fauxklore: (Default)
Celebrity Death Watch: Kate Millett wrote the feminist classic Sexual Politcs. Gene "Stick" Michael played baseball and moved into management, primarily with the Source of All Evil in the Universe. Don Williams was a country music singer, as was Troy Gentry. Michael Friedman wrote the score of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Len Wein was a comic book writer and editor, credited as co-creator of Wolverine. Don Ohlmeyer was a sports television executive, responsible for Monday night football. (He was also the mentor of someone I grew up with, who has some very interesting stories about him.) Nancy Dupree was an historian who focused on the history of modern Afghanistan. Jack Kiel created McGruff the Crime Dog.

Jerry Pournelle wrote science fiction and published articles on military strategy. He had actually worked for the company that I am employed by at one time (as well as other companies in the space industry). He was alleged to have been the first author to have written a published book using a word processor on a personal computer. I have absolutely no recollection of having read anything he wrote, but I think I have read anthologies he edited.

Lotfi Zadeh was a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and is best known for his work on fuzzy logic. I am somewhat hesitant to list him because there had been at least two earlier, incorrect reports of his death. But the EECS department is now reporting it, which is a more reliable source than various Azerbaijani sources. Incidentally, it is probably not well known that he was Jewish, at least technically, as his mother was a Russian Jew. (His father was Iranian and, I assume, Muslim, in which case the Muslims would claim him too. Though maybe not, since he apparently went to a Presbyterian mission school when his family returned to Iran from Azerbaijan. None of this actually matters in the least – I just think it’s interesting. And is perhaps an example of fuzzy religious and national identity.)

Birthday: I turned 59 on Labor Day. I really want my life to be in much better order by the time I’m 60.

Speaking of Order: I more or less tore my living room apart looking for what I had done with some theatre tickets. Of course, they turned out to be in the pile that I was positive that they absolutely could not be in. In the process of searching, I did manage to throw out 4 bags full of papers. What is pathetic is how much there is to go.

A Little Night Music: That ticket was for Signature Theatre’s production of A Little Night Music. Signature makes something of a specialty of Sondheim so this was a sure bet. And it was, indeed, a good show. There were lots of familiar performers, e.g. Bobby Smith as Frederik, Sam Ludwig as Henrik, Maria Rizzo as Petra, Will Gartshore as Carl-Magnus, and Holly Twyford as Desiree. I should note that Twyford is known as an actress, not a singer, but was more than up to the role. But the real highlights were Florence Lacey as the acerbic Madame Armfeldt and Tracy Lynn Olvera as Charlotte. Both performers highlighted the humor of some of Sondheim’s wittiest lyrics. Even though this is a show I know well, I still noticed lyrics I hadn’t quite caught before. Overall, this is among the best theatre I’ve seen here.

I do have one complaint, however. The air conditioning was way too aggressive. It wasn’t even hot out. I need to remember to bring a sweater or shawl whenever I go to Signature.

Also re: Shirlington: I had amazingly good parking karma for this trip to Signature, with an available spot right by the stairs / elevator in the closer garage. I believe the reason for this is that it allowed me to do a good deed. There was a miniature Celtic festival going on and a blind woman was trying to find a place to sit to listen to the music. I let her take my elbow and led her to the chairs set up in front of the stage.

Story Swap: Saturday night was our monthly story swap, which is always fun. I have found an Albanian story to tell, which went over reasonably well. Especially the part in which the hero is sent to collect overdue taxes from a church full of snakes.

JGSGW: There was a Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington meeting on Sunday. The topic was ancestry tips and tricks, but, alas, that was pretty much focused on tips for your tree on ancestry and I don’t keep mine there. I was hoping for tips on more effective searches. And, given that the speaker was time constrained, I didn’t bother asking. I did have some conversations before the meeting which were most useful, so it wasn’t a waste.

I had intended to go to a storytelling show later in the day, but I was too tired. At least I did manage to get grocery shopping done on my way home from darkest Maryland.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Richard Hatch was an actor in Battlestar Galactica among other things. Sir Peter Mansfield won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2003. Mile Ilitch owned much of Detroit or at least its sports teams (the Red Wings and the Tigers) and a mediocre pizza company. Damian was a British pop singer. Al Jarreau was a seven-time Grammy winner for his jazz and R&B music. Raymond Smullyan was a mathematician and wrote books about logic puzzles, e.g. What is the Name of This Book? and This Book Needs No Title.

Non-celebrity Death Watch: Howard Margol was a major force in Lithuanian-Jewish genealogy and responsible for a lot of the resources I use regularly. He was helpful in answering questions and teaching others how to do their research. May his memory be for a blessing.

Storytelling – The Grapevine: I made it to darkest Maryland (actually, come to think of it, Busboys and Poets might be on the DC side of Takoma / Takoma Park) Wednesday night to see Jeff Doyle and Anne Thomas tell. I also told "The Three Sisters" in the open mike. Jeff told two stories involving encounters with bears. Anne did a few personal stories about disability. Overall, an interesting night.

Storytelling – Short Story Slam: Thursday night had me back in darkest Maryland – Bethesda, to be precise – for the story slam that Michael puts on monthly. I have mixed feelings about this sort of thing, since a part of me objects to competitive storytelling. But there was plenty of good material on the theme of matrimony. Michael led off with a particularly funny piece about getting married in Communist China, including what he referred to as "emergency sex education." I told an abbreviated version of "Border Crossings." I actually tied for the third highest number of votes, but since the top two vote-getters went over the time limit, it came down to the tie breaker, and I had the shortest story so won first prize, which was exciting. Overall, it was fun and worth the exhaustion the next day.

JGSGW: I spent most of the weekend between suspended animation (i.e. catching up on sleep) and trying, not very successfully, to get some housework done. But I did make it to the JGSGW meeting on Sunday, which had a presentation on debunking myths about Jewish genealogy. I can’t say I learned much, but it was entertaining. And the time for networking was potentially useful.

Weather Whine: I would rather it were consistently cold than this annoying up and down we’ve been having. It got up to 70ish on Wednesday and then dropped to the 20’s on Friday but was back in the 60’s all weekend. This morning it was 30-something (but 25 with the wind chill factor) when I left for work. Just make up your bloody mind for a few days in a row, please.

Metro: Both storytelling events last week involved the Red Line, which meant changing to the Orange Line for the rest of the way home. That’s fine, but they were single-tracking around McPherson Square at night and things aren’t synchronized, so I had 15+ minute waits at Metro Center both nights.

Friday had a different annoyance as they turned the Orange Line train I was on into a Silver Line train. I was napping, so missed the announcement. Fortunately, I woke up at McLean, so only had to go back one station to switch, but they shouldn’t do this. Especially as they already run twice as many Silver Line trains as Orange, despite ridership on the Orange Line being several times higher.

Today started a new SafeTrack surge, which means no Blue Line service for 18 days. I had an early meeting at the Pentagon, so took a bus which was way more crowded than I’d ever seen it before. That worked, but was still annoying. In short, expect me to be grumpy for the next several weeks. It’s still better than driving.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Charles J. Colgan was a long-time member of the Virginia senate and founded Colgan Air. Mario Soares served as President and Prime Minister of Portugal for a couple of decades. Nat Hentoff wrote for The Village Voice and The Wall Street Journal, primarily about jazz music and politics. Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani served a couple of terms as the President of Iran. Clare Hollingworth was the British journalist who broke the news of the outbreak of World War II.

Sister Frances Carr was one of the last three Shakers. There are now only two members of the sect at Sabbathday Lake in Maine. I have a long-standing interest in the Shakers (and other 19th century Utopian communities), who I admire for their philosophy of "hands to work, hearts to G-d." Their combination of egalitarianism, craftsmanship, and innovation is intriguing and their music is a huge influence on American folk music in general.

Om Puri was an Indian actor, who also appeared in a number of British and American movies, e.g. East is East. I am highlighting him because I had actually thought of putting him on my ghoul pool list, but didn’t because I thought he had died a couple of years ago. I should have googled him to check. Oh, well.

For the record, my list of people I predict will die in 2017 is:
20. Buzz Aldrin
19. June Foray
18. Beverly Cleary
17. Robert Mugabe
16. Gord Downie
15. Irwin Corey
14. Shannon Doherty
13. Valerie Harper
12. Tommy Chong
11. Frank Langella
10. John Cullum
9. Tommy Tune
8. Queen Elizabeth II
7. Javier Perez de Cuellar
6. Jimmy Carter
5. Dick Van Dyke
4. Sidney Poitier
3 James L. Buckley
2. Birch Bayh
1. John Paul Stevens

Titanic: I went to see Titanic at Signature Theatre on Saturday. Because of the snow, I used metro plus bus, which worked well enough, especially since I was lucky enough to not have to wait for the bus at all.

As for the show, the performances were excellent. I want to particularly note Sam Ludwig as the stoker, Frederick Barrett, who gets a couple of great songs – one comparing working on the ship to working as a coal miner and one proposing (over the wireless) to his girl back home. Tracy Lynn Olvera was also notable as a social-climbing second class passenger. I also thought Katie McManus was very good as the forthright third class Irish immigrant, Kate McGowan.

The show is grand and the second act (after the iceberg) is moving. But, there are both too many and too few subplots. It’s hard to care about characters when you’re switching between lots of them with each song. Unfortunately, I don’t see a way around that without making the show 4 hours long. I also have to admit that I didn’t really care for most of the score, which was rather more operatic than my tastes. There were exceptions, e.g. "The Proposal / The Night Was Alive" and the lively "Ladies Maid." I also want to note that Yeston apparently believed the myth that the band played "Autumn" while the ship sank (which is, I suppose, better than the "Nearer My G-d to Thee" myth), while historians now claim the actual hymn played was "Oughten."

By the way, every attendee gets a boarding card describing a passenger. I got Mr. William Cruthers Dulles, a 39 year-old first class passenger. They provide a web page to look up the fate of your alter ego. He died in the sinking.

JGSGW Meeting: I was really interested in the topic for Sunday’s meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington, which had to do with how to get reluctant relatives interested in talking with you. How interested? Well, when I went out to drive to darkest Maryland for it, I found my car had a flat tire and I paid for a taxi to get there. (I got a ride home from friends.) I’m not convinced it was worth it. I did pick up a few tips, but most of the talk was stuff I already knew.

And, sigh, I still have to find time to get the tire replaced.

Hidden Figures: Finally, last night I went to see Hidden Figures, the current movie about African-American women who worked as computers for NASA, performing mathematical computations in the early days of the space program. The story is a compelling one, involving three women doing their very best to make things happen, despite all the obstacles (both racial and gender) thrown in their paths. It’s not a word I use often, but I found it inspiring and highly recommend seeing it.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
2016 was not a great year for me, though I did have a few great things happen. I had certainly underestimated the impact of changing jobs, mostly in terms of how much mental energy that absorbed. I can't count how many nights I went to bed more or less right after supper.

I did finish one life list item, namely seeing the stone monoliths of Babeldaop. I got somewhat more involved with the Style Invitational Loser community, going to a few related social events. I started doing graze, which has, in addition to providing interesting snacks, given me something to write about here. And I had a particularly interesting year with respect to storytelling and to genealogy. Here are the details, in my usual categories.

Books: I only read 88 books last year, 48 of which were fiction. Only 6 were rereads. The ones I disliked include Lenore Glenn Offord’s Clues to Burn and Parnell Hall’s The Puzzle Lady and the Sudoku Lady. The absolute worst was a Laos Travel Guide which had about 40 pages about Laos and 100+ pages about studying mixed martial arts in Thailand, plus a chapter on ketogenic diets. I described this as the literary equivalent of the movie Disco Beaver From Outer Space.

On the positive side, some of the nonfiction books I enjoyed wereCocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness and Leaving Before the Rains Come (two of Alexandra Fuller’s memoirs), Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux (about his travels in Angola), Crossworld by Marc Romano (about the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament), and Motoring With Mohammed by Eric Hansen (about Yemen). As for fiction, I enjoyed Christopher Buckley’s No Way to Treat a First Lady, To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman (who often writes teenage girls well), and three books by Tess Gerritsen - The Apprentice, Ice Cold, and, especially, The Bone Garden.

Volksmarch: Nothing, zero, nada, nil. Sigh. I’m not sure why, but I just don’t seem to have been very interested in walking other than as a means of transportation.

Travel: The biggest trip of the year was, obviously, the eclipse cruise in the South Pacific, which included the visit to Babeldaop, as well as seeing the giant stone money of Yap, and, of course, my third total solar eclipse. It also pushed me over the edge of qualifying for the Travelers’ Century Club, so I joined it, even though I still think their country list is pretty silly. My only other international trip of the year was to Martinique, mostly to take advantage of a cheap airfare.

I had business trips to Los Angeles, Florida (the Space Coast), and Colorado Springs.

Personal domestic travel included a trip to L.A. and Denver for Captain Denny Flanagan’s pre-retirement get-together, Stamford (Connecticut, that is, for the ACPT), Salt Lake City (for the NPL con), New York (for Lolapuzzoola and for my high school reunion), Pittsburgh (for Loserfest), Chicago (to see the Art Institute and go to an Elvis Costello concert), and Key West. On the way home from Salt Lake City, I achieved Million Mile status on United.

I should also note that I flew a few times on Jet Blue, which I hadn’t done before. I’m fairly impressed with their service, though I don’t think much of their frequent flyer program.

Culture: I went to several story swaps, of course, as well as several of the shows at The Grapevine and a couple of storytelling-related fringe shows. In terms of performing, I did the Washington Folk Festival. But, more importantly, I performed in three Better Said Than Done shows, including the Best in Show competition. I’m particularly happy to have the summer camp story on video. And I’m glad to be working with some family material in a way that I think works for humor without being disrespectful.

I saw 11 movies over the past year, with only one in a theatre. I think the best of them was The Imitation Game. I went to three music events. Both of those categories are things I would like to do more of this coming year. I also went to a Cirque du Soleil show and to a comedy show.

My biggest cultural activity of the year was going to the theatre. If I’ve counted right, I went to six non-musicals and 21 musicals. The worst of those was The Flick at Signature Theatre. As a friend said, "How many people walked out when you saw it?" Highlights included Matilda at the Kennedy Center, 110 in the Shade at Ford’s Theatre, The Lonesome West at Keegan Theatre, The Wild Party at Iron Crow in Baltimore, Freaky Friday at Signature Theatre, and, especially, Caroline, or Change and Monsters of the Villa Diodati at Creative Cauldron. The latter has become one of my favorite theatres in the region, with high quality performances in an intimate setting.

Genealogy: Note that I added this category this year. I made a fair amount of progress, particularly on my mother’s side of the family, with highlights including meeting a cousin and tracking down info on a couple of my grandfather’s siblings. I’m also proud of having funded the translation of the chapters my paternal grandfather contributed to the Lite Yizkor Book. And I got my DNA tested, though that hasn’t led me to any major revelations yet.

Goals: I pretty much failed miserably on my goals for last year, other than reaching million mile status on United. It isn’t even worth enumerating progress on others, all of which were, at best, one step forward and two steps back. I’m giving myself a 25% for the year.

As for the coming year, I still have hope that I can get things done. I’m tempted to write something like "oh, just grow up already," but let’s be somewhat specific and measurable.

  • Complete at least one household organizing project.

  • Complete at least one knitting or crochet project.

  • Complete at least one writing project.

  • Contact one "lost" family member every month to request genealogical information.

  • Spend at least a half hour each week reading things from the reading goals on my life list.

  • Treat myself to one indulgence (e.g. spa treatment or special meal or the like) every month.

Le Catch-up

Dec. 1st, 2016 05:05 pm
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Oy, am I behind. But I won’t get caught up by kvetching alone, so here is an attempt at catching up.

Celebrity Death Watch: Yaffa Eliach was a Holocaust historian. Robert Vaughan was an actor, best known for playing Napoleon Solo on The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. Little known fact is that I had a Napoleon Solo doll when I was a kid and he had a wonderful relationship with Barbie, often helping her escape from Russian spies and wild animals and so on. Leon Russell was a musician and songwriter. Gwen Ifill was a journalist, primarily on PBS. Mose Allison was a jazz pianist. Whitney Smith designed the flag of Guyana, which I mention only because he is claimed to have coined the word "vexillology," thus enabling Sheldon Cooper’s "Fun With Flags" shtick on The Big Bang Theory. Ruth Gruber was a journalist and humanitarian. Sharon Jones was a soul singer. Ben Zion Shenker was a rabbi and composer of over 500 Hasidic niggunim. Florence Henderson was an actress, best known for portraying Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch. Ron Glass was also an actor and associated in my mind with his role on Barney Miller. Grant Tinker was a television executive, including heading NBC in the 1980’s. And, of course, he was the husband of Mary Tyler Moore before that. Michael "Jim" Deiligatti invented the Big Mac. Brigid O’Brien followed in the tradition of her father, Pat, and acted.

Leonard Cohen was a singer-songwriter, who I’ve always thought of as the Poet Laureate of Depression. That isn’t intended as a negative statement. It just means that there are times when you need to wallow in despair and his music suited that mood perfectly.

Melvin Laird was the Secretary of Defense from 1969 to 1973 (under Richard Nixon). While serving in Congress, he supposedly convinced Spiro Agnew to resign the Vice Presidency. He had a lot of influence on how Pentagon budgeting is done. Most importantly, he ended the Vietnam era conscription and initiated the All Volunteer Force.

Jay Forrester was, essentially, the founder of system dynamics. I will admit to qualms about the application of systems models for economic analysis, but his work did enable the growth of systems thinking in the world at large. Hence, he made a difference in the opportunities I’ve had in my career.

And then there was Fidel Castro. He was a dictator and it’s clear that he oppressed the Cuban people. On the other hand, his commitment to education and health care was real. That doesn’t balance out the evils of his government, of course. I will note, however, that the U.S. has had a lot less animosity against lots of dictators who are at least equally bad. How much do you hear about Teodoro Obiang Nguerna Mbasogo, for example? Admittedly, Equatorial Guinea )see, I saved you from having to look him up) isn’t 90 miles from Florida, but the point remains that the treatment of Cuba has not been entirely rational. I am hoping that Fidel’s death may work towards normalizing things. I do still hope to go to Cuba at some point, since my grandfather lived there in the 1920’s and my grandparents met and married there.

Non-celebrity Death Watch: Milt Eisner was a member of my chavurah. He was a retired statistician and a puzzle person, who competed at least a few times in the ACPT.

Condo Association Meeting: Our annual meeting was right after election day. It wasn’t too painful. And they had good brownies.

WBRS Reception: Then came the William Barton Rogers Society reception. This is an MIT related thing and a reward for a certain level of donation. It was at the Mayflower, which is less impressive than one might think. They served heavy hors d’oeuvres. The speaker was John Lienhard, who is the director of the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab. He was reasonably entertaining. But, really, the value of these events is the opportunity to have intelligent conversations before the main speaker.

Housecleaning and Swap Hosting: Hosting a story swap forced me to do a certain amount of house cleaning. It is fairly appalling to turn up coupons that expired two years ago and such.

Anyway, there was a small group at the swap but it was still enjoyable. I was particularly pleased that Margaret told a First Nations story that is, apparently, in the novel Mrs. Mike, a book I remember entirely for some gruesome medical details involving: 1) diphtheria and 2) amputation.

JGS 36th Anniversary Luncheon: The meal was just okay, but the talk, by Arthur Kurzweil, was excellent. He was entertaining and inspiring. I have commented in the past about genealogy in terms of connectedness to my family’s history and I’ve also thought about that connectivity when I go to shul, admittedly all too rarely. (That is, by the way, why I prefer a more traditional service.) Anyway, as always, it is all about stories and he told good ones.

Book Club: We had a good discussion of How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway, which involves a Japanese war bride. But I am getting increasingly annoyed at the racism (and other general narrowmindedness) of one person in the group. Sigh.

Work: Work has been particularly hectic lately. I was at a full day class one day and have been in endless meetings other days. The telephone is also both my chief tool and the bane of my existence. I’ve also been suffering a lot of IT hell, with issues on three of the four systems I use. However, I suppose it is worth it as I did get a very positive performance review.

The Secret Garden: I went with a friend to see The Secret Garden at Shakespeare Theatre Company. This is one of my favorite Broadway scores of all time. Really, almost the whole score is earworm worthy. I do still think that the book, even as somewhat rewritten here, is probably incomprehensible to anyone who have never read the original novel. But who cares when there is such luscious music with songs like "Lily’s Eyes" and "Where in the World" and
"How Could I Ever Know?" (They did, alas, cut out "Race You to the Top of the Morning.") I should also mention the excellent performances, including Anya Rothman’s as Mary Lennox,, Josh Young as Neville, and, especially, Michael Xavier as Archibald and Lizzie Klepmperar as Lily. (Note, too, that Daisy Egan, who played Mary Lennox on Broadway in 1991 and won a Tony at it, plays Martha, but that’s not an especially showy role.) Anyway, if you live here, go to see this show. If you don’t, you could do worse than to listen to the original cast recording a few thousand times.

Martinique: Finally, I went to Martinique this past weekend. It sounds unlikely, but Norwegian flies from BWI to Martinique and Guadeloupe at very low fares, so why not? I stayed at the Hotel Bambou in the Trois Islet area, which was decent enough for the price. They were very friendly, but the wifi in the room didn’t work well and, while the price included both breakfast and dinner, the dinner buffet was not very good. One expects better of a French colony.

Anyway, it was an easy ferry ride to Fort de France, the capital, where I was eager to see the Bibliotheque Schoelcher, which is very impressive indeed. It was built in France in 1889, then disassembled and shipped piece by piece to Martinique. Schoelcher, by the way, was the major abolitionist writer of the French West Indies. I spent a couple of more hours meandering around the city, which has some interesting architecture (somewhat akin in New Orleans). The Grand Marche was another highlight, especially as there was a lively band playing in front. Overall, it was worth a few hours meandering around.

My rule of thumb for travel is that I need to do something every day, so my Sunday venture was to Musee de la Pagerie, which was the birthplace of Empress Josephine. There was a special exhibit about the history of jazz, but it was dense words, entirely in French, so I didn’t read much of it. The actual museum has pictures of Josephine, along with a few of Napoleon, as well as a few artifacts, many of which I gathered are reproductions. There is also a sugar house (the family was in the sugar cane business) and attractive grounds.

Other than that, I spent time swimming, both in the pool and in the sea. And lazing on the beach. I walked up to the casino, which is remarkably unimpressive, and to the Creole Village shops, which are likewise.

All in all, it was a pleasant enough but not especially exciting trip.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Tammy Grimes was a Broadway actress, most notable for playing the title role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She was also the mother of actress Amanda Plummer. Natalie Babbitt wrote the children’s book Tuck Everlasting.

Genealogy Update: I finally tracked down confirmation of a family story. My uncle had told me a relative had been killed in a train crash in Washington, but he was inconsistent about whether it was Celia Lubofsky (my cousin once removed) or Mary Lehrman (my great-aunt). Since Mary’s headstone says she "died in accident," I figured I would start by googling train wrecks for that day. And, indeed, there was a major one. The Congressional Limited from Washington to New York crashed just outside Philadelphia on 6 September 1943, killing approximately 80 people. And I did, indeed, find Mary’s name on the lists of the dead. In fact, the Chicago Tribune even printed her address (2272 Barker Avenue in the Bronx). Since the wreck was on Labor Day, my guess is that she had gone to Washington to visit her daughter, Sima Slansky (the one whose husband later committed bigamy according to the laws of Maryland, which didn’t recognize his residency for a Reno divorce as valid).

Mary had a difficult life, what with being held for inquiry when she immigrated to the U.S., though it looks like she only had to wait a day or so for Nathan to show up and claim her. She was widowed in her 30’s, with her daughters only 9 and 12 years old. And then her beauty salon got used as a test case when the state of New York decided to pursue an electrolysis school. (Mary got a 6 month suspended sentence for practicing medicine without a license, but was later vindicated.) So it seems her life was a bit of a train wreck before she died in a literal one.

Note, by the way, that the May 2015 Amtrak crash was in just about the same place.

Baseball: Okay, Cubs fans. You can shut up now. And thank us Red Sox fans for letting you have Theo Epstein.

Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 1: Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory character) was in a bathtub with a large, grey wolfy sort of dog. He got scared of the dog, which then started growling at him. So he stood up and dangled a badge holder to distract the dog, while he got out of the bathtub.

Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 2: I was searching for Dily Niwab Street, which turned out to be a block from Audubon Boulevard, where my elementary school was.

Don’t Analyze This Dream, Part 3: I was trying to find my copy of Alice in Wonderland to lend to someone, but kept pulling out other books, notably Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott. Finally, I found a boxed set of 8 Alice stories and lent the other person the first two volumes. (Which are, of course, the only ones that actually exist.) But I kept on about how wonderful it would be to ride a unicycle like Alice did in the rest of the series.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Sir Neville Marriner was a conductor, probably best known for founding the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Bing Thom was the architect who designed, among other things, the Mead Center for Arena Stage here in Washington. Brock Yates was an automotive journalist and the creator of The Cannonball Run (both the actual race and the movie). Jacob Neusner was a Conservative Jewish scholar and notable the volume of his publications.

Oscar Brand was a folksinger and, more significantly, a popularizer of folk music on radio and recordings. He was one of the original organizers of the Newport Folk Festival. We had a couple of his record collections when I was growing up and they definitely contributed to forming my taste.

The Wild Party: I went to Baltimore on Saturday to see Iron Crow Theatre’s production of Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, which a friend’s daughter had a part in. It’s an interesting show, based on a narrative poem by Joseph Moncure March. The same season Lippa’s adaptation played off-Broadway, Michael John LaChiusa had his version playing on Broadway and I’d be very interesting in seeing that version. Anyway, the story is very dark, with the abusive relationship between Queenie (ably played by Allison Bradbury) and Burrs (played by Justin Michael Mazzella, the only Equity member of the cast). I also want to add kudos to Valerie Holt as Madelaine True, who gets the comic relief in the song, "An Old-Fashioned Love Story." My major quibble is that Lippa’s music doesn’t completely fit the jazz age setting, but much of it is enjoyable despite that. All in all, it was well worth seeing.

JGSGW Meeting: Sunday was a Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington meeting. This month’s theme was "Ask the Experts." Unfortunately, the limited time meant that there wasn’t a huge amount of depth to the Q&A. So I can’t say that I learned anything much new. But the schmoozing is always worthwhile.

Another Genealogy Note: The New York City Marriage Index, recently made available due to the fine work of Reclaim the Records, has filled in a couple of odds and ends for me. There are actual certificates to obtain and some information still missing, but progress is progress, however slow.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
First, I had dinner recently with a cousin (one of the descendants of my great-grandfather’s brother). It was thoroughly delightful to meet her and talk about our family history. And about life in general.

Secondly, I’ve solved the SLANSKY mystery, via a google search, which turned up a Maryland court case. Sima SLANSKY was one of Mary LEHRMAN’s daughters, which explains why she was buried next to Mary. I hadn’t known about her, because she was mistakenly identified as Seymore in the 1920 census. What I found via google was the record of a bigamy case in Maryland. Jack SLANSKY married Sima LEHRMAN on 31 August 1940 in New York City and then married Juliet WARMACK in Hyattsville Maryland on 26 April 1946. He had actually gotten a divorce (against Sima’s will) in Reno, but the Maryland court said he had not legitimately established domicile in Nevada. He was sentenced to 18 months in jail. By the way, I also found further proof of who Sima was in the probate record for the will of Morris LEHRMAN, where Mary listed her two daughers, Sima and Athalia. It’s so nice to have a mystery solved, though there are always more. For example, why was Athalia also known as Timmy LEE? I also have reason to believe that Mary remarried after Morris died. So there is still more work to do on that branch.

Third, I combed through the 1910 census records for 24-26 Attorney Street, in hopes of finding the uncle that Chaim SCHWARTZBARD was going to. But there was not a single person with the first name Kalman and nobody with a last name that looked like LEWIDRA or ZEWIDRA or any SENIDRA or anything along those lines. But on Enoch Ber’s immigration record, he showed Chaim’s address as “c/o Jagoda” and there is a Meyer YAGODA at that address. That’s one of the jigsaw pieces that could be a bit of sky or a bit of ocean or could belong to a completely different puzzle.

Not news, but I really need to get all this much more organized.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
The other thing I did when I was up in New York was visit two cemeteries with my uncle Herb. We started at Montefiore, specifically old Montefiore, in Springfield, Queens. That’s where a lot of my mother’s family members are buried and we started with the plot for the Congregation Sons of Jacob Tiktiner Young Men, which is a burial society for people from Tykocin, Poland (which is Tiktin in Yiddish).

My grandfather, Simon LUBOWSKY is buried right in front, with an empty space next to him. My grandmother, Lillian, who died several years before him, is further back. Apparently, the intent was for his second wife to be buried next to Grandpa, but she’s actually in a different burial society (and possibly a different cemetery). According to Herb, she lived to be over 100, but I searched after the visit, and she was only 99 when she died just a couple of years ago. That also shows her as Rose ROSENBERG LUBOWSKY. I am not sure if ROSENBERG was her maiden name or the name of her first husband. The story, by the way, is that a year or so after Grandma died, Grandpa decided he should improve his English so signed up for night school. But he met Rose, who also spoke Yiddish, and they decided to marry and speak Yiddish with each other.

Also in the same area are the graves of Grandpa’s brother, Willi, Willi’s wife, Sarah, and their son, Milton. Then there is another brother, Max. There was a large, overgrown shrub in front of his gravestone, so I couldn’t photograph it. But I could clear enough to learn that his Hebrew name was Mordechai. This proved useful in doing some searching of immigration records.

One of Grandpa’s sisters, the notorious Mary LEHRMAN, is also there. (She is the one who was the subject of a criminal investigation, accused of practicing medicine without a license, for performing electrolysis at her beauty salon in the Bronx.) What’s interesting there is that her gravestone shows her first name as Miriam (most records show her as Mariasha) and indicates that she died in an accident. That seems like a potential subject for more research.

I thought we were done, but Herb said we had another relative there. This turned out to be Sima SLANSKY. She died young – at age 35 – of cancer on 30 October 1953. I have some very speculative ideas about the SLANSKY family. I can find a census record for a Lena and Sam SLANSKY, with several children. Now, Grandpa had a sister named Lena, usually known within the family as Laika. The first problem is that I knew of her husband as Sam WEINER, not SLANSKY. The other problem is that I thought she had stayed in Europe and survived the Shoah, coming to the U.S. later. There are a handful of remaining older relatives, but I don’t know if any of them will know anything.

We also went over to anther burial society, New People’s Synagogue. It was fairly easy to find several of the LEBOFSKY graves. Nathan (another of Grandpa’s brother’s and, so far as I know, the first to come to the U.S.) was near the front. His gravestone indicated that his Hebrew name was Nachman David. His second wife, Jennie, is buried nearby, as is his daughter, Celia. According to Herb, Celia was killed in a train accident in Washington, D.C. That is obviously worthy of some newspaper searching. He believed she came to Washington for work, which makes some sense, since she was a public health nurse. Alas, I completely forgot to look for Nathan’s first wife, Rose, who the cemetery locator says is in the same block.

Finally, we tried to find the graves of another of Grandpa’s sisters, Adele WASSERMAN, and her husband, Max. We failed miserably. A quick search now reveals the problem. They are at New Montefiore, which is in West Babylon, on Long Island. On the plus side, that is quite near Mount Ararat Cemetery, where my parents (and my paternal grandfather) are. I believe that Rose, Grandpa’s second wife, is also at New Montefiore.

We also took photos of gravestones for other people, but there isn’t much to say about that other than it is probably best not to do cemetery visits on days that are close to 100 degrees out. Also, the signs at Montefiore leave a lot to be desired. I still need to make the time to do some photo processing, as the files are too big to email.

Anyway, we went on to Mount Judah in Ridgewood, where my great-grandparents (i.e. Herb’s grandparents), Enoch Ber and Malka Ryfka SCHWARTZBART, are buried. We had some trouble finding the correct section because Herb made a wrong turn and we wandered around quite a long time. Did I mention that it was incredibly hot and humid out? I was getting rather grumpy, but we did find them in the end. It’s worth noting that those gravestones are entirely in Hebrew / Yiddish.

After I got back, I did a bit more work. I finally found Max’s passenger manifest, which was under the name Mottel CHLIBEJOTZKY. He arrived 16 Sep 1913 on the Potsdam from Rotterdam and was going to his brother, Nachman. Who we know is Nathan. I still haven’t found Nathan’s manifest. I am also still trying to figure out the mysterious Icek CHLEBIOCKY, having found even more evidence that he must be one of Grandpa’s brothers because I noticed his manifest has a notation about an inquiry from the American Consulate in Toronto in October 1937 – which is not long before Willi arrived in the U.S. from Canada. (There’s still no info on how he got from Havana to Toronto, however.) Unfortunately, Icek’s manifest is really hard to read. I’d like to find out his occupation and who he was going to (I can tell it’s a half-sister), which may help in solving the mystery. The best guesses I have so far are that he was a tanner and was going to Anna WALEWSKA. Which clears up nothing, of course.

One other thing I’ve found is the record of Willi and Sarah marriage in the Bronx on 21 December 1937. But they entered the U.S. as husband and wife on 10 December 1937. Given that their son, Milton, was born in 1934, that marriage record is particularly interesting.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
I have several genealogy-related updates, which are given here in a slightly random order.

DNA: I am still at something of a loss with what to do with the 7000+ matches I have. I do have matches to a couple of known relatives (e.g. a good match to a known second cousin once removed) but also some good matches for whom we have been unable to find any sort of connection. And, of course, there are dozens of people who provide no information to even decide if it is worth seeing if we have a connection.

Even more frustrating is my having uploaded my DNA to Geni (which frustrates me for other reasons, mostly having to do with it tending to show connections through 70 or so people on my father’s side of the family for a known 3rd cousin on my mother’s side or other similarly convoluted confusion. In the case of DNA, Geni is really bloody useless because it shows paths across marriages. There is some value in some of the collaborative capabilities there, but the annoyances are starting to outweigh that for me.

But, then Monday night gave me a little bit of hope. Israel Pickholtz, who is quite an expert on this whole genetic genealogy stuff, gave a talk at the JCC of Northern Virginia. He was interesting and entertaining and his talk at least gave me an idea of what might actually be worth doing with it. And I think the thing that makes the most sense is trying to use DNA info to sort out two specific branches of my family – the FAINSTEINs of Josvainiai, Lithuania and the SZWARCBORTs of Ostrow Mazowiecka, Poland.

Clearly I need to invest some effort into getting various relatives to test.

Obtaining Bits of Proof: While I was in Salt Lake City for the NPL con, I spent some time at the Family History Library. I obtained copies of birth certificates (from Lithuania) for my grandmother, Dvoira Etel FAINSHTEIN, and her brother, Nahum. It turns out that these are actually scanned and one need not go to the physical microfilms, so I decided to spend more of my time there on some things that I couldn’t do from home.

Namely, getting expert advice. Which leads me to the next topic.

A Few Updates on the CHLEBIOCKY Family: I hadn’t been able in the past to find much about my grandfather’s older sister, Adele WASSERMAN. While her two daughters are still alive, they are dealing with various health issues and don’t, frankly, seem very interested. I had located her in the 1930 census, living with her older brother, Nathan LUBOFSKY. But I hadn’t found more than that. With help at the FHL, I found her naturalization record, which was under the name Odel HLEBIECKA. She arrived on the Lapland in 1925. To make things slightly confusing, she gave her father’s name as Hersz, while I have always known my great-grandfather’s name as Mose Zvi. That isn’t a contradiction per se, since Hersz is the Yiddish form of Zvi (both of which mean "deer") but it doesn’t make things easier either.

Adele’s naturalization record always told me that her husband, Max, was from Zborow, Poland. I believe the town is now in Ukraine. But the useful thing was that knowing where he was from let me identify his (and, hence, her) graves at Montefiore Cemetery, where they are in a section for a Zborower landsmanschaft. She died 17 December 1968. (He died 5 September 1971.)

My other recent find is my grandparents’ ship manifest from Havana. This was tricky due to a typo which had their surname given as CHLEBROCKY, instead of CHLEBIOCKY. There are several points of interest on the record, which is from the Pennsylvania, sailing from Havana on 6 May 1932. The first is that date itself, which means that the family claim that Grandma decided to return to the U.S. because she was pregnant with my mother and didn’t want to go through another pregnancy in the tropical heat can’t be true (since Mom was born in January 1934 and I am reasonably sure Grandma was not pregnant for 19 months). The second is that Grandpa gave his place of birth as Lomza, Poland, not Tykocin. That’s not really significant, as Tykocin was in Lomza Guberniya, but was still a bit of a surprise. In addition, Grandpa gave his occupation as "silversmith," rather than "watchmaker."

But the real surprise is that just below their names is another name – Frieda SCHWARTZ She is, of course, Tante Frieda, one of Grandma’s sisters, and probably the family member I make fun of most often. (She was an unpleasant woman, a hoarder, and a chronic pessimist.. I also admit to some of my childhood resentment coming from times I used to have to share a bed with her when we stayed over at various events. Tante Frieda kicked.) Anyway, that raises a few interesting questiosn. Did Grandma invite her to come over to meet her husband – or, just as likely given this is my family we’re talking about – to taunt her with having found a husband? (Family legend, which is unconfirmed, is that one of the reasons they left Poland was that Frieda was developing an inappropriate relationship, i.e. with a non-Jewish man.) Or did my great-grandparents send her over to fetch her wayward sister home? And did she kick Grandma, too?

The Saga of Sam KATZ, the dwarf Communist Printer: Another part of my family that I did some research on involves the KATZ clan. Goldie KATZ was my great-grandmother’s sister. Her maiden name was probably GOLDWASER and we think she was from Zambrow, Poland. Anyway, she and her husband, Hyman, had several children, one or two of whom may still be living. I knew about several of their sons, but there had also been mysterious references to someone who was always referred to as "Sam Katz, the dwarf Communist printer." The story doesn’t say was form of dwarfism Sam had, but the main point of it was that Sam was forced to work for a Communist newspaper because nobody else would hire a dwarf.

I haven’t cleared up much, but I have found that in the 1930 census, the children living with Hyman and Goldie were Rose (age 19), Samuel (age 16) plus three others who help me confirm this is the right Katz family. A key finding here is that Samuel and Rose were born in Russia, while the younger three children were born in the U.S. The immigration date is claimed to be 1926, but it isn’t clear how accurate that is. Hyman was working as a shoemaker, though later (in the 1940 census), he was selling fruit. Both Hyman and Goldie have filed their first papers, though the two immigrant children haven’t. (It isn’t clear whether they needed to at that time, since they might have been covered by their parents’ naturalizations.)

Another interesting part is that I’ve found what appears to be Hyman’s naturalization certificate and it shows him having arrived in December 1913, with Goldie, Rose and Samuel (whose birth date is given as 10 August 1912) on the Neckar from Bremen, Germany. It gives his birthdate as 10 May 1888 in Lomza, Russia (which was really, of course, Poland) and Goldie’s birthdate as 15 May 1889, also in Lomza. The real key here is that this certificate is from 13 May 1925 and shows Rosie (and Goldie) living with Hyman – but Samuel living in Zambrovi, Russia, i.e. Zambrow, Poland. Which is exactly where Goldie was supposedly from.

This should be enough information to find a passenger manifest and I had, in fact, found one back when I thought they had immigrated in 1926 and dismissed it as being from the wrong year. But I can’t find it again, sigh. My guess is that they did come over in 1913, sent Samuel back to Zambrow when they realized he was a dwarf, and that he then came back to New York in 1926 as a teenager. But there is a lot more work to do there.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
So what else is new?

Celebrity Death Watch: Noel Neill played Lois Lane on the 1950’s Adventures of Superman series. Abner Mikva was a representative from Illinois and, later, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Max Ticktin was a leader of both Hillel and Chavurah Judaism (playing a key role in Fabrangen, here in D.C., for example), as well as teaching at George Washington University.

Elie Wiesel deserves his own paragraph. I first encountered him when I was 13 or 14 and read The Town Beyond the Wall. This was the novel that got me started keeping a commonplace book (that is, a collection of quotes), because I felt compelled to copy down his condemnation of indifference. I went on to read several of Wiesel’s other works and, of course, he was a highly visible voice of witness regarding the Shoah. In short, he was one of the reasons I feel the obligation to tell the stories of my family. Memory is important.

The Bridges of Madison County: I have neither read this novel nor seen the movie adaptation, so I can’t say how true to the source material this musical, which I saw last week at The Kennedy Center, is. The great surprise of the evening was that composer Jason Robert Brown was conducting the score himself and I found it interesting to watch his conducting, which was fluid. As for the show, I thought the first act dragged a bit, but the second act really caught me. I did seem to have gotten something in my eyes during parts of it. Overall, I liked much of the score and still have "One Second and a Million Miles" stuck in my head. I do, however, wish there was more actual choreography. As for the performances, they were all at least okay, though Elizabeth Stanley’s Italian accent seemed uneven to me. The highlights were the comic relief provided by the neighbors, played by Mary Callanan and David Hess. Overall, it was worth seeing.

DNA: I sent in my sample to Family Tree DNA several weeks ago and got results back a couple of weeks ago. The first match I had was with a (known) second cousin once removed. Figuring out potential relationships is tricky as so many people don’t really list info in their profiles, and I am probably guilty of not having filled mine out enough either. Anyway, my haplogroup on the maternal side is V7a and my ancestry is claimed to be 98% Ashkenazi Jewish and 2% North African, which is not especially surprising. I need to invest some time in understanding all this and how to sort through the 700+ matches I have.

Long Weekend: I had grand plans for organizing and decluttering. Well, at least I did laundry and went to knitting group. (I did go through some things, but, sheesh, there is an awful lot of crap of stuff in my place.)
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Joe Fleishaker appeared in several Troma films, e.g. Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. Mell Lazarus drew Miss Peach and Momma. Actress Beth Howland actually died in December, but her death was only announced on May 24. She was best known for her role in the sitcom Alice, but I think she was more significant for being the original Amy in the musical Company, singing the patter song "Getting Married Today." Dave Swarbrick played the fiddle with Fairport Convention. Theresa Saldana was an actress, who is probably most famous for surviving being stabbed by an obsessed stalker. Peter Shaffer was a playwright, whose work included Amadeus and Equus. Gordie Howe was a hockey player. Muhammed Ali was a boxer and a poet. You didn’t really need me to tell you that, but what you might not know is that I won a bet on the first Ali-Frazier fight when I was in junior high. I bet on Frazier only on the grounds that Ali had been out of the game for so long.

JGSJW: The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington had their annual potluck luncheon on Sunday. The event started with an interesting talk on Jews in China, covering both historical and modern communities. Then there was a brief business meeting, before lunch. I had been assigned to the dessert group and baked blondies, with a new recipe that I found disappointing. There was an after-lunch game show, but I couldn’t stay for it, since I had another commitment. Anyway, it was a nice event, with plenty of good conversation.

Washington Folk Festival: That commitment was to tell stories at the Washington Folk Festival, in Glen Echo Park. My set was titled "Calculating Women," and I advertised it as stories of real, imaginary, and complex women who face the world with cleverness, with, and a touch of mathematics. I told mostly folk tales (including Maltese, Jewish, German, and American ones), plus the story of Sophie Germaine. I realized afterwards that I had completely forgotten about one of the stories I intended to tell. No wonder I finished a few minutes early. Anyway, it went reasonably well.

SafeTrack: The metro hell that started Saturday was tolerable during the work week, largely because the Fairfax Connector added on a temporary express bus from the Vienna Metro to the Pentagon. So far the bus has not been absurdly crowded, i.e. nobody has been forced to stand on it. It’s fairly chaotic at the Pentagon station at the end of the day, however. And they don’t actually appear to adhere to their schedule very accurately, though it’s still better than the metrobus I used to ride.

MIT Club Annual Meeting: Wednesday night, I braved the metro to go the MIT Club of DC Annual Meeting, which was at Maggiano’s. It’s not a restaurant I care for – large quantities of mediocre food – but the conversation was good, and I even made a potentially useful work-related connection. The featured speaker was Dava Newman, the Deputy Director of NASA. She emphasized Mars, but did speak a fair amount about uncrewed missions and even mentioned some of their work on aviation. The questions were, alas, too focused on Mars, but I’m not surprised about that.

By the way, I had very good Metro luck getting home, with just a four minute wait at Friendship Heights and a two minute wait at Metro Center.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
I mentioned a little while ago funding the translation of a couple of pieces my grandfather wrote for the Lite (i.e. Lithuania) memorial book. This piece is the first of the two. To the best of my knowledge, Elkhanan Markus wasn't a relative, but it's still interesting. I'm still waiting for the Jewish Opera Studio chapter to be translated.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum offered up a description of an artifact that belonged to a cousin twice removed. I've already mentioned the artist, Rafael Chwoles (also spelled Khvoles in some records). Rivka was one of his sisters and the museum has a vest of hers. After the war, she became a chess champion in Lithuania and later competed and taught chess in Israel, as well as becoming an artist herself. Another sister, Sonja, survived, but I don't know what became of her. Anyway, the museum record has an interesting story.

Speaking of Rafael Chwoles, it appears that there is a fair amount of his work available. I rather like this painting of the ruins of the Vilna Gaon Synagogue.

Finally, I found a Hungarian site re: the Shoah which has an excel spreadsheet having to do with survivors, presumably at a transit camp somewhere in Hungary. I remember my father telling me he passed through Hungary after the war and I have a photo that he said was from Budapest. The spreadsheet refers to interviews with the survivors, but I've been unable to find the interviews on the site. (I have a couple of people who speak Hungarian looking.) But the spreadsheet has a few interesting things. Both Dad and Grandpa are listed in it. Grandpa's profession is listed as a "shoe upper-maker." Now, that may be a peculiarity of Hungarian, but it struck me as an interesting distinction. The other thing is that Dad's birthday is given as 1 March 1930. As I've mentioned before, most of the later records (including all his American ones) give his birthday as 15 September 1929, but he always said his actual birthday was 1 September 1930. This provides yet another date. I don't suppose we will know the truth unless records from Koenigsberg (then East Prussia / Germany, now Kaliningrad, Russia) become available. It also gives Grandpa's date of birth as 20 July 1906, which we know is wrong, as his actual birth record is available and says he was born 18 September 1906. And both have place of birth shown as Kowno, while we know Dad was born in Koenigsberg and Grandpa in Vilna. So it seems fairly clear that this file is not especially accurate. But I'd still like to see the interview.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
This is the other half of my recent genealogy updates.

The Lite Yizkor Book: I had been thinking about it for a while, and I finally decided to go ahead and inquire about getting the two chapters of the Lite (i.e. Lithuania) Yizkor book that my grandfather wrote translated. (For those who missed it when I mentioned it previously, the two chapters were "lchanan the Shoemaker"and "he Jewish Opera Studio."

The price for translation came in as something I thought would make a reasonable charitable donation, so I went ahead and funded that, with some additional money, potentially towards the chapter on Jewish artists in Lithuania. I’m not sure what the timeline will be, but I know the coordinator has already contacted the translator they use.

BRUSKIN / BIKSON / KHVOLES: There was a big update to the Litvak SIG databases recently, so I thought it was worth rerunning various searches. This proved to be quite useful and, in fact, cleared up a couple of major mysteries regarding my great-grandmother.

I had previously found the birth record for my grandfather, Leib NODEL, in Vilnius in 1906, as well as the death record of his father, Pinkhas NODEL in 1909. This new search turned up the record of his marriage on 9 November 1905) to Tzivia BIKSON, the daughter of Khatzkel BRUSKIN. Pinkhas was 42 years old and Tzivia was 29. Most significantly, the comments section said "ivorce and widow." And, indeed, a search for her turned up her first marriage to Shlomo BIKSON on 20 December 1895 and his death from typhoid fever in Vilnius on 4 December 1901. They had a son, Isaak, who was born in Vilnius on 10 August 1896. I also found a passport registration record that shows Zvija and Schloma BIKSOHN living in Riga in 1900.

The only problem is that my father thought his grandmother’s maiden name was CHVOLES. But I’ve resolved that mystery, too. See, Khatzkel BRUSKIN (who was from Polotsk, in what is now Belarus) had several other children. And one of them is a daughter, Khava Leia, who married Movsha KHVOLES. Bingo! It gets even better, though, because there is a birth record for their son, Rafail KHVOLES, born in Vilnius on 25 April 1913. Looking up the biography of the artist, Raphael CHVOLES, gives me fairly high confidence that they are the same person. Who, you ask? Only one of the most famous Lithuanian Jewish artists, who I now have evidence was my grandfather’s first cousin. That matters because, of course, my grandmother’s first cousin was another Lithuanian Jewish artist, Chaim Meyer FEINSTEIN (to use the more common spelling). I have to wonder if the two artists knew each other.

Going back to the children of Khatzkel BRUSKIN, in addition to Tzivia (my great-grandmother) and Khava Leia, there were at least three sons. Another daughter, Nakhama Liba, died in Vilnius on 11 August 1902 at age 6.5 of lung inflammation. And it appears there was yet another daughter, Tzirka-Dveira, who died in Daugavpils on 11 January 1888 at the age of 6 months.

Izrail was born on 24 February 1894. Except that there is also a record of his birth on 21 March 1892 in Daugavpils, Latvia. Of course, it is possible that there was another child given that name who didn’t survive. That Latvian record does fill in two blanks, however. It tells me that Khatzkel’s father was Rafail and that his wife was Rokha-Frieda Girshovna ILGOVSKI. (That is, her father’s name was Girsh.) Izrail married Sheina YOSEM, whose father was Benjamin, on 1 January 1915 in Vilnius. They had a son named Peisakh, who was born 14 September 1915 (nice timing on that, by the way). They had two more sons – Khatskel (born in 1919) and Girsh (born in 1922). They emigrated to Argentina (Iszrael in 1923 on the Atlanta, Sziena and three children on the Wilns in 1924.) Izrail was a (house) painter. I haven’t dug deeply into the Argentinian records, yet.

I haven’t found a birth record for Abram Leiba, but there’s an internal passport record indicating he was born in 1881 in Daugavpils. I did find that he married Malka IUTAL, the daughter of Movsha Leizer in Kaunas in 1906. They had three sons, Meir (born 9 December 1907), Moisei Leizer (born 8 December 1911), and Rafail (born in 1917). As of 1932, Meyer was a student, Moisey Leyzer a shoemaker, and Rafail a printer. I suspect that Abram Leiba was the man who my father described by saying his father had a prosperous uncle, who lived in a very modern, circular house in Kaunas. I have a list of names my father wrote down (for an unknown reason) that includes a man named Alter, the son of Yichatzkel (which is the Hebrew name for Khatskel), and his two sons, Moshe and Meir. Therefore, I believe Abram Leiba would have normally been called Alter, which is a name that might have been added to a man’s name if he were ill. That sort of thing tricks the Angel of Death, who isn’t as bright as you might think he should be.

I’ve found a birth record in Daugavpils of yet another son, Khaim-Mordukh on 19 December 1878. There are scans of the Latvian archive data, so I should be able to download it and see if it tells me more. I should also note that the surname in that record is spelled BRUSKIND. As you might have already noticed, spelling (especially in Latin characters) in Eastern European records is, uh, fluid.

By the way, if anybody is wondering about the international borders, both Daugavpiis (Lativa) and Polotsk (Belarus) were in Vitebsk guberniya and were at various times part of Lithuania. Vilnius (Vilna in Yiddish) was part of Poland during the post-World War I period of independent Lithuania. It looks like the NODEL family was from Dusetos, Lithuania and the BRUSKIN family from Polotsk, Belarus, but both ended up in Daugavpiis, which is more or less midway between Vilnius and Polotsk, at various times. All of this gives me an interesting itinerary for a heritage trip I am tentatively planning for the summer of 2017.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
And here’s the genealogy update I promised. Actually, the first of two. It was getting long, so I decided to separate out the stuff on Mom’s side of the family from the stuff on Dad’s side.

SCHWARTZBARD 1 – Tracing Back: Back around October, a researcher contacted me (via the JewishGen Family Finder, JGFF) asking about SZWARCBORT (one of many alternate spellings) from Ostrow Mazowiecka. This led to me finally getting around to getting my great-grandfather’s birth certificate translated then being able to find the record for his parent’s marriage. Hercek SZWARCBORT and Sura Dwejra MASLO were married in 1867 in Ostrow Mazowiecka. And then, the other researcher filled in a lot of other information.

Sura Dvejra’s birth was registered in 1852 (though she was probably born earlier than that) in Zareby Koscielne. Her father was Abram Berek MASLO, but I don’t have any information about her mother. Abram Berek’s parents were Ick MASLO and Ruchla Jankelowna GASIOR, who was from Andrzejwo. Ick’s father was also Abraham ad his mother is unknown. Ruchla’s father was Jankel Abramowicz GASIOR, who died in 1854 in Ostrow Mazowiecka. Her mother was Dwejra GASIAK, who died in 1845. Dwejra’s father was Julek Jlko GASIAK, who died in 1839 in Nur and her mother was Ryfka AYZYKOWNA (i.e. daughter of Isaac). Julek’s father was Szajko.

Hercek was born in 1847 in Ostrow Mazowiecka. His father was Wolf SZWARCBORD and his mother was Guta Rywa ROYZENFELD. All I have on Guta Rywa is that her paren’ts were Herck ROYZENFELD and Eydla. Wolf, however, married 4 times (Guta Rywa was his second wife), so his tree has a lot of branches. Wulf’s parents were Aron SZWARCBORD and Etka MOSZKOWNA. I suspect the latter is a patronymic, not an actual surname, especially as it appears that her father was Moszk ABRAMOWICZ (again, a patronymic, meaning his father was Abram). Aron’s father was Leyb JAKUBOWICZ (another patronymic, meaning his father was Jakub). Wulf appears to have been from the town of Wesewo.

That’s a whole lot of begats, but the bottom line is that it gives me at least some information back to the early 1700’s. And it provides hundreds of cousins of various degrees. So, again, the JGFF proved very useful.

SCHWARTZBARD 2 – Chaim Wulf and his family: The other big area of progress on the SCHWARTZBARD side has to do with my great-grandfather’s brother and his family. Chaim Wulf SCHWARTZBARD went by Hyman in the U.S. The big breakthrough came thanks to a Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Washington assisted research program. My assigned maven located a death certificate for him. This was for the death of a U.S. citizen abroad (in this case, in Israel) in 1959 and had the names of the various people who were notified, who turned out to be his children. Some of those were findable on immigration records and census records and so on. The short version is that he and his wife Estera Bliuma nee BERKSZTEJN (who went by Ester in the U.S.) married in Ostrow Mazowiecka in 1893. He came to the U.S. in 1909 and she followed in 1920, along with 4 children – Itka (born 1901 or 1902), Herschel (born 1906), Rifka (born 1908 or 1909), and Simche (born 1909 or 1910). By the way, this is also pretty good evidence that my great-grandfather’s sister, Itka, had died by 1901 or so, since Ashkenazim don’t name children after living relatives.

The children listed on Hyman’s death record are Mrs. Yetta RADLEY, Mrs. Ray GINSBERG, Mr. Harry SCHWARTZBARD, Mr. Sam SCHWARTZABRD, Mrs. Simcha BART, Mr. Harold BART, and Mrs. Rose SKLAR.

I can match up Yetta with Itka from the immigration record. Her middle name was Muriel. She was born 23 March 190 and married Samuel ROTHENBERG, who was from London, England, on 6 October 1923. She was naturalized on 26 November 1937. They later (6 April 1946) changed their surname to RADLEY. It appears that they had three children. A couple of those children may still be living, so I will not give details publicly. Yetta died in Los Angeles on 15 November 1985.

At least in the 1940 census, the RPOTHENBERG family lived with Yetta’s brother, Harry SCHWARTZBARD, who I believe was originally named Aharon and may have come over earlier than his mother and siblings. Harry was unmarried and was a doctor according to that census. It appears that he was three years older than Yetta. But her age is incorrect on the census, so it’s hard to say. Harry did later marry Sophie LEVINE and they had at least four children.

I can also match up Ray GINSBERG with Rifka from the immigration record. She married Al GINSBERG and had at least two children. I have a photograph of a rather elegant woman in a fur coat, which is labeled "Cousin Ray." I suspect this may be her.

Rose married a man named Joseph SCHLAREFSKY in Philadelphia in 1933. They later changed their surname to SKLAR. Both of their sons, Norman and Leon, are deceased. Norman was married to Blanche (whose maiden name was possibly SPERO) and they had two children. Leon was married to Suzanne (maiden name unknown) and I don’t know of any children.

I think Harold BART (or BARD according to some records) must be the Herschel of the immigration records. He married a woman named Henrietta and they had three children.

Simcha is a bit of a mystery. He appears to have sometimes used the first name Sol and sometimes shortened the surname to BART or BARD. Mildred LEVINE and he married Mildred LEVINE in Manhattan on 11 June 1932. It appears that he might have predeceased his father since the notification of Hyman’s death was sent to Mrs., not Mr., SImcha BART, but it is also possible that was an error on the part of the clerk making the notification.

Finally, I don’t have any information about Sam’s immigration. I do know he married a woman named Dora (shown as Dorothy on one record) and they had at least three children. In the 1940 census, he listed his occupation as a garage attendant. And I found his World War II registration card, in which he uses Samuel, not just Sam. He owned Everlite Garage Services Station in Broolyn. According to the card, he was born on 11 March 1894. He died 14 March 1959 in Dade County, Florida (i.e. Miami-ish) and is buried in King David Cemetery in Putnam Valley, NY. Dora died July 18, 1968.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
Celebrity Death Watch: Vanity was a singer and primarily known as a protégé of Prince.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali was the Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1992-1996. There were lots of questions about how effective he was, including the UN failure to act in the Rwandan genocide, but also inadequate responses in the former Yugoslavia and in Somalia. He was the only UN Secretary-General who was not elected to a second term in office.

Antonin Scalia was a Supreme Court justice and a major voice for conservative opinions. As much as I despise many of his judgements, I do admit to his intelligence and his literary skill. He was the subject of a play (The Originalist) and an opera (Scalia / Ginsburg). There is, by the way, no justification for Obama waiting for his successor to name a replacement and certainly no historical precedent. Pushing such a move should only hurt Republicans in the Senate who will be seen as obstructionist.

Business Trip: I spent much of last week in Los Angeles. The trip was largely for one meeting, but I also sat in on a review for an upcoming launch and got a firehouse of program info from my management. It also provided a good opportunity for me to meet a couple of customer folks and for me to get to know my boss better. So, as exhausting as it was, it was definitely worth the effort.

Other L.A. Stuff: I suffered a bit of weather shock. When I flew out on Tuesday morning, it was raining when I left my house, sleeting when I got on the bus to IAD, and snowing when we took off. When I arrived in L.A., it was in the 80’s. And I came home to extreme cold, with temperatures in the 20’s or below.

I also took advantage of the trip to go to Community Storytellers on Thursday night. There were a fair number of people there and some good stories, but we had to end early to avoid getting locked in. Of course, we then did the traditional stand and yak in the parking lot for ages afterwards.

Lost in the Stars: I got home, dropped my bags in my house, and ran off to the Kennedy Center to see the Washington National Opera production of Lost in the Stars. I’m not a big opera person, but this is Kurt Weill and it was an option on my theatre subscription. It does raise the question of where the barrier is between opera and musical theatre, but, frankly, I don’t think the line matters. If I enjoy something, why should I care how it gets characterized?

Anyway, for those unfamiliar with Lost in the Stars, it is based on Alan Paton’s novel, Cry, the Beloved Country. The plot involves a black preacher, Stephen Kumalo, who travels to Johannesburg to search for his son, Absalom. Absalom has fallen in with a bad crowd, which leads to him killing a white man (who is, in fact, a friend of his father’s). He refuses to lie about the matter and ends up sentenced to death. This being apartheid era South Africa there are various racial undercurrents, which are handled rather awkwardly, perhaps because the show was written in 1949. Even more awkward is Stephen’s crisis of faith, which gets resolved all too easily.

I was impressed with Eric Owens as Stephen Kumalo and with Sean Panikkar as The Leader. But the real scene stealer was Caleb McLaughlin as the child, Alex. Overall, this was worth seeing, but there are some tedious moments to sit through for things like the glories of the title song.

Jewish Genealogical Society: The JGSGW meeting on Sunday was part assisted research workshop (in which I made a bit more progress on Chaim Schwartzbard and his children, though there is still confusion due to things like his having one son named Harry and another named Harold) and part speaker program. The topic of the latter was Family Search and I thought the presentation was fairly basic, but I did learn a few useful tidbits.

Recurring Dream: Or, more accurately, recurring nightmare. Three times in the past week, I have awoken in a panic from a dream in which I was trying to check in for a flight only to discover I had left my passport at home.


Jan. 15th, 2016 03:13 pm
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
I have been busy. I say that as if it will surprise anyone. But it always seems to surprise me. In addition to work, here's what I've been up to over the past week or so.

Celebrity Death Watch: Florence King wrote about Southern womanhood. William Del Monte was the last known survivor of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Dan Hagerty played Grizzly Adams.

You don’t need me to tell you about either Alan Rickman or David Bowie. I would characterize both of them as having earned their celebrity – Rickman as an actor of impressive range and Bowie as having gone beyond just singing and writing songs to producing complex works of great originality. I am, however, a bit concerned about how much attention their deaths got. In particular, I think Bowie’s was reported almost as if he had been a head of state.

Going Away Luncheon: My former management finally got around to taking me out to lunch last week. We went to Jaleo, since it is my favorite place close to the office. The lunch special is an excellent deal – sandwich and soup, chips, or salad for 11 bucks. The mushroom garlic soup was amazing. The roasted lamb sandwich was also excellent. Given that it is just about a block from the office, I am amazed at how many of the group had never been there before.

Losers’ Party: As many of you know, I was very proud when I get ink in the Washington Post Style Invitational contest in 2014. I’ve got just one ink so far, but that was enough to make me feel justified in going to the annual post-holiday party this past Saturday night. It is always a bit weird going to a social event where I don’t know anybody, though a few people might recognize my name. (Name recognition would be because of the associated facebook group, not my single ink.) But it was fine. People were friendly and there was plenty of intelligent and amusing conversation. It made me more likely to go to some of the Losers’ brunches, if my schedule ever works out.

JGSGW: I finally got around to joining the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington and went to their monthly meeting on Sunday, which had a talk on DNA testing. That let me also do another thing on my genealogy to-do list. Namely, I bought a test kit, though I have yet to do the cheek swab and send it in.

Chinese Space: The MIT Club of Washington seminar series was Tuesday night. This month’s topic was The Chinese Space Program. The speaker (Dean Cheng from the Heritage Foundation) was entertaining and informative. Mostly, he emphasized that China sees space as essential to their role in the world. He was skeptical about prospects for international collaboration, which led to what I think was the quote of the night - "Hotlines work best when they are cold." His claim was that the Chinese just don’t answer the phone when things are going badly. Unfortunately, a lot of the questions were more general about the Chinese economy and not specifically space-focused. Still, the seminar series continues to be worth going to.

Elizabeth Ellis: Elizabeth Ellis was the featured storyteller at The Grapevine on Wednesday night. There was an excellent turnout. In fact, I think they even had to turn a few people away. She is known for her advice to structure a program as: 1) ha ha, 2) aha, 3) ah, 4) amen. Her mix of stories, ranging from being dressed for a video shoot by a professional with no idea of how to deal with a large woman to an historical piece about George Washington Carver to a lovely family story, exemplified the effectiveness of that technique. There is a good reason she is one of the premier tellers in the country.

I’ll also mention that the open mike preceded the featured teller this month. I took advantage of the Powerball drawing (which I did not win, alas) to tell "Why I’m Not a Millionaire." Ah, I do love inflicting truly atrocious puns on a willing audience.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder: I had really liked this musical on Broadway when it first opened, so I was happy to see the touring company at the Kennedy Center. I enjoyed it immensely, both for the staging and the performances. It’s not anything revolutionary, but it’s a lively and clever piece, with echoes of Edward Gorey and Gilbert and Sullivan. I want to particularly note Adrienne Eller’s performance as Phoebe, a role that could be annoying in the wrong hands (or voice, I suppose).

By the way, composer Steven Lutvak is going to be performing on the Millennium Stage in a week and a half and I’ll be very interested in seeing what else he might be working on.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
I have lots to catch up on (so what else is new?). The most significant is the National Storytelling Conference, which will get its own entry. Or, more likely, two, because something I want to say will take some analysis and I don’t want to lose that in the clutter. I promise those will be more interesting than this entry is likely to be.

But, first, some other stuff.

Celebrity Death Watch: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper was one of the few pro wrestlers I’ve ever heard of. Alan Cheuse reviewed books for NPR (and wrote several of his own). Ainger Lynn Anderson never promised me a rose garden. Ann Rule wrote true crime books, the best known of which was The Stranger Beside Me about Ted Bundy. I’ve read many of her books, which fall into the guilty pleasure category.

Politics: Wit making its way around my circles is that the Washington Nationals are offering a season discount to the first 4000 presidential candidates.

Quick Genealogy Notes: I finally found where I’d put my library card, so was able to use the library edition of Ancestry. I found Max Lubowsky’s naturalization certificate, and it seems he can’t be Icek Chlebiocky, since the immigration dates don’t match.

The new social security application database, though, turned up a few things. Apparently my great-uncle by marriage, Ely Fuchs, was legally Elias. And his parents were Abraham Fuchs and Rebecca Heller. His birthplace is given as Kragow, Poland. That would seem to be Krakow, but there are some other possibilities.

More fun was the discovery that Athalia Lehrman (Mary Lubowsky Lehrman’s daughter) was using the name "Timmy Lee" at some point. A bit of googling turned up an entry in the copyright index of a book she wrote called Poems by Timmy Lee. It doesn’t look like the Library of Congress has that, but they do have a symphony she co-wrote. I see some fun research ahead.

Decluttering: I took advantage of the library excursion to drop Mom’s eyeglasses into the Lion’s Club donation bin there. I also dug out a few old pairs of mine and threw them in. I did keep one pair with frames I could see reusing.

Story Swap: The monthly Voices in the Glen swap was at Penelope’s, which was nicely convenient for me. I thought about walking over, but was concerned about the lighting (or lack thereof) on one street coming home. There was an excellent turn-out, including a few newcomers. And, of course, lots of great stories.

Sometimes You Only Need to Read the Headline: "Texas man injured as bullet ricochets off armadillo."

And Sometimes You Really Should Read On: I was disappointed that the story headlined "Bat Boy Dies from Swing" had to do with baseball, not that mythical West Virginia tabloid creature.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
I haven’t said much about my maternal grandfather and what I know about his family. His name was Simon LUBOWSKY (originally Szymek CHLEBIOCKI, usually known to his friends in the U.S. at least as Sam) and he was born in Tykocin, Poland (which is Tiktin in Yiddish) on 15 September 1906. He studied at a Yeshiva in Petah Tikvah and then went to Cuba, where his younger brother, Willi, knew someone who would teach him to repair watches. It was in Havana that he met and married my grandmother, who had gone there on vacation to decide what to do about her fiancé after traumatically discovering that he had false teeth. Grandpa had his own teeth.

They married on 14 January 1930. Grandpa came to the U.S. on the Pennsylvania on 9 May 1932 and was naturalized on 9 January 1939. He had a jewelry store in the Bronx. He was buried on 31 October 1977 do presumably died a day or two before that. By the way, after Grandma died (in 1968), Grandpa decided to improve his English, so signed up for classes. He met a woman who spoke Yiddish, quit class, and married her. I know his second wife’s first name was Rose and I think her surname was BERNSTEIN (which was her first husband’s name, not her maiden name if I have this figured out correctly), but there is a bit of confusion for a reason I will get into in a minute.

So far as I know (i.e. I have no documentation of this), Grandpa’s father, i.e. my great-grandfather, was Moshe Zvi CHLEBIOCKI. He was married twice. I believe his first wife’s name was Sima, but I am not sure. His second wife was my great-grandmother and her name was Pearl GOLDMAN, though that was probably originally GOLDWASER. And her father’s name was Mordechai Yehudah. But more about that part of the family later.

First, there are my grandfather’s siblings to discuss. Let’s start with the half-siblings, actually:

Max LUBOWSKY was born on 15 April either 1883 (according to his World War II draft card) or 1894 (according to pretty much everything else). He was a furrier who lived in Manhattan and, um, had to get married some time in the early 1950’s. I won’t say more about that since his daughter is still alive. He was naturalized in October 1922 and died in October 1976.

Nathan LEBOFSKY was born somewhere between 1889 and 1893. I believe he immigrated to the U.S. somewhere around 1906. He was a butcher who lived in Brooklyn. His first wife, Rose, died in March 1932, at the age of 41. The reason for my confusion over Grandpa’s second wife is that I believe Rose’s maiden name was also BERNSTEIN. (Her death record shows her father as Wulf BERNSTEIN and her mother as Euo LERNER.) Sometime before 1940, he remarried, to a woman named Jenney CORENBAUM. Nathan was buried on 24 January 1983. Nathan and Rose had 3 daughters. Celia was a public health nurse who was born in 1912 and died in March 1959 at the age of 45. Goldie was born on 13 July 1920. She worked as a dental assistant. She married Irving WERSTEIN, a writer primarily of history and historical fiction for children and they adopted a son from Belgium. He died on 7 April 1971. When I was growing up, I thought it was just incredible that I could go to the library and get books written by somebody related to me. Goldie died on 3 August 1971. The third daughter is still living, so I will keep to my usual policy and not discuss her, beyond mentioning that she was working as a beautician in the 1930 census record. The significance of that will show up in a little while.

Adele LEBOFSKY was born in 1904. I believe she immigrated to the U.S. in 1926 and I know she was living with her brother, Nathan, in 1930. She married Max WASSERMAN and they had two daughters, both of whom are still living. I need to ask them for more information about her.

Mariasha CHLEBATZKY or LUBOVSKY was later known as Mary LEHRMAN. There is another bit of confusion here, since somebody had once told my brother that Mary LEHRMAN was Nathan’s first wife. But I found her 1912 immigration record with the CHLEBATZKY name, which would be pronounced similarly to CHLEBIOCKI (remember that the letter "c" in Polish is pronounced "ts") and anybody with that name from Tykocin is almost certainly a relative. She was going to her brother, Nathan, in Brooklyn, so I concluded she was, indeed, a sister. After being detained, she was released to her brother – but he is named Rachmiel. So there is the question of whether that might be Nathan’s actual first name. Anyway, I haven’t confirmed that she married someone named LEHRMAN, but it appears so from a 1930 census record which shows her as Mary LEHRMAN and indicates she is a wife, but is without her husband’s name, though there are two children in the record – Seymore and Athalia. Some creative googling led me to a nice juicy story. She was arrested in 1935 in the Bronx for practicing medicine without a license. What she was actually doing was performing electrolysis at her beauty salon. Basically, the city of New York contended that only medical doctors could treat the condition of hypertrichosis, i.e. superfluous hair. She was found guilty, sentenced on appeal to a suspended sentence of 30 days, but eventually (in 1937) the state of New York said the whole thing was absurd and electrolysis was a beauty treatment, not a medical procedure. (I found the entire court case from the appeals court in the Bronx, and two newspaper articles, one of which was that final vindication.) Two interesting tidbits: 1) The court transcript says "The correct name of the defendant is Mariasha Lubovsky." And 2) The record shows her salon as "Adelle’s Beauty Parlor." So was she in business with her sister, Adele? I know that the third of Nathan's daughters did work as a beautician for a while, but, alas, she has Alzheimer's and it isn't really feasible to ask her what she knows.

I’ve found an immigration record from 1906 for an Icek CHLEBIOCKI who had been living in Obreschina, but was born in Tykocin. He was18 on that record, which would imply he was born in 1888. It looks like he was going to a sister, whose name I can’t decipher. If I am interpreting the shipping manifest correctly, he was naturalized in 1937. I am wondering if this might actually be Max, though there are some discrepancies in dates. What is confusing here is that I know there was a brother named Icko Aron, known within the family as Itchki. But it doesn’t look like this Icek can be him, because Itchki and his wife, Shana, had a son, Dawid, who was born in Poland some time between 1914 and 1917 and came to the U.S. in 1937. Dawid said he was going to Max. He later took the name David LUBOFF and moved to California. I lived within a mile of him in Venice from about 1985-1992, but my mother was adamant that I shouldn’t contact him, for reasons that aren’t clear. He married Helen TITUS on 9 November 1951 and they had two children – David Jeremiah (1959-1968) and Diane Gabrielle (1956-2011). Diane’s half-sister has created a web page in her memory, which also includes a link to Diane’s blog. I'm really sorry that I didn't get to know that part of the family.

I also have been told there was another sister, Sarah, and up to 4 other siblings.

And that’s not even getting to Grandpa’s full siblings. Those are a bit simpler, though I will start by saying I know there was at least one more whose name I don’t know, ,who was presumably killed in the Shoah.

The one I know the most about is Wulf CHLEBIOCKI, better known as Willi LUBOWSKY. He was born on April 25, 1908. At some point, he emigrated from Poland to Havana, Cuba. In 1930, he attempted to immigrate to the U.S. on the Morro Castle, but was deported as a stowaway. He did eventually enter the U.S. legally in 1937 (from Canada, via Buffalo) and went to work for Max. I don’t know if there was any actual falling out, but he did later open his own fur salon, a block or so away from Max’s. He died in May 2003, at the age of 95. His wife, Sarah, died in September 1989. They had two sons. One of them is still living, while Milton died in June 2002, at the age of 68.

Grandpa also had a sister named Leah or Lena, known within the family as Laika. She married a man named Sam WEINER. She had stayed in Europe and survived the Shoah, before coming to the United States. She and Grandpa had some sort of falling out in the late `950’s or early 1960’s and never spoke to one another again.

Finally, let me write briefly about the GOLDMAN family. I have found a census record for GOLDWASER from Zambrow that seems to match what I know of the family names. I do know that Pearl (my great-grandmother) had a brother named Isie (presumably a nickname for Israel), who married a woman named Frida, and had 3 children, all of whom I believe are still living. He fled from Poland to avoid conscription in the czar’s army and ended up in Mexico, where he supposedly had a pushcart in Mexico City before coming to the U.S. via Brownsville, Texas. There was also a sister named Goldie who married a man named Hyman KATZ. They had several children. They appeared to be close to my part of the family through, say, the 1950’s, but then one of the sons got drunk at my uncle’s wedding, leading to them being more or less dropped from everything since. There was also at least one GOLDWASER sibling who went to Buenos Aires and was still there as recently as the late 1990’s.
fauxklore: (storyteller doll)
I’ve written several entries about my genealogical research, but the detailed ones were almost entirely focused on my father’s side of the family. My mother didn’t exactly spring full-grown from the soil of the West Bronx and I have not ignored her side of the family. The research on them is a bit different, though, since fewer records exist from Lomza Guberniya in northeastern Poland than from Lithuania. On the plus side, more of them came to the United States and there are some immigration records to work with.

Let’s start with her mother’s maternal side. My grandmother’s maiden name was Lillian Schwartz. Except, of course, it wasn’t. It was Leja SCHWARZBORT. Even that is not quite the case, since the spelling of the family surname was SZWARCBORT in Polish. And her first name was actually Esther (Hadassah in Hebrew), but she preferred her middle name. Anyway, she arrived in the United States on the S. S. Gothland from Danzig on 11 October 1920 at the age of 19, along with her mother and siblings. That would put her as born in 1901. However, my grandfather’s naturalization certificate gives her birth date as 15 December 1903.

Her mother (i.e. my great-grandmother) was Malka Ryfka nee MAKOWER, but she was usually called Mollie. According to the shipping manifest, Mollie was 41 in 1920, which would mean she was born in 1879. I also have her marriage certificate (thanks to JRI-Poland), which shows she married Enoch Ber SZWARCBORT in 1896. That marriage was registered in Brok, by the way. I’ve recently found her grave information. She is buried in Mount Judah Cemetery in Ridgewood, NY. The burial date was 25 July 1952, so she presumably died a day or two before that.

As for Grandma’s siblings, there are two brothers and two sisters on the manifest, all of whom match lots of family photos (and in three of the four cases, I actually knew them.) Though things are not entirely unconfusing there, either. Freja (Frieda) and Moses (Morris or Murray) are shown as both being 15 years old (so born in 1905). And, based on their naturalization certificates, which both give a birth date of 16 July 1906 in Ostrov, Poland, it seems that they were twins. I find it absolutely astonishing that nobody in the family has ever mentioned them being twins. Then there is Fisolek (Phil), who is 11, so born in 1909. Except, on his naturalization certificate, he gave his actual first name as Fizek and his birth date as 14 April 1907. By the way, he was naturalized in 1943, when he was in the Army. I hadn’t known that, so was surprised to find his naturalization certificate in South Carolina, not New York. (Murray was naturalized in 1931 and Frieda in 1936.) Finally, there is Bina (Bernice), who was 9, making her born in 1911. That also implies she must have been a parting gift, so to speak, from my great-grandfather, since he emigrated in 1910.

I haven’t found my grandmother’s naturalization certificate, but I believe it must be from before 1929, when she went to Havana on a vacation and met my grandfather. She was a witness on both Frieda’s and Murray’s naturalizations, as well as on my grandfather’s, so she must have been a citizen by then. However, there is another peculiarity, as she signed Murray’s as "Lillian Schwartz," in January of 1931, even though she had married my grandfather in Havana in 1930.

One more bit of information from the shipping manifest is that Mollie gave her nearest relative in the country she came from as her sister, Juda SENDROWIRZ. I haven’t been able to track down anything on her yet. But I believe that Malka and the children most likely lived with her after Enoch emigrated, because she was apparently in "Zawski" (which should be "Zambski" but there are other typos on the manifest, including showing their surname as "Sohartzbort," which made searching for the manifest challenging at best.) I know (from Murray’s passport) that the family was living in Zambsk-Koscielsse, in the district of Obryte. That passport also, by the way, told me that his eyes were "the color of beer."

I have only family lore regarding Mollie’s parents, so will leave off discussing them from now. The key part of the legend is that her mother (or, possibly, her grandmother) was a foundling, literally left on the doorsteps of the synagogue. You can imagine what this does for research possibilities.

Here are a few more details. Frieda, Phil, and Murray never married. One story is that Phil was in love with a divorced beauty queen, and Mollie, on her death bed, made him swear a promise not to marry her. Another story is that Frieda had been on the verge of forming an inappropriate relationship (with a non-Jewish man) back in Poland. Bernice married Ely FUCHS and I have been entirely unable to find their marriage date. Which is rather odd as Bernice and Ely were the relatives we saw the most often when I was growing up. Given how close my mother was to Bernice, I would have expected to find the wedding invitation – and, given my mother – things like pictures and the menu and so on. But those may yet turn up.

My grandmother died in 1968. I think Murray died before then. Phil died in the early 1980’s and Bernice in the late 1980’s. I thought I knew when Frieda died, but all I can remember is that it was some time between 1996 and 2002.

As for my great-grandfather, Enoch Ber SCHWARTZBORT arrived in the U.S. on the S. S. Zeiten from Bremen in March 1910. He listed Malka as his closest relative remaining in his original country and he said he was going to his brother, Chaim, at 24-26 Henry Street. I have the birth certificates (from the Brok archives) for Enoch, Chaim Wolf, and their two sisters, Itka and Chawa. All of those were registered at the same time, in 1878, so they were born before then. I found Chaim's shopping manifest, which indicates that he was married to a woman named Blima, who was still in Poland at the time. He also said he was going to an uncle named Kalman LEWIDRA. I think I've tracked down Kalman's shipping manifest but haven't deciphered the handwriting yet. My uncle thinks we had some relatives in the printing business somewhere upstate and that may relate to him.

Enoch took on the name Henry, though the 1930 census shows him as Harry. Even though it appears he was using the SCHWARTZ surname by 1929-1930 (based on postcards my grandmother wrote home from Havana), his death record is under Henry SCHWARTZBORD. He died in Brooklyn on 28 January 1937 and was buried the next day at Mount Judah Cemetery. The death record indicates that his father's name was Harry (presumably, actually, Aharon) and his mother's was Sarah NASLOL.


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