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Pippi Longstocking and It’s A Small World Always Have A Place in My Heart

17 Jan

Over time my sister and I have been amazed that her daughter’s personality is more like mine, while my daughter is more like my sister. I am known to call them by each other’s names because they do something that is so much like the other.

But recently, on a family Zoom, I realized that my reaction to my daughter is often the same as my mother’s reaction to my sister.

In the early 1960s my family went to the World’s Fair in New York City. (See blog below.). We had a great time.  Our favorite ride was the Disney, “It’s a Small World,” which premier at the World’s Fair.  My sister, who was just 4 or 5 at the time, fell in love with the song. 

She was in love with the song and used the $5.00 gifted to her from our grandmother to buy a special booklet about the ride that included the 45 record. My mother asked her to be sure that is what she wanted, as she used her entire $5 for it.  (I used my money to buy a Cinderella watch.)

The song became the bane of our existence.  My sister played that record endlessly.  “I did play it multiple times a day on the small record player that we were allowed to use unsupervised,” she said.  To be honest it drove us all crazy.

One day she came home from school to the horrible news from my mother that the record was broken.  My mom was cleaning and accidentally broke it.  My sister was devasted, but what could she do. It was gone. My Mom was such an honest, good person.  We all believed her.  And I think we all, except my sister, were relieved.

Fast forward about 10 years.  Our house was robbed.  The thieves came in through the back door. The police believe my brother surprised when he got home from school as he came in the front door.  (I have written about this before in the blog below.). It was traumatic for all of us!!!

But in the aftermath, on the floor of my parent’s bedroom, where the thieves had dropped all the stuff they did not want, was the 45 record of “It’s A Small World”.  It was not broken.  It was intact.   My sister was shocked.

“Mom,” she said.  “It’s not broken.”  She says it was the biggest betrayal in her life!  My parents were both speechless and laughing.  My Mom admitted the truth, she just could not stand to hear that record again.  So they hid it. 

My sister says, “Mom did not have the heart to actually break and throw it out.” She thinks it is because she purchased with the money from grandma.   Now, 55 years later, my sister still has the record.  She admits she was obsessed by it and had to keep listening.  (Unfortunately,  while my sister found her record, my watch was stolen during the robbery.)

The doll and towel I purchased in Sweden.

Fast forward to the late 1980/early 1990s and my daughter’s favorite book, “Pippi Longstocking!”  She had to hear that one book every single day.  My husband or I read it to her.  It was my husband who broke first.  He finally had enough of her obsession.  He told me that he refused to read it again.  He took the book and put it at the very top of the floor to ceiling bookcase in our bedroom, knowing she would never find it.  I have to admit, I was right there with him.  I could have taken it down, but I never did.

We were so relieved.  We just never wanted to hear that book again.   Little did we realize that the book was in her soul.  When she wrote her college applications, she wrote about how she identified with Pippi Longstocking in her essays.

While she was in college, she came home for a break and was helping me sort through books.  I had totally forgotten that Pippi Longstocking was still up there in the bookcase, on its side where it could not be seen.  She was up on a step stool, when she yelled in excitement.  “Mom, I found Pippi Longstocking.  It’s not lost!”

I was startled and started laughing until tears came.  She says, it never occurred to her that we hid it.  She felt no sense of betrayal, only excitement because she found her favorite book. Both my Mom and I could not get rid of the evidence of our ‘lie’ which in the end was our undoing. 

Like my Mom, I explained to my daughter how tired we were of hearing and reading the book. So we hid it.  I think we still have the book.  But in August 2019, my husband and I went to the Baltics.  I made amends. The only thing I purchased for my daughter was in Sweden: a small Pippi Longstocking doll and tea towel that was adorned with Pippi’s picture.

I must also say, that “It’s A Small World” is also my daughter’s favorite Disney ride.  I have ridden on that ride multiple times with her. One time, on a rainy day, when no one else was there, she and I did it over and over again.  She is so much like my sister!!!

When thinking about it, I realize that both my sister and daughter were interested in entertainment that explored the world and had a positive view of life. It’s a Small World shows the people of the world singing in harmony and joy.  Pippi is a free and independent girl who is kind and helpful and works against bullies! Pippi Longstocking and It’s a Small World will always have a place in my heart.

These two blogs talk in more detail about the robbery and It’s a Small World Ride.

https://zicharonot.com/2014/03/14/it-was-a-small-world-at-the-new-york-citys-worlds-fair-196465/

https://zicharonot.com/2019/03/02/locking-up-candy-saves-the-day/

Blue M&Ms Welcome A Healthy New Year

1 Jan

I cannot think of one person I know who does not like M&Ms.  My personal favorites are peanut butter or peanut.   I remember as a child my mother doling out regular, plain chocolate M&Ms to my siblings and me.  It was a process.  We each had to have the same number of each color: Tan, Red, Brown, Green and Orange.  If there was a variation, there was trouble. Which is strange because they did not taste any different, but we all had favorite colors so having an equal amount was important, especially at Hanukkah when we used M&Ms to play the dreidel game! 

My Blue M&M swag.

However, notice the colors!  There were no Blue ones when I was a child.  They did not join the mix until 1995.  I remember the election that Mars held that year.  We could vote on blue, pink or purple.  I had two young children, ages 9 and 4, with whom I had discussions on the vote as my daughter loved purple.  At the time, I was busy: teaching in a high school, taking care of my children, free-lancing for a local newspaper where I wrote a commentary column.  But the vote on M&Ms was so important for me, I took time out to vote: BLUE! Blue won hand downs with over 50 percent of the vote. (Perhaps a precognition for November 2020?)

My loving blue M&Ms from the time they were available, became a reason for family laughter  since from that point on, I only wanted to eat the blue ones.  I remember going to family life cycle events, and just picking out the blue M&Ms from the bowls.  One year, at my niece’s bat mitzvah, one of my cousins brought me over a little of tub of all colors, since he knew I loved M&Ms.  But I remarked, “Now I only eat the blue ones.”  He came back a bit later with a bowl of blue ones that he had collected from all the bowls. He is an excellent cousin!

When I play mah Joong with my friends, or go to a party,  I still only eat the blue M&Ms.  It has become so well accepted, that as others reach into the bowl, they often pass the blue ones on to me. They don’t even think about.  I get the blue ones. 

 It is a bit difficult when the holiday ones come out.  Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, NO BLUES.  But Easter is fine as there are light blue ones!

I have three reasons for my obsession with blue ones.  First of all, blues and teals are my favorite colors.  Why not eat what I like?  I also love blueberries!  But I have another more important reason.  I am actually allergic to dairy.  I get really ill if I eat too much.  So limiting my intake of M&Ms by only eating blue ones, contains my addiction. The final reason is weight control, by only eating the blue ones, I am able to reject other colors and not overeat.

When my children were younger, I fabricated a bit.  I might have told them I ate the blue ones because they were better for me, healthier.  It was, at the time, wishful thinking.  Eventually my children figured out my ruse, and they would laugh whenever I gave that explanation.  But then in 2009 I found out that all these years, I was actually correct! 

My daughter was in graduate school, when I sent her an email telling her to laugh no more!  Scientists had found out that the blue dye used in blue M&Ms and blue Gatorade, known as Brilliant Blue G (BBG), was good for you.  They found that it stopped the inflammation that increased damage when someone had a spinal cord injury.  (See link below.)  I was being proactive, eating only blue ones!

A few years later, imagine my delight when I found the M&M World store in Las Vegas.  I had never been in such a store before, and the sights within filled me with glee.  There were bins with many colors of M&Ms you don’t usually see.  And several of different colored blue and teal pure chocolate ones. Although not my favorites, I still had to fill a bag. There was all sorts of M&M items to admire.  I had to purchase some blue M&M swag that now lives in my kitchen.

Blue, teal, dark teal, light teal and some green M&Ms

But why is my first blog of 2021 about Blue M&Ms? 

Last night, since we could not go out for the holiday, we participated in two Zoom events. On our family New Year’s Eve Zoom with my sister, brother and sister-in-law, and nieces and nephews, my daughter and us, the topic of M&Ms came up.  My lust for blue M&Ms was once again publicly announced and I must admit some ridiculed!

My sister-in-law admitted to a peanut M&M addiction.  I said I had it as well, but only the blue ones.  They all laughed, except my daughter, who knew what was coming! Yes, I told them all about the medical properties of blue ones. They did not seem to believe me, so I sent them the link listed below.

That led several of us on the Zoom, to leave the room,  return with our M&M bags and locate a blue M&M to eat. As we displayed the blue M&M, as we expressed wishes for a healthy year and vaccines for all as we enter 2021.

Wishing you all a very happy 2021 and the joy of finding something you enjoy as much as I enjoy blue peanut and peanut butter M&Ms.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%26M%27s#:~:text=In%20early%201995%2C%20Mars%20ran,replaced%20tan%20in%20late%201995.

https://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-07/good-news-animal-lovers-and-folks-spinal-injuries/

A Pay Phone, Then a Party Line: Using the Phone in The Catskills

17 Dec

Recently I wrote a blog about doing the laundry in the Catskills. (See blog below.) Several of my friends who spent their summers with me in Kauneonga Lake, and my brother, felt I left out one important aspect of the laundry shed: the pay telephone.

In our small colony, owned by my maternal grandparents, the pay phone was also located in the laundry shed. The only way of communication for almost all the residents of the colony to the outside world.  If they needed to call their husbands, doctors, restaurants, anything, this was the only place to make a call or to get a call. Our colony was small, so when someone did get a call, the person standing closest to the phone would answer it and send a child to go get the call recipient!  Of course all the children loved to answer the phone. At larger colonies there was an loudspeaker system to call people to the phones. (See blog below.)

I think, but since I was a child, I am not sure, that the Moms had set times and days when they spoke to their husbands during the week. 

The phone my friend has from the bungalow colony.

The telephone has long disappeared.  However, when reading my blog, one of my friends told me that she had the phone, and sent a picture.  I do not know how she got the wall phone she had.  But though I thought the number was correct, the phone was wrong.  There was no place for the money.  And our pay phone definitely was a commercial one with coin slots.

Now I did say that the pay phone was the only way to communicate. But that is not totally true. My grandparents had their own separate line because they owned the colony and would need to call local people like the plumber or electrician. So if my Dad wanted to call my Mom, they had this private line to speak. Also if there was a true emergency, my grandparents would call for help.  You did not need to use the pay phone.  Hmmmmm. I wonder if the phone my friend has is the one from my grandparent’s bungalow?  Could be.

In 1963 our phone life and summer life changed. My grandparents purchased a winter/all year house about 1/3 mile up Lake Shore Road from the bungalows.  Behind the house was a bungalow that became our summer home.  This was both fun and sad.  We had a bigger bungalow, we had our grandparents, and my parents had some peace and quiet, but we were no longer at the colony at night for fun activities or on rainy days with the other children.  However, there was an apartment at the house, where one of my friends stayed.  (See blog below.). But we were no longer part of the rhythm of the colony on a daily basis. 

Communications changed as well.  People started getting phone lines. They were not completely private. People would get Party Lines.  That is what we had at the bungalow up the hill. My grandparents and my parents shared a party line.  We were so excited to have our own phone.  But it had its now side as well.

The phone lines had slightly different rings, so you knew when you were being called. And we had a special way to call down to my grandparents so they knew we wanted to speak to them.  If you picked up the line when the other people were using it, you would hear them speaking.  In fact, if you were quiet then you could listen to the entire conversation.

That was a bit crazy, cause my grandmother sometimes would listen in!!! My MOM would get furious.  And they would have a big argument!

Here is my brother’s memory:

“Yes. She (Grandma)never said anything just listened. She was really good at it,
and I think many times we did not even know she was listening. Mom
would know when Grandma knew things that she had not been told! It was
one of the things that I remember Mom arguing with Grandma about!”

Since my grandparents lived in the Catskills throughout the year after 1969 when my Grandfather retired, their phone line would be on all year long, while our phone line would be turned off after Labor Day.

But eventually, everyone got their own private phone lines.  It was amazing.  I could call my aunt at the bungalows and find out what was going on with my cousins.  Were they going to the movies? What were the plans for the rainy day or the evening? That was what we were missing when we first moved to the bungalow by the house.  

When we were teenagers, those phones were even more important for when we made plans with our friends and cousins.

The days of the payphone and party lines ended in our colony, but the memory of the times when two people needed to make a call.  Or watching when a teenager was on the phone trying to find a private spot….there was an extremely long cord. Or wondering if my Grandma was listening on the line….I have to admit, every once in a while I listened in on my Grandma’s call. Mainly because I needed to make a call and she was already on the line.

https://zicharonot.com/2020/12/12/the-summer-the-laundry-never-dried/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/09/17/sometimes-rainy-days-were-the-best-days-in-the-catskills/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/12/30/loudspeakers-often-interrupted-life-and-the-quiet-of-the-catskills/

The Summer the Laundry Never Dried

12 Dec

The rain started slowly this time.  Giving my Mom enough time to call for us.  But she really did not have to, all the children in our little colony were running to the same place: the clothes lines.  It had rained for weeks.  Finally, there had been a break in the weather. For days, everyone lined up at the two washing machines to get their clothes and linens done. People were running out of clothes to wear.  Everything was a muddy mess.  No one could afford for the newly cleaned clothes to get wet.

We all hustled and ran for the clothes.  Each group of children around their Moms pulling the clothes off.  The littlest ones were grabbing the clothespins and putting them into the cloth bags.  We were successful.  None of our clothes got really wet.  While Mom went back to our bungalow to hang our clothes up on the porch, I remember helping my Grandma take off some of her clothes off the lines.

At least we did not have to go to a laundromat to clean our clothes! This was important as most of the moms up for the summer did not have car with them in the 1960s.  Having to go to the laundromat was a major ordeal especially with all the little children. I guess sometimes someone did go. There was always one husband/father up there for the week who could run this errand as needed.

For us there was a little shed that held two washing machines.  Our moms would put their laundry basket in a line so everyone knew who went next.  They left their laundry soap and change in the basket as well. The person before them would empty out their laundry from the machine and put the next wash in.  I think it cost 50 cents to do a laundry.  Then they would tell the next person that their wash was up, so they knew when to go get it and start the next load.  How they knew, I don’t know.  Perhaps everyone had different colored baskets or different laundry soap, but they knew.  It is a mystery to me.

Laundry days were usually Wednesday and Thursday. Everyone wanted the laundry done before the weekend when the Dads would be up. But during this time of endless rain, occasionally the Dads would have to take the laundry to the laundry mat. I got to go with my Dad once. It was quite the adventure. Long lines, as everyone needed clean and dry clothes. I remember where the laundromat was, just outside of Kauneonga Lake on the road to White Lake and to ice cream, Candy Cone. Of course, I remember, because once our washes were in the machines, Dad and I went for ice cream while we waiting to go put them into the dryer. Then we stayed close to the laundromat, to get our clothes as soon as they were done.

So many laundry memories came rushing back to me due to a painting. A distant cousin of mine, {her grandmother and my maternal grandmother were first cousins. (See blog below.)} did a series of paintings that she then gave to people who made a donation to her chosen charity, an animal shelter. One painting touched my heart. I made my donation.

In my mind this painting was like a calm and practical Chagall painting, but instead of animals or couples flying above a town, it was a zaftig woman walking across the laundry lines with a laundry basket on her head. The colors, the story of the painting, the atmosphere just yelled Catskills in my mind. Laundry Day! Joy! I had to have it.

When it arrived, the memories started crowding into my mind of the year when the laundry never dried.  How when the sun finally came out and stayed out, all the Moms and grandmas were so filled with joy that they could get their clothes clean. How they rushed to do laundry.  I think they agreed that everyone could do one laundry and then go through again.  Everyone had to get at least some laundry done before it rained again.

 I think they felt like the woman in the painting, just tripping above the clotheslines in happiness.  Finally, finally we all had clean and dry clothes!

Of course, I had to hang the painting in my laundry room. Every time I look at it, I remember how lucky I am to have a washer and dryer of my own. That I do not need to hang my clothes outside to dry depending on the weather. That the joy of laundry should be with me all the time!

https://zicharonot.com/2015/06/13/finding-katie/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/10/07/oh-how-i-dream-about-ice-cream-in-the-catskills-in-the-summer/

T

An Elegant Evening At An Embroidery Convention

15 Nov

Dressed for an elegant evening out, my parents are 28 years old in this photo.  My Dad was the co-owner of an embroidery shop in New Jersey. (See blog below.). In this photo they are at an embroidery convention.  When I look at them, I am amazed at how young they are here!

My mother’s lovely handwriting on the back says, May 1957, Laurel’s Embroidery Convention.  The dress my Mom is wearing is totally embroidered.  It is a fabric made in my Dad’s shop.  I have vivid memories of this dress, as it hung in the basement closet forever.  It was either a pale beige or rose color in my memory. The skirt was perfect for twirling.  How do I know?  Because my sister and I loved to play dress-up with this dress!

My Mom is also wearing my Grandmothers mink jacket!  In May!  But wearing a mink jacket is the height of elegance in those days.  However, I have to laugh because above her head is a basketball hoop.  So although the party was elegant, they had to walk through a sports area to get to the dinner event.

I remember hearing of the Laurel’s. It must have been a convention center/meeting place in New Jersey, probably in Secaucus, New Jersey, near Laurel Hill, also known as Snake Hill.(See info below.)  Over the years, the hill has been decimated as the highways were built and some of the rock was taken out when quarries were allowed there. But a little bit of the hill still remains!  It can be seen at Laurel Hill County Park and from the New Jersey Turnpike.

My Dad is dressed up as well in a really nice suit.  Dad was an elegant dresser.  He purchased shoes in Europe when he traveled.   He always worked in the fashion industry and looked the part.  He had so many suits and shirts and ties.  When he passed away, many of his grandchidren and I took a few of his ties to keep as a memory.  He had ties of every hue and color. His closet was a rainbow of shirts and ties. Everything organized and ready for the next fashion statement.

The one element of this photo that does offend me is the cigarette in my Dad’s hand.   My siblings and I hated his smoking.  We often had major battles over this.  Like the time I flushed his cigarettes down the toilet.  Or when my brother hid all his extravagant cigars behind the books on the top shelf of the bookcases. Dad never found them!  But cigarettes were a part of life in the 1950s.

My sister was not alive when my parents went to this convention. I was 2 and my brother was 3. Which means, I am sure, my grandparents were babysitting for us, as we were still living in an apartment above their bakery in West New York, New Jersey. (See blog below.)

I have to add an update! Thanks to a reader, I now know that the Laurels was a big hotel in the Catskills. A competitor to Grossingers, it was one of the largest hotels. So I am sure my grandparents were taking care of us, but we might all have been in the Catskills staying at our home in Kauneonga Lake while my parents went to this convention. The Laurels were located near Monticello in Sullivan County!

Photos really bring back memories. It brings back memories of my father’s embroidery shop in West New York, NJ.  Embroidery was a big business in the USA in the early and mid 1900s.  Now there is nothing left of these many shops!  Though I do not remember this event per se, I do remember my parents dressing up for other events.  I do remember the dress and the mink jacket.  Those memories bring me happiness in this time of staying home during the pandemic.

https://zicharonot.com/2014/02/26/a-hudson-county-embroidery-shop-started-my-dads-career/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/02/01/bakery-aromas-bring-back-delicious-memories/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_Hill

Ginger Rogers and My Dad

4 Nov

I recently noticed that in April, the Ginger Rogers Museum in Independence, Missouri, closed.  Based in the home where Ginger was born in 1911, the museum only opened in 2018.  But due to the pandemic and lack of interest of the public, the owners decided to close and put the house on the market. That news saddened me.  I really wanted to see her home and memorabilia.

Why?  Because I met Ginger Rogers once in New York City at my father’s office. 

She was involved in the fashion industry in NYC, doing some designing for J.C. Penney. My Dad knew her and worked with her on a project.  He owned a company that sold prints to designers. These prints were then turned into fabric and sold to make bathing suits and lingerie.   That was my Dad’s niche.  (See blog below.). I worked for my Dad one summer.  And that is when I met Ginger Rogers.

I had grown up watching Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movies. I loved them.  I loved the dancing and the songs and the fashion!  I always remembered the saying that Ginger danced better than Fred because she did everything backwards and in high heels!  And it is true.

When I met Ginger Rogers, I had that young and lithe image in my mind.  However, when I met her in the 1970s, she was in her 60s and I was in my early 20s.  And though still an attractive person, she was not the same person I had seen in the movies.  But even though she did not look like the Ginger Rogers in the movies, she did have basically the same voice.  I appreciated that she took time to visit with me before meeting with my Dad. 

After she left, Dad told me that Ginger Rogers was a smart business woman, and that he really enjoyed working with her.

Three of my scarves from Dad.

As part of his job, my dad traveled to Europe several times a year to search for designs and inspiration for new patterns that his artist then modified into patterns for prints that could easily be made into clothing.  As samples, my father would buy silk scarves and bring them back to the USA. 

He also purchased other scarves as gifts! My sister, mother and I had scarves from all over Europe, but Mom had the best collection.  We wore our scarves over our coats and to enhance a sweater. People ask me all the time how I learned so many ways to wear a scarf.  I had years of practice! I still have several scarves my Dad purchased, even though my Dad’s business has been gone for over 30 years.

Note from Ginger Rogers!

Among the people Dad purchased and presented a scarf to was Ginger Rogers.  I know this, because I have her thank you note written on stationary from The Carlyle on Madison Avenue in NYC.  The Carlyle is one of the most exclusive hotels in NYC.

“April 11, 1974

Dear Don –

What a super surprise upon my return from Springfield, Mass. To find your very lovely present of that scarf. Just love it and I adore hand-rolled scarves – and especially one that represents thanks in return for naming a fabric. Hope you kept the name Treadaro? I’ll be interested in its name acceptance!”

(The letter goes on to discuss their business with choosing a print to use in a J.C. Penney’s product. The ending made me happy, because my Dad was a kind soul.)

“Thanks again for this lovely scarf and for your genuine kindness too.

Ginger Rogers”

I love the letter.  When we were cleaning out my parent’s home, I had to keep it.  It is a memory of working for my Dad and meeting Ginger Rogers. 

Even to this day, whenever I watch an older Rogers and Astaire movie, I see her in my mind’s eye.  And during my many years of taking ballroom dancing lessons with my husband, it is Ginger Rogers talent that inspired to keep trying. Whenever we danced a foxtrot, it was Ginger Rogers I was envisioning and trying to emulate. And whenever a song from the that era plays, it is Rogers and Astaire and my parents I see dancing in my mind. (See blog below.)

It is also a memory of the many scarves that arrived in our home.  There were others who received gifts of scarves over the years. But this is the only thank you letter that my Dad saved.

So the closing of the museum touched my soul. I lost my chance to connect one more time with Ginger Rogers.

https://zicharonot.com/2015/01/15/working-for-my-dads-firm-in-nyc-lead-to-my-love-of-lingerie/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/05/03/ballroom-dancing-relaxation-reflection-and-exercise/

Reupholstery Keeps the Spirit of My Furniture, I Hope

20 Oct

Over 30 years ago a truck arrived at my home delivering my grandparent’s bedroom furniture to my home.  Made in the early 1930s, the cherry mahogany furniture was hand carved. The two chairs were covered in yellow silk and stuffed with horsehair, I knew that because the fabric was beginning to fray and the stuffing was coming out. 

The mirrors and furniture were beautiful to see and to touch.  I had so many memories of my grandparents entwined in the furniture.  From my early childhood in New Jersey, when the furniture was in their apartment above the bakery.  When I spent the night, as a small child, I slept in bed with Grandma.  Grandpa was usually up and baking throughout the night. His bedtime began about 8 am.  In the early morning grandma would leave to go work in the bakery.  I knew that when I woke up. I was to get dressed and go downstairs, where Grandma would make me breakfast.  I was never afraid. I was in a safe place, near the chair where Grandma sang Yiddish songs to put me to sleep and under the feather quilt in the winter.  So cozy.

Later the furniture moved to their home in the Catskills where they lived after they closed the bakery.    They would spend most of the winter in the Catskills, but would return to their home in West New York for a few weeks when it got too cold.   The bedroom furniture, along with their other lovly 1930s furniture, stayed there after Grandma died in 1981 and until Grandpa died in 1989. The only piece that did not make the move, was the baby grand piano. (See blog below.)

The bedroom furniture was promised to me, the oldest granddaughter.  And when my grandfather passed away, about 9 years after my grandmother, my parents packed up the furniture, found a mover, and sent it to me along with a few other pieces.  (See blog below.)

I made some changes.  My grandparents slept in twin beds. I saved the headboards, but I had the foot boards and the side railings made into a lovely television stand that matches the rest of the suite.  We did not need these as we use a king mattress.  The headboards are in my basement.  Too lovely to get rid of, they sit waiting for some future date when they will be used.

I left the yellow silk on the chairs.  All these years.  It was the original upholstery, and I could not change it.  In my mind when I saw the fabric, I could see my grandparents. I could remember sitting in the vanity chair and hearing my grandmother singing to me.   I could see myself sitting at the vanity brushing my hair and trying out her hair adornments.  I could remember Grandma sitting behind me and brushing my hair 100 strokes, to make it shine.  The fabric stayed.

The chairs with the original fabric.

Over the 30 years I have had the furniture, the fabric faced the many challenges of two small children.  It continued to decay, fray and split.  Finally, after 86 years, I decided this fabric was done. I had to reupholster the furniture.

I did it tentatively.  It took me months to find a fabric that I liked. A fabric I thought would go with the furniture, but also recall the fabric that was part of it for almost nine decades.  My Grandmother liked yellow and flowers.  I love teals and blues and geometric shapes.  How could I compromise? 

But then, the perfect fabric appeared. Amazingly it was at Joann’s, the craft and fabric store. And Grandma was watching out for me. It was on sale, 40 percent off!. I also was given the name of a fantastic upholstery, Gearhart Upholstery in Buckner, Missouri.

The mainly blue and teal woven upholstery has a bit of yellowish gold swatches.  And the pattern is both geometric, but there are flowers.  Lovely blue and teal flowers. Even though the colors are different, in my mind I kept the spirit of grandparent’s furniture. 

Purchased by my grandparents in 1936.  Sent to me in 1990.  And finally recovered in 2020.  I hope the furniture is loved by my family for many more decades. I hope the memories I cherish will turn into new memories for another generation

https://zicharonot.com/2020/09/02/vintage-greeting-cards-stir-my-imagination/

https://zicharonot.com/2016/08/02/a-chair-a-baby-grand-piano-and-yiddish-songs/

Vintage Greeting Cards Stir My Imagination

2 Sep

When my grandfather died almost 31 years ago, my mother shipped some furniture to me.  My grandparents’ cherry mahogany bedroom set, a lamp, an old radio cabinet and a few more pieces.  My grandfather had not removed my grandmother’s clothing from the dresser nor the items she had left behind in the radio cabinet that served as a closed bookcase.  My mother did not empty them out either.  She sent the furniture filled with my grandparents’ personal items because she just could not deal with them.

I emptied out the dresser drawers when I received it, donating most of the clothing to charity, the $10 bill I found hidden away, I still have for emergencies.  Although I used the radio cabinet, I left my grandparent’s items inside alongside the items I stored in it.  But recently, when I moved, I emptied out the cabinet and repurposed it as a curio cabinet.  I had looked at the items before this move.  In fact, I wrote a previous blog about my grandmother’s ledger books. (See blog below.). But the other piles I just ignored for 31 years.  Procrastination in dealing with sorrow is strong in my family.

But now I had no excuse.  I had to sort through the piles on the shelves.  My findings included letters that my sister, cousin, Mom and I all wrote to my grandparents. I must admit, most of the ones saved were from me. I think that I wrote the most because I moved to the Midwest.  There were also three letters in Yiddish.  I think they are from my Grandmother’s brother and sister in law.  I have to get them translated.

The antique radio cabinet.

Included in the piles were 116 unused vintage greeting cards from the 1940s, 50s and 60s:  sympathy cards; cards for birthdays, weddings, anniversary; get well cards; birthday cards for grandchildren; holiday cards. 

There was one sister birthday card.  My grandmother was able to save her sister from Poland in 1936 and bring her to the United States. They were extremely close. My great uncle was a baker with my grandfather.  But Grandma never sent this card to my Tante.  I thought, “why waste a good card.” I recently sent it to my sister, whose birthday is this month.  I think she will like it!

Card I sent my sister.

Among these vintage cards were two that really touched my heart. Created by American Greetings, these 25 cent cards were birthday cards for twins.  Why would Grandma buy birthday cards for twins? We knew no twins; we had no twin cousins; why?

I think I know.  I my theory with my sister.  We will never know, but it could be.  I honestly wish I could ask her.  But when I was a teenager, I learned her story.

The two twin cards.

We did not have living twins in our family.  But in 1930 my grandmother was pregnant with twins.  She already had two children. My uncle about 3 or 4 and my Mom was about 18 months when my grandmother was pregnant again.  At 24, she was not in good health.  Her childhood in Poland and surviving WWI had left its mark on her health.  Her kidneys were failing.  The doctor said she had to terminate the pregnancy or she and the baby would die (They did not know it was twins till after.).

And so the pregnancy was terminated.  Abortion was illegal in 1930.  However, Grandma was able to have the abortion by a physician.  Could it be that she was so sick, they had to do anything to save her life?  I assume so.  After the abortion they found out that she was carrying twins.

How do I know all of this?  My grandmother and my mother told me.  My sister knows as well. It was not a secret.  My grandmother was always open about how terminating the pregnancy saved her life.  She never got pregnant again.  I assume my grandparents were very careful.  

But after the abortion, my Grandmother was still quite ill. Her kidneys were still failing. She was so ill that she decided she had to go back to Europe and give her children to her in-laws as she was sure she was going to die.  She did not die and she returned to the USA with her children and then worked to get the family out of Europe.   (I wrote a blog about this as well, see below.). It was the abortion, the illness and this trip that led to my grandmother saving her sister’s life! 

When I saw the birthday cards for the twins.  My memory of my Grandmother telling me about this lost pregnancy came into my mind.  Did she ever think about all that happened because she ended the pregnancy? Did she buy these cards for the children who did not live?  Where they often on her mind? Did she celebrate their birthday privately?  

I will never know. 

https://zicharonot.com/2015/12/07/my-grandmas-ledger-books-remind-me-of-her-financial-lessons/

https://zicharonot.com/2016/06/06/the-mysterious-kalsbad-photos-who-are-they/

A Quest Completed! Thanks to My Cousin!

19 Aug

In my quest to discover more about my ancestors and my family’s immigration to the USA, I have enlisted the help of my family.  My sister, an attorney, was given the job of research. When I could not find something, I often sent her an email and said ‘try to find this’.  And she did. Sometimes we argued about whether we really found who we thought we found. But in the end, we would determine the truth.  She is named for my paternal great grandmother, Raisha.

My cousin’s son, when he graduated college, and before he got a job, became interested in family as well, and created a marvelous family tree of my paternal side. I still send him updates when I get more information. He keeps it current as cousins marry and babies are born. Other cousins have sent me photos as they search through their parent’s albums. We have had great discoveries through these albums, including the only known photo of my other paternal great grandmother. (See blog below.)

For years I have wanted to find the graves of my paternal great grandparents.  I knew they were buried in New York somewhere. I actually remember my great grandmother.  Before COVID, I found what I thought was my great grandfather’s grave, and sent it out to my cousins, asking what they thought.  It was not the grave. Two of my cousins remember going to visit the grave with my grandmother, to see her parents.

My Great Grandfather Louis and Great Grandmother Rae in 1894 around the time of their wedding.
My Great Grandparent’s grave!

They said, it is in Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn.  OY, I really wanted to have pictures of the graves.  But I live in Kansas. I just needed this photo, to complete a desire in my quest to answer questions. Where were they?  Were they with other family?  No one wanted to make the journey out to the cemetery. They were all busy.

But, I have a fantastic cousin.  I call him the king of the cemeteries.  He does not like that title. But I give it to him out of love.  He is the one who makes sure the family plot where all my grandparents, my parents, his parents, my uncle and others rest, is always cared for by the cemetery.   When we have gone and seen something not right, we have emailed him. And he makes sure it is fixed. He is named after this great grandfather.  And they are both Baruch Lev, blessed hearts.

This week, when I got a call from him, I was worried.  He doesn’t call me that often.  And with me in Kansas, and most of my family in New Jersey and New York, I wondered did anything happen.  “Do you have Facetime?” he asked.  The next thing I know he was calling me back, and I was walking with him in Washington Cemetery seeing the graves of my great grandparents.  I have tears in my eyes now, but at that moment, I was elated.  “Take pictures.”    Of course, he was taking pictures.  He said, with nothing to do right now, he thought he would take a ride out and find the graves.

He could not find the grave of their child who died as an infant.  He did not see the graves of any of our great grandparents’ siblings.  And although my cousins thought that my grandparents were not buried together, the memory was wrong. They share a grave site.  

My cousin took pictures of the grave and the entrance to the section where they are buried, in the Bialystoker area.

Above the gate it says: Bialystoker. And under it UNT VEREIN SOMACH NOFLIM.  My grandfather was the president of the Bialystoker Free Loan Society, the Somach Noflim. This is the area where he was buried.  He was also a vice president of the once famed Bialystoker Home for the Aged, which he helped establish.  The blog below explains the goodness of my great grandfather

Above the Gate: Bialystoker Unt Verein Somach Noflim

Baruch Lev ben Yaacov Zev, died July 24, 1941, just a few months before my father’s bar mitzvah. He was 71 years old. And Rushka, or Raisha or Rae, or Rachel, she has all those names: Rushka the daughter of Avigdor, who died on November 29, 1956, on my brother’s third birthday. I was not quite two. I actually have a memory of her.

I once told my Dad, that my memory was Grandma Ray sitting in a chair in my grandparents’ Bronx apartment. She was not moving very much and she had lace on her head.  Later I told Dad it must have been a doily on her head.  And my Dad laughed. He said she had very little hair, and her scalp showed through, making it look like lace.

I consider myself so fortunate to have a family who appreciates my desire to have the history of our family written down for the next generations.   I appreciate my sister who does research; my cousins who send me photos, especially the ones with inscriptions on the back; my cousin’s son who does the family tree; and my cousin, Baruch Lev,  who took a day to go to the cemetery for me and give me this gift of our great grandparents’ graves.

https://zicharonot.com/2016/03/08/louis-of-the-blessed-heart/

https://zicharonot.com/2019/11/23/the-gift-of-a-photo-becomes-a-gift-of-genealogy/

Loving My Mother’s Wedding Memory Book

28 Jul

Spring and summer are usually wedding time. Although COVID-19 has altered many wedding plans, I believe we should still celebrate weddings.  About once a week I see photos on Facebook of an outdoor wedding in a backyard or a park, where a small group of people gather for a family wedding.  Other weddings, I know, have been put on hold.  But with all that going on, weddings are on my mind.

In June I wrote about finding my in-laws wedding album during our move.  Among the other items I discovered in my move, was a wedding memory book that my Mother filled out after she and Dad were engaged.  Funny how you grow up hearing family stories, but some important facts were left out. Those facts are chronicled in this memory book.

For example, I knew my parents met on a blind date set up by my Dad’s Aunt Hady and Uncle Lenny.  They shopped at my grandparent’s bakery and liked my Mom.  So they arranged for their nephew, my Dad, to meet Mom.  I guess she liked him, because she loaned him the book, Animal Farm, and he had to come for a second date to return it.

What I now know is that first date was held on July 4, 1949.  Dad always said how difficult it was to go from the Bronx to West New York, New Jersey.  Now I truly believe him. It was a holiday. It must have been nuts using mass transit to go on a date.

But Mom must have liked the date. She remembered: “We went to the Roxy and then to Roth’s for supper.  I wore my black silk print and Don wore a tan sport jacket with dark brown pants.”  Can you imagine a blind date now on the Fourth of July with the man wearing a sport jacket and the woman wearing silk?  It would be perhaps a summer dress and the guy would wear nice slacks or shorts and a polo shirt. I think.

Mom was still in college.  They were both 20 years old on their first date.

They announced their engagement 19 months later on March 23, 1951, in Santa Barbara, California.  Amazingly they married just three months later.  I knew it was a quickly planned wedding. But I did not realize how quickly!

I never knew the exact date of their engagement. But it answers a question I always had.  I got married on March 22, a Saturday night. But my Mom pushed for a while for a Sunday afternoon wedding on March 23, which would have been the anniversary of their engagement! I am sorry I did not ask her why that date was so important.  I will just believe that March 22 still counts!

The story of their engagement I had heard many times. Mom and my Grandma Esther, my Dad’s mom, flew to California where my Dad was in basic training before going to Korea.  My Mom’s parents were extremely upset and worried that they would get married there. In fact, there is a photo of my parents by the courthouse in Santa Barbara that created a stir.  But no, they did not get married then.  They waited till Mom graduated college and Dad had a two-week furlough before going off to war.

They even got a few engagement gifts, mainly from close family.

My Mom even had a surprise shower on May 27, 1951.  I have photos and even a movie of the shower.  Dad was still in California.  I assume my uncle recorded the shower. My Dad’s sister, Leona, and sister-in-law, Mickey, hosted the shower at my paternal grandparent’s apartment, for 50 guests!  My Great Aunt Minnie, who was part of my childhood and even came to my wedding, gave my Mom the bridal book, I am looking at now.

My Mom, Aunt Leona, Grandma Esther and Great Grandma Ray at the surprise shower.

But the memory book had another surprise that was important in my genealogy research. I knew almost all the people at the shower.  A few I know basically who they are, but do not remember them.  And a few were a bit of a surprise, they are my grandmother’s first cousins and aunts for the Lew family. (See blog below.) These women have shown up in my genealogy research before.  It was actually these names in reference to my great grandmother that confirmed that my great grandmother was in fact from the same family in Russia as other members of the Tracing the Tribe Group I belong to.  And connected me with distant relatives here in Kansas.   This wedding memory book makes the relationship very clear.  It states, “Aunt Rose, Grandma’s sister”.  With this shower list, I am able to realize how closely in contact the family was in the 1950s.  

Of the 50 people at that shower, I only know of three still alive today. My Aunt Mickey, who hosted it; and my Mom’s two best friends Wini and Judy.

My parents married on June 17, 1951 at Talmud Torah in West New York.  My Dad’s sister was the maid of honor. My Mom’s brother was the best man. My Mom wore my Aunt’s wedding dress. As this was a quickly planned wedding, there was no time to order a wedding dress.  And my aunt, the maid of honor, wore the gown my Mom wore when she was in the bridal party of her brother’s wedding!  Sixty-seven years later, my niece married her husband on the same day.

I even have the list of everyone who attended the wedding.  Sadly, as was the time, everyone is listed as Mr. and Mrs., so I do not have many names of the women who were there, unless they were single and came by themselves.  But many of the names I know.  Many are family members. Many are people I knew throughout my life. 

The Lew/Wolf Family members who came to the wedding.

Those first cousins of my grandmother, who came to the shower, were also at the wedding with their spouses.  I met them a few times as a child and quickly forgot, as children will do. But I know I met them, as my grandmother’s family had a Cousins’ Club for many years. And I remember going and running around with lots of children in a big room. But like many children, my memory of the adults has slipped away.

After the wedding, my parents went on their honeymoon to New York City, spending two nights at the Waldorf Astoria!  They then went to the Catskills and spent five nights at Grossingers!  A true destination spot for honeymoons.

My grandparents owned a small bungalow colony in the Catskills. My Dad always joked that his in laws came to be with him on his honeymoon.  And they did. They had dinner with them one night.  And with that dinner, my Dad had a funny story to tell for the rest of his life.

This tradition continued when my daughter and her husband got married. She wanted to show her husband our Catskills’ home. So they spent three nights of their honeymoon at our home in Kauneonga Lake. My sister went with them, as my daughter had never been there alone as an adult and did not really know her way around. But I like to tease my sister that she was continuing a family tradition.  (My daughter also got married on the anniversary of my husband and my first date.)

I am so glad my Mom kept records of everything in her beautiful and precise handwriting.  Reading through this book brought back stories and memories.  And brought back the joy of the wedding season that we are all missing.

https://zicharonot.com/2016/09/10/a-kansas-wedding-with-a-catskills-honeymoon/

https://zicharonot.com/2019/12/19/the-descendants-of-esther-lew-and-victor-avigdor-wolff-wolf/