Sunday, February 22, 2015


Sharing – to allow someone to use or enjoy something that one possesses.

Over the course of the last few years I’ve had so much fun connecting with cousins who, in most cases, I had no idea existed.  In some cases we’ve formed a facebook page where we could communicate, in other cases we’ve sent e-mails, but in all cases the most exhilarating part of connecting is sharing – information, stories, pictures.  Our common ancestors brought us together so it’s our turn to cultivate those relationships and honor our ancestors’ memories.

My cousin Kris, whom I “met” about 4 years ago, shares a very special ancestor with me, Emery Waller.  Emery was our 3rd great grandfather and the ancestor for whom I was able to have a stone placed on his unmarked grave.  You can read about the success in getting Emery’s grave marked here

I think the first photo that Kris shared with me was this beautiful photo of the two older sisters of my great grandmother, Mabel Viola McAboy Fitzgerald.  Lilly Gay McAboy was Kris’ great grandmother.

Clara and Lilly McAboy, c1890
Clara and Lilly Gay McAboy
c. 1890
Photo courtesy of Kris N.

The next photo Kris shared with me was of Emery’s daughter and the mother of Clara, Lilly, and Mabel McAboy.  I’ll never forget that early morning when I opened my e-mail and found this beautiful face staring at me.

Rebecca Moriah Waller 1920
Rebecca Moriah Waller McAboy
photo courtesy of Kris N.

And the most recent photos Kris shared arrived as I was out and about – thank goodness for mobile e-mail so I was able to see these right away.

Lilly Gay McAboy_Vera Langworthy 1910
Vera Agnes Langworthy and Lilly Gay McAboy Langworthy
c. 1910
photo courtesy of Kris N.

Vera Langworthy was Kris’ grandmother.  And then two very special ladies in both of our lives….

Lilly Gay _Mabel McAboy
Lilly Gay McAboy Langworthy and Mabel Viola McAboy Fitzgerald
photo courtesy of Kris N.

Lilly and Mabel look so stern!  I was privileged to have known Mabel and spend time with her and I don’t remember that she was stern – I remember a very loving, caring woman and I am so thrilled that I was able to know her.

Mabel McAboy 1
Mabel Viola McAboy Fitzgerald
c. 1952

Thanks so much, Kris, for sharing your photos with me!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Was Grandma a Cover Girl?

I first found this poster a few years ago and then stashed it away to come back to later.  I finally dug this out of the box today and decided that later had finally come!

Is this my grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy?  I’m about 80% convinced that it is but would love other opinions. 

The date on the newspaper states it was 9 March 1916 - here’s a photo of her from about the same time frame.

Mildred Loraine
Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer

It’s not just her face that makes me think it’s her but her manner of being slightly bent forward.

Here is a side-by-side close up of the two pictures.

Mildred Loraine cropped

Oh, I just don’t know.  The more I look at it the more doubts that I have.

Looking again at the original poster, there is a man holding the copy of the newspaper, The Fresno Republican.  Guess who worked at The Republican during that time frame?  My grandfather, Sigmund Levy!  He was an ‘advertising solicitor’ until about 1911 when he became the Advertising Manager, a position he held until sometime between 1915 and 1917 when he joined the family firm of Levy Bros. Real Estate.  So was this poster a form of advertising featuring his future wife?  Could he be the man holding the newspaper in the poster? 

The paper itself has a lot of detail, although it’s tough to see here.

So what do you think?  Could my grandma have been a cover girl?

Sunday, February 8, 2015


I just love photos of generations in my family – what a gift to have these so many years later.  I remember hating it when Dad would pose us for a photo but boy am I happy now that he did!  Here’s some fun photos that I came across in Dad’s slides, I just wish these were in better shape.

Here we are with our Grandmas.

My beautiful picture
Clara Fitzgerald Hunter (holding Doug Levy), Carolyn Levy,
Debi Levy, Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy
c. 1962

And with our Grandpas.

My beautiful picture
Sigmund Levy (holding Doug), Carolyn Levy,
Debi Levy, Shelton Hunter
c. 1962

Not many people are fortunate enough to have photos with a great grandparent – here we are with two of them!

My beautiful picture
Edward Fitzgerald, Debi Levy, Doug Levy,
Carolyn Levy, Mabel McAboy Fitzgerald
c. 1962

Not too many generations but this one cracks me up!  I’ve talked before about how small my paternal grandfather, Sig Levy, was but this is quite a visual.  My mom was only about 5’5” and for the record, she is not standing on a step.  Grandma and Grandpa sure loved going to Las Vegas!

My beautiful picture
Gordon Levy, Geraldine Martin Levy, Sig Levy, Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy

The most special photos in any collection are those with four generations or if you’re really lucky, five generations.  Unfortunately, I’m not that lucky but I do have a few of four generations that I treasure.  I haven't run across one yet with both daughters but I'm on the lookout!

My beautiful picture
Clara Fitzgerald Martin Hunter, Debi Levy Austen (holding Erinn), Geraldine
Martin Levy, Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy, Natalie Trabue Gunzendorfer (Loraine’s sister-in-law)

My beautiful picture
Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy, Geraldine Martin Levy (holding Erinn),
Debi Levy Austen

My beautiful picture
Back:  Clara Fitzgerald Martin Hunter, Geraldine Martin Levy,
Mabel McAboy Fitzgerald
Front:  Carolyn Levy, Debi Levy
c. 1960

I even have some from farther back in time.  I’m not sure who all of these people are but I can identify the generations.  Since my mother and her father were never close following my grandparents’ divorce, I have very few photos of him so this is pretty special.

Francis Brooks_Earle_Clara_Geraldine close up
Second from left – Earle Martin (my grandfather)
Second from right – Clara Fitzgerald Martin (my grandmother)
Seated – Francis Brooks Martin (Earle’s mother)
Girl on right – Geraldine Martin (my mother)
c. 1929

And another one of this group from a different day.  Wait – since my mother is holding a baby doll could this be considered four generations?

Clara_Earle_Gerry_Francis Brooks cropped
Clara Fitzgerald Martin, Francis Brooks Martin, Geraldine Martin, Earle Martin
c. 1931

The Gunzendorfer and Levy families also took photos.

Abraham Gunzendorfer, Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer (my great grandparents)
Gordon Levy (front), Sig Levy, Robert Levy (Dad’s brother)
c. 1935

And this photo, without a doubt, is my very favorite photo.  So happy we were able to rescue it from the storage unit.

4 Generations cropped
Rebecca Steen Schwartz (my 2x great grandmother), Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer (my great grandmother) holding Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer (my maternal grandmother), 
and Hannah Plotzky Steen (my 3x great grandmother)

I could just look at these photos forever!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Are you ready for some football?

Here in the great Northwest, we ARE ready for some football!  The region is abuzz with excitement and everywhere we turn we are reminded of a really big game to be played tomorrow.

I come from a long line of sports enthusiasts.  My parents were always big sports fans, although they followed college much more than professional sports.  And not just any college but their beloved Stanford Cardinal (formerly Stanford Indians).  What a thrill to go to the 1971 Rose Bowl (Stanford vs. Ohio State) with Mom & Dad – I’m sure they were so excited to watch their team!

The morning of the game, we were lucky enough to have tickets to see the Rose Parade.  Sure anyone could go but we actually had bleacher tickets so were able to sit down and watch the floats pass by.  Too bad we were behind a light post!

My beautiful picture

And our favorite hometown (San Jose) boy, Jim Plunkett, was the starting quarterback that day.  What a thrill to not just watch the team play, but to see them defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes 27-17!

My beautiful picture

The Stanford Band has always been a kick to watch.  So much fun that Dad took some pictures of them.

My beautiful picture

Even though Dad was a track star in high school and college, he passed on his love of football to his three kids.  Looks like little brother gave the sport a whirl!

My beautiful picture

And while the girls tried our hands at Powder Puff football (thankfully, no pictures have been discovered of that yet), our real claim to fame was cheerleading at the high school games.

My beautiful picture
My sister Cary, second from left

My beautiful picture
I may not have played football, but I did fall in love with a football player and am still married to him today.  Here we are in 1972 after a big game.

Debi_Ron 1972

I don’t think my dad ever played competitive football but he played enough to have a few photos taken on Christmas Day, 1927 when he was almost 11 years old.

Xmas Day 1937

Football Xmas Day 1937

So get out the snacks and park yourselves in front of the TV tomorrow.  And don’t forget to root for your favorite team.  Go Seahawks!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Happy birthday, Loraine!

My grandmother, Loraine Gunzendorfer, was born 119 years ago today, January 20, 1896.  Sadly, she has been gone since 1982 but I feel like I know her 1000% better today than I did back then.  I am so thankful that she left bread crumbs about her life and I feel so honored she entrusted me to share her life with her family and anyone else who would listen.

I recently thumbed through my photos to refresh my memory on what was here when I ran across this photo of Loraine.

Sweet 16 post card front

I remember thinking she was always an old woman and I never really thought about her life as a child.  But having spent the last several years really getting to know her and discovering so many pictures of her, I have a new appreciation for just how beautiful she was.  And I don’t think I’ve seen too many photos of her without that beautiful smile on her face.

So the photo above wasn’t too different – a beautiful young woman with a big smile on her face.  But what else did this tell me?  And then I turned it over and saw this.

Sweet 16 post card

Looks like this was Loraine’s “Sweet Sixteen” photo.  Sure she was closing in on 17 but someone (by the look of the handwriting I’d say it was her father) deemed this the perfect photo to declare as her “Sweet Sixteen” photo.  And then he had the wherewithal to make a postcard out of it.

I’m not sure what the intended use of these photo postcards was but my guess is that they were used to distribute to friends and family.  Maybe it was an early version of a senior picture?  Whatever it is, I’m glad to have it!

Happy birthday, Grandma!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A new clue!

Last week I showed a photo of two people, whom I believe to be my grandmother, Loraine Gunzendorfer, and some mystery man.  You can read it here.  In order to get everything combined, here is the photo in question.

Loraine in front of house

My dad was an avid photographer and always had a camera around his neck.  And he always, always took slides.  And then he’d put them in to the old Kodak carousels and there they would sit,in most cases never to be seen again.  After Dad died in 2005, we always knew that at some point we’d have to tackle those slides, as well as the reels and reels of movies, but I don’t think any of us could face it.  Fast forward to 2013 when Mom died and we were faced with the daunting task of cleaning out the home they’d lived in for over 55 years.  And it was then that the reality of those thousands of slides and movie reels hit us in the face.  What to do?  The good news is that technology had improved considerably between 2005 and 2013 so we were pretty sure we could handle this task by ourselves.  So my husband and I packed our van with slides, and the reels of film left with my brother, and off we went. 

Thanks to the Technology for Genealogists Facebook page, I received many, many recommendations for a small scanner that could handle the task.  And thankfully, my husband was anxious to get those old carousels out of the garage so he tackled the project.  The rule was if there were no people in the picture, out they’d go – and we still had over 1,000 slides to scan.

I’m not sure if my dad just wasn’t a great photographer or the years had taken a toll on the slides but for the most part, they were so dark you could barely see them.  I spent some time lightening them up but it became an overwhelming task and I put it aside for months.  Until yesterday when a cousin on my mom’s side sent me a photo of my great grandmother standing next to her sister (thanks again, Kris!) and my interest in old photos was piqued again.  I was flipping through the slides to determine what was there when I ran across this photo of Loraine and my grandfather, Sig Levy.

My beautiful picture

Nice picture but WAIT - look at those stone posts.  Something looked very familiar about this house.  Could it be???

Loraine in front of house cropped My beautiful picture

Look closely – it is the same house!  Which tells me that this was a very, very special house in Loraine’s life for her to have gone back years later and posed for a picture with her husband.  And since her parents lived in the same house at 430 (later 456) Pacific Street in Monterey for close to 40 years, my hunch is that this is the house!  But how cool would it be to have a photo of your son in front of the house you grew up in?  I’d say pretty darned cool!

My beautiful picture
Gordon Levy

Based on the age of those in the later photos, I’d guess this to be in the mid to late 1950’s.  Which is somewhere around the time that the house was demolished to make way for the Monterey Institute of Foreign Studies, now the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Certainly not a slam dunk but the clues are leading me back to Pacific Street in Monterey!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Who is this Mystery Man?

It started with this photo.

Loraine in front of house

Nice home but I don’t know where it is/was or who it belonged to.  But wait, could that be my grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer, in front?  A closer look.

Loraine in front of house cropped

Looks like it!  I can tell by the way she’s standing – she sort of puts her head forward.

Loraine Xmas 1912
Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer
c. 1912

So now that I’ve figured that out, who is the mystery man with her?  I’m leaning towards that being her dad, Abraham Gunzendorfer.  Look at this photo of the two of them, along with her mother, Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer.

Abe_Birdie_Loraine c 1919
Abe, Bertha, Loraine Gunzendorfer
c. 1919

It could be him!  Unfortunately, it could also be lots of other people.  Her brother?  A beau?  Could it be their home in Monterey which was located at 430 Pacific Street?  Or the later address of 456 Pacific Street?  Were 430 and 456 the same place just with a revised house number?

So many questions from just one little picture.  If I could just figure out who the mystery man is it might help me figure out where they are.  One picture always brings so many questions.  Sigh.