Sunday, May 1, 2011

52 Weeks of Genealogy: Weather--Hot Town! Summer in the...

City. Both my mother (Daisy Schwartz) and my father (Harold Burk) grew up in New York City. They never owned a car and never lived anywhere but a city apartment.

New York was and is a hot town, in more ways than one. Summer in the city meant trying to get OUT of the city heat!

Of course air conditioning was a thing of the future, so they used box fans to cope with summertime heat. And they never slept on the fire escape, not once (nor did I, growing up in a Bronx apartment).

Sometimes my grandparents (Hermina Farkas and Theodore Schwartz) took a week or two off from their Bronx grocery store and rented a room in the "country" (upstate New York, anywhere from Spring Valley to the Catskill mountains). This photo shows my mother and her twin, Dorothy Schwartz (both in front row), with family members at a casual summer resort during the 1930s.

During the 1940s, when she was working as a secretary or typist and living with her parents in the Bronx, my mother made enough money to go to the Catskills or Adirondacks for a week or two to escape the blazing city heat. One year she made enough to go to ritzy Scaroon Manor on Schroon Lake, NY, partly to relax and partly to meet eligible bachelors. (I know this sounds like a typical genealogist's interpretation, but it's actually based on letters written to her by friends, asking about her vacation and any date possibilities.)

My father, who lived in Manhattan until he came back from WWII and met and married my mother, told of spending a summer day as a teen, picnicking with his family in the Bronx. This was in the 1920s, when the Bronx was "country" with farms, dairies, etc. It was an all-day outing to get from Manhattan to the Bronx, unpack and enjoy the picnic, pack everything up, and get back home. My memory of his memory is that the family made the day-journey in a horse-drawn conveyance of some sort. I suspect they used public transportation to get to the outskirts of the Bronx and then picked up a horse-drawn streetcar from there. Summer in the city? Get out (of town)!

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