I’ve been on a long break from blogging since July 13, and it was wonderful to be with the extended family on our long-loved beach. And although I was not doing much research during this time, a family research discovery fell in my lap. I made an amazing connection with a second cousin—yes, a SECOND cousin! Someone I had never known about and not found despite years of research.
Actually, my newly discovered second cousin found me—through the blog, of course. Over three and a half years ago I posted this question: Who Is The Little Boy? with the following photographs:
The man on the left is my great-grandfather Emanuel Cohen, and the woman next to him is my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen. But I had no idea until last week who that little boy was. He resembled my father as a little boy, but he is not my father. Here’s a photograph of my father at a similar age:
Doesn’t my dad resemble that little boy?
The little boy appeared in this photograph as well. I thought the man on the right was Stanley Cohen, my father’s uncle, my grandfather’s brother. But who was the man on the left? And who was the little boy?
And here he is again—same little boy with a man I believed might have been my grandfather or my great-uncle Maurice, but I was not sure.
My new cousin responded all these years later by telling me that the little boy was in fact her father—Maurice L. Cohen, Junior. Maurice, who my father knew as Junior, was my father’s first cousin. He was born in 1917, making him nine years older than my father. Junior had a younger brother Buddy, born in 1922. They had both gone to camp with my father when he was a boy growing up in Philadelphia. Junior and Buddy and their mother moved to California in around 1938 after their father Maurice L. Cohen Sr.’s death in 1931. My father never saw or heard from his cousins again.
In researching my Cohen family, I had not found anything more about Maurice, Jr., and my father thought he’d never married or had children. Well, it turned out that “Junior” had married and had a daughter, Marcy, who is my second cousin. And Marcy generously shared with me photographs and stories about her father, her uncle Bud, and even a photograph of her grandfather, who died long before she was born.
For one thing, I learned what drew the family to California. Junior had been attending the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania when he received a full scholarship to attend the College of the Pacific in Stockton, California. He decided to take advantage of the scholarship and moved to California to finish his education. His mother Edna and younger brother Bud followed him to the West Coast (Bud was still in high school at the time), and none of them ever returned to live in Philadelphia again. Edna and Bud settled in Beverly Hills, and Bud eventually attended UCLA and later married. He and his wife Helga lived in Santa Monica and did not have children.
While at the College of the Pacific, Maurice, Jr., met his wife, Laverne “Nicky” Nicolas, who was from San Francisco. After completing college, Maurice served in World War II and then returned to California where he and Nicky settled in Sacramento. Their first child, Ronald Maurice Cohen, was born on June 2, 1943, and died just two and half months later on August 14, 1943. Marcy was born several years later. Maurice, Jr., was a budget analyst for the State of California until his retirement at age 65; he is reputed to have known more about California finances than anyone. He died on March 30, 1988, and his wife Nicky died five years later on May 1, 1993.
Here are some of the wonderful photographs that Marcy shared with me, bringing to life my father’s first cousins and their father Maurice, Sr., my great-uncle. Fortunately my father was with me when I received these photographs last week, and I had the great pleasure of sharing them with him and seeing his face light up with recognition when he saw the faces of Junior and Buddy, faces he had not seen in over 80 years.
Now that I know what Maurice, Sr., looked like, it’s clear to me that he is the man in the third photo above, standing with his son and namesake, Maurice, Jr. I often express envy of those who have so many photographs of their ancestors and other relatives. And those people often tell me not to give up hope. This experience renewed my hope.
And I cannot tell you how happy I am to have connected with a second cousin after all these years. Thank you, Marcy, for finding me and for telling me who that little boy was!