Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Twins

Here we are, age 2 or 3, in blue-stripe dresses with matching purses...and our favorite Raggedy Ann dollies. Just guessing that the top photo shows Sis and bottom shows me, but the only way to really tell is if Sis remembers which dolly is which :)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sorting Saturday: Summer Camp Heirlooms

Hubby made this aluminum plate while at summer camp, etching each letter by hand. The inscription on the back reads:  

This plate was made by Wallis Wood 
at Centerville Mills YMCA Camp 
August 30, 1951

The W in the center stands for Wood and around the outside are the names of all family members, including father (Edgar James) and mother (Marian Jane) plus Wally's siblings and Mitty, their beloved terrier mutt.

Centerville Mills YMCA Camp no longer operates, sadly. But this plate, and another W aluminum plate with family initials proudly made by hubby, are heirlooms with good summer memories attached.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Family Ties: Mahler, Volk, Wolf in 1925

Tillie Jacobs Mahler
A close look at the New York State Census data for 1925 shows just how close my Mahler relatives were to the Volk and Wolf families they married into. Literally close!

First, here's a quick overview of who's who. Tillie Jacobs Mahler, my great-grandma (left) was the mother of Henrietta Mahler (my grandma), who married Isaac Burk.* Henrietta's sister Ida Mahler married Louis Volk. Louis Volk's sister Beckie married Simon Wolf.

In the 1925 Census, look who was living at 2347 Morris Ave, Bronx, NY:
  • Louis & Ida (Mahler) Volk and their young son Myron.
  • Tillie Jacobs Mahler, and her grown children Morris and Dora. Tillie was Ida's mother and Louis's mom-in-law.
2400 Walton Ave., Bronx, NY
Literally around the corner in 1925, living at 2400 Walton Ave, Bronx, NY (apartment building shown at right) were:
  • Simon & Beckie (Volk) Wolf and their daughters, Celia, Pauline, and Shirley. Beckie was Louis Volk's sister.
More mysteries appear in the 1915 NY Census. But more about that soon!

*Isaac and Henrietta Burk and their 4 children (including Dad!) lived at 1642 Lexington Ave. in Manhattan in 1925, so he could commute to his job as a cabinetmaker in the furniture district downtown.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dad Says Aloha to Hawaii--for 2 days

My father, Harold Burk (older son of Isaac Burk and Henrietta Mahler Burk) was a self-employed travel agent in New York City. He was often offered "fam trips" (familiarization trips) to various destinations, so he could see first-hand what the travel and accommodations were like and make recommendations to clients.

Since 1946, Dad's travel agency had been located inside the swanky Savoy Plaza Hotel (it became the Savoy Hilton in the late 1950s), and his clients had money to travel wherever. But with 3 young kids, he rarely took advantage of these trips.

One of Dad's dreams was to go to Hawaii and in 1959, he was offered a fam trip there. My mother simply couldn't find anyone to take care of the youngsters for a week or more. Finally, she suggested he go alone, which he reluctantly did.

Here's what he looked like getting off the plane in May, 1959, probably in Honolulu. This was in the days when leis were made of stunningly beautiful orchids!

Dad was in Hawaii for perhaps 2 or 3 days when he got an urgent call from my mother: We three kids had fallen sick with something like German measles. She needed his help. He had to turn around and fly home. He brought back a small figure, like a netsuke, and my memory was it looked like a Buddhist god of contentment. It sat on his dresser for many years as a reminder of his brief trip to Hawaii.

The following year, Dad had his first heart attack. Within a couple of years, the Savoy Hilton had been torn down to make way for the General Motors building. While the hotel was in its heyday, Dad would very likely have rubbed shoulders with the likes of "Don Draper" and his ilk, especially if they enjoyed the tiki menu at the stylish Trader Vic's restaurant.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Dance Card from Zeta Psi Frat, 1923

My late father-in-law, Edgar James Wood, kept a scrapbook of his college years. As a member of the Kappa Chapter of Zeta Psi Fraternity at Tufts, he enjoyed many frat and sorority dances--and held onto the dance cards from each one.

Above, a page from his scrapbook, showing some of the programs/dance cards.

Left, his dance card from a pledge dance in January, 1923.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sentimental Sunday: All Dressed Up, 1978

I've been on a digitizing kick, as you can see from this small treasure trove of photos showing the ladies of the family all dressed up for weddings in 1978.

The wrap my sisters are wearing in these photos was "in the family" (kept in my mother's venerable Lane cedar-lined hope chest), but who made it or acquired it and when, I don't know. It's still in the family, in mothproof storage (right, Sis?).
My Mom (Daisy Burk) and my twin

My younger sister

Me (left) with oldest niece and Tyrone

Sunday, June 3, 2012

When Isaac Met Henrietta (1905)

1905 NY Census
Henrietta Mahler married Isaac Burk on June 10, 1906, in New York City. 

Over and over, I've tried to figure out how they met. He was a carpenter from Russia (now Lithuania), she was the Latvian-born daughter of a tailor.

Now the 1905 New York State Census has provided a very tantalizing clue: two "Burke" brothers living as boarders with Henrietta's family (father Meyer, mother Tillie, and siblings) in an apartment in Manhattan. Do the math: That's 11 people in what was certainly no more than a 3-bedroom apartment, if they were lucky.

One boarder was Meyer Burke [sic], a cutter from Russia who had arrived in the US 2 years earlier. His age seems to be 20. There's a good chance that this Meyer was working with Meyer Mahler, and boarding with him for convenience.

The other boarder was Isidore Burke [sic], a carpenter from Russia, 23 years old, who had arrived in the US only 1 year earlier. Wanna bet this was Meyer's brother?

My grandfather Isaac Burk was a carpenter. He came to the US in 1904, having first stopped off in New Brunswick, Canada on December 5, 1903, following a 12-day trans-Atlantic trip from Liverpool on the S. S. Lake Erie.

1910 Census
It's very easy for me to believe that the Isidore shown on the 1905 Census is actually Isaac, especially since in the 1910 Census, there's a boarder named "Jennie Birk" living with Tillie Mahler and her family. Isaac Burk spelled his name "Birk" earlier in his US stay...and nobody ever spelled "Burk" the same way. Jennie, by the way, is an "operator" meaning she operated a sewing machine.

Now to hunt down Meyer and Jennie Burk/Birk/Berk/Burke and try to find out more!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sorting Saturday: Don't Get TOO Organized!

Sometimes doing too good a job of sorting is a bad thing! Why? Because documents or photos that should be together get put in separate places. By reuniting these things, I'm piecing together a trip that my parents took the year after they were married.

For better organization, I had sorted all my photos and family memorabilia into family archive boxes (one for Mahler, one for Burk, etc.) Today I was looking at a Schwartz box and noticed the postmark on this postcard folder sent by Daisy Schwartz Burk and her new husband, Harold Burk, to Daisy's parents (my grandparents), Theodore Schwartz and Hermina Farkas Schwartz. As usual, the grandparents were staying for a week or two in upstate New York to escape the summer heat of New York City. The postmark on this mailer says July 24, 1947.

Now look at the b/w photo above, taken at the Au Lutin qui bouffe in Montreal, dated July 16, 1947. It shows Daisy Schwartz and her husband, Harold Burk (center), with a mystery man at right. That mystery man is also in my parents' wedding photos on the Mahler side of the family, which is why this was in my Mahler box. Daisy has a wrapped gift on her lap (is it for the mystery guy or from the mystery guy?).**

Clearly both of these are part of the same swing through Canada at the New England border. Neither of my parents could drive a car, which means they took the train--easy enough from New York City. Who is this mystery man? Did he live in Montreal or did he arrange to meet my parents while all were visiting the city?

I'm going to put each item back in its family archive box but with a note about the trip, for cross-reference purposes

Never give up on mystery photos! You just never know when a new cousin connection will result in an "a ha" moment for unidentified relatives.

**UPDATE: The mystery man is my father's first cousin on the Burk side, whose family lived in Montreal. That family has a copy of this photo, as well, so when I connected with them a few years ago, we were able to piece together a lot of the story!