Where Did They Come From?

I have been tracing the origins of some of my childhood neighbors. I use ancestry.com, U.S. census records for 1940 and earlier, naturalization records, and other publicly available documents.

Following are examples of my findings:

A good friend of mine in high school had a grandmother living with the family. The grandmother did not speak English. She only spoke and understood Greek.

The parents of another classmate immigrated to the U.S. in the 1920’s. They recorded on their immigration form that they spoke Yiddish.

My near neighbors spoke German.

Another neighbor listed in the 1940 Census that she had been born in Sweden.

Another neighbor identified the German speaking part of Switzerland as her homeland.

Italy was identified as the home country by a number of people.

And Ireland was also identified by quite a number of people.

England was also favored by some.

My Childhood Neighbor And Friend

My research re my childhood neighbors is going to be rather sad, given my age now. I am now in my 80’s so most of the people I knew in my childhood are of similar age or no longer living. I have written previously of the Fahey family who lived a few doors away. The Faheys were a large Irish Catholic family. They were very outgoing and a joy to know. There were 7 children, the youngest 3 years older than me. The youngest, Liz, passed away 3 years ago in October 2017, presumably from Parkinson’s disease. She was age 84.

New York City Vintage Photographs

Very interesting photos and information.

Inch High Guy

NYC_01_SSNormandyIn May of 1935 the French liner S.S. Normandie set the world’s record for the fastest trans-Atlantic crossing of 4 days, 3 hours, and 2 minutes. At the beginning of the Second World War the French Line kept the Normandy berthed in Manhattan, fearing German U-boats. After the attack on Pearl Harbor the U.S. took possession of the ship, renaming her the USS Lafayette.

NYC_02_USSLafayetteThe US intended to use the Lafayette as a troopship and began conversion work. Shipyard welding started a fire which quickly got out of control. Efforts to extinguish the fire eventually flooded enough of the ship to capsize her, and she sank at her moorings at Pier 88.

NYC_03_J4F_Widgeon_Lafayette_1943_SSNormandieThe hulk of the USS Lafayette was stripped and re-floated, but she proved to be beyond economical repair and was eventually scrapped in 1946. Here a US Coast Guard Grumman J4F Widgeon is seen above the wreck in…

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In Our Youth

Did we ever think there would be a time in the future that a son and grandson would come to visit us like this. Here is our son James with his young son Sean – “visiting” us at Ida Culver House Broadview. Masks and distancing!!

Del Ray Echo Hawk

Pacific Paratrooper

”Ken’s Men Against the Empire, vol. I”

I acquired “Ken’s Men, Against the Empire, volume I” during this pandemic of ours and when I reached the story of Bootless Bay, I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I decided to share it with you all.  I thank the research of Lawrence J. Hickey and the IHRA for over 373 pages of unforgettable stories, plus a sneak preview of Volume II.  I can’t praise this organization enough.  I recommend you all try at least one of their books.

Del Ray Echo Hawk

Rescue from Bootless Bay

As men fought on the ground in New Guinea, the 5th Air Force was in the sky above them.  The B-24D, the “Ben Buzzard”, 43rd Bombardment Group/64th Bombardment Squadron, with Lt. Stephen Blount as pilot, could be heard over the radio at Seven Mile Drome as they returned in violent weather over the…

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Genealogy and Immigration

I have written previously of the ethnic diversity of my friends during my growing up years in Belmont Massachusetts, a close suburb of Boston. We lived about 7 miles from downtown Boston. From my home it was only a trolley ride to Harvard Square and then a subway ride to Tremont Street in downtown Boston.

Belmont residents represented a map of Europe. In many cases it was the parents or grandparents who had emigrated to the United States in the 1880’s or early 1900’s. Some residents could trace their ancestors back to the earliest settlers. (My family for example.)

I wrote recently of the passing of one particular classmate in junior and senior high school. He was Marvin Zonis. I wasn’t aware of his religion but I now read that he was Jewish and his parents had immigrated from Russia in the 1920’s. A fascinating background compared with my white Anglo-Saxon heritage going back to England and the Mayflower.

I remember that he and another Belmont High School student, Ella Swartz, were very keen on each other. After graduating from Belmont High in 1954, Marvin went off to Yale and Ella to Wellesley. In the February 9 1957 edition of the Boston Globe their engagement was announced. I now read that they did marry but subsequently divorced.

Part of my family tree (constructed by my grandson Kyle)

Learning To Weave

From a very early age I was interested in weaving, and particularly in rug weaving. So my childhood efforts in this direction consisted of making pompons which I sewed to a piece of canvas with a printed pattern. A pompom rug. Then there were the latchet hooked rugs, again with a preprinted pattern. And finally I moved on to braided rugs. All this was in the 1940’s and early 1950’s.

Then came a gap – many other activities took precedence. College, graduate school, first jobs, etc. Knitting was about the only textile/wool craft which appeared sporadically.

Late in the 1960’s I married and before long I was the mother of 3 young sons. Our young family went to St. Lucia in the Caribbean for 2 years. A magical island. It was customary to have a maid and this left me free to do ……..what? I turned my thoughts to craft work – I could obtain canvas and a hook but not the appropriate yarn. I turned to sewing, with a new sewing machine. And embroidery on a printed canvas. But I wanted to finally learn to weave.

So our next overseas adventure was to Fiji. I had time in Dublin (our home in between overseas assignments) to get prepared. I saw a box containing a child’s weaving loom made by Spears. It was high up on a shelf in Nimble Fingers, a toy shop near us in Stillorgan. If I recall correctly it cost about 5 pounds?? Really very inexpensive and just the thing to ship to Fiji along with our other belongings.

(A side note here – Nimble Fingers also stocked the precut packs of wool for making a latched hooked rug. These supplies were not prominently displayed. One had to sort of root around, which I was happy to do!)

So when we arrived in Suva, Fiji, survived our struggles with the epidemic of dengue fever (not nice), unpacked our belongings – I began to weave. Tiny beginnings but I soon progressed to a 4 shaft table loom and then a floor loom. And with a floor loom I could actually weave rugs. At last!

A High School Classmate

My Belmont High School classmate has passed away. Professor Marvin Zonis passed away on Sunday November 15, 2020. He was a popular and talented friend. In fact he was the President of our Class, Belmont High School 1954. He lived about 1/2 a mile from me, half way to the High School. I passed his home on Goden Street every day.

As Class President he gave a speech at our graduation, as did I as Valedictorian. He was far more accomplished as a public speaker! It is rather fitting that he went on in life to be such a popular and prominent professor at the University of Chicago. We sort of shared similar fields of study, he chose political science, I chose economics. I don’t know if he was in Chicago when I was at Northwestern in Evanston, just to the north. Early on in the post-high school years, he and 2 other classmates traveled to Afghanistan. That adventure must have provided good fodder for his chosen field of study.

We remember Marvin fondly. May he rest in peace.

My Sister’s Wedding

Today in reading an item in Newspers.com I stumbled across a newspaper article from the Hartford Courant, October 1950. It was an account of my sister Nan’s wedding to Robert Whitney Richardson of New Britain Connecticut. Oh the memories! The Reverend Richard Bennet officiated. The bride was given in marriage by her brother Robert Dana Miller. The bride wore…………… Her sister Ruth was the Maid of Honor. The ushers were ________ and Mr. Elie Rubinsky of Beirut Lebanon.

Elie Rubinsky was a boy friend of my sister Ruth. She and Nan had met him on the ship (the DeGrasse) when they were returning from their 2 month long trip to Europe April to June 1950. Elie was strikingly handsome. Sometime in the winter following the wedding he and Ruth took me with them on a weekend skiing trip to Mt. Belknap near Laconia New Hampshire. We stayed with Aunt Rena and Uncle Clarence who had sold their farm and were living in Laconia. The skiing was wonderful but poor Ruth fell, and fortunately she didn’t break anything but had a very painful bruise.

Ruth and Nan about to depart for Europe on the Ile de France, April, 1950