Friday, May 30, 2014

Buster Brown Haircut

Anna Maule and her two sisters
Joe Koferl
Buster Brown was originally a comic strip character created in 1902 by Richard Felton Outcault, who was associated with the Brown Shoe Company. Buster, with his pageboy haircut, was based on a small child in Outcault’s hometown. 

This is a photograph of my Grandmother and father. My father is dressed in a dress typical of the period. I think that my father is either three or four years old in the photograph. This is the time when they were living in American Venice. You can see him with his Buster Brown Haircut. 

By the 1910's "Some mothers still dressed their younger boys in dresses, but the convention of dressing young boys in dresses and kilt suits became increasingly less ."

Why Did Boys Wear Dresses?

"It is interesting from an historical perspective to speculate as to why little boys were dressed as girls. Many qu estions come to mind. Many stress the practical factor of the ease of caring for small children in skirted garments. This was probably a factor, but practicality was not the only factor. Clearly the mother that lovingly dressed her son in frilly Little Lord Fauntleroy suits and curled his hair did not place practicality high on her priorities. Also the practicality arguement does not explain why some boys were kept in dresses well past the age of toilet training. Clearly more was involved andvpeople in past generations saw it important to distinguish the young boy from the man. Attiring boys in dresses did set them apart from men, but did not set them apart from adults--as until the 19th century they wore dresses much like their sisters and mothers. Why was the boy's costume not distinguished from that of a woman's? This question leads to some interesting insights into pschological power relationships and the staus of women in previous eras."  

The sailor suit fashion continued popular in the 1910s. Styles at the beginning of the decade were little changed than at the turn of the century, except that shorts and knickers largely replaced knee pants. By the end of the decade sailor suits were being worn by increasingly younger boys in Britain and America, although older boys continued to wear them in Germany and other European countries. Most American boys wore knickers, often including high school age boys. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

You Ought To Be In Pictures

The photograph on the left is of my Aunt Gertrude and her friend wearing a skimmer or boater hat.

A boater (also straw boater, basher, skimmer, cady, katie, somer, sennit hat, or in Japan, can-can hat) is a kind of men's formal summer hat. It is normally made of stiff sennit straw and has a stiff flat crown and brim, typically with a solid or striped grosgrain ribbon around the crown. Boaters were popular as casual summer headgear in the late 19th century and early 20th century, especially for boating or sailing, hence the name. 
To the right is a picture of my Aunt when she was under five years old. This is a lovely studio shot. For years my mother thought it was a picture of herself but my Uncle Al clarified it for us. If you look at the outfit she is wearing note the muff and bonnet typical turn of the century costume. The double breasted coat with an attached cape trimmed in what looks like velvet, were popular at the time. Gertrude was there first daughter and her parents chose to dressed her laviously.

While there is documentation to suggest that premade children's attire existed as early as 17th century Europe, it was not until the manufacturing age (or the age of mass production) that ready made children's garments were available to all social classes. Before the 1860s, ready made children's clothing was only purchased by the upper class. Tailors and "little dressmakers" visited the home of the wealthy, taking measurements and fitting garments to each child. However, by the end of the 19th century, fashion called for loosely fitted dresses and less tailored suits- allowing for a one size fits all industry.

Aunt Gertrude in her teens with
 Aunt Tillie, a friend of the family.
The sailor outfit that my Aunt is wearing in this photograph to the left looks like it was taken on some kind of boat. The sailor dress with a high waist and buttons down the front complete with a midi collar and bow was a popular style.  The photograph was taken circa 1917 -1919.

The photograph found to your right is of Aunt Gertrude and my Mother Tillie. My mother looks around the age of seven and is wearing a light coat which leads me to believe that it was Springtime. My Aunt Gertrude is wearing a black lace dress with a low waistline. Typical style of the 1920's this dress shows off a long pendent that could possibly a locket with her innitials on it that my Sister Barbara has in her collection.
The final photograph was taken of my Aunt Gertrude and who I think is her husband, John Clark. The photographs shows my Aunt wearing a long winter coat and sporting a picture hat. The dark coat with matching satin trim adds a beautiful accent to the coat with its fur trim. The photograph probably was taken in the early twenties.

Roaring Twenties

This is a photograph of my Aunt Gertrude dressed as a flapper during the time period. Note her hair was cut in a fashionable style, her head-dress typical style of the era and her stylish dress. When this photograph was taken she was in her late teens to twenty. Whether she was married or single at the time is hard to say. She was born in 1903 in New York but there is no record of her birth. She grew up in New York City, one of the cities that exemplified all the characteristics of the Roaring Twenties.

Gertrude married John C. Clark on April 11, 1923. I don't think there was a big wedding reception because they were married on a Wednesday probably by the Justice of the Peace. John C. Clark was not her parents choice but rather a marriage Gertrude rushed into. She drove a car and followed some of the era's traits. I'm not sure that she smoked but I do believe that she was breaking away from traditions of the German Immigrant family life and becoming her own woman. Once she married John Clark she no longer went home but rather her siblings would visit her at her new home. Her father, Gottlieb was upset with her decision to wed John Clark.

Flappers were a "new breed" of young Western women in the 1920s who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles, and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms. Flappers had their origins in the liberal period of the Roaring Twenties, the social, political turbulence and increased transatlantic cultural exchange that followed the end of World War I, as well as the export of American jazz culture to Europe.

The Roaring Twenties is a term sometimes used to refer to the 1920s in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, characterizing the decade's distinctive cultural edge in New York City, Chicago, Paris, Berlin, London, Los Angeles and many other major cities during a period of sustained economic prosperity. French speakers called it the "années folles" ("Crazy Years"),[1] emphasizing the era's social, artistic, and cultural dynamism. Normalcy returned to politics in the wake of hyper-emotional patriotism after World War I, jazz music blossomed, the flapper redefined modern womanhood, and Art Deco peaked. Economically, the era saw the large-scale diffusion and use of automobiles, telephones, motion pictures, and electricity, unprecedented industrial growth, accelerated consumer demand and aspirations, and significant changes in lifestyle and culture. The media focused on celebrities, especially sports heroes and movie stars, as cities rooted for their home team and filled the new palatial cinemas and gigantic stadiums. In most major countries women won the right to vote for the first time. Finally the Wall Street Crash of 1929 ended the era, as the Great Depression set in, bringing years of worldwide gloom and hardship.[2]

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

American Venice

This is a photograph of my Grandmother, Anna Maule sitting on the fender of the car. The day looks beautiful for a trip to the beach or a picnic. Note the dirt road and crops that are growing on the side of the road lead me to believe it is late spring or early summer. Anna is dressed in a short sleeve dress and the driver is wearing a suit jacket. The boys in the car were wearing caps and probably had knickerbockers on because of the warmer time of the year. The photograph was taken at the end of the teens or early twenties.

My father grew up near or on the border of Copiague and Lindenhurst known as American Venice. We have photographs taken at the end of his road looking at the water. Here is a photograph to the right of my father taken near the back of the house. He is dressed in his little sailor outfit. To the left another photograph looking across the street at a neighbor's yard with my father in the foreground. I remember that my father took us to the area where he lived one evening during the summer. He showed us where he lived and told us that the area known as American Venice was originally used for film making before Hollywood became so important to the industry. According to the information that I found on the Internet they do not mention the film making industry but instead it was a real estate venture to bring more people to the suburbs before and after the Great Depression.

 Below is a photograph of my Uncle Billy who is standing on the dock near the canals. They lived on 487 John Street in Lindenhurst according to the 1920 Federal Census.The picture taken of my grandmother, Anna Maule probably taken at the end of their block near the canals. It looks like this was taken the same day as the one by the automobile.
Another photograph of my Uncle with either his brother taken the same day as the previous one on the dock near the canal. This picture was taken of the neighbor's home across the street. They lived in American Venice until 1925 New York Census where we find them living on Wellwood Avenue in Lindenhurst.

American Venice became a unique place to live through my fathers memories.

 "An ornate gazebo sat on an island in the middle of a laguna at the north end of a canal framed by striped mooring poles and gondolas imported from Italy. From their perch of towering columns, statues of winged lions invited passersby to come closer and explore, to saunter over arched Venetian bridges and past Italian-style villas.
This was once the scene not in Venice, Italy, but in American Venice, a unique community created in the 1920s in Copiague, just off the Great South Bay. The Great Depression and a surge of year-round residents eventually transformed American Venice into a conventional suburban neighborhood, and for years the Town of Babylon has been trying to recreate those golden days. But it would require acquisition of a site at the head of the canal, and the town has been unable to persuade the property owner to sell.
American Venice was the brainchild of real estate developers Victor Pisani and Isaac Meister, according to a new book, "Copiague" (Arcadia Publishing), by Babylon town archivist Mary Cascone. At a time when many communities on Long Island were still on the cusp of development, the pair decided to create right in the heart of Copiague an oasis dedicated to a city more than 4,000 miles away."

Friday, May 23, 2014

By The Sea, By The Sea

My Aunt Gertrude had a beautiful smile and eyes.  Here she is enjoying a day at the beach in her fetching bathing outfit circa late teens early twenties. If you look especially closer you can see beach chairs and a pavilion in the background of the photograph. I think that this bathing suit was styled after the two piece dress worn pre 1920 style. Note the long skirt, stockings and bathing shoes. I wonder what my Aunt would of thought of today's swimming gear. I think she would have liked the styles and how they looked and felt. You can tell from the photographs that I have of her she took great pleasure and effort when coordinating her outfits.

The photograph found below  is of a friend of my Aunt's probably taken the same day. The one to the right (middle) resembles my father's side relatives and is possibly of  his mother (left) And her sisters to the right. If you recognize any of the photographs please contact me by email or leaving a comment. The photograph found all the way to the right is of my Aunt with a 20's bathing suit possibly taken on a different day. You can see how the bathing suit is made of jersey fabric and shows off more of the figure.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Yours, Mine and Ours

Aunt Minnie, Grandmother Anna
 and Father Joe
My father's family was a blended family in that each parent had children from a previous family. "A stepfamily or blended family is a family where one parent has children that are not genetically related to the other parent. Either one or both parents may have children from a previous relationship. Children from a stepfamily may live with one biological parent and visit their other biological parent, or they may live with each biological parent for a period of time.[1]" At times this was the case with my father's family. where two of the brothers took turns living with both their mother then their father according to the census records. Looking at 1910 census both William and John lived with both their mother and father part of the time.  The Hain or Hein family consisted of two children John who was born on October 26, 1906 and William who was born on August 22, 1902 born to Anna Maule and Diedrich Hein. The two brothers grew up knowing their father, Diedrich but one of the brothers along the way had a parting of the ways and grew apart from his father thus changing his name to Hain. Uncle Billy or William Hain changed the spelling of his name from Hein to Hain.

Uncle Billy
While at the same time living in the household was the Koferl clan consisting of Henry Frank born on September 1, 1896 and Minnie or Helen born in 1900. Minnie or Helen and Henry Frank were born to Pauline and Henry Koferl.Here is a photograph of Aunt Minnie or Minnie Ha Ha the name my father, Joseph gave her and his mother Anna Maule. Minnie and Joseph were haf sister and brother to one another. My Uncle Billy was the only Uncle on my paternal side that I really got to know. As the two families grew up they grew apart and only my father and Uncle Billy seem to stay close.

In 1920 Minnie lived in Lindenhurst with Anna and Henry Koferl my Grandparents and worked as a clerk. According to the 1925 New York Census Minnie lived with her Aunt and Uncle the Scipios. at that time she was working as a wrapper in Brooklyn. After the 1925 NY Census, I lost track of Minnie the paper trail seems to have ended probably due to her getting married and the change of names.

Henry Frank lived with his father according to the 1920 Census and he worked as a salesman. He married Rebecca Gardner on December 17, 1928. By the 1930 & 1940 Census they were living on Hallock Street in Riverhead and he was working as a plumber. According to the census records they had no children.

John Hein who was living with both his parents up until the 1925 NY Census worked as an auto mechanic.  In 1930 according to the census he was still living with his father, Diedrich and was working as an assistant auto service manager. By the 1940 U.S. Census he is married to Anna and they have two children Rose Marie who is 10 at the time and John Jr. who is 7. He is working as a plumber at that time.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Victory Garden

When my parents moved into their house on 79 Park Avenue in Deer Park, America had already entered the war. Both of my parents wanted to do their part and so they planted their first victory garden. Along with ration stamps they managed to survive the war years and continued the practice of planting a garden for the rest of their lives.  " Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Germany[1] during World War I and World War II. They were used along with food stamps to reduce pressure on the public food supply. Around one-third of the vegetables produced by the United States were from victory gardens.[2] In addition to indirectly aiding the war effort these gardens were also considered a civil "morale booster" — in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. This made victory gardens become a part of daily life on the home front." This is a photograph of my parents preparing the ground for the garden. My father had a scythe in his hands and he is cutting down the tall grass before he turns over the ground. The building behind him was the garage that my father worked out of for many years as an automobile mechanic. Some of the vegetables that my mother and father planted were red beets, carrots, string beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, lettuce. My mother canned all summer long putting up tomato sauce, string beans, pickling red beets, preserving jams and jellies, rhubarb and strawberries, apple sauce, pickles, corn on the cob, to name a few.

During the war my father would get all the women together in the neighborhood and they would share their ration stamps for gasoline with him so that he could purchase gas to use for the repair shop. He would then take the women to the stores to do their shopping. The effort to carpool save them a lot of gasoline ration stamps. Other things that helped when it came to rationing was that Mrs. Nicklaus their friend had experience the rationing system from the previous war and told my mother to buy extra staples for example sugar for she knew that a ration stamp system would soon be put in place.

During the war my father was the neighborhood air raid warden. It was his job to check the homes in the neighborhood to make sure they were drawing their curtains following the correct blackout procedures.  "During the Second World War, the ARP was responsible for the issuing of gas masks, pre-fabricated air-raid shelters (such as Anderson shelters, as well as Morrison shelters), the upkeep of local public shelters, and the maintenance of the blackout."

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

William Hain and the General Store

In this photograph my Uncle Billy is working in a general store in Nassau County.  He was a half brother to my father, Joseph and they shared the same mother, Anna Maule. The photograph shows a young man sitting at the counter where my Uncle worked. The boy is wearing Knickerbockers which tells us that this was taken in the early 1920's. My Uncle Billy was born in New York on August 22, 1902 to Anna Maule and Diedrich Heins Sr. most likely the photograph was taken when Uncle Billy was in his late teens or early 20's.

"The American general store flourished throughout the 19th century but declined rapidly in the 20th century, particularly after the 1920s. It was mostly succeeded by specialized stores, each handling a relatively narrow product range or a particular type of good....The general store served as a meeting place for members of the community, of which the storekeeper was an important member not only because he supplied material goods but because he was also the source of news and gossip. Because produce from the land and forest tended to yield a seasonal return, the storekeeper also sometimes extended long-term credit of from six months to a year to his customers."

The concept of the general store where customers were assisted with there orders as opposed to self service was practiced during that period of time. My Uncle would not only gather the order but ring it up and bag it as part of the service. This was all done while the customer sat waiting for his order to be filled. Cans goods lined the shelves with price tags on the shelves displaying the current cost. Every nook and cranny was filled to capacity in an orderly manner. Popular advertisement lined the top shelves while below a coffee grinder appears to be waiting for use. Gas light fixtures were probably converted to electric by the time the photograph was taken.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Three Brothers

My Grandfather is pictured here with his two brothers who came to America, from left to right they are Gottlieb, Karl, and William. Gottlieb arrived at age 20 in 1893, he was the family explorer as I see it. He came before other family members came to America.  Then William at age 24 traveled to America in 1904 eleven years after his oldest brother and finally Karl came in 1927 at age 42. Both William and Gottlieb were bakers by trade and owned their own shops.

Karl was born on June 18, 1885 in Langenbrand, Germany. He was the youngest of the three brothers. He lived in Newark which leads me to believe that his older brother William helped to establish him in New Jersey. Karl and his wife, Amelia journeyed to America on the Albert Ballin they arrived on October 31, 1927. Emily was two years younger Karl and was born in Buckenbronnthen. They had last resided in Pforzhein "a town of nearly 120,000 inhabitants in the state of Baden-Württemberg, southwest Germany at the gate to the Black Forest. It is known for its jewelry and watch-making industry. Because of that it gained the nickname "Goldstadt" or Golden City." Karl and Amelia had no children but they enjoyed their nephews and nieces.

Karl made his living as a jeweler in a factory. According to his World War II Registration card he listed Carl Restschler as a reference and his employer as Forstner Chain Corp. "The Forstner jewelry company, a classic American jewelry firm, was founded in 1920 in Irvington, New Jersey.  Forstner specialized in gold filled, sterling silver and pure gold accessories. Forstner jewelry was primarily known for snake chains, snake motifs, watch fobs, key chains and overall classic designs in gold and silver. The Forstner Company later changed their name to the Forstner Jewelry Manufacturing Corporation. In 1980, the corporation ceased operations, making all Forstner jewelry rare and highly desirable for collectors." At the time he was 56 and he was 5'5' tall and 170 lbs. according to the registration card with one finger that was permanently bent.

William was the second oldest of the three brother who came to America. He was born on Feb 8, 1879 in Langenbrand, Germany. William married Mary in 1904 the same year that they immigrated to America from Germany. There two children Mildred and William were born in New York in 1923 and 1924. Sometime between 1924 and 1930 they moved to New Jersey. By 1930 Census Karl's first wife Mary had passed away and he remarried. He married Berdie and had a son, Walter in 1928. William ran the bakery for 28 years in Sommerville, NJ until his death which was on Januaary 8, 1934 at age 55. He died of an accidental gas poisoning.

 The picture to the right was taken in the late 1800's or early 1900's and it is my feeling that it is a picture of the four brothers, The fourth brother Johann Frederick remained in Germany. Note the collars on the shirts and how different in style they are from each other. "To combat the problem of infrequent and long wash-days, early shirts came with detachable collars and cuffs, not something found on most shirts today. While a shirt was worn for days or weeks on end, the collars and cuffs were changed and replaced as necessary, perhaps once a week, or more, if needed. The collars and cuffs on shirts were held on with special buttons called studs. There were two studs for the collar (front and back) and additional studs for the cuffs (one stud for each sleeve)." "In 1901, there were 26 collar and cuff makers and 38 laundries in the city. Wearing a detached white collar gave rise to a new working social class, the "white collar" worker who differentiated themselves from the no or "blue" collar factory worker."

 If anyone can identify the photograph please contact me or leave a comment. At the time that Gottlieb left Germany Johann would have been 24, Gottlieb 23, Karl 8, and William 14. The picture if it is of the four brothers was taken when Johann visited America in

Friday, May 9, 2014

Joseph Henry Koferl

My father, Joseph Henry Koferl was born to Anna Maule and Henry Joseph Koferl  on on November 16, 1915 at his parent's home on 487 North Hoffman Avenue in Lindenhurst, NY. It was common practice in those days to have a midwife assist in the birth of a child. Midwives in most states practiced without government control until the 1920s. Even today, regulation of midwifery varies from state to state. ...By the beginning of the 20th century, midwives attended only about half of all births in the U.S., and physicians attended the other half. 

According to the 1930 Census Joseph attended school as many of the young boys did at that time till he was 15. Children were greatly affected during the Great Depression, even if they didn’t understand what was happening. They knew if their parent(s) had lost their job. They knew that money was scarce. Some children had to leave school to take jobs and help support the family. Most of the time it was 16 and 17 year old children who dropped out of school to go to work. But sometimes younger ones had to drop out and go to work. Joseph was no exception to the rule and so he dropped out of school and got a job driving a soda truck. He had no license but he drove a truck until one day he said to his boss, I need to take some time off so that I can go for my road test. The boss was very surprised that he did not have his driving license. This is a picture of Joseph standing next to an old car with a relative or friend. Joseph is the younger boy with the tie.

He worked various jobs and eventually got a job in Deer Park working for Mr. Hagen as a mechanic. He held this job until Axel Hagen retired and moved to Texas. Joe lived in the house next to the Hagens on Park Avenue when they lived in Deer Park. He opened a repair shop at home and worked from his home till he retired due to health reasons back in the 1980's. Many of the neighborhood children grew up learning about the repair business from Joe. He became well known and at one time he repaired school buses for the school district. Of course things were different back in the 40's and 50's. At that time there was very little problems with zoning and commercial businesses.

I remember that we still had a few farms in our town when I was growing up and my father would repair tractors and other farm equipment. Sometimes he would have to create a part that was no longer available. What I enjoyed most out of the experience of my father working from home was that he was always around to give you advice and help you with a bicycle repair. His garage is still standing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Erwina Hagen

Erwina Hagen was born on June 5, 1900 in Austria. Last place she resided in Austria according to the Ellis Island Passenger Record was Bregenz. Bregenz is the capital of Vorarlberg, the westernmost federal state of Austria. The city is located on the eastern shores of Lake Constance, the third-largest freshwater lake in Central Europe, between Switzerland in the west and Germany in the northwest.The city is situated on a plateau falling in a series of terraces to the lake at the foot of Pfander mountain. It is a junction of the arterial roads from the Rhine valley to the German Alphine foothills, with cruise ship services on Lake Constance.

Erwina was only 22 traveling to America by herself. She traveled on the Mount Clay ship which departed from Hamburg approximately one week prior to arriving on December 12, 1922. Built for Hamburg-American Line, German flag, in 1904 and renamed Prinz Eitel Friedrich. Hamburg-New York service. Laid-up 1916-17. Seized by US Government, in 1917 and renamed USS De Kalb. Troop transport service. ID SP 1628. Transferred to United American Lines, in 1920 and renamed Mount Clay. Hamburg-New York service. Laid up 1925-34. Scrapped in 1934.

By 1930 Census she was living in the Village of Lindenhurst on Long Island.  Her husband Adolph Ohnmacht was a cousin of my mother, Tillie Ohnmacht. He was working as a baker and owned his own home which was valued at $5,000. Walter their two year old son was born on February 16, 1928. Eugene, Adolph's younger brother was living with them at the time and was working as a manager of a butcher store. By the 1940 census Eugene had married Anna who had immigrated from Austria and was living on Knickerbocker Avenue in Brooklyn and still working as a butcher. By that time Eugene was naturalized and had immigrated from Germany in 1924.

My memories of Erwina are of a lovely woman with clear blue eyes, snow white hair and a beautiful smile which lit up her face. When my mother gave birth to twins (Stephen and Mary Ann Koferl), she asked to be their Godparents, Erwina and her son Walter who was now 25.

The other memories I have of my Aunt Erwina is the Summer we did not have a pool, my Aunt took us each week to the beach for the day. Mom would make a picnic lunch and we would have a great time at the beach. We would see our Aunt often for she would visit us and spend the day at our house telling stories while helping my Mother with the laundry and mending. She always would bring her dog Ginger who we loved to play with. She also learned how to drive later on in life after her husband, Adolph passed away.

Aunt Erwina and Uncle Adolph owned a bakery in town and they would always bring the best desserts to the house. I remember when the bakery had a fire we received a lot of baked good from their store that they were unable to sell due to the fire. Today the bakery is known as the Black Forest Bakery in Lindenhurst and was sold several times after my Aunt and Uncle owned it.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Martha Virginia Conrad

Martha Virginia Conrad or Aunt Margie which we had known her by was the wife of my Uncle Al. She was born on April 30, 1912 in Pennsylvania. Her mother was Sadie Conrad who was born on July 4, 1889 in New York and her father was James Miliegan Conrad who was born in Sugar Runn, Pennsylvania on December 22, 1882. Martha had six brothers and sisters; Herbert, Harry, James, Anna, Grace and Melvin. By 1920 the family was living at 298 Bradford Street in Brooklyn. The father, James was working as a mechanic and all of the children were attending school. The 1930 Census showed Aunt Margie working as a clerk in a laundry and living with her family at 238 Sutley Avenue in Brooklyn. All of the children were still home and Sadie was separated from her husband. Somewhere around this time Margie met Al and married him on July 16, 1931.

One of the stories I remember most about my Aunt is that she had sang professionally and was on the radio. I remember that she had a deep voice and she loved to sing the song, "You made me love you." Her singing career didn't last long and it was prior to Margie marrying Al. Another story that she always liked to tell was after getting married by the Justice of the Peace, they went back to my grandfather's house and that night she slept with her sister-in-law, Tillie while Uncle Al went to work delivering milk.

The other story that stands out in my mind is that while my Uncle was in the service she had worked as a riveter for Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation thus we were reminded often that Margie was a "Rosie the Riveter".She was proud that she had served her country in this fashion during the war.  "Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon of the United States, representing the American women who worked in factories during World War II, many of whom produced munitions and war supplies. These women sometimes took entirely new jobs replacing the male workers who were in the military. Rosie the Riveter is commonly used as a symbol of feminism and women's economic power." I wish we had a photograph of Aunt Margie in her overalls.

Margie also worked for Double Day for the book of the month club division in the 1950's. I remember she was delighted to work at such a fine publishing company. They lived in Farmingdale during this period of time. Al worked as a plumber.

When they moved to Florida I visited them a number of times. One time I think this was the first time I traveled alone I visited my Aunt and Uncle and we spent some time in the Everglades. One of the restaurants that we always went to was the Kapok Tree Inn the ultimate tourist attraction with its wonderful atmosphere.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Death Comes In Three's

I don't know if my family is particularly superstitious but a number of times in our family history we have experienced death coming in three's. The hardest part of this is that the people who are left behind have a lot of sadness to deal with at one time. This happen when my Uncle John went a way for fourth of July weekend with his sister Gertrude Ohnmacht in 1921. It just so happened that the 4th of July fell on a Monday that year so the two of them drove up to Esopus to spend the weekend with some family and friends. Esopus is known for its scenic beauty and the river is absolutely gorgeous. The death certificate states "that the cause of death was as follows: accidental drowning while in swimming." This happened on the 3rd of July and his sister had to make the arrangements to bring him home. We don't know if she had to transfer the body herself or whether he was brought home by a hearse. I can't imagine how difficult it was to tell your parents that your brother drown when you were swimming on vacation. John was laid out in the parlor of the house which was the custom during those days. Here is a picture of Esopus's River and another one of my Aunt with a few of her friends going for a drive.

The second death occurred when my Grandmother died from asthma and diabetes. She died at home at 130 Hawthorne Street, on August 8, 1922 from a broken heart. Family thought that after losing two of her children, Charles John Ohnmacht who was born on March 29, 1901 and died from Cholera at age 3 months and 23 days and John Frederick that these events lead to her death. Although Charles did not die during the Cholera Epidemics, Cholera was still part of tenement life. In fact they passed the New York State Tenement House Act the same year he died. The family was living at 413 West 48th Street, NY, as seen in the photograph to the left.

The third death occurred when my Aunt Gertrude died on December 27, 1923. She died from accidental
gas poisoning according to the Death Certificate. Gertrude had fallen in love but her bow had fallen in love and married another woman. She married John C. Clark on April 11, 1923 at the age of 21 and John was 32. John was a butcher by trade. According to the Marriage Certificate it was his first marriage. They were not suited for one another and eight months later she was dead. Family members thought she was murdered but no proof existed. At the time she was living at a Furnished Rooming House at 21 Brevoort Place. It looks like the same building is still standing today as seen in the photograph. Her husband, John did not claim the body or pay for the burial.  She was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery on December 30, 1923 next to her brother.

This is a picture of the whole family before the three deaths. From Left to right, Grandfather Gottlieb, Uncle Al, Uncle John, Aunt Gertrude, My Mother, Tillie in the front next to my Grandmother Gertrude.