Pacific Street: Inspired by Facts and Love

Some of you know that since I retired two and a half years ago, I’ve been working on a novel inspired by my grandparents’ lives and the discoveries I’ve made about them and their extended families through my genealogy research.  Well, I finally put my “pen” down and decided to call it done.

Amy Gussie and Isadore

My grandparents, Gussie Brotman and Isadore Goldschlager, and me

It’s been an exciting process for me because ever since I learned to read, I’ve wanted to write a novel.  All through my career when I was writing long, boring articles for law journals, I wished that instead I was writing a novel. Novels have been my refuge all my life. I love being transported to different times and places and seeing into the hearts and minds of all kinds of characters.  I just wanted a chance to try to create some characters of my own.  When I retired, I promised myself that I would give it a try.

One friend reprimanded me when I said I was trying to write a novel.  She said, “Don’t say that.  Say you are writing a novel.”  I was and am insecure about the whole thing.  I never took a fiction writing course, participated in a writing workshop, or wrote any fiction at all, not since I wrote stories as a young child. What did I know?

My only sources of information about writing a novel were all the novels I’d read starting when I read Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White when I was eight years old.  That book transported me in ways that changed the way I felt about reading.  I cried so hard (spoiler alert) when Charlotte died.  And she was just a spider! A fictional spider! How had the author made her so real and moved me to care so much?

Charlotte's Web

Charlotte’s Web (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that I’ve written my own novel, I am even more in awe of the many great authors whose books have moved me so deeply. I am humbled by what those authors were able to do with words, and thus I feel presumptuous trying to promote my own book, despite my friend’s reprimand.

But it was a labor of love—love for family and love for the magic of the written word.  I wrote this book for my children and grandchildren so that they would have a taste of what their ancestors’ lives were like. I had lots of help and inspiration from my family and friends, as I acknowledge at the end of the book.  And so despite this aching feeling of insecurity, I do want to share and promote my book so that others will also know the story I’ve created about my grandparents—grounded in fact, but expanded upon by my imagination.

I hope that you will be tempted to read it.  You can find it on Amazon both as a paperback ($6.99) and as a Kindle ebook ($2.99) at

If you do read it, I’d love your feedback.  Thank you!

My Grandfather’s Notebook: More than Names, Dates, and Addresses

Notebook cover

Among the other treasures that turned up in the shoebox of “old papers” that had belonged to my Aunt Elaine was a Martinson Coffee pocket calendar for the year 1930.  My aunt would have been twelve going on thirteen, my Uncle Maurice ten going on eleven, and my mother not yet born when 1930 began. Here’s a photograph of my grandmother and her three children taken in 1931 when that pocket calendar was still relatively new:


Goldschlagers 1931

Goldschlagers 1931

This calendar, however, had to be around for many years as a place where members of the family scribbled notes of all kinds because even my mother eventually made contributions to it. In fact, the most recent entries seem to have been made by my grandmother in 1965 long after my grandfather had died and all her children had married.

Grandpa notebook 1964 notes by Grandma

I don’t know for sure what “Johen” meant, but I wonder if my grandmother was referring to my father, whose name is John Cohen.

It amazes me that my grandparents kept this little book for so long, and I wonder why it became the repository of so many family notes. I can’t imagine how it stayed around and was used by so many members of the family beginning in 1930 up to 1965.  Today that notebook probably would not have lasted a year (well, it wouldn’t exist since we’d use our smartphones and computer calendars instead.)

For example, my grandparents used it not only as a calendar but as an address book.  I already posted two of the pages of addresses in an earlier post:

Grandpa Notebook page 1 addresses Joe Goldfarb Grandpa notebook 13 more addresses Joe Goldfarb

Here are a few more:

Grandpa Notebook 4 more addresses Ressler

Leo Ressler was my mother’s first cousin, son of Tillie Brotman Ressler, my grandmother’s sister.  His wife was Mildred Phillips, and the notebook page records both their wedding anniversary and Mildred’s birthday.  Unfortunately there is no year given for the marriage, but Mildred was still single and living with her mother and stepfather in New Haven, Connecticut, on the 1930 census.  She and Leo lived in Hartford during the late 1930s, and so this entry of an address for Bridgeport must have been long after the 1930 date on this calendar. (They were living in Bridgeport as of the 1940 US census.)  Leo and Mildred owned a dress shop in Connecticut for many years before retiring to Florida.  My mother recalls that Mildred was considered high class by my grandparents and that my aunt was invited to come visit them so she could learn some of Mildred’s sophisticated ways.

Leo Ressler

Leo Ressler

(I don’t know who Francis Coen would be— another name to research.)

The next two pages had three addresses for my mother’s uncle, Sam Brotman—my grandmother’s brother.  Apparently he moved around a bit, given all the crossed out addresses the notebook includes for him. (There are two more on the first page, above.) I don’t know very much about Uncle Sam except that he was a cab driver and lived alone all his adult life. Yet all these addresses include a “in care of” reference so perhaps he was living with someone named Weinstein for some period of time and someone named Enzer at other times.

Grandpa Notebook 5 more addresses

Sam Brotman

Sam Brotman

Joe Brotman, the other name on this page, was another of my mother’s first cousins, the son of Hyman Brotman, my grandmother’s brother. I have six different Joseph Brotmans in my family tree, including my great-grandfather, but Hyman’s son is the only one who lived in Queens, where he was living when this address was recorded.

Hyman (second from left) and Joe (far right) and two unknown men

Hyman (second from left) and Joe (far right) and two unknown men

My grandfather also used the calendar to record birthdays for family members.  There are notes on the dates for his birthday as well as that of my grandmother, my aunt, and my mother.  (The pages for June were torn out, so there is none for my uncle.) My mother was born during 1930, and on the appropriate date my grandfather simply wrote, “My daughter’s birthday, Florence, born—-.”

One of my favorite pages (although very hard to read) is the one where my grandfather apparently listed all his favorite pieces of music.  I know that music was one of his passions, one of the few things he remembered fondly about his childhood in Iasi, Romania:

Grandpa notebook music

I can’t make out the names of most of the pieces, but he has works by Beethoven (whose name he wrote with such a flourish on the opposite page), Brahms, Bizet, and Grieg as well as several others.

He also used the notebook as an account book, and there are many pages where he records his paychecks, his Social Security benefits, and Welfare Fund payments.  My grandfather was active in his union, and I assume that the Welfare Fund was administered by the union.  In addition, he kept a record of people they visited or who visited them and other events.

Grandpa notebook money and visits

The notebook also contains a number of notes my grandfather made about his health and various other matters.  For example, on these pages he not only recorded financial information; he interspersed notes about the times my uncle came home to visit during his military service in World War II  with notes about his own operations and hospitalizations.

Grandpa Notebook 6 notes about Maurice in service

Grandpa notebook page 7 more notes about Maurice and hospital

Again, all of these were obviously written long after 1930 and as late as 1951 when he had surgery for polyps.  He died just six years later on May 3, 1957.

But perhaps the most interesting and entertaining parts of the notebook are those contributed by my aunt, my uncle, and my mother.  There are many pages like this one with a list of names and then what looks like grades.  My mother believes that my aunt used the notebook to play school, listing her classmates and even her brother and herself as the students and then “grading” them in different subjects.

Grandpa Notebook 3 aunt elaine playing school

My aunt also liked to practice writing her name and doodling all over the pages (the top one might have been written by my mother or someone else; I am not sure):

GRandpa notebook Aunt Elaine names earlier

Grandpa notebook Aunt Elaine names 1

These pages were obviously written after my aunt was married as she used her married name (Lehrbaum) and included her husband, my Uncle Phil. The second page also includes my uncle’s wife, my Aunt Lynn, and they weren’t married until 1945, several years after Aunt Elaine had married.  I find it fascinating that even after she was married and out of the house, my aunt still somehow found this notebook a place to scribble.

I found the pages my uncle wrote in 1934 about his adventures shooting at chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits with his friend Blackie both amusing and disturbing.  First, the idea that my uncle was carrying around a real gun at age fifteen is rather horrifying.  Secondly, I always knew my uncle as an animal lover.  He always had a dog (a schnauzer named Schnopsie is the one I remember best), and later on he had several dogs and cats as well as various other animals.  How could he shoot harmless chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits? But when I asked my cousin Beth about this, she said he always liked to shoot, so she was not surprised.

Grandpa notebook 8 maurice hunting notes 1934 Grandpa notebook 9 more hunting Maurice 1934 Grandpa notebook 10 more hunting notes Grandpa notebook 11 hunting notes and final comment in 1939 Grandpa notebook 12 Maurice comment 1939

But it’s amusing also because I can imagine my uncle as a fifteen year old boy having a wild time with his friend Blackie and competing to see who would shoot the most animals that summer.  Below is a photo of my uncle, my aunt, and my mother as well as my grandmother about a year after the summer that my uncle was writing about his hunting adventures.

Goldschlagers 1935

Goldschlagers 1935

I found the note he wrote four and a half years later on February 24, 1939, when he was almost twenty years old particularly touching and revealing:

As I recall it now I have recorded on these last nine pages possibly one of the happiest phases of my life.  As I sit here and look back four and a half years it seems incredible that time could fly by so quickly on the wings of joy and sorrow, (yes, we’ve had our share of sorrows).

What were those sorrows? I don’t know what my uncle was referring to specifically or whether he only meant between 1934 and 1939, but in his lifetime, in 1924 his aunt Frieda had died after childbirth as had her baby; his aunt Tillie had lost her husband Aaron, and his grandmother Bessie had died in May 1934, shortly before he wrote about his hunting adventures.  I also imagine that those Depression years were challenging for my grandparents like they were for so many people.

My uncle also must have liked baseball because he kept a box score from a game in the notebook.  Being a baseball fan, I was determined to figure out not only what teams these were, but what game it was:

Grandpa notebook 15 box score

After studying the names on team listed on top I realized that it was the Detroit Tigers, probably around 1935.  As soon as I saw Greenberg, I knew it had to be Hank Greenberg and thus the Tigers.  After all, how many baseball players have there been named Greenberg?

English: 1934 Goudey baseball card of Henry &q...

English: 1934 Goudey baseball card of Henry “Hank” Greenberg of the Detroit Tigers #62. PD-not-renewed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The team at the bottom took some more digging because my uncle’s spelling was, shall we say creative? But the Deroch was a big clue—I assumed it was Leo Durocher, and once I looked up his career and saw that in 1935 he was playing on the St. Louis Cardinals with a catcher named Bill Delancey, an infielder named Collins and another named Frisch, I knew I had found the right team.

English: 1933 Goudey baseball card of Leo Duro...

English: 1933 Goudey baseball card of Leo Durocher of the Cincinnati Reds #147. PD-not-renewed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


But the National League Cardinals wouldn’t have been playing the American League Tigers in 1935 unless they were in the World Series (oh, for the days before endless post-season playoffs and in-season interleague play!).  So this couldn’t be 1935 because the Tigers played the Cubs in the 1935 World Series.  After a bit more research, I concluded that this was a game from the 1934 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers.

Since my uncle recorded the final score of the game he was following (presumably on the radio) as 10-4, it wasn’t hard to find out which game this was from the 1934 World Series: Game 4 on October 6, 1934, at Sportsmen’s Park in St. Louis.  Here is a link to the box score of that game as recorded by the Baseball-Reference website. The Tigers evened the series 2-2 by winning that game and then won Game 5 to go up 3-2 in the Series, but badly lost Games 6 and 7 to lose the Series.  I wonder which team my uncle, a boy from Brooklyn, was rooting for. Perhaps the one with the first Jewish player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame?

Finally, there are a few short notes from my mother, the baby in the family.  Here she wrote about her big brother teasing her:

My brother is such a pest he calls me all sorts [?] of names for instance fatso, horse, baby and so many and I call him names to.”  I guess my uncle was always a tease—he certainly was as an adult also!

Grandpa notebook 14 Florence comment about Maurice


I wonder how much later she wrote the comment that follows: “When I look at this now I think it silly.  It is childish.”

When she was eleven, she wrote about a favorite teacher, Mrs. Alice Handelsman, who was “just like a mother” to her class, and her boyfriend Myron.  On his birthday in the calendar, she listed a favorite cousin, Sanford (or Sandy), Leo and Mildred Ressler’s son; my mother to this day talks about what a beautiful little boy he was and how kind he was to my grandmother.

Grandpa Notebook 2 Mom note about teacher

Grandpa notebook 16 Florence comment re Sandy Ressler


What a gift this little book from 1930 has turned out to be.  It gives me a snapshot into the childhood of my mother and her siblings and some insights into my grandfather as well.  He was obviously a very careful man when it came to money, recording so painstakingly his income and his expenses. These were the Depression years, and my grandfather worked as a driver for a milk company.   My grandparents were not poverty stricken, but they lived from paycheck to paycheck and for many years lived in a small apartment in Brooklyn and then a one bedroom apartment in Parkchester when my mother was a teenager and her siblings were married and out of the house. My grandfather worked the night shift for the milk company, and my mother would share the bed with my grandmother until my grandfather got home in the morning and she got up for school.  But my mother says she never thought of herself as poor because she always had food and clothing and a roof over her head.

We take so much for granted today with our cars and houses and televisions and computers and smartphones. We throw everything away and litter our landfills with our junk.  Our children and grandchildren have iPads and scooters and bikes and more toys and books than all the children in one tenement building in Brooklyn combined had back in the 1930s.  But my mother and her siblings had their imaginations and their friends and their teachers and their families.  And this one little notebook gives us a peak into how they entertained themselves and how they lived together as a family.  It, like my aunt’s baby book, is a real treasure.







A Brotman, Goldschlager, and Rosenzweig Update: The Baby Book

As you know if you’ve been following this blog for a while, my Aunt Elaine preceded me as the family historian for my maternal side.  Several times notes she made or information she gave to others has led me to more information.  Her information has almost without exception proven to be accurate.  For example, she provided me—indirectly—with the names of my grandmother Gussie Brotman’s half-siblings, Abraham, David, Sophie, and Max.  She provided me with the clue that the Brotmanville Brotmans were our close relatives.  She told me how my grandparents met each other in Brooklyn.

Well, she has done it again.  This time, however, it was not information or notes that she provided, but rather her baby book, which my cousin found in a shoebox of old papers.  It was partially filled out when my aunt was born on October 14, 1917.  Although most of it is blank, the few pages that were filled provide not only further confirmation of relationships about which I was previously aware, but hints at some new ones.

Elaine 1926

Elaine 1926

Here are the pages of the book that have been filled in:

Aunt Elaine baby book p 1

This is my grandfather’s beautifully florid handwriting.  His daughter, my aunt, also had fancy handwriting like this.


Aunt Elaine baby book p 2

My grandmother was never called Grace, always Gussie.  But family lore is that my grandfather’s family thought Grace was more American.


Aunt Elaine baby book 3

My two maternal great-grandmothers!


Aunt Elaine baby book 4

Who are these people?

Tillie Ressler—my grandmother’s older sister

Mr. and Mrs. H. Brotman—my grandmother’s brother Hymie and his wife Sophie

Rebecca Rosenzweig—my grandfather’s cousin, daughter of his mother’s brother Gustav Rosenzweig

Mr. and Mrs. D. Goldschlager—my grandfather’s brother David and his wife Rebecca

Mrs. and Miss G. Goldschlager—my great-grandmother Ghitla Rosenzweig Goldschlager and her daughter Betty

Mrs. and Miss B. Moskowitz—my great-grandmother Bessie Brotman Moskowitz and her daughter Frieda

The next two are not familiar, but provide new paths to research.  Can anyone help me decipher the names?

UPDATE: The last two must have been friends.  Mr. and Mrs. Leon and Ray Kiok and her mother Mrs. Frances Azeraad.  I found them all living together in Brooklyn, but not near my grandparents. I am not sure where they would have met.  Leon was born in Poland in 1886, and Ray’s parents were born in Spain.

Finally, Mr. and Mrs. M. Brotman: my grandmother’s half-brother Max Brotman and his wife Sophie

On the following page were more names.

Aunt Elaine baby book 5

Miss E. Shapiro and fiancé—not known yet

Sam Brotman—my grandmother’s younger brother

Mrs. A. Peter and son—I do not know

Mr. and Mrs. A. Brotman—-my grandmother’s half-brother Abraham Brotman and his wife Bessie

Mrs. D. Brotman—Annie nee Salpeter, wife of David Brotman, my grandmother’s half-brother

Mr. and Mrs. Julius Goldfarb—more on them below

The next three are not familiar—Mrs. Louis (?) Yassky, Miss Rose Botomick (?), and Mrs. Tsulie (?) Hecht.  As far as I can tell, these were not relatives, but friends.

I just loved seeing all these names.  Names that I have researched and know are my family, but names I’d not seen in something like this, something that makes it clear that these people were all really connected to my grandparents in a personal way.  I know that sounds odd.  These were the siblings, mothers, and cousins.  But since I grew up without hearing many of these names, it still was wonderful to see them all listed as the first visitors to see my aunt as a newborn in 1917.

I also found the list of gifts fascinating.  My grandparents did not have money for silver and silk, but someone was very generous in giving these items to them for their first-born child.

One final page—the inside of the back cover:

Aunt Elaine baby book 6
A. Rosenzweig—-my grandfather’s cousin, Abraham Rosenzweig, Rebecca’s brother.  I have speculated, based again on a story conveyed by notes from my Aunt Elaine, that it was either Abraham or Rebecca or Sarah who was accompanying my grandfather Isadore on Pacific Street in Brooklyn when he first laid eyes on my grandmother and declared he was going to marry her.

Back to Mr. and Mrs. Julius Goldfarb.  I asked my mother who they were because in a second old item—a notebook my grandfather used for various purposes that was also used by all three of his children at one time or another[1]—the name Joe Goldfarb appeared twice.  Who were these Goldfarbs?

Grandpa Notebook page 1 addresses Joe Goldfarb

Grandpa notebook 13 more addresses Joe Goldfarb

(There’s more great stuff on this page—Sam Brotman is my great-uncle Sam, Feuerstein B. is my great-aunt Betty Goldschlager Feuerstein, Leo Ressler is my mother’s first cousin, her Aunt Tillie’s son; Rae Rosenzweig and Lizzie Horowitz are my grandfather’s first cousins, sisters of Abraham and Rebecca. And there is an S. Goldfarb in addition to Joe.)

My mother said all she could remember was that either Julius or his wife was my grandmother Gussie’s first cousin.  I’d never heard the name Goldfarb before, so what did I do? What all genealogy addicts would do.  I immediately started searching.  And the results of that search will be discussed in a later post once I have filled in more gaps in that story.

But for now, I once again can hear my aunt cheering me on, telling me to keep digging and finding the family stories.

elaine and amy 1953

Aunt Elaine and me 1953






[1] I will share more of that notebook in later posts also.

Old Friends: Braided Forever

My mother has often spoken about how sad she was when her family decided to move from Brooklyn to the Bronx when she was about twelve years old.  There were many reasons she was upset.  For one, she had to leave her dog Sparky behind.  That broke her heart, and she still can’t talk about it without getting emotional.

Sparky 1934


But also she had to leave her best friend Beatty behind. Beatty lived in the same four-family house at 1010 Rutland Road in Brooklyn; she lived right down the hall from my mother.  They had been close friends all through childhood, and although they tried to stay in touch after my mother moved, back in the 1940s that was not at all easy.  Phone calls were expensive, and the trip from Brooklyn to Parkchester in the Bronx was a long one, especially for two young girls.  So over time, they lost touch.

Beatty and my mother c. 1940

Beatty and my mother c. 1940

Not too long ago my mother asked me if I could find Beatty.  She knew her first and last name from when she’d last seen her over 70 years earlier, but she had no idea where she was living or whom she might have married.  I tried to find her, but with so little information I had no luck.  If Beatty had married, it was after the last year of the publicly available NYC marriage index (1937).  The only information I could find related to her siblings, who had passed away.

So you can imagine how excited I was to receive a message on the blog last week from Beatty herself.  She was looking for my mother after seeing her pictures and childhood name on the blog.  I contacted Beatty, and I called my mother.  And I gave them each other’s contact information, and now they are reconnected after over 70 years.  I get the chills (and a warm feeling) whenever I think about it.

One of the stories my mother shared with me was about Passover at Beatty’s house.  Her father led the seder in a very serious way, and as many of us know, a traditional seder can get quite long and quite boring, especially for young children.  To keep themselves from misbehaving and talking, my mother and Beatty would braid the fringes on the beautiful tablecloth that adorned the seder table.  When my mother shared this memory with Beatty, she said that she also had shared that story with her children.

The tablecloth still exists, and even more remarkable, the braids made by my mother and her best friend Beatty are still there as well.  Here is the photograph to prove it.

Beatty's tablecloth

Beatty’s tablecloth

tablecloth with braids 2

My mother was once my Girl Scout troop leader, and one of the songs we sang had the lyrics, “Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver, and the other gold.”  My mother and Beatty certainly know the truth of that message.

The Last Chapter of the Nusbaum Story: The Hano Brothers

I have finally reached the last twig on the last branch of the Nusbaum family tree.  This final chapter concerns Fanny Nusbaum, who married Jacob L. Hano.  Fanny was the daughter of Ernst Nusbaum and Clarissa Arnold, the granddaughter of Amson Nusbaum and Voegele Welsch, my four-times great-grandparents.

You might recall that my family tree is doubly connected to the Hano family tree.  First, I learned that Jacob Weil had married Flora Cohen, the daughter of Louise Lydia Hano and Samuel Cohen.  Jacob was the son of Rachel Cohen Weil, my great-grandfather’s sister.  (Samuel Cohen was not related to Rachel Cohen or any of my Cohens, however.)

Louise Lydia Hano was the sister of Jacob L. Hano, who married Fanny Nusbaum, first cousin of my great-great-grandmother Frances Nusbaum.  So one Hano married a Nusbaum, and another Hano married a Cohen.  Talk about an endogamous group!

Jacob Hano and Fanny Nusbaum had married on February 28, 1877, and had moved to Youngstown, Ohio, where their first two children, Louis and Ernest, were born.  They had returned to Philadelphia by 1884, when their third son Samuel was born.  Samuel died just fourteen days later on August 21, 1884, from inflammation of his kidneys. He died in Atlantic City, and was buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia.

Samuel Hano death record

“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 April 2015), Samuel Hano, 21 Aug 1884; citing , Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 2,069,818

“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915,” index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 April 2015), Samuel Hano, 21 Aug 1884; citing , Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; FHL microfilm 2,069,818

A fourth son, Myer Arnold, was born in Boston in 1885, so the family must have relocated again after Samuel’s death.  And then by 1890 the family had moved to New York City, where they would have two more sons, Alfred (1890) and Clarence (1891).  Their second oldest son Ernest served in the US Army in the Spanish American War in 1898; according to his nephew Arnold, Ernest was gassed while serving in the war and as a result suffered heart damage that affected him for the remainder of his life.

Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Spanish-American War, compiled 1899 - 1927, documenting the period 1898 - 1903

Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the Spanish-American War, compiled 1899 – 1927, documenting the period 1898 – 1903

Jacob Hano had been in the printing business on his own, but in 1892 he joined with his younger brother Philip in the printing business instead of competing with him, as discussed in the ad below.

The American Stationer, Volume 31 p. 93

The American Stationer, Volume 31 p. 93

I love the comment here that this reduction in competition would not result in rising prices, just better service.

As of 1900 the Hano family was living at 205 West 134th Street in Manhattan.  Louis, now 22, was working as a salesman, and the other four sons were at home.  Unfortunately, the family was to lose another son early in the 20th century.  On April 10, 1902, Myer Arnold Hano died at age seventeen from typhoid fever.  This was the second son that Jacob and Fanny lost far too early.

Hano, Meyer Death

In 1905, the family was still living at the same address on West 134th Street, and now Ernest (25) was also working as a salesman.  Alfred (15) and Clarence (13) were still in school.  Jacob was in the “manifold business,” as stated in the advertisement above.  From what I can gather, a manifold book is a type of form book used by businesses.

Source Citation New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 23 E.D. 13; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 44

Source Citation
New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 23 E.D. 13; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 44

Louis, the oldest son, was not listed with the family on the 1905 census, nor can I find him elsewhere.  However, by 1910, he was back living in the household with his parents and brothers.  The family was now living at 344 St. Nicholas Avenue, and both Jacob and his son Louis were in the business of manufacturing “cravats.” Clarence was a salesman for the company, and Alfred was not employed.  Alfred must have been in school because by 1910, he was employed as a lawyer.

Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1022; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0560; FHL microfilm: 1375035

Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1022; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0560; FHL microfilm: 1375035

1910 occupations Jacob Hano

Ernest, the second oldest son, was not living with his family in 1910, but was living as a lodger in the household of Madeleine McGlone at 325 West 141st Street.  There were two other lodgers living there as well.  Ernest was a neckwear salesman, presumably those made by his father since his father and brothers were manufacturing and selling cravats.  Madeleine McGlone, his landlady, was listed as married for 14 years, but there was no husband in the household.  A little research revealed that Madeleine was born Madeleine Constance Barnard in Ontario, Canada, and had married George A. McGlone in 1896; however, in 1910, George McGlone was living in the Bronx and listing himself as a widower, so it would seem that the marriage between Madeleine and George had ended.  At any rate, I mention this because, as we will see, Madeleine would end up being much more than Ernest’s landlady, and perhaps already was by 1910.

Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1027; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0706; FHL microfilm: 1375040

Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1027; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 0706; FHL microfilm: 1375040

In 1915, Jacob and Fanny still had three of their sons at home, Louis, Alfred, and Clarence, and the family had relocated to Queens. Jacob, Louis (37), and Clarence (23) listed their occupations as salesmen, and Alfred (25) was a lawyer.  Ernest, meanwhile, had moved to the Bronx, where he was still listed as a boarder living in Madeleine McGlone’s household along with her mother.  Ernest, now 36, listed his occupation as a collector (bills? Stamps? Coins?).

The next five years brought lots of changes, in particular, the year 1917.   On June 3, 1917, Clarence, the youngest of the brothers, became the first to marry.  He married Mathilda Kutes, the daughter of a Russian immigrant and an Austrian immigrant.  Mathilda was born in New York in April 1897, and although she was living with her parents in 1900 in New York, by 1910 when she was not yet 13 years old, she was living as a “relative” in a household of people named Hertz of Hungarian background.  I cannot seem to locate Mathilda’s parents or her siblings on the 1910 census.

Just four and a half months after Clarence married, Alfred Hano married Clara Millhauser on October 25, 1917.  Clara was the daughter of Isaac Millhauser, a police officer, and Bertha Silverberg, and was a native New Yorker.  According to the 1915 New York census, Clara had been working as a typist before she married Alfred.

Unfortunately, 1917 ended on an unhappy note.  Fanny Nusbaum Hano, my first cousin four times removed, died on December 25, 1917, from cancer.  She was 61 years old.  She was the second of the Nusbaum children to predecease her mother Clarissa.

Hano, Fannie Death

The World War I draft registrations for the Hano sons give more information about where they were in 1917-1918.  Louis, now 40 years old, was living with his father Jacob in Manhattan.  He was a salesman for Anathan & Co.  Ernest, now 38, was living in Brooklyn, and was self-employed as a kennel owner.  Both Louis and Ernest were single. Alfred was a lawyer, living in Manhattan with his wife Clara.  He claimed an exemption from service based on “dependents—physical disability.”  He also indicated that he had previously served as a private in the infantry for a month.  It appears that instead Alfred served in the NY Guard.  Finally, Clarence was living in Manhattan with Matilda and was employed as a salesman for Berg Brothers.

Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786680; Draft Board: 145

Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786680; Draft Board: 145

Registration State: New York; Roll: 1754135; Draft Board: 23

Registration State: New York; Roll: 1754135; Draft Board: 23

Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786806; Draft Board: 147

Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786806; Draft Board: 147

New York State Archives; Albany, New York; Collection: New York, New York Guard Service Cards and Enlistment Records, 1906-1918, 1940-1948; Series: B2000; Film Number: 10

New York State Archives; Albany, New York; Collection: New York, New York Guard Service Cards and Enlistment Records, 1906-1918, 1940-1948; Series: B2000; Film Number: 10

Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786806; Draft Board: 147

Registration State: New York; Registration County: New York; Roll: 1786806; Draft Board: 147

Both Alfred and Clarence had sons born in 1918, named Alfred and Richard, respectively.

Alfred Hano birth announcement-page-001

In 1920, Jacob, now a widower and working again as a printer, was living with Clarence, Matilda, and their son Richard in Hempstead, Long Island.  Clarence was a dry goods buyer.  Louis was living alone at 168 West 74th Street and working as a ladies’ neckwear salesman.  Alfred and his wife and son were living on Edgecomb Avenue in Manhattan, and Alfred was working as a lawyer.  Ernest was continuing to live with Madeleine McGlone.  Ernest was listed as Madeleine’s “cousin” on the census.  Hmmm…  Madeleine and Ernest both described their occupations as dog breeders.  From my cousin Arnold, I now know that they were very successful breeders of Boston terriers.

Year: 1920; Census Place: Bronx Assembly District 8, Bronx, New York; Roll: T625_1143; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 462; Image: 438

Year: 1920; Census Place: Bronx Assembly District 8, Bronx, New York; Roll: T625_1143; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 462; Image: 438

In the next two years, both Alfred and Clarence again had sons, named Arnold and Edwin, respectively.  That made four grandsons after six sons for Jacob and Fanny Hano.

Jacob Hano died on September 5, 1922.  He was 72 years old and died from kidney and heart disease.

Jacob Hano death certificate 1922

In 1925, Louis was living alone on West 73rd Street, working as a salesman.  Ernest was living on Pelham Parkway in the Bronx with Madeleine McGlone, now listed as her “partner” in the dog breeding business.  Alfred was also living in the Bronx on Montgomery Avenue with his wife and two sons, and he was still practicing law.  Clarence was living in Inwood on Long Island with his wife and two sons, and he was still a salesman.

New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 32; Assembly District: 06; City: New York; County: Bronx; Page: 14

New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 32; Assembly District: 06; City: New York; County: Bronx; Page: 14

Ernest finally married his former “landlady/cousin/partner” on December 28, 1927.  He was 47, and she was 51, and they had been living with each other since at least 1910.  Things did not change much for the other brothers between 1925 and 1930.  According to the 1930 census, Louis was still living alone in Manhattan, now on West 86th Street, and selling sportswear.  Alfred was still living in the Bronx, but had changed occupations; he was now in the printing business as his father Jacob had once been. According to his son Arnold, Alfred joined his uncle Philip Hano’s printing business after he closed his law practice.  Clarence was still living on Long Island, now a sales manager for a millinery business.

Sometime between 1930 and 1940, Louis Hano married a woman named Blanche, who had a son named Lewis.  Blanche is listed as his wife on the 1940 census, and Lewis, 22 years old, is listed as his son.  Since Louis was single in 1920 and 1930, I was fairly certain that Lewis was not his biological child.  After much research, I concluded that Blanche had previously been married to Maurice Tobias and that Lewis was his biological child.  After Blanche married Louis, Lewis Bertram Tobias became Lewis Bertram Hano.  Whether or not he was legally adopted I cannot determine.  I am in touch with a descendant of Lewis, and we are trying to learn more.  At any rate, Louis F. Hano (note the different spelling of Louis and Lewis) became a husband and father for the first time some time in his fifties.  Louis was a salesman for a knit goods business, and Lewis was engaged in purchasing for a specialty shop.  They were living in Queens.

Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Queens, New York; Roll: T627_2729; Page: 62B; Enumeration District: 41-449

Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Queens, New York; Roll: T627_2729; Page: 62B; Enumeration District: 41-449

While Louis had moved out of Manhattan by 1940, two of his brothers had moved back to Manhattan. Alfred Hano was living at 41 West 83rd Street with his wife and sons in 1940, and he was working as a salesman for an industrial company, according to the census.  His son Alfred, now 21, was working as a salesman for a tonsorial equipment company, i.e., barbershop supplies.

Occupations of Alfred Hano and his son Alfred on the 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2642; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 31-801

Occupations of Alfred Hano and his son Alfred on the 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, New York, New York; Roll: T627_2642; Page: 17A; Enumeration District: 31-801

Clarence Hano also moved back to Manhattan by 1940.  He and his family were living at 465 West 65th Street.  Clarence was still selling millinery; his wife Mathilda was working as a manager for a publishing company.  Their sons Richard and Edwin were both working as stock clerks, one for a thread company and the other for a button company.

I cannot locate Ernest and his wife Madeleine on the 1940 census, but he and Madeleine are listed in the 1938 directory for Claremont, New Hampshire, described as “retired” and living at “Blink Cottage” on Lake Avenue.  There is an identical listing in the 1942 Claremont directory, so I assume that that is where they were in 1940 as well.  On the other hand, Ernest’s 1942 draft registration lists his residence as 1422 Pelham Parkway in the Bronx, so perhaps they had both a city home and a country home during this period.  The draft registration confirmed that he was retired and married to Madeleine Hano.

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; State Headquarters: New York

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; State Headquarters: New York

Louis’ World War II draft registration showed him living with Blanche in Elmhurst, Queens, and employed by the Elgin Knit Sportswear Company.  He was now 64 years old.  His adopted son Lewis Bertram Hano married Marion Fitz on September 20, 1942, and Lewis served in the US Navy for much of World War II.

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; State Headquarters: New York

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; State Headquarters: New York

According to his World War II draft registration, Clarence Hano was living at 25 West 68th Street and employed by the American Straw Goods Company. He was 50 years old.  His son Richard enlisted in the US Army on May 14, 1941, before the US had entered World War II.  Edwin Hano also served in the US Army during the war.

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; State Headquarters: New York

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; State Headquarters: New York

Alfred Hano was living at 41 West 83rd Street at the time of his draft registration in 1942.  He was employed by the United Autographic Register Company at that time.  He was 52 years old.  Both of his sons also served in World War II.  His younger son Arnold enlisted in the US Army on October 16, 1942, and served in the Pacific Theater during the war.

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; State Headquarters: New York

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; State Headquarters: New York

Alfred’s older son, Alfred, had enlisted six months before his younger brother on April 10, 1942.  He served in the Army Air Corps in Europe.  Tragically, Alfred was killed when his plane was shot down over Germany in March, 1944.  He was only 26 years old.

Publication Title: Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947 Publisher: NARA National Archives Catalog ID: 305256 National Archives Catalog Title: Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs), compiled 1942 - 1947

Publication Title: Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs) of the U.S. Army Air Forces, 1942-1947
Publisher: NARA
National Archives Catalog ID: 305256
National Archives Catalog Title: Missing Air Crew Reports (MACRs), compiled 1942 – 1947

The 1940s must have been very painful, heart-breaking years for the extended Hano family.  Not only did they lose Alfred in the war and see four other young men put their lives on the line, they also lost two of the Hano brothers within just months of each other.  On August 8, 1847, Ernest Nusbaum Hano died in Sunapee, New Hampshire; he was 67 years old.   His wife Madeleine survived him by sixteen years, dying March 6, 1963, in Greenwich, Connecticut, where she had relocated after Ernest’s death.  Then on November 30, 1947, Louis F. Hano died in Queens; he was seventy years old.  His wife Blanche lived until April 2, 1965.

As for the other two brothers, Clarence died in April, 1960.  He was 69 years old.  His wife Mathilda died in 1976 when she was 79 years old.  Both of their sons died before they were sixty years old, Edwin in 1970 and Richard in 1977.

Alfred Hano was the last surviving Hano brother.  His wife Clara had died in 1953, and Alfred lived until May, 1967.  He was 76 when he died.  He was survived by his son Arnold, who is a very well-known and well-regarded sportswriter.  His book about one game of the 1954 World Series, A Day in the Bleachers, is considered a baseball classic and innovative in the way he described in detail the play by play of the entire game. It was in that game that Willie Mays made his historic catch, captured in this video:

He has also written a number of biographies as well as a number of novels.  I recently had the great pleasure of speaking with Arnold, who is now 93 years old.  It was an absolutely delightful conversation in which we discussed everything from the Bronx, baseball, war, children, careers, and family.  I have already added his books to my reading list for the summer.  There is a documentary currently being made about my cousin Arnold, and although Arnold himself questions why anyone would be interested in his life, I know that I will be very excited to see this film when it is completed.

A Day in the Bleachers cover

And so that brings me to the end of the story of not only the Hano family, and not only to the end of story of the descendants of Ernst Nusbaum, but to the end of the story of all the children and grandchildren of Amson Nusbaum and Voegele Welsch,[1] my four-times great-grandparents from Schopfloch, Germany.

[1] Voegele was most likely the person for whom all those girls named Fanny, Flora, Florence, and Frances were named for in the Nusbaum/Dreyfuss/Dinkelspiel family.  I still need to find out more about the Welsch line of my family.

Thank You, Grandpa, for the Gift of My New Cousins

It was about three years ago that I first started wondering more about my grandfather Isadore Goldschlager.  I knew almost nothing about his life before he came to the US in 1904 from Iasi, Romania.  I didn’t know too much about his life when he got to the US either.  It was my interest in his life in particular that first prompted me to go on and start searching for answers.  I soon hit a wall and gave up, only returning to ancestry a year later and starting my search for my Brotman relatives instead.

Then I returned to my grandfather again, a somewhat more experienced researcher, and this time I had better luck.  In fact, as I have written, I found not only his parents—I found his mother’s siblings Gustav and Tillie and Zusi Rosenzweig, and then I found their children and many of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  I was able to piece together a better picture of my grandfather’s extended family and even figured out how he met my grandmother Gussie, who happened to be living down the street from his Rosenzweig cousins in 1915 on Pacific Street in Brooklyn.

Last night I got to meet some of my Rosenzweig cousins for the very first time.    Four of the great-great-grandchildren of David and Esther Rosenzweig were there—Gerry, Ron, Michael and me.  Gerry, Ron and Michael are all the great-grandsons of Gustave Rosenzweig, the brother of my great-grandmother Ghitla/Gussie Rosenzweig Goldschlager.  Gerry is the grandson of Abraham Rosenzweig, and Michael and Ron are the grandsons of Joe Rosenzweig, the brother of Abraham.

Here is a picture of Abraham, Joe and Jack Rosenzweig:

Abraham Joseph and John (Jack) Rosenzweig

Abraham Joseph and John (Jack) Rosenzweig

And here is a picture of their first cousin Isadore Goldschlager, my grandfather.

Isadore Goldschlager

Isadore Goldschlager

It was a wonderful evening.  Even though many of us had never, ever met before, we quickly connected and found common bonds—all having grown up in greater New York, all enjoying a good laugh, all loving dogs and our grandchildren (not in that order), and all being unable to digest raw onions.  It was a great time, and even if we never knew each other as children, there was definitely a feeling of family.

Here we all are with our spouses.  Thanks to the lovely newlywed couple who not only put up with our noisy conversations, but also graciously offered to take this picture (on about five different smartphones).

Rosenzweig cousins Jan 24 2014

So keep looking for your cousins—you will never know how much joy you can experience.

Remy Brandon Fischer, Shalev Ezra ben Dov Baer Yaakov v Rivke Gittel



Yesterday just before 4 pm, our family grew again with the birth of our grandson Remy.  He weighed 8 pounds and is 19.5 inches long, and he is beautiful.  His big brother Nate whispered in his ear, “You are going to be my best friend,” bringing us all to tears.  It was a magical, wonderful, perfect day.

Remy is named for five remarkable women from all sides of his family.  Remy is for Rose, his paternal great-grandmother who passed away just a few months ago.  Brandon is for Bea, his other paternal great-grandmother who lived to be 101 years old.  Here they both are, together at Remy’s parents’ wedding in 2006.  They were both strong, independent women, both widowed far too young, but both women who not only survived, but found continuing  joy and fulfillment in their long lives.  I was honored to get to know them both.

Bea and Rose

Bea and Rose

Remy’s Hebrew name is in honor of three women from his mother’s side.  Shalev is for my mother-in-law Sara, Remy’s maternal great-grandmother, who also lived a long life.  She was the matriarch of her family and a strong, sweet, loving and incredibly funny woman who was adored by all her grandchildren, her nieces, nephews, and, of course, her sons and her daughters-in-law.  She raised two truly wonderful men, one of whom I was fortunate enough to marry.


Sara with Maddy and Rebecca

Sara with Maddy and Rebecca

Ezra is for my two aunts.  My father’s sister Eva, who despite contracting MS as a young woman, lived a long and productive life, working until retirement age for the city of Philadelphia, where she was born and lived almost her whole life.  She was another strong and independent woman who had an incredibly large and yet close circle of friends. (Picture to come once I get back to my scanner.)

Ezra is also for my Aunt Elaine, my mother’s sister, our family’s matriarch, who was yet another incredibly strong and loving and smart and funny woman, our family historian.  As my mother remarked this past weekend, we cannot tell a story about her that does not make us laugh and smile.  She, too, was adored by all.

Phil and Elaine

Phil and Elaine

Remy, you have an incredible foundation to start your young life.  May you be blessed to have the strength, the heart, the independence, and the sense of humor that all five of these women had to help get you through what we hope will be a long, healthy and very happy life.



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Rachel “Ray” Rosenzweig: Can anyone remember anything else?

I have had amazing luck in finding out something about the lives of all but one of Gustave and Gussie’s children.  I have even been able to connect with descendants of many of them.  There are still holes and unfinished stories for Lillie and Lizzie and Sarah, but I’ve at least been able to trace them through some part of their adult lives.  The only child I have had no luck finding after she left the family home is Rachel or Ray, the youngest child.

I know Ray was born in 1904 and that through 1930 she was living with her mother in Brooklyn, but I have found nothing that reveals what happened to her after her mother died.  I have not been able to find her on the 1940 census, on the NYC marriage index, or on the Social Security Death Index.  I don’t know whether she had any descendants.  I need some assistance.

A number of Gussie and Gustave’s descendants remember Ray, and I have been able to obtain these two photographs of Ray from the 1940s.  I know she must have lived at least into the late 1960s since so many of her great-nieces and great-nephews have memories of her.  One remembers that she moved to Florida at some point and thinks she married, but cannot remember her husband’s name.  Another remembers that she lived in New Jersey and married someone with an Italian surname.

Now I am asking to look carefully at these two photos and see if they spark any specific memories—an occupation, a husband, a child, a residence, a date of death—anything that might help me find out more about the youngest child of Gustave and Gussie.



Ray 1

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The Legacy of Rebecca Rosenzweig: Her Son, Irwin Elkins

Iriwin Elkins 1960

Iriwin Elkins 1960

I recently connected with Richard Elkins, the grandson of Rebecca Rosenzweig Elkin.  Rebecca died in 1921 at age 27, when her son Irving was less than two years old.  Irving grew up to be Irwin Elkins, who married Muriel, with whom he had two sons, Michael and Richard.  Richard was kind enough to share with me some stories about Irwin’s life.  With his permission, I am including some of what he shared with me in his own words.

First, some background.  Rebecca Rosenzweig, my grandfather’s first cousin and the daughter of Gustave and Gussie Rosenzweig, married Frank Elkin in 1914.  Her son Irving was born in 1919.  After Rebecca died in 1921, Frank married Frances Reiner in 1922 and moved to Boston. Frank and Frances had a son named Stanley, who was born in 1925.  In 1930 Frank was back in Brooklyn with Frances and the boys, but sometime thereafter they returned to the Boston area, where they settled permanently.  I had assumed that Irving had stayed with Frank and his new wife during the 1920s, but Richard informed me otherwise.

“When Rebecca Rosenzweig passed away in 1921, Irwin Elkin moved into the home of Gustave and Gussie Rosenzweig, where he resided for eight years until 1929.  Irving adored his Grandma Rosenzweig, and Grandma Rosenzweig adored my Dad. My Dad thought of Gussie as his mother. My Dad said Gussie was a fabulous cook.   My Dad never spoke about Gustave.”

Perhaps the reason that Irwin never spoke about Gustave was that by 1921, Gustave and Gussie were divorced or at least no longer living together.  If Irwin’s years with his grandmother were from 1921 to 1929, he was living with just Gussie, Ray, and Lizzie.

One of Irwin’s favorite stories about his years living with his grandmother was this one, according to Richard:  “There was a large family gathering at Gustave and Gussie’s home, and Gussie discovered that she did not have enough food to feed the entire clan.  Gussie pulled my Dad aside and told him to tell all the other children that when Gussie asked who wanted chicken for dinner, all the children were to say, ”No, thank you,” because they were not hungry.  That way there would be enough food for the adults. When everyone sat down at the table, Gussie asked who wants chicken for dinner?  All the children dutifully said no thank they were not hungry and were excused from the table.  After the dinner was served and completed, Gussie then announced, ‘Any child who did not eat my chicken dinner will get no dessert!’ “

Richard also shared this story about his uncle, Jack Rosenzweig: “The only other story I recall about my Dad growing up in the Rosenzweig household is someone my Dad referred to as Uncle Jack who had a wild sense of humor.  Jack worked behind the counter in the post office.  One day my Dad walked into the post office to see Jack and Jack told my Dad he went to Yankee Stadium and met with legend Babe Ruth.  Jack then tossed to my Dad a baseball with Babe Ruth’s autograph on it.  There was just one problem.  The autograph was written in purple indelible ink that was the same color ink that Jack used to address packages for postal customers.”

Irwin’s time with the Rosenzweig family ended in 1929.  Richard wrote: “In 1929 Irwin was told to pack up his belongings. Frank arrived from Boston, picked up Irwin, and they went back to Boston on the train. My Dad was aware that Frank had remarried and had met Frances (Fan) Reiner. What my Dad did not know, until he arrived at his new home, is that he had a kid brother named Stanley who was six years younger than he was. That fact had been withheld from him while Irwin was living in the Rosenzweig household.”

I asked Richard if he knew why Frank and Frances had moved to Boston rather than stay in NYC.  He wrote:

“Although Francis Fan Reiner was born in New Jersey, her extended family lived in Boston. … The second move back to Boston occurred because Frank changed professions. He met a couple who were twenty years younger than he was named Joseph Cohen and his wife Rene Cohen.  They opened up a business called Debonair Frocks located on Kneeland Street that was in the high rent fashion district in Boston.  Frank was the salesman who traveled throughout New England.”

Richard also told me that his father graduated from Boston English High School and was accepted into the MIT School of Engineering.  He could not afford the $600 per year tuition and instead went to Northeastern University, which had awarded him a football and baseball scholarship and the opportunity to work on a paid co-op job.  According to Richard, “Frank and Fanny Elkins were very unhappy that Irwin wanted to study engineering in college. They believed it was a useless profession. They would invite family and friends over to convince my Dad that the future was in clothing, not engineering.  People need things to wear, they don’t need mechanical engineers.”

Irwin soon proved them wrong.  Richard wrote:

“When World War II broke out with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, my Dad had just graduated Northeastern and tried to enlist as a fighter pilot.  He was rejected for two reasons.  He stood 6’4 and weighed 200 pounds which made him too large to fly.  He also had his degree in mechanical and aeronautical engineering that made him too valuable to serve in the armed forces. My Dad was assigned to be a civilian contractor working for Bethlehem Steel at the Fore River Ship Yard in Quincy, Massachusetts.  His responsibility was to oversee the construction of light cruisers and destroyers, take them to sea on shakedown cruises, and sign off on their seaworthiness before turning over the ships to the War Department.

“It was my Dad’s crew of engineers at the Fore River Shipyard who perfected the “Davit” that was first invented in 1928.  It’s the device that holds a ship’s lifeboats in place that would lower the lifeboat by hand cranking the boat down into the water.  My Dad was the lead engineer who re-designed the Davit into a fully automated self-contained hydraulic system that would first lower the two arms holding the lifeboat from their vertical position – while keeping the lifeboat level – into a horizontal position for boarding. The Davit hydraulics would then resume lowering the lifeboat into a fully locked horizontal position at which point a second set of hydraulics would automatically lower the lifeboat while maintaining its level stability even if the weight distribution in the boat was not balanced. The end result was an automated steady descent onto the water regardless of the surf conditions or high winds. 

“If you want to see first-hand the engineering legacy of Irwin “Tiny” Elkins, then take a vacation cruise on a Princess, Carnival, Disney, or Royal Caribbean ship.  Look closely at the hydraulics on the Davit’s holding up the lifeboats. Nothing has changed in the past seventy years. The survivors of cruise ship disasters like the Concordia in Italy can thank the Rosenzweig family genes for that innovated engineering solution.”

Irwin Elkins with Piper Cub 1958

Irwin Elkins with Piper Cub 1958

Richard also shared these recollections of his father:

“My Dad was physically a large man and a wonderful athlete.  Growing up we skied together, played tennis, and golfed.  In a batting cage he could outdo me with little effort.   Whenever anyone asked my Dad why such a large person like him was called “Tiny,” his standard response was “I was an incubator baby, and the nurse in charge turned the heat up too high.”  Whenever he was asked why he did not have a middle name, his standard response was, “My parents were so poor they could not afford one for me.” Whenever someone asked him why he was so tall, his standard response was “So if I cut off my legs, will it make you feel any better?” In his business dealings he often told his customers, “It will be done my way and don’t worry about it. If I’m wrong, I’ll deal with it after I’m dead.” If someone did something that my Dad considered to be stupid, my Dad would point to his head and say “That’s using your toukis.”

Finally, I asked Richard whether his father ever reconnected with the Rosenzweig family.  He shared this story:

“In 1969 a woman and her son walk into my Dad’s office in Brattleboro.  When my Dad asks if he can help her, she introduces her son named Steven Rosenthal who will be a student at Windham College in nearby Putney. My Dad replies, why is that of interest to me? She informs my Dad that her name is Rebecca Kurtz Rosenthal. She was named after my Dad’s mother Rebecca Rosenzweig. Her mother was Sarah Rosenzweig, the sister of Rebecca Rosenzweig.  To say that my Dad was completely stunned at this unannounced visit is an understatement.”

Irwin Elkins reunited with his cousins Rebecca Kurtz and Ben Kurtz and others in Florida 1992

Irwin Elkins reunited with his cousins Rebecca Kurtz and Ben Kurtz and others in Florida 1992

The following year Richard himself met the Rosenzweig family:

“In 1970 at a family reunion in Long Island, New York, at the home of Rebecca Kurtz Rosenthal and her husband Sam Rosenthal, I arrived with my parents.  Other than Rebecca and her husband Sam, none of the Rosenzweig family knew that my Dad would be attending the reunion.  When we walked into the backyard Rebecca introduced my Dad to all of her family.  I distinctly remember a flood of tears because the entire Rosenzweig clan had not seen Irwin in over forty years.”

“Rebecca’s and Sam’s son, Steven, introduced me to a woman he called “My Great Aunt Lizzie.” She must have been Lizzie Rosenzweig. She knew the name of the cemetery where Rebecca was buried. When my Dad asked her what his mother died from, Lizzie replied that she succumbed to a flu pandemic in 1921 that devastated NYC. Lizzie also informed my Dad that he had two older brothers named Milton and David who also died from the same pandemic that took his mother’s life. “

“When the emotions settled down several hours later, Lizzie told my Dad a comical story about when Frank showed up at the Rosenzweig household to court Rebecca, Lizzie’s parents would lock all the other sisters into their parent’s bedroom.  However, they were allowed to put their ear to the door and listen.”

Rebecca’s death certificate indicates that Rebecca in fact died from tuberculosis at a sanitarium in Liberty, New York, where she had been a patient for a little over a month before her death. rebecca elkin death certificate I also found the death certificates for Rebecca and Frank’s two other sons.  The first born was Milton, born on December 14, 1914, just nine months after Rebecca and Frank were married.  He died just five months later on May 16, 1915.  It seems he had been sick for two months, in other words, since he was really just an infant.

Milton Elkin death certificate

Milton Elkin death certificate

The second child was Daniel (not David).  He was born October 31, 1916, and died December 16, 1917, when he was just over a year old, from broncho pneumonia.

Daniel Elkin death certificate

Daniel Elkin death certificate

Although the family lore was that Rebecca and the two boys died during the flu pandemic of 1921, that appears not to be true.  It would appear instead that Milton died over a year before Daniel was even born, and that Daniel died two years before Irving was born and four years before Rebecca died.  Maybe the family remembered it differently because it was just too painful to imagine Rebecca and Frank losing one child after another and then Frank losing Rebecca when Irving was not yet two years old.  It is too painful to imagine.

I am deeply appreciative of Richard’s willingness to share his family stories.  They preserve not only the memory of his grandmother Rebecca, who never saw her son grow up; they also preserve the memory of that son, Richard’s father, Irwin Elkins, who despite losing his mother at such a young age, grew up to be a man with a great sense of humor, a wonderful father, a successful businessperson, and an inspired engineer.  The resilience of the human spirit is remarkable.






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Max and Irving: The Sons of Abraham Rosenzweig

Abraham Rosenzweig was the oldest son of Gustave and Gussie Rosenzweig and my grandfather Isadore’s first cousin.  He was born in New York City on February 12, 1889, apparently the first of their children born in the US.  He served in the Navy before and during World War I, and he worked for a bakery after the war and thereafter.

Although I do not have any documentation for Abraham’s marriage, it seems that he probably married in Pennsylvania.  Rebecca Fagles, his wife, was born in Pennsylvania, and Abraham was stationed on the USS Georgia in Philadelphia in 1910.

Abraham Rosenzweig 1910 census US Navy

I assume that that was when and where they met and that they married around 1915 because although Abraham was living with his family and single as of the 1915 census, his first son Maxwell was born April 2, 1916.  Abraham and Rebecca’s second son Irving was born April 26, 1919, and in 1920, they were all living in Brooklyn, according to the 1920 US census.

UPDATE: I was able to find the marriage of Reba Fagles and Abraham Rosenzweig in 1915 on the Philadelphia marriage index.  I am assuming that that is the record for Abraham and Rebecca.

Abraham Rosenzweig and family 1920 census

Abraham Rosenzweig and family 1920 census

Abraham and Rebecca, known as Abe and Beck, lived in Brooklyn for the rest of their lives, where they raised their two sons, Max and Irving.  Max married Sylvia Herrick and had two sons, Joseph and Gerald.

Max and Sylvia Ross

Max and Sylvia Ross

Irving married Irene Rubenstein/Robbins and had two daughters, Jane and Arlene.  Gerry remembers his grandparents very well since he grew up in Brooklyn where they lived.  He remembers that his grandmother Beck served untoasted English muffins and used memorial candle holders as glasses.  Gerry named his two children for his grandparents, his son for Abe and his daughter for Beck.  Abe died in 1961, and Beck died in 1970.

Abe, Sylvia, Ray (Abe's sister) and Beck

Abe, Sylvia, Ray (Abe’s sister) and Beck

Here are some photographs of Max and Irving and one with their aunt Ray, an aunt I’ve otherwise been unable to locate.

Max and Irving Rosenzweig/Ross

Max and Irving Rosenzweig/Ross

Max and Irving with their aunt Ray

Max and Irving with their aunt Ray

I was able to get some background information about the lives of Max and Irving from Gerry and Arlene.

Max and Sylvia settled in Brooklyn, where Max first was in the egg and poultry business and then in the business of reconditioning steel drums for storing oil.  At some time after World War II while doing business with the army, Max changed his last name from Rosenzweig to Ross, believing that he would have more success with a name that was not obviously Jewish.  Sometime thereafter Irving also changed his last name to Ross for similar reasons and also because their mother Beck did not like the idea of the two brothers having different last names.

Arlene told me that her father Irving had met her mother Irene when her uncle Max went to Sylvia’s house while they were dating and brought his younger brother Irving with him.  One of Sylvia’s friends was there and arranged for Irving to meet her younger sister Irene.  For Irving, it was love at first sight, but not for Irene.  For a year, Irving pursued her.  Irene had joined the Navy, one of the first ten women to become a WAVE, and Irving, himself in the US Army, placed an ad in the Stars and Stripes to find her and to get her attention.  Eventually, Irene agreed to date him and fell in love with him as well.

They were married in 1945, and according to Arlene, to his dying day, her father would do anything to make Irene happy.  Irving and Irene  Irene and Irving lived at 41 Kew Gardens Road, Queens, and their two daughters were born at Kew Gardens General Hospital.  Irving owned a share in a successful hardware business.

In 1957, Irving and Irene and their daughters went to visit Irene’s parents, who had moved to the Miami, FL, area.  Irene was so taken with life in South Florida that within days after returning to Brooklyn, Irving sold his share in the hardware business and bought three tickets to Miami for Irene and his daughters, coming down a few months later himself once his business matters were resolved.  He was, as Arlene said, determined to make Irene as happy as possible.

Within five years, Irving, a man who never graduated from high school, had obtained a license to sell insurance and had established a very successful insurance brokerage business.  He was able to provide his family with a large, custom-built house and a comfortable lifestyle.  Irving and Irene remained in the Miami area thereafter and only occasionally would they return to the New York area.

Sadly, their lives would be marked by tragedy.  In 1968, Irving was admitted to Baptist Hospital in Miami for congestive heart failure.  While he was being admitted, Irene and Arlene went to get something to eat, and while driving down North Kendall Drive, where Baptist Hospital is still located, they were hit head-on by a minibus going northbound on U.S. 1, South Dixie Highway.  The minivan had defective brakes and  had skidded across the median.  Both Irene and Arlene suffered severe injuries, and Arlene underwent numerous surgeries and was laid up for a substantial time after the accident.  For some period of time all three members of the family shared one hospital room.

Arlene and Irving Ross August1968

Arlene and Irving Ross August1968

Not long after the accident, Irving was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and died at age 51 on August 5, 1970.  Irene was only 49 when he died.  She had to go to work to support herself and her children and became a purchasing agent at Florida International University, where she worked for many years.  She died January 16, 2009, at age 88.

Irene Ross in 2006

Irene Ross in 2006

Arlene Ross

Arlene Ross

Max also died at a prematurely young age.  His wife Sylvia had a number of medical problems, and while accompanying her for treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital in November, 1975, Max had an aneurysm and died.  He was only 59 years old. Sylvia lived more than twenty years after Max died.

Sylvia Ross

Sylvia Ross

The two sons of Abraham and Rebecca, Max and Irving, thus had many parallels in their lives.  Both were big strong men over six feet tall, both had changed their name to Ross, both had had two children and long marriages to women to whom they were devoted, and both had died before they were sixty years old. Gerry said he speaks to his father daily and has every day since he died in 1975; Arlene also spoke adoringly of her father.  I could tell in speaking with both Gerry and Arlene that each of them loved their fathers dearly and want their memories preserved.   I hope this blog will help to do that.

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