The Missing Link in My Family History or My Biggest Genealogy Block

25 Oct

 

Harry Rosenberg

We think this is Grandpa Harry on his bar mitzvah day.

Help!

I know basically nothing about one set of my paternal great grandparents. My grandfather, Harry Rosenberg… Hersh Zvi ben Avraham, was the son of Abraham and Sarah Rosenberg. His father, Abraham, abandoned the family when my grandfather was about 13 or 14. Grandpa was borned in 1888 or 1889. So in 1901 or 1902, his father left and ended up in the Seattle, Washington, area. He came back to the east coast around September 1941, because he showed up at my Dad’s bar mitzvah. I know that he had a second wife, or a woman that he lived with on the West Coast. He supposedly became quite wealthy. Who knows?

Grandpa was born in New York, the oldest of six children: Harry, “Hady” (Harriet), Jacob, Muriel and two maiden sister.  (I am thinking one of my great grandparent’s parents had an H sound in their name, since both my grandfather and his oldest sister were Harry and Harriet.)

After Grandpa traveled to the west coast to find his father, he returned to New York to help support his sibling. He was a tailor. And through his work, all five of his siblings went to college Grandpa never did.   He found out much later that his mother had lied to him for many years.   She had been getting money from her husband, but never told my grandfather, and so kept him working for the family. (See blog post below: “The Sad Scandal That Forever Scarred My Grandpa Harry )

Grandpa married my grandmother, Esther Goldman, on February 26, 1922. He died February 29, 1984.

I know that Jacob got married and had a son named, Betram, and a daughter, Delilah. Delilah was around the same age as my Aunt, so born around 1931. I know because my Aunt would go to their house for piano lessons once a week. They lived in New York City at least until the 1940s. But supposedly he was an important lawyer and moved to England at some point and never came back to the USA.

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

Haddie married Lenny.   I knew them when I was a child. They lived to the end of their lives in Sullivan County, New York, in the Monticello area. (See blog post below: The Littlest Gambler: Learning about Horse Races in The Catskills.)

The two maiden sisters, and Muriel, I never knew. But Muriel also married and had sons. But that is all I know. The only story I know is that my grandmother asked them if they had any names they wanted when my aunt and uncle were born. Hence my Uncle’s middle name was Prime, and my Aunt’s middle name was Gwendolyn.   Grandma did not offer when my Dad was born.

I know my great grandfather’s original last name was “Grau.” He was one of three to five brothers who came to the USA at different times. We believe they all took different names.

I know nothing else. I do not even know my great grandmother’s maiden name. I don’t know when she was born or when she died. I do not know when my great grandparents’ married. But I know it had to be on or before 1888. I do not know when they moved to the USA.  We have no known photos of my great grandparents.

I am hoping one of the wonderful researchers from Tracing the Tribe can help me.

I would appreciate it. My Grandpa Harry’s family is the missing link in my research.

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/the-sad-scandal-that-forever-scarred-my-grandpa-harry/

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/the-littlest-gambler-learning-about-horse-races-in-the-catskills/

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I Hate Having to Say, “Me Too”

19 Oct

I hate having to say, “me too.”   It makes me a bit sick to my stomach to be honest. So many of us were harassed on the job or in school or just walking down the street in the 60s. 70s, 80s, and even today. I wish the culture would change. Perhaps it will.

I remember when my husband would watch, Mad Men. Sometime he would say something like, “I cannot believe they treated women like that. “ And I would respond. “Yes they did. And it was sometimes much worse.”

So I will relate my two worst encounters.   To be honest, I have a list of about ten incidents that impacted my life. But I was lucky. There always seemed to be an angel near by that saved me from the worst. As Fred Rogers would say, I always looked for the helpers. Here are the two worst work-related incidents and the angels who saved me.

I started working In the 70s.   When I was in high school and college, I worked at a grocery store in Monticello, NY. The Catskills my happy place. For five summers I worked at Shopwell. I actually loved my job. I worked behind the Deli counter. I knew the other worker, almost all men.   I made friends with some of the cashiers, almost all women.

For four years, I never had a problem.   I loved going to work. I hung out with my friends. I made two great friends over the summers and we looked forward to being together. Until the fifth year. The year I was 20, entering my junior year of college.

I admit I was adorable. And small. That is important. I did not look strong, but I was. I was raised to be independent. I had just returned from living in Israel for a year, and nothing frightened me. But the store hired a new manager of the deli. Eliot. He was young, perhaps 30; he was obnoxious; and he was after me in a not nice way.

It became an extremely unpleasant place to work. He would whisper horrible comments in my ear, and give me the most obnoxious jobs to do.   Victor, one of the long-term employees, who I had known for years, started standing next to me whenever he could.   I actually started keeping a giant butcher knife near me all the time. And once I threatened Eliot. I told him that if he touched me again, I would cut off his penis. And I meant it. He was insidious.

One day I went to eat lunch in the staff lounge, upstairs and away from everyone. Eliot followed me. He cornered me in the room and said something like, “IF I rape you right now no one would believe you.” I never had the chance to respond.

Out came my angels. Two of the cashiers, who I had known for years, were in the ladies’ room. They heard every thing. “How long has this been going on!” Anita demanded. They chased him out of the lounge. Held me and said, “We are going to the manager.” To be honest I was a bit afraid of losing my job. But no worries.

The manager was appalled.   He told me to call my grandfather to come and get me. (I did not have a car, and my grandfather often drove me to and from work.) When Grandpa got there, the manager and he had a talk.   We drove home basically in silence. I could tell he was upset, but did not know what to say. He had a talk with my Mom when I got home. My Mom and I had a short discussion.  When she found out he had not touched me or harmed me physically, she calmed down.   We never spoke about it again.  It was a part of life for women.

Two days later I went back to work. The manager told me that Eliot was fired and was not allowed on the Shopwell grounds. That if I was to see him there, I was to come to the manager immediately. Eliot never came back when I was there.

I was fortunate that I had people who protected me and kept me safe.

The next incident happened four years later. I was working on my master’s degree in journalism at the University of Missouri. I was also working part time at the Missouri School Boards Association. I loved working there. We had a great staff. I was in charge of the PR, newsletter and publications. I made great friends with the two secretaries, the other women in the office. Susan and I got especially close. The Executive Director and Assistant Executive Director were men, but really nice. It was great.

Once a year we would all go to Tan Tar A, near Lake of the Ozarks, for a convention. My job was to put out the convention newsletter and write the articles. I was worked about 16 hour days during the convention.

The first year, there was one school board president who was persistently bothering me. He was often drunk and unpleasant, middle aged and married.   I was 24 and engaged. I wanted nothing to do with him.

Luckily, Susan was with me the first time he tried something. She told me to never get on an elevator with him. In fact she and the other secretary would go down with me in the morning. One would come to the printing room at night to get me to my room safely. But they were going home a day before me.  That last night they would be gone. I was worried. So were they. This guy would not stop! NO! said emphatically did not deter him.

We finally told the Assistant ED.   At first he would not, could not believe it. But in the end he agreed to come to the printing room to walk me to my room that night. The drunk was already there when he arrived. My boss was really stunned.  I think somewhat ashamed. He walked me to my room. The next day, when the convention ended, he drove me back to Columbia, Missouri. We spoke about it briefly. His telling me that not all men were like that. But as a young woman in 1979, I knew the truth….more men were like that then he realized.

Again I was fortunate.   I had angels and helpers who kept me safe. But there are many women who are not as fortunate. Who suffer undo duress and pressure. My “Me Too” is small in comparison to the stories of others..

Honestly,  I think because of these incidents I looked for a safe place to work when I got my master’s degree.  I found that working for a Girl Scout Council.  No men.

As women, we never knew who would be safe and who would make unanticipated and unwanted advances. At work, at school, on the street, on a bus, in a store, in the bathroom, at a restaurant, in a bar! When I was younger, I was always on the watch.

My daughter once made fun of me. She and a friend traveled to Egypt together. I said, “Do not go to the bathroom by yourself. Always go together.” She laughed until her friend did go to the bathroom by herself and was assaulted by the male attendant, but luckily another woman came in before anything happened.

I hate having to say,  “Me Too”. I hope by the time I have granddaughters, the world will be safer.

My Favorite Catskills Photo of Me

16 Oct

Summer 1957

There are many reasons why I have always Loved this photo. First it was taken in the Catskills when I was 2 1/2. I am blissfully happy sitting in the grass. I love seeing the old wooden outdoor furniture.  I know that bench is Blue. I spent many hours on it over the years. 

I love seeing the women on the bench. The one to the far left is my maternal grandmother. She and my grandfather owned the bungalow colony. And with many family members there, I was surrounded by love. To be honest I am not sure who the other woman is, but I think it is my aunt.  I love that bench as my paternal grandmother taught me to knit and crochet as we sat on it when I was about seven or eight. 

I love that my aunt’s feet are resting on that single chair, as I know she is really relaxing. They mothers only put their feet up when they were settled in for a rest.  There is another chair to my side. It indicates to me that there is a square table to my side as well … the table where my grandmothers, great aunt and their friend spent endless hours playing canasta. 

Further on I see some of the white painted bungalows. This was the original colony. Eventually my grandparents purchased more land and moved some of the buildings. Only two of the original bungalows still exist. The land has been sold off and newer homes were erected. Two of my cousins purchased some of the land, so I am fortunate that I can still walk this property. 

I love how I look in this photo. I remember my Dad telling me that this was his favorite picture of me as a child because in this photo he could finally see how I would look as an adult. But I also love it for the curl in the middle of my forehead. I had and still have thick, curly hair. I cannot tell how often one of my parents would recite this poem to me: “There was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very, very good But when she was bad she was horrid.” 

I know that hat and outfit. It was red and white. Because of my black hair my mom often dressed me in red. I rarely wear red now. Blue is my favorite color. But when I envision myself as a child I am often in red or pink. But that hat I specifically remember. I must have worn it for several years before my younger sister was born and she have the chance to wear it. 

I wish I knew what was in the box I am holding. I am sure it is crackers or cereal. But I wish the front of the box was facing out. It would add to the memory. I guess it does not matter.  Whenever I see this photo, I am filled with joy. I am in my happy place. Our home in Kauneonga Lake, in the Catskills where summers were always delightful.  

In This Time of Asking Forgiveness, I Am Donating to Help Hurricane Survivors

28 Sep


We were in San Juan, Puerto Rico in June.  A lovely island for a day of sight seeing as we cruised the Caribbean.  We took a bus to the Fort in San Juan, and then a walking tour from the Fort back to the ship.   We passed beautiful flowering trees and plants, lush gardens, We toured the Fort that overlooks the ocean and once protected the island from invaders.  We looked down the coast to see the lovely beaches.


But Hurricane Maria has devasted the island.   So many millions without food, water, housing.  Searching for a way off the island, tourists who live elsewhere are stuck, stranded away from their home.  While those whose home is Puerto Rica are afraid of the future.  When where the power grid be repaired, when will the water and the food be available again. When will the roads be fixed.  When will medical care and schools be able to return to normal.


Puerto Rico is one of many islands that faced destruction in the way of Hurricane Irma and Maria, while Florida and Texas also suffered horrors during to hurricane season, Hurricane Harvey and Irma impacted these areas.  Connected to other states and cities,  Florida and Texas are fortunate in that help can come more quickly for these impacted areas, where as the islands of the Caribbean are isolated.

Cruise ships are cancelling vacation cruises in order to help evacuate the islands and bring supplies.  But in reality, there is no tourism or vacation in some sections of the Caribbean now as the destruction of the islands’ infrastructures make tourism impossible.

I cannot go there to help.  But I can donate. I can provide tzedakah to those in need. I chose the “oneamericanappeal.org” that was endorsed by and set up by our five former presidents: Bush, Bush, Carter, Clinton and Obama: Republicans and Democrats coming together to help our citizens in need.

I know that not everyone can help financially.  But those of us who can, must.   The island of Puerto Rico will never be the same.  But perhaps it can even be better as the power grid is rebuilt and the water supply fixed…as it will be updated and modernized. The Virgin Island of St. Thomas was also devastated.  These islands are our responsibility.  The citizens of these islands are citizens of the United States.

It has been a difficult time for many.  Fires in the west and northwest are causing destruction and health issues.  The many hurricanes have devasted areas with their high winds and flooding rains. I also sent sent a donation to help with these disasters as well through the Jewish Federation.

With this season of asking for forgiveness, the time between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, I think that doing good for others ,  tzedakah and gemilut Chasadim, shows my commitment to tikkun olam.  As I ask forgiveness for all that I might have done to hurt others during the year, I send donations to help those in need. 

Are There The Ghosts At Holiday Celebrations?

21 Sep

Another holiday.  A festive meal. Visits with family and close friends. Celebrating. But as I entered the room for dinner, for a moment I saw my Dad the last time he celebrated a holiday at my friend’s home. And next to him was their mother.  Both passed away years ago. But I saw them smiling and talking. 

This is not the first time I saw a vision of a loved one who has passed at a holiday table or at a special event. I am sure some think it is just my imagination or a vivid memory.  Perhaps it is both. 

But I am not so sure. 

How can a vivid memory describe the moment at my daughter’s wedding when, for a brief moment, I saw my parents standing to the side smiling. Was it something I wanted to see so badly, that my brain produced the image for me? Perhaps. 

But what about those times when I can still hear my mother’s voice as I am preparing a holiday meal. I do not use recipes, I just listen to that inner voice telling me what to do next. But that voice is always my Mom or one of my Grandma’s.  So are they there?

Or when I went to purchase holiday challah. At first I thought I would just get one round raisen challah.  We really do not need two challah. But then there was My grandfather’s image pointing to the plain challah as well. Yes I purchased both. Grandpa was a baker, so I had to follow his advice. 

At our Catskills home I have the most vivid images.  One day this summer, as my sister stood at the kitchen sink, I saw two images next to her.  Both my Mom and Grandma stood there and each was superimposed on the kitchen that existed in their time.  It was just an instant, but for a moment I was in a time warp. My sister, my Mom and my Grandma all standing at the sink speaking to me. (They were probably all giving me instructions!)

We have spent over fifty years in the house in Kauneonga Lake, and the memories are so strong there.  We spent many Rosh Hashannah holidays eating a festive meal and preparing for the new year. But there are also so many summer memories infused in the being of the house.  It is not difficult to imagine a loved one walking in the rooms along side me. 

There are ghosts of people I knew in my synagogue as well. Since I go regularly, I am used to people sitting in certain seats. They are not assigned. But people seem to find a place that is comfortable and so sit there every week. I have my seat and from my vantage point I can close my eyes and envision the room filled with those who passed. 

Recently a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor passed.  When I turn quickly I still see him smiling as he sits in his seat, his walker close by. Other survivors who passed fill the seats as well. When I see their children and grandchildren still coming to synagogue, I feel their spirit of joy in the congregation. 

But the most poignant for me happened about two months ago. I noticed a young man come in to shul with his wife and newborn son. They walked directly to the seat where his grandfather always sat. He sat in his grandfather’s seat holding his son, whose name was a memory for his grandfather. I really thought I could see Sol smiling at his grandson and great grandson filling his seat. It is one of my new favorite memories.  

I believe when someone dies they do not totally disappear.  A bit of them, an essence, stays behind. A smell, a sound, a place can bring their memory and their spirit/presence  back to us. I hope I always see and sense the ghosts of the ones I love at my holiday and other celebrations. 

Grandma’s Ceramic Strawberries Were Meant To Be Mine

13 Sep


My Grandma had two ceramic strawberry shaped jam jars that she never kept jam in.  They were filled with thumb tacks, safety pins, buttons and other little items that she needed to keep corralled in a safe place. She kept the jam jars on her kitchen window sill along side her plants. 

I remember them always being in her home. When she moved out of her West New York, New Jersey,  apartment up to her home in Kauneonga Lake in the Catskills, she took the two strawberries with her.  And they once again graced her window sill. Always there.  A beacon in the kitchen. 

I don’t know why I loved them, but I did. They were a shine of color that brightened up the kitchen. Perhaps I loved them because the red strawberries look like two hearts sending a hug of love. 

When my grandmother died, my grandfather left the house basically how Grandma had it. The knick knacks stayed where they were placed by her.  So even though Grandpa lived about eight years longer, the Catskill’s house still felt like Grandma.  And the strawberries stayed in their place in the kitchen. 

The house in the Catskills went to my parents. Mom and Dad remodeled the kitchen and packed up many of my grandmother’s  tchotchkes and placed the boxes in the garage. 

Eventually my Mom had us go through the boxes. She wanted us to take what we wanted before she donated the rest to charity. So my sister, my cousin and I searched the boxes. I focused on finding the two strawberries. I wanted them. I did not know it, but my cousin wanted them as well. 

“I remember seeing them at Grandma’s!” My cousin said…whined…pled. She knew when I wanted something I was one minded, so she made her case to have them as well. 

I was the older cousin, so I should have them was my first thought.  But there were two. And she really wanted one. So we did the right thing.  We each took one. We shared.  I always say, I gave one up for her because I love her. 

My strawberry returned with me to Kansas, where I put it on my kitchen window sill. It looked lonely without its mate. No matter, I knew my cousin deserved one as well. 

But I think Grandma was looking out for me. I think she knew that I really wanted to have two. I am sentimental. Having one was great, but two would be better. I should have known fate would intervene. 

About a year after I brought the strawberry jam jar home to Kansas, I went out to lunch with a work friend on a summer day. I do not remember the exact day, but Grandma’s birthday was in July. 

  We parked near a small antique/trinket store.  After lunch, since we still had time, we decided to browse in the shop. We had never been there before and honestly, I never went there again. But it ended up being a magical place! 

I still remember the moment I saw it: a small ceramic strawberry jam jar.  It seemed to be exactly like my Grandma’s strawberry. EXACTLY!  I knew I had to buy it.  

The owner wrapped it up in brown paper.  I carefully carried it to my friend’s car. I was so excited. She tried to calm me down a bit by telling me it might not be the same.  But in my heart I knew it was a match. 

Later that day, when I  put it next to my jam jar, I was not disappointed. It was a perfect match.  To this day I cannot tell which one I purchase and which one was Grandma’s!  

Do I believe Grandma had a hand in my finding it?  Is it even possible? I am not sure, but sometimes events happen that have no explanation. I think the jam jar falls into this category.  

As for my cousin, the strawberry jam jar she so wanted, she no longer has in her possession.  She told me that she moved so many times since Grandma died about 36 years ago. At some point the strawberry was lost.  I only moved twice across the country, always taking my strawberries with me. 

But it really does not matter whether she kept hers, for I have the two strawberry jam jars that were meant to be mine. 

Monarch Butterflies Bring Joy

12 Sep

It has been a harsh end of summer. Hurricanes have devastated Houston, Texas,  and large swatches of Florida. Homes destroyed; trees down; major flooding; and entire communities destroyed in the Florida Keys and the Caribbean. 

 Major fires are burning throughout the northwest creating horrible smog throughout the region and destroying forests and homes. They could have used at least 12 inches of the 50 inches of rain that devastated Texas. 


It has been difficult to find a bright spot. But then I noticed an amazing sight. Instead of the two or three Monarch butterflies I have seen daily the past few years, this year I have seen a multitude of butterflies.

 Our home is an official butterfly garden. We do plant flowers and milkweed to attract the butterflies. And we do not spray any pesticides on our lawn or flowers.  (I wrote about saving the butterflies in an earlier post. See link below.) So we have been hoping we would eventually see an increase in butterflies. 


I was still amazed.  I have seen swarms of butterflies daily since Friday. And today the most I have seen in years, along with a multitude of bees. In fact, when I went to a garden center on Friday, I saw so many butterflies I could not even count them! 

I went on line to check on the Monarch migration for this year. Was it better than past years?  I found mixed results. One said there were 27 percent less Monarchs wintering in Mexico this past winter. But another said the migration this spring equaled last year or was better.  

No matter what the experts say, there a definitely more here than last year. Something that can bring a bit of Joy. 

PS: Since publishing this I have heard from many friends and neighbors stating they have also seen a tremendous increase in butterflies. This is wonderful as we are on the migration path!!
https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/08/24/saving-the-monarch-butterflies/