Yesterday I received an email from Ann Griffin Selinger, whose husband was John Reynolds Selinger, Sr. John Selinger was the son of Maurice Selinger, Sr., and the grandson of Julius Selinger and Augusta Cohen, the oldest child of Moses, Jr, and Henrietta Cohen. I was so touched by the stories that Ann had to share about her husband John and his family that I asked her whether I could quote from her email on the blog and share these memories of her family. She graciously gave me permission to do so, and so here they are with just a few side comments by me. Ann’s language is italicized, whereas mine is in regular font.
My husband, was John Reynolds Selinger, 1933-2007, born in Washington, DC as was his brother, Maurice Arthur Selinger, Jr. For a time we lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland and one day we received a visit from Eliot Selinger who apparently lived around the corner from us with his family. We had exchanged mail a few times without meeting, but never looked into whether we were related. He told us at the time that he thought we were related and that his father and John’s grandfather were brothers – Frederick and Julius. We had been under the obviously false impression that Julius had no siblings.
Interestingly, Mildred Selinger, Dr. Maurice A. Selinger’s wife, having lived in Washington her whole adult life, lived with us just before she died in 1981. I see that Eliot died a year later. He must have knocked on our door just before he died.
The comment about Julius and Frederick Selinger being brothers was a very important revelation for me because it confirmed what I had suspected. I assume that Alfred Selinger was also, given that he lived with Julius and traveled with Julius and Augusta before marrying Augusta’s sister Fanny.
Here is a bittersweet story about Eleanor Selinger, the daughter of Julius and Augusta who married Henry Abbot and moved to England as discussed here.
Years earlier, John and I were in England and he said he would like to see if he could find his Aunt Eleanor.
We were successful and made arrangements to have tea with her in her apartment just before we left London. When she opened the door, John was astonished to notice she looked exactly like his Dad who had died over ten years before. We had a lovely visit. She shared that she loved to play cards, but had a hard time see the cards now. So the next day we had some “jumbo faced” cards sent over to her from Harrod’s – a fun idea. She called us to say she was so flustered when the delivery man said he was from Harrod’s that she had a hard time buzzing him in. Very sweet – a wonderful connection that pleased my husband very much. We flew home the next day and then received word a day later that she had died.
Ann also told me more about the accomplishments of Dr. Maurice Selinger, her husband’s father, who along with his brother Jerome were probably the first doctors in the extended Cohen family, as discussed here.
Dr. Maurice Selinger, my father-in-law, who died before John and I were married, served in World War I and World War II as a physician. He was a very dedicated doctor who gave his all to medicine and his patients. He was very highly regarded in the Washington medical world. He was instrumental in bringing three hospitals together (Garfield, Emergency, and one other – can’t remember) to form the new Washington Hospital Center. I remember just after we were married going to a diabetes center in Maryland that was dedicated to Dr. Selinger. I know nothing more about that. Amazing what you don’t pay attention to when you are young.
They lived in a lovely home on California Street, NW – should look up the number, that is now the Embassy of Venezuela.
John always told the story that when his father was a young boy he would earn his allowance by winding the clocks on F Street that were installed by his grandfather, Julius. They also put the clock in the tower of the old National Savings and Trust Building downtown. Years later, John became a banker and worked as a Vice President in that same bank.
There is nothing better than hearing and preserving these family stories. They take the facts and inferences I make from government documents come to life and fill them with the love and respect that these people deserve. Thank you so much, Ann, for sharing these with me. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me.