downtown, doing a bit of shopping, and finding an ice cream store for my husband.  Mackinac Island is known for its many fudge shops.  And we did enjoy the free samples. But we stayed strong and did not purchase any.  I could only that that with eight days left on the cruise, it would be too tempting.

Manitoulin Island

The other Island we visited was quite different. First, it is in Canada. Manitoulin Island is also known as Ontario’s Island Retreat. Its original Ojibwe name is Manidoowaaling, meaning the Spirit Cave, which we did get to see. It is a big island, over 100 miles long. In fact, it is the largest island in a fresh water lake, Lake Huron. In the island of Manitoulin is the largest lake in the largest island in a fresh water lake. That would be Lake Manitou in Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron. But there is also Treasure Island, which is the largest island in a lake in the largest island in a Great Lake. But it was not in Lake Manitou. I LOVE these descriptions. They should be part of a children’s song!!!

The island was also first inhabited by the Ojibwe people, who still inhabit much of the island.  But it was also the site of the first European settlement in Canada.

We docked in Little Current, which is the largest city on the Island. It has been a resort town for a while and has many bed and breakfast accommodations, much like Mackinac Island.

We visited the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, which was a great experience.  My husband was concerned that it would be ‘hokey’.  But it definitely was not.  The young man who met us at the Center gave us a great presentation about the First Nations and the Island.  He explained what we were seeing in the museum section, which really was fascinating.  We then went to a work area where people can come to work on their crafts like beading and porcupine quill art.  We also met with a young woman who explained the sacred herbs such as sage and how they are used.

Finally we were welcomed to an outside theater where we got to see authentic First Nation dances and the drummers.  I so enjoyed this experience.  My favorite were the jiggle dress dancers.  Finally we were invited up to dance with them and learn a bit.  I had to get up there.  One of the dancers stepped with me and showed me how to do it correctly! 

We did notice along the way that the cities in the USA were much smaller than the cities in Canada.  But then I had an enlighten moment. For the Canadians, these cities were among their furthest southern border, while for the US these were at the northern border.  Makes a difference when you take in this factor.

We loved our island experiences in Lake Huron. 

A Past Column Predicts the Present

5 Jul

Over the Fourth of July holiday, a friend of mine called to tell me she had to come over and share something she found.  She told me that I wrote something that related to what was happening in the world today, and she almost could not believe how right I was in my premonition.

What was the find?  A copy of a column I had written 22 years ago.  Entitled, “Election affects future of Supreme Court,” the column was in the October 21, 2000, issue of the Kansas City Star’s Blue Valley/Leawood Neighborhood News. This was a publication that was inserted into the KC Star in our area for many years.

I wrote a commentary column for the Neighborhood News for about nine years.  In this publication was my column about voting and the Supreme Court.  I remembered writing it, but honestly did not remember what it said. However, once I reread it, I agreed with her. In it I wrote about the importance of presidential elections and not to worry about too much about the short term goals because it was the long term goals that could hurt society the most. Mainly that the biggest issue to vote for was who would be choosing our Supreme Court justices.

I tried to find a link to the original column online, but could not find it.  Instead, I am putting a picture of the column here.

To be honest, I wish that my fears did not come true and that people had paid attention to elections.  Those who stayed silent by not voting; those who were complacent thinking nothing would change; those who did not vote because they did not like any candidates, or not enough to vote for one; your silence led to this.

Don’t stay silent any more.  We all have to vote.  Now the biggest vote we face in Kansas is the Amendment  to ban Abortion.  VOTE NO.  Kansas already has strict abortion guidelines.  The antiabortion groups are trying to ban all abortion here as well. No abortion for rape or incest.  No abortion for health.  No abortion period.  And along with that they almost always want to sideline birth control.  

We cannot be silent or stay home.  This is too important to women’s health and privacy.

The Importance of My Grandma’s Illegal 1931 Abortion

16 Jun

In 1931 a 25-year-old mother of two young children was pregnant with her third pregnancy.  It was twins.  But whereas her other pregnancies went fine this one was not going well at all. In fact, her kidneys were failing, probably due to eclampsia. If nothing was done, she and the fetuses she carried would all die.  Abortion was not legal in 1931.  But someone saved her.  Someone, I am told a doctor, provided her an illegal abortion. 

That woman was my grandmother.  She lived.  

“Preeclampsia may lead to kidney disease by causing acute kidney injury, endothelial damage, and podocyte loss. Preeclampsia may be an important sex-specific risk factor for chronic kidney disease,” according to an NIH website.  Although my grandmother did not die in 1931, she was left with failing kidneys.  In fact, she had kidney disease for the next 52 years of her life. 

Grandma decided to go back to Europe with her two children, my Mom and my Uncle, so that when she died they would be raised by their grandmother, as she was sure that she was still going to die. Someone traveled with my grandmother for this trip. In fact, one night she was so sick, they took her up on the deck because she wanted to see the stars one more time before she died.

The doctor who saved her life actually impacted the lives of many people. Because my grandmother lived, my mother and uncle were not left without a mother. Also, as the story continues, because my grandmother lived, others lived as well.

When my Grandmother got to Europe she traveled through Germany to Carlsbad, to take the waters, and then around Poland visiting family for over six months. During these travels her opinion about life in Europe changed drastically. By the end she was much healthier and concerned about taking her children back to the United States to safety.

Why do I say saving her life saved others? She had been traveling through Germany in 1931. She had seen the evil that was taking over Europe with the rise of Hitler.

This is where her surviving preeclampsia and a life saving abortion takes on even more meaning. First, everywhere she went in Poland, she told family and friends to “Get Out! Bad times are coming.” We do not know how many heeded her warning! But we know her story and what she tried to do.

When Grandma came home she had one goal, to get her family and the family of my Grandfather out of Europe! My grandparents worked to bring family members over from Poland and Austria. In the end, they only were able to bring my Grandmother’s father and sister. My Tante was very small for her age, so they changed her age and made her under 21 so she could travel to America on my great grandfather’s papers and visa.

My Tante lived.  She married and had one daughter.  Her daughter married and had three children.  Her children married and among them had 11 children.  

All because my grandmother had an abortion, all because she lived, two people survived and avoided the horrors of the Shoah and 15 descendants were born.  Who knows how many more will be born in the future.

Abortions save lives! The mother’s lives. To me these lives are extremely important. Currently, in this time of legal abortions another relative of mine had eclampsia putting her life and the life of her much wanted fetus at risk. They were both dying in the hospital. The only choice to save one life was an abortion. My cousin lived. Amazingly a year later she was again pregnant and gave birth to a healthy child.

I do not believe anyone, a legislator or a member of the voting public, has the right to tell a woman how to handle her private medical issues. We have HIPAA laws that are supposed to keep our medical history private. What a woman decides, with input from her medical professional, for her own health is her personal business. HIPAA laws are not just for men. They are for everyone.

In the meantime, I support women’s health rights. I support women who make the difficult decision to end a pregnancy. I support their choice and decisions concerning their personal medical health. I know that the right to chose an abortion must remain legal, because I know that saving a mother’s life is vital.

Another Quest Completed!

29 May

Great Grandpa Abraham Shlomo Grave

One of my genealogy goals is to find the graves of all my great grandparents who are buried in the United States.  Five are buried in the USA with four for sure in the New York, New Jersey metro area. Three of my great grandparents died in Europe, two during the Shoah, so finding their burial sites is impossible.

Since I live in the middle of the country it is difficult to search cemeteries on the east coast. But luckily for me I have willing helpers!  I truly appreciate my family who understand my quest.

Last year during Covid, one of my first cousins went to Washington Cemetery in New York and took photos of my Goldman great grandparents.   (See blog below.). In my mind he was the ideal person to search for the graves, since is named for our great grandfather, with the Hebrew name, Baruch Lev.  It was perfectly apropos that he went to find the graves.

Now it was my brother’s turn.  My brother’s Hebrew name is Avraham Sholmo for my Szenk/Shenk/Schenk great grandfather.   Our great grandfather was born with the name Shlomo/Solomon. But when he was a child he became very ill.  His parents gave him a second name, Avraham, to keep the Angel of Death from finding him.

Usually, the names given to fool the Angel of Death were names like Chaim and Chaya, which mean life. The idea was to confuse the Angel of Death because he would not be able to find a child with a different name.  This superstition said changing the child’s name would save him/her.

In any case my great grandfather’s Hebrew name was changed, but his legal name remained Solomon, or Szlama, as he was known in Poland.  His birthdate was September 1874 and he died in 1942. My great grandfather came to the USA in 1936 along with my great aunt. It was the work of my grandparents to get as many people out of Europe that they could. Unfortunately, it was only these two that they were able to actually bring over.

At first my great grandfather lived with my grandparents.  But, although they had a kosher bakery and kept kosher, my grandmother did not cover her hair, and they did not follow the rules as they did in Europe.  So my great grandfather moved into a Hebrew Home for the Aged

We did have the name of the cemetery where he was supposedly buried. I think my mother’s first cousin told us.  My brother took over the job of finding the grave.  He contacted the King Solomon Memorial Park in Passaic asking about our grandfather. (I do find it interesting and coincidental that Solomon was buried in the King Solomon Cemetery.)  The response was positive, our great grandfather was buried in the Tuber Section through a gate that says Welloner Benevolent Assn. 

The grave had the correct date of death.  There is no date for his birth, probably because no one knew it.  We thought he was born in 1870, but his Visa paperwork said 1874.  However, the age on the stone matches what his age would have been when he died, 68 years old.

The staff at the cemetery even emailed my brother a map to the grave, which was exactly where my brother was told to look.  Not only that, the cemetery and the gravesite were in excellent condition.  So many old cemeteries are not kept up.  Thank you to the King Solomon Memorial Park for keeping these graves in excellent shape.

My brother took photos of the entrance to the cemetery, the gate to the section and the grave itself. He also looked for other family members, but did not find them. Then he left three stones on the grave. This is the way to show that we remember and honor his memory.

https://yivo.org/Folklore-of-Ashkenaz?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI0NL84bX59wIVfW1vBB1sGgIMEAMYASAAEgKhzfD_BwE

Where Were My Three Great Aunts in 1905?

18 Apr

I have all the census records for my grandfather and his family starting in 1900 through 1930.  I can see the birth of the children through the additions in each census, till finally there are eight living children.   I can see as children disappear, one died, one to an asylum, several to get married.  And two who stayed with their mother even after her divorce. (Abraham and Sarah Rosenberg, Kings, Bronx, New York; Sometimes Aaron, one time Rosenbery.)

I know there is the rumor that my great grandfather left the family and moved to Seattle sometime around the turn of the century.  In the 1900 Census, it seems that they are living together with their five children, aged 1 through 14.

In 1905, the family shows up, but some of the children are missing.  The four oldest children and the newest baby are all there, as are two borders.  But the three other daughters, Bertha, Edith and Hattie, are not listed.   Where are they?  One was found, Bertha is living with Louis and Rosa Salomon, also in Brooklyn, Kings.  She is listed as a niece, living with her aunt and uncle and their seven children.  Bertha is 11.  Her cousins range in age from 13 to 22.

But how are they related?  Is Rosa the sister of Bertha’s mother or her father?  Or is Bertha somehow related to the father of the family?  Is Bertha really their niece, or some other distant relative, so Rosa and Louis are doing a favor for Abraham and Sarah?    Where are the other two girls?  Are they with other family members or in an orphanage? What happened to Edith and Hattie?

The questions keep coming into my mind.  Is this when my great grandfather abandoned the family.  If so, did Sarah give her daughters to other people to care for during this time.  Perhaps, even though Abraham is listed on the Census, he is NOT really living there.  Perhaps Sarah was too embarrassed to tell.

I do know the story that my grandfather was sent to search for his father and bring him home.  That at age 13, which would have been in 1903, he crossed the USA with a friend from New York all the way to Seattle in an effort to bring his father home.  I remember being told that my grandfather’s friend was Italian, and during that trip is when Grandpa learned to speak Italian.

So we know this is a posed photo, but it is when Grandpa (on right) crossed the USA looking for his father.

Did his father come home with him?  I understand that it took almost two years for the journey there and back.  Perhaps this is when they returned, but they had not yet collected the girls from the places where they are staying.

I do know that they came back.  Because the 1910 Census lists all of them.  It is the last time that they would all be together in a census.  Here both parents and all eight children are listed in age order.  The sons always keep the same names, Samuel, Harry/Henry, and Jacob/Jack.  But I must say the girls have many names: Celia/Cecelia is the oldest, but I know she also had a Hebrew. Rose/Bertha is the oldest of the four younger children.  Esther/Edith is the third oldest. Hattie also had another name, but almost always was Hattie or Hady.  Minnie/Marion/Muriel is the youngest.

In 1915, they are all listed, but Samuel is listed as a farmer.  I know now that he was not really living at home, rather he was an inmate in an asylum. (See blog below.)

By 1920, the world of the Rosenberg family is disrupted forever. Sarah and Abraham are divorced.  Sarah is the head of the household, but two children are missing.  Samuel is at the asylum and Celia has died at the age of 24.

In 1925 my grandfather, the oldest of the remaining children, is gone from Sarah’s home, as he has married my grandmother. In 1930, Jacob is also gone.  It is Sarah and her four daughters.  But now Bertha is listed as the head of the household.  Perhaps by then Sarah is already sick.   She died in 1936 from cancer.   Before she died, she did get to see two of her daughters get married.  Muriel, who married in 1924, named her first child after her mother.  Sarah died on January 28, 1936.  And on November 13, 1936, Muriel had a son she named Stanley and used her mother’s maiden name as his middle name.  That made me happy.  I am also named for Sarah, but I was born almost 20 years after Stanley.

Standing: Great Uncle Lenny, Great Aunt Hady/Hattie, Grandpa Harry, Grandma Esther. Seating are my great grandmother and great aunt from my Grandma’s side.

Aunt Hattie married Lenny Greenberg. I knew them.  In fact, it was Aunt Hattie who introduced my Dad to my Mom.  Aunt Hattie and Uncle Lenny never had children.

Bertha and Edith never married and always lived together.

But my questions continue. Where were Bertha, Edith and Hattie living in 1905.  How was Rosa and Louis Salomon related to Bertha?

Once again thank you to Sherri V. who connected information for me when I posted on Tracing the Tribe Facebook Group!

Wordle, Quordle and Jury Duty

12 Apr

I recently finished four days with 12 total strangers.  We were chosen to serve on a jury panel for a civil case involving wrongful death in a nursing home.  We, the twelve jurors and one alternative, were instructed that when we were in the room together, or outside, or anywhere, we could not speak about the case at all until deliberations.  We were not to go online to look up any information about the case.  We could only rely on our own knowledge and background.  We could not speak to anyone involved on the other side even to say hello.  These were the rules we had to follow.

To be honest, I could not believe that I would be selected. I answered everything honestly. Yes I volunteered in an elder care facility. Yes I was a spiritual care volunteer. Yes, I have helped someone in hospice. Yes I had a medical professional in my family, my husband is a physician. Each time I was sure that was it. I would be struck from the jury. Another man, who actually worked as a social worker in nursing homes and knew this particular facility, was also seated on the jury. Before it started, I turned to him, as we were seated next to each other, and said, I cannot believe that they kept you. But they kept both of us.

The first day in the jury room, we each found a seat around a table with just 13 chairs.  That became our seat for the duration of the trial.  We had to line up in numerical order each time we left the jury room and went into the courtroom. It was just like on television.  Everyone in the court would be standing and waiting for us to reach our seats.  Then the announcement that we could now be seated.

Next to me in the jury room sat Juror 9.  She and I discovered that we both enjoyed playing Wordle and Quordle.  It gave us something we could talk about, our conversation each day was about how we were doing with these and other word games.  It helped.  

Two men, Juror 2 and the one eventually elected our Foreman, also played Wordle.  Our conversation grew to include them each morning.  They had never played Quordle.  To help them out, I told them where to find Quordle and little about how it was played.  Juror 9 chimed in that you can solve them in any order.  Which I had not known…. But now I do.

The four of us spent our morning breaks finishing our Wordles and Quordles.  It was a great way to spend time and to talk about something that was allowed. Others stayed silent, snacked, read, and just waited.

On the third day, when the Foreman turned to me and said,  “The Best part of doing jury duty was finding out about Quordle,” I felt a feeling of satisfaction.  We were bonding over the game.

But to be honest, we did not bond enough.  The three of them voted differently than I did.  We only needed 10 votes to decide.  Ten voted for the defense, two of us for the plaintiff. 

In my mind, I believe they were wrong.  But then they did not have my particular knowledge about elder care facilities and doctors.  It was sad for me because I believe every person has the right to die with dignity.  No one, even someone with dementia who is going to die, should die soon after several falls leading to a broken arm, a concussion, and stitches while in the care of a nursing home. The images we saw and the information I learned truly haunts me.

After the trial, the judge came back to speak to us. He told us that the family was gone, but the lawyers wanted to know why we voted as we did. He said it was important learning experience. Nine of us went. The other yes vote and I sat together.

First they allowed us to ask them questions. As the information came forth, I could see that others who voted No, were beginning to see what the other juror and I saw. For example, one juror voted No because the plaintiffs attorney did not show that the nursing home had a history of negligence. I had said they can’t do that. He asked the plaintiff’s attorney if there was other negligence and if yes, why hadn’t he told us.. The lawyer’s answer, there were 59 pages of citations, but he was not allowed to enter them. That juror’s face fell.

Then the lawyers could ask us questions. The defense attorney turned to me and said, “YOU, YOU voted yes. I knew I should have struck you from the jury.” I agreed with him, yes he should have struck me. Then I gave him my five reasons for believing that it was wrongful death and malpractice. I said, this is how I saw it, the majority did not. But I did what I could.

However, no matter how disappointed I was with the outcome, I did my duty as a juror, and it is time to move on.  For me it was four days that I will not easily forget.  I can at least feel good about the word games.

Our Anniversary Museum Adventure

5 Apr

I just love museums!   In fact for our wedding anniversary, my husband agreed to a museum crawl. He took the day off from work for this adventure.  I did think of him when I planned our visits.  First, none of these museum took more than 60-90 minutes to visit.  Second, two of the three were a quick drive from our home. Third, they all were either new, newly renovated, and he had not visited. Finally, they had exhibits that I knew would interest, inform and entertain.

First was the new “Medicine’s Hall of Fame and Museum” in Shawnee, Kansas.  This museum was founded by Bruce Hodges, MD, with items he has collected over the years both medical and from his trips to Africa where he provided medical care.

Asthma and allergy remedies.

I knew this building well because for many years it housed the Johnson County Museum. It was exciting to see that it had been repurposed into a new museum.  I was sure my husband would enjoy it, as he is a physician.  And I was right.  My first choice was a pleasant surprise for both of us.  Included in the displays were many old remedies for allergies and asthma.  Perfect for my husband as he is a pediatric allergist, who treats asthma as well.

Other items we enjoyed were the two Iron Lung machines that treated patients with polio.  I had seen one for an adult before, but the one for a child surprised me.  But of course, children needed them as well.  We enjoyed the room set up as an early pharmacy with the original desk and many bottles and boxes displaying old medicines.  Military filed kits, Native American medicine bags and lots of items that were used by quack doctors over the years. 

It provided us with a fun hour of information. 

From there we drove to Overland Park, Kansas, where the Johnson County Musuem moved in 2016.  I still remember when they moved the first ‘electric house’ in Kansas to the museum, closing down roads and moving power lines.  The house is actually enclosed in the museum.  Although I had been to this museum many times since its move, my husband has not been to it since the move.  As, I said, I planned this day with him in my mind.

I also wanted to go because there was an exhibit on redlining, which was the way realtors kept people to separate areas enforcing segregation in a way that people did not realize. I was shocked.  The realtors not only redlined, they earmarked some areas blue and green for white Christians.  Yellow areas were for Jews, Italians, people of middle eastern descent and others.  While Redlined areas were for Blacks and Hispanics.  If you went to a realtor, they would only show you a house in an area that you FIT.  Horrible.  And worse is that it basically became federal policy as well during the Great Depression. 

The realtors also would add to fear and distress in a neighborhood if a black couple or someone different moved in, leading to white people fleeing neighborhoods.  My husband experienced this in St. Louis when he was a child.  He grew up in University City area, which was mainly Jewish.  Then as black families moved in, he remembers a realtor telling his parents that they should sell and move out.

“Redlined: Cities, Suburbs, Segregation” will be at the museum until January 2023.

Corinthian Hall!

Our final museum visit occurred a few days later.   We traveled to Kansas City, Missouri to visit the newly renovated Kansas City Museum in Corinthian Hall.  When our children were young, it was the Science and Natural History Museum.  I remember the dioramas in the back building as my children loved them. The museum is totally different now, although the lovely stained glass windows are still visible.

The ice cream parlor!

The museum now displays exhibits about the history of Kansas City on the top floor, also talking about Redlining!  While on the main floor several rooms of this 112-year-old mansion have been renovated to look back into the past when it was a home. I am glad that when they did the renovations, one important room remained, my children’s favorite from years ago, the ice cream parlor, which will be open this summer.  YUM!

It was great to see this building coming back to life.   I also understand that they plan to renovate the other buildings on the property as well.  It has a magnificent view of the city. 

While there we saw our first of the 100 hearts that were designed by artists and placed throughout the metro.  I have now seen two of the hearts, and I hope to see many more!

https://www.medicineshalloffame.com/

https://jcprd.com/330/Museum

https://theparadeofhearts.com/hearts/

My Personal Coat of Many Colors

29 Mar

A recent on-line post from a friend reminded me of my favorite coat!  I had a coat when I was a freshman in high school that I just loved.  It was a long, mid-calf, tapestry coat in beige, cream, red and green, with a red satin lining. It was my personal coat of many colors.

My wonderful tapestry, multi-colored coat.

I wore it every day in the late fall till the early spring.  It was warm; it was comfortable; and I loved the feel of it.  I crocheted a green scarf to wear with it.  Over time the scarf got longer and longer.  I could wrap it around my neck, head, and face about three or four times, which kept me so warm.  When I wore that coat, I felt stunning.   I do not know why, I just did.

I have one photo of me wearing that coat.  I remember the moment it was taken.  I was on a high school trip to Washington, DC.   I have tried to remember why I went.  It was not the entire sophomore or junior class, just one teacher’s students.  Was it American history?  I sort of remembering that it was a specialty class.  North Bergen High School for a while offered one semester classes on all sorts of topics.  I took several of those.  My favorite was about Canada.  So perhaps it was one of these classes that sponsored the trip.

What I do remember is that my Dad drove me to the high school so early in the morning, the sun was not yet out.  Then we all got on to the bus for the drive from North Bergen to Washington.  It was the trip of a lifetime.  One I have always remembered.

We toured to the White House; we toured the FBI building; we toured the Capitol; we went to the Supreme Court; we went to the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, I did not climb up.  We also had a short visit to the Smithsonian, original building.  How we did all of that in one day, I do not know.  But we hustled and we walked fast.

We were allowed to walk around in small groups in some of the sites. I took lots of photos.  I don’t know where most of them are now.  But there is one I have: a photo of me in my lovely tapestry coat standing in front of a black marble monolith.  I do not know where it was taken, except it was on this DC trip.

I tried asking my North Bergen friends about when and why we went.  Only one other friend even remembers going.  No one else does.  I do not know who took this photo.  I wish I did because I would thank her.  My coat is long gone, but this photo gives me joy.

I wore that coat as much as I could for five years. The lining was frayed. The pockets had holes in them.  I kept sewing them back together.  But eventually the fabric was so thin, it could not even be sewn.  I thought about replacing the lining.  I never got the chance to do that. This coat drove my mother crazy.  She was constantly asking me to buy a new coat as the tapestry coat was falling apart.  But I would not.

In the end my mother won this argument.  It was not a fair fight, and I was really annoyed!

My sophomore year of college I spent overseas in Israel.  I did not take the coat with me.  Honestly, I could have used it.  Winters in Jerusalem can be cold, and a bit of snow did fall.  I was gone for 12 months.   When I got home in July, I did not look for my coat.  I had a lot to do.  In this time before social media, I lost a year of local, national and friend news.  I had to reconnect.  It wasn’t until I was getting ready to go to college in late August, that I discovered my coat was missing.

I asked my sister, “Where is my coat?”  She looked at me with a deer in the headlights stare and said something like.  “You better ask Mom about that.” I did. 

That did not end well because while I was in Israel, my Mom got rid of my coat! I will say that my Mom and I had one of our worst fights ever.  The following reconstructed conversation is to my best memory.  I will say the tone of the conversation was loud and screaming on my part.  My Mom was almost laughing the entire time.  She really did hate that coat!!!

“You did not wear it for a year so I thought you did not need it. It was just taking up room.” Her words.

 “I did not wear it because I was in Israel, it would have been difficult to get.” My words.

 “It was falling apart, the lining was shot.” Her words.

“I was going to replace the lining when I got home.” My words.

“You only asked about it now, you did not even notice it was gone.” Her words.

 “It was 80 to 90 degrees, and we were in the Catskills, who thinks of a winter coat then.” My words.

“You always hated my coat,” I finally yelled in frustration.

“It was in horrible shape and you could not wear it another year. There is nothing I can do now.  I will get you a new coat,” my Mom responded.

It was long gone and there was nothing I could do about it. Mom was right.  I went shopping with my Mom to get a new winter coat.  It was an okay coat.  A typical college coat.  Nothing special.  Solid colored with a hood.  I also got new gloves and a new scarf (Yes she got rid of the scarf as well). I was warm for the winter; however, without the sparkle or style I had with my tapestry coat!

I have never found another coat I loved wearing as much as I loved wearing that coat.  I can remember the feel of the coat.  It was not a printed-on tapestry look. It was an actual woven tapestry.  Although many, many years have passed, I have never forgotten my multi-colored, wonderful tapestry coat.  But at least I have this one photo to keep its memory alive.

A Pleasant Evening At Phoenix’s First Synagogue

25 Mar

I try to find something related to my love of Judaism wherever I travel.  This time, I did not have to look, as a group we meet with held its annual dinner at the Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center in Phoenix.   The Center is housed in what was the first synagogue in Phoenix, which gave me joy.  It mixed my love of history with my search for Jewish sites.

The two buildings have Spanish vibe.  They made me think of the Alamo!  In fact, the buildings were designed in a Spanish mission style when they were built in 1922 for the new Congregation Beth Israel, the first synagogue in Phoenix.  At its start it catered to all Jewish families in the area and did not have a permanent rabbi until the 1930s.

The original synagogue buildings.

The buildings hosted several congregations over the years.  By 1949, the Jewish community had moved out of the Phoenix downtown, and the synagogue was eventually sold to the First Chinese Baptist Church.  They held services there from 1951 until 1981. From 1981to 2002 it was the home of the Iglesia Bautista Central Baptist Church.

But in 2002, the Jewish community purchased the buildings to become the Arizona Jewish Historical Society’s headquarters.  Restoration of the buildings started in 2008.In the smaller building is a museum dedicated to the history of the Jewish community and the building.   Among the interesting artifacts in the museum is a violin that survived the Shoah. It was buried during the war, and recovered afterwards.  It is on loan thanks to the daughter of the survivor.

The larger building, which once was where services were held, now is a social hall with a stage. When they renovated the building, they found the area on the back wall of the stage where the Torahs were kept in the Aron Kodesh.   The area was covered again, and now the stage is set for community events.  I found it fascinating to find out that when the synagogue was built there were only 120 Jewish people in Phoenix.  There are now over 80,000 and 30 Jewish congregations in the great Phoenix area!

The event venue is open to the community.  Besides the indoor space, there is a lovely garden area where we had our dinner and music.  I had a great time both exploring the history of Phoenix’s Jewish community and enjoying the lovely outdoor space.

This is a quick museum visit, but the Historical Society does have an archive of materials about the Jewish community and holds programs at the site.  They are planning to build a Center for Hope, Humanity and Holocaust Education building on the grounds. If you live in Phoenix, I would advise you to join to get information on upcoming programs! Also the exhibits change and there are online exhibits!

https://www.azjhs.org/