Saturday, April 26, 2014

Alfred Gottlieb Ohnmacht

My Uncle Al was born on December 21, 1908 at home 2219 8th Avenue in New York City to Gottlieb and Gertrude Ohnmacht. He was the fourth child and the third son born to the couple. I think that it is fortuitous that the Model T was made popular the year he was born. My mother and Uncle are seen in this photograph with what looks like a Model T in the background.  "The Ford Model T (colloquially known as the Tin Lizzie and Flivver) is an automobile that was produced by Henry Ford's Ford Motor Company from 1908 through 1927. The Model T set 1908 as the historic year that the automobile came into popular usage."

My Uncle was wearing knickerbockers, a short pair of pants worn by boys until they reached puberty when they graduated to long pants. This was the custom after World War I. I would imagine that this photograph was taken somewhere in the early 1920's. My Uncle's beanie  or felt hat was popular from 1920 to 1940. The beanie or skull cap got it's name from the slang word for head is bean and the beanie covered your head. My mother Tillie Ohnmacht was around five or six in the photograph. The picture looks as if it was taken in the Spring or Fall.

She is wearing a large bow in her hair typical of the period. The family was still living at the same address according to the 1920 Census. By 1930 Census they were living in Lindenhurst on 608 Ruthford Street. After my grandmother, Gertrude Grossholtz passed away the family moved to New Jersey and then to Lindenhurst. Uncle Al was working at the time but it is hard to determine what the census taker wrote under occupation, it could be glassier. On July 16, 1931 Al Ohnmacht had married Martha Virginia Conrad or my Aunt Margie. From 1939 till 1942 they lived in Nassau County at 33 Manor Road in Lake View, Oceanside. By 1942 Al was listed as an engraver.

Uncle Al enlisted in the Army during World War II and was listed as a Private when he was released from military service on November 19, 1945. Part of his service he was stationed in France repairing Army vehicles. He had a diary which he kept while he was stationed in France but one day my mother caught us kids laughing about the entries and she destroyed the diary. What I remember from the entries that we did read it talked about life in France during the war. The shortage of stockings and how the French women drew lines down the back of their legs to give the effect of stocking seams.

During the war my older brother, Joseph Alfred was born and my Aunt Margie and Uncle Al were his Godparents. The photograph to the right was taken on the day of his Christening. After that they lived in Farmingdale until they were robbed and they they traveled around the country living in California for part of the time. They settled in Florida and lived in Clearwater until they passed. We missed not having them around while I was growing up but they did come to visit us a number of times over the years and I remember we would celebrate Christmas in July when they came for their visits. We would set up a small tree in the basement and play Christmas music while opening stocking gifts. We would also play Mitch Miller records and sing along to them. One thing my Uncle and Aunt could do were yoddle and whistle a tune.

What made my mother's relationship with my Uncle so important is that she lost most of her family at such a young age.  Tillie's brother, Al was her only family after her father died when she was 17 years old. She lived with my Aunt and Uncle until she was married,

Alfred died on April 16, 1988 after he had a stroke that placed in the hospital. Margie died a few years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer on January 1994.

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