Showing posts with label Theodore Schwartz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Theodore Schwartz. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #17: Minnie Farkas Tosses Her Engagement Ring

When teenaged Minnie Farkas (1886-1964) crossed the Atlantic from Hungary to join her parents in New York City in 1901, she and her older teenaged brother Sandor were responsible for shepherding their baby sisters, Ilka (age 4) and Frida (age 3).

Imagine boarding the S.S. Amsterdam in Rotterdam at age 15, sailing for an unknown country and in charge of keeping two small children safe and fed and entertained day after day after day as the ship lumbered across the ocean. By the time the ship steamed into New York Harbor, I'm sure she and the other Farkas children were up on deck to see the Statue of Liberty, signalling the end of a long voyage.

At Ellis Island, Minnie and her siblings were collected by their father, Moritz Farkas (1857-1936) or their mother, Lena Kunstler Farkas (1865-1938). To help support the family, Minnie got a job in a necktie factory run by Adolf Roth, a cousin of either the Farkas or Kunstler family. Like the rest of her siblings, she would hand her pay packet to her mother Lena at the end of the week, and Lena would dole out a couple of dollars for the following week's subway fare and coffee.

Although her parents picked out a well-situated young man for her to marry, Minnie refused. The family story is that the gentleman came to the apartment with an engagement ring and indignant Minnie threw the ring out the window. (Supposedly, one of her younger brothers ran down the stairs and retrieved it, but no one knows what became of the jewelry...or the young man.)

Minnie insisted on marrying Teddy Schwartz (1887-1965), an immigrant born in Ungvar, Hungary. They met in a Hungarian delicatessen on the Lower East Side and after they were married, Minnie worked alongside him in his grocery store in the Bronx.

Grandma Minnie at right, with three of her five sisters
This 1928 photo shows Minnie at far right, with the two now grown-up "baby" sisters she accompanied to New York and, at far left, one of the Farkas sisters born in America. In all, Minnie had five sisters and five brothers. By the time of this photo, Minnie was a mother three times over, but never (to my knowledge) had or wore an engagement ring.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: "I am your Pop (Ma is included in this)"

In 1943, when my Uncle Fred enlisted in WWII, the entire family geared up for a lively stream of correspondence to keep him company wherever he was posted. (The same steady stream of correspondence flowed to Fred's sister Dorothy Schwartz the WAC, and to Fred and Dorothy's first cousins in the service.)

Here's the second page of a letter to Fred from his "Pop" (my grandpa), Theodore Schwartz, written on November 9, 1944. Grandpa learned English after arriving in New York from Hungary as a teenager, and his spelling/punctuation weren't always perfect. He and my grandma ran a busy grocery store, which in wartime had the added burden of having to collect and sort ration coupons for many foods.

Instead of ending his letter to Fred by signing off with "love" as so many parents do today, he says something much more old fashioned: "With best wishes to you, I am your Pop" and adds: "Ma is included in this."

This letter reads:

Dear Fred,

Your 3 letters in a row at hand and been glad to hear that you, at last got what you wanted and also received the klippings [sic] describing in detail the work. It must be interesting, at least from the beginning. You will only have day work and nobody to rush you. There is not much news here. We are all well--just got a letter from Bobby F___ he is on the other side [meaning he's fighting in Europe]. Received a few letters from Dorothy, she is well, of course she does not get any steaks for every dinner but she is getting ours.

We had a nice [family] meeting at Ella's [Fred's uncle] Sunday. [Uncle] Albert's father-in-law, if you can remember him, celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary. I am slated for the next presidency in the family tree.*

With best wishes to you, I am your Pop
   Ma is included in this.


*The Farkas Family Tree was created during the 1930s, with members being the descendants of Moritz Farkas and Lena Kunstler Farkas, along with their spouses and kids. Grandma Hermina Farkas Schwartz was the oldest daughter of Moritz and Lena, and Grandpa Theodore's marriage to her made him eligible to serve as president of the tree, as he boasts in the final sentence of his letter to Fred. One of the fun rituals at each tree meeting was singing a family song written by one of Fred's aunts. More on this tree in future posts!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Matrilineal Monday: 1920s School Days in the Bronx

Late in 1984, my aunt Dorothy Schwartz wrote my sis a letter enclosing a newspaper article about her alma mater P.S. 62 at 660 Fox Street, which at the time was "an island of stability in a crumbling neighborhood" of the Bronx, according to the New York Times. P.S. 62 served students in K-4 in 1984 and K-5 today (left), but then it had one of the highest student turnover rates in the city.

My aunt's comments:
P.S. 62 was the elementary school we attended, only then it ran to the 6th grade. I never knew the area was in the South Bronx; I did know it had been renamed Fort Apache. To me, the South Bronx was below 149th St.!
Auntie Dorothy, her twin Daisy (my mom), and their older brother Fred were born in the apartment building across the street from P.S. 62, at 651 Fox Street. Their parents, Minnie Farkas Schwartz and Teddy Schwartz, moved every few years during the 1920s, but always stayed in the neighborhood.

My aunt remembers that after 651 Fox, they lived on Leggett Ave., a few steps away from Teddy's Dairy (my Grandpa's grocery store), which today is a hop, skip, and jump from Bruckner Blvd. Later, the family moved to 712 Fox Street. Finally, they settled at 672 Beck Street, around the corner from Teddy's Dairy store, where they stayed for many years until everyone was grown and my grandparents retired.

Now for some class photos of Daisy and Dorothy at P.S. 62 during the 1920s. Sorry, no notes about which twin is which. Note that the kindergarten class, in a photo taken around Halloween, has more than 30 students. Looking at the other photos, the classes are even larger!
Kindergarten: Daisy and Dorothy are in identical outfits and haircuts with bangs, center of 2d row, with a jack o'lantern between them

Second grade: Daisy and Dorothy at left of center, in matching outfits and haircuts again. Poster at far right is for American Junior Red Cross.
The twins were apparently separated during fourth grade. This is class 413--the twin is in closeup, below.
Dorothy or Daisy in class 413

Class 407, with the other Schwartz twin (along left wall, see closeup below).
Daisy or Dorothy in class 407

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fearless Females: Heirlooms--Grandma's Lavalier

Minnie (Hermina) Farkas may have brought this lavalier from Hungary when she took her long journey to America...but more likely, she received it as a gift from Teddy (Theodore) Schwartz, sometime after they were married in New York City on October 22, 1911.

Grandma and Grandpa both worked to help pay for relatives to come to New York. Minnie and her parents brought her siblings here; Teddy teamed up with his older brother, Samuel (Simon) Schwartz, to bring their youngest sister Mary Schwartz here.

Grandma was far from wealthy, but she left each of her grandchildren a bit of jewelry in her will. I received this gold lavalier and a cocktail ring, both of which remind me of her courage and perseverance. Thank you, Grandma!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy: Grandparents' Apartment in the Bronx

Farkas sisters & Hermina's grandson
After years of living in apartments in what is now termed the "South Bronx" but was not then dangerous, just crowded, my maternal grandparents (Hermina Farkas Schwartz and Theodore Schwartz) moved to a more spacious two-bedroom, one bathroom apartment at 600 East 178 Street, just off East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx, NY. Hermina is at left in this photo with three of her sisters and her grandson. Sadly, Hermina died in 1964 and Teddy died in 1965.

When I first became genealogy-crazy (more than a decade ago), I wrote this description of the apartment before the memories faded even more, getting input from my sisters:
The living room furniture was dark, forest green, pale grey, and beige colors. The sofa was horsehair. There was one standing lamp next to the Morris chair that matched the sofa, and at the other end of the room, a "china" cabinet with fine cut crystal pieces that were dispersed among family and friends after Minnie [Grandma] died and the household was broken up because Teddy [Grandpa] was coming to live with Daisy [Mom]. My younger sister remembered an ashtray with a cover that slid closed over it, which Uncle Julius [Farkas] would use for his cigars. The living room also had a 3-foot diameter mirror with etched leaf design along the top edge, and below it was a folding-leaf table that opened to card-table size with curved legs.
My twin sister remembered that in the winter, every radiator in the apartment had a pot of water on it to increase the humidity. The master bedroom had snake plants on the window sill and there was a faint smell of mothballs. The second bedroom had twin beds with a night table between them. In the night table drawer were a few toys Minnie kept for we grandkids.
The kitchen had a white enamel old-fashioned stove, with a wooden match holder nearby and a root "cooler" embedded under the kitchen window. There was a double sink and an ice box, later a fridge. The family usually ate in the kitchen but for company, Minnie opened up the large table from the living room (and we ate in the foyer). We clearly remember a portrait of FDR (Teddy's favorite politician, photo cut from a newspaper article) hanging over the dining table in the foyer.
Also in the foyer was Minnie's treadle sewing machine in a lovely wooden cabinet. We grandkids would play with metal/whalebone stays from corsets, and with thread bobbins, that we found in the machine's drawers.
To get to our grandparents' apartment from our apartment in the northeast Bronx, we had to take two buses or a subway and a bus, then walk a block or two from East Tremont (the business/shopping district) to the apartment building. Early on, the building had nice furniture in the lobby but by the 1960s, the furniture was shabby and then missing altogether.

Although the apartment was a block from what is now the fabled Arthur Avenue district, known for Italian restaurants and food stores, we didn't know about it at the time. We would go to movies on East Tremont sometimes, or window-shop the stores. My mother later tried to write a children's book about children going to their grandparents' apartment and vying to punch the elevator buttons. It was, of course, based on what we kids liked to do, but publishers didn't bite. Wish I had that manuscript today!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ungvar and Lojos Schwartz

Since September I've been hoping to find out that Violet was related to my Schwartz relatives from Ungvar. Violet's family wrote me yesterday to say that they don't know my Schwartz family. Their Schwartz family in Ungvar was Lojos Schwartz, whose sisters were Flora and Margaret. Although I'm disappointed, it's good to at least know for sure.

One of my 2009 resolutions is to organize my genealogy research more carefully and plan specific lines of inquiry. Meanwhile, if anybody is trying to find descendants of Tivador (Theodore) Schwartz from Ungvar, please let me know.