Monday, May 25, 2015

In Memoriam – William J. Brooks


William J. Brooks was my 2nd Great Grandfather and is the closest ancestor I know to have been killed in the line of duty.  On this Memorial Day, I honor him and his service to our country.

William J. Brooks, son of Bartlett Brooks and Monima Williams, was born in South Carolina in 1835.  He married Sarah Jane Miller (1836-1923) and together they had four children – Albert Preston (1857-1935), John B (1859-1935?), Frances Maria (1860-1936), and William W. (1862-1934).  On July 1, 1862, shortly after William W. was born, William enlisted for a 3 year term in Co. G, 3rd Regt., So. Carolina Volunteers in Columbia, South Carolina.

Battle of Fredericksburg

I don’t know much about William’s service in the Civil War until his company, commanded by Captain R.P. Todd, entered the conflict at Fredericksburg, Virginia where 163 men, including William, were killed.  Killed.  December 13, 1862.  Died in a hospital.  And that’s about all I know.  I don’t know how, I don’t know when, I don’t know exactly where.  All I know is killed.

Which might be all Sarah knew when she met with the War Department on February 10, 1863 in order to secure the money that William never received for serving his country.  5 months and 13 days fighting for his country which netted Sarah a grand total of $98.13.  Four small children, one of whom was my Great Grandmother, to raise with $98.13. 

I do know that Sarah came from an affluent family so I doubt that she was homeless but I can’t imagine the heartache and trials she faced as she went on with her life.  As the story goes (correct me if I’m wrong, cousin Terry) William left his pocket watch with his friend, John H. Anderson, and asked that it be delivered to his wife, Sarah, in the event of his death.  A romance blossomed between the two and they ended up marrying and having three more children.

William J. Brooks is buried in Dials Cemetery, Laurens County, South Carolina.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Family Photos

I continue to try to go through photos, albums, and other family items in order to document things for future generations.  Next up, a family photo album that was stashed away in my parents’ home.  It doesn’t look too exciting from the outside – just a plain album.

But open up the cover and the early years of my family start to unfold.  My plan is to go through the album page by page and document every photo. 

Someone took a lot of time and care in putting together the front page.  I’m guessing this art work was completed by my older sister – she has always been the artistic one of the bunch. ;-)

And then the photos start and, fortunately, my dad did a good job of providing captions and dates for the photos.  This is the first page in its entirety so you can get a flavor of how he mounted the photos with mounting corners (there is even a supply left for me inside the front cover of the album) and captioned them with silver ink on the black pages.

Here’s a close up of the photo – I’m the little one on my mother’s lap.

Page 1 - The 3 Girls - May 1955 - Quite a Family
The 3 Girls
May 1955
Quite a Family

The next page has a few random shots. 

Page 2 - Our Mommy
Our Mommy

Page 2 - Our Mommy June 1956
Our Mommy
June 1956

This one cracks me up.  Maybe I was stunned that my sister was spitting on the cake?

Page 2 - Greatest Picture Ever Taken - Carys 5th birthday - 1957
The Greatest Picture Ever Taken
Cary’s 5th birthday

On to the next page – these seem a bit out of order.

Page 3 - Carys 4th Birthday 1956
Cary’s 4th Birthday

That is my sister at the head of the table.  Look at the little blonde guy blowing on his party favor.

Page 3 - On the Capitol Steps 1956
On the Capitol steps

Check out my curly hair – that didn’t last long!  This would have been in Sacramento, California.

Page 3 - Chris Kringle and Friends 1956
Chris Kringle & Friends

We both look pretty excited to be holding hands with St. Nick.

Page 3 - The Gold Miners 1956
The Gold Miners

WAIT JUST A MINUTE!  When we were scanning all of the slides we ran across this photo – I smile every time I see it (which is daily since we printed a copy and have it sitting next to our TV).

My beautiful picture

Is this the same place?  I think it could be!  My best guess at this point is that it is some place in Virginia City, Nevada so I’ve written to the Historical Society in the area and asked if they could give me any information on it.  Hopefully they’ll have something to share with me – stay tuned.

I hope you’ll join me over the next few weeks/months as I continue to go through the family photo album.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A to Z Blog Challenge: What I Remember – Part 3

For the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of bloggers posting as part of the A to Z Blog Challenge.  From the website the challenge began in 2010 and the challenge was this:   Can you post every day except Sundays during the month of April?  And to up the bar, can you blog thematically from A to Z?

I never took the challenge, even though it looked interesting and I enjoyed reading many of the posts.  So this year I’m doing my own abbreviated challenge – What I Remember from A to Z.  And I won’t do it daily, or even complete it in April, but will condense it into several posts.  You can read Part 1 and 2 here and here.
S = Stubblefield Sisters

Often times when we’d stay with Grandma and Grandpa in Fresno, we’d visit with their next door neighbors, the Stubblefield sisters.  That’s all we knew about them – the Stubblefield sisters.  I do remember that at one point in Dad’s life, one of them was his elementary school teacher but since they were both teachers, I’m not sure which one was his.  I don’t know for sure but I think this may be them with my Grandmother (right).

My beautiful picture

I knew that neither had ever been married so I decided to research them a bit and see what I could find.

The oldest was Ethel Lacy Stubblefield, born 31 Oct 1897 in New York and died 4 Nov 1978 in San Francisco County.  Hmm, my grandmother didn’t die until 1982 so she would have known Ethel died but I don’t remember anyone ever speaking about it.  The younger sister was Gertrude Scott Stubblefield, born 2 Nov 1903 in Oklahoma and died 7 Nov 1996 in Santa Clara County.  Geez, that time period from October 31 to November 7 was quite a week in the Stubblefield’s lives!  They were what looks like the only children of James S. Stubblefield and Verna W. Lacy.

I’ve thought about these two sisters on so many occasions and always wondered what happened to them and why they never married.  And how sad it is now that they are pretty much lost to the world since there are probably not too many people out there looking for them.  Maybe someday someone will find my blog and realize that they were an important part of my grandparents’ lives and, thus, ours as well.

Ethel and Gertrude are buried together in Los Gatos Memorial Park which is, coincidentally, just a few short miles from where I grew up and my parents lived until their deaths.

photo from

T = TV

There is so much to say about TV and how far they’ve come in my lifetime (no comment about just how long that is).

My first memory of TV was black and white when the only way to turn it on/off or change the station was to – GASP! – get up off the couch and do the work for yourself.

Photo by smidge girl

Then color TVs made an appearance and life began to change.  My grandparents were the first in our family to buy a color TV and we always loved to be at their house on Sunday nights to watch Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color.  Not only was the show in color, but before the show started NBC showed the peacock IN COLOR which left us awestruck.  And then one of our neighbors got a color TV so we could go to their house and watch some of the few programs which were shown in color.

Some of my favorites:

3305829885_29e6109c33_o Carol Burnett
I Love Lucy
photo by
Carol Burnett Show
photo by The Bees Knees Daily

5527100796_318c177e93_o 2131042026_6c16f1e063_o
photo by
Mr. Memphis1982
The Dick Van Dyke Show
photo by

U = Uncle Rob

Most people have lots of aunts and uncles but in my family, they were few and far between.  My mom had no siblings (unless you count the two half-siblings that she never met) so no aunts or uncles there.  And my dad just had one brother and, ultimately, his wife so all I had was one uncle and one aunt.

But what an uncle he was!  Uncle Rob (or Robo or Bobo) was quite a character and he and Dad were both so devoted to each other all through the years.  Uncle Rob was quite the jokester – he loved to tell corny jokes and I’m sure we heard the same ones over and over again.  But, sadly, now I can’t remember a single one of them.

I think this is my favorite childhood photo of Dad and Rob together – I came across it many, many years ago and have had it hanging on my wall all these years.

Rob & Gordon Levy 12_1930
Robert and Gordon Levy
December, 1930

Rob and Dad were both in the military – Rob was an officer.  We always laugh that there are so many pictures in our family of people shaking hands – this one doesn’t disappoint.

Robert and Gordon Levy
July 15, 1943

I can remember when I was pretty young that Rob had a brain tumor removed and while I don’t remember too many of the specifics, I do remember how worried and anxious Dad was for the surgery to be over and to learn that his brother was going to be around for many years to come.  Unfortunately, the surgery left Rob with some medical issues and he had difficulty walking from that point forward.

Rob came to Seattle in 1996 for a visit and we went to lunch (or was it dinner?) down the street from one of the most popular attractions, Pike Place Market.

Rob 1996
Robert Levy
September, 1996

After we finished our meal, we took a slow walk to cover the block or so to the Market.  For anyone who has been to the Market, you know what I’m talking about when I say there are always quite a few characters around – typically pretty harmless but a little unsettling when you’re taking that slow walk with a disabled person.  One very odd individual approached us, made some random comment, and it was at that moment that I thought to myself “how in the heck am I going to be able to protect my uncle?”.  Fortunately, the guy must have figured we were too easy of a target and not too challenging and left pretty quickly to go bother someone else and I realized it was time to get back to the car and get out of there!

V = Vacation

We were pretty fortunate that Mom & Dad took us on many vacations.  We went to Hawaii a couple of times and I remember on one trip our tour guide was Nelson Waikiki – what a character he was.  His favorite name for me was Miss Daybie

Since we lived only about 400 miles from Disneyland, we visited there a few times.  We would climb in the car and make the long drive, often times with a stop for Andersen’s Split Pea Soup in Buellton.  There were just a few “E” ticket rides in those days and I still remember some of the attractions that have long since been retired.

One of the most treasured trips was our visit to Washington D.C., New York City, and Williamsburg, Virginia.  I don’t remember too many specifics as far as traveling there but I do remember some of the sights.  At the time Norman Mineta was a U.S. Congressman serving San Jose so we were able to visit with him.  I also remember how hot it was when we were in NY and at one point we had to take salt pills so we wouldn’t get dehydrated.  One of the cousins I just re-found reminded me that we met them when we were there – they lived in San Francisco so I don’t know if it was planned or just coincidence that we were there at the same time.

And Las Vegas was a favorite.  My grandparents loved the city so several times Mom & Dad would travel with them and we were able to tag along.  I can remember standing outside the windows at the casinos looking inside while Mom & Dad were inside gambling.  And shows!  Grandma and Grandpa loved the shows so a few times we went along.  The most exciting show, and their favorite performer, was seeing Liberace.  Now I realize that probably doesn’t seem too exciting but on this occasion his opening act was a new singer and boy could she sing!  Just a newcomer that no one had ever heard of by the name of Barbra Streisand.

My beautiful picture
Gordon, Gerry, Sig, Loraine Levy

W = Wilt

We didn’t know too many of our grandparents’ siblings (family rifts will do that) but we did spend time with Grandma Loraine’s only sibling, Wilt Gunzendorfer.  I’m not sure I really understood how we were related until I was in my teens – do we ever really think about our grandparents having a little brother?

My beautiful picture
Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy and Wilton Gunzendorfer
c. 1980

During my childhood Wilt and his wife lived in Beverly Hills, I think either next door or around the corner from Jack Benny.  They also had a cute little bird (parakeet?) who would look into the stainless salt shaker and chatter away. 

X = Xanthic

I know you’ve been worried about how I would address a memory starting with an X.  Believe me, I was too.  But I was able to come up with the word Xanthic which means of or relating to yellow or yellowish color.  Yellow has always been my favorite color so I should probably just stop there.  But I do have another, albeit unpleasant, memory relating to yellow.

My grandmother, Clara, smoked quite heavily when we were kids.  I’m sure the endless hot summer days working with the eggs were boring so maybe that’s why she took up smoking.  But what I remember is that her fingers always had a yellow hue to them from the unfiltered cigarettes she, undoubtedly, smoked.  Of course in those days people didn’t have the knowledge and education that they have today so looking back, it didn’t seem too odd that she smoked.  In fact, Mom smoked in our early childhood, as well.  And somewhere along the line without any fanfare (at least that I can remember) they both quit and I never thought about it again.

Maybe not a great memory but at least we all learned a new word.


Dad was involved in so many service organizations but one that was very close to his heart was the YMCA.  One of the best parts about his participation in the organization, at least to me, was the wonderful times we spent at the YMCA Camp Campbell in Boulder Creek.

Camp Campbell offered family camps and we went for a week every summer and a weekend in the spring – what a blast!  There was so much to do – folk dancing, canoeing, hiking, swimming, horseshoes.  It was a time when kids could run off and be kids and parents could sit back in the mess hall and be adults.  Sure wouldn’t happen like that today.

I don’t remember too many specifics about events at camp but these photos have helped jog some memories about Crazy Hat Night.

Camp Campbell 1
What the heck?

Camp Campbell 2
Sisters – and funny hats!

While I have so many wonderful memories of camp, one not so wonderful memory has been with me all these years.  We were on one of our weekend trips and my friend, Linda Frye, and I were allowed to go on a hike with the big kids – we must have been about 7.  We followed along behind them and in an instant, we were alone.  Just two little girls in the woods not sure of how to get back to camp.  We wandered around for what seemed like days (it was probably about 2 hours) when we finally came to a road and started walking.  Fortunately it wasn’t too long before we came to a house, knocked on the door, and a couple of guys (men? teenagers? boys?) came to our rescue.  They drove us back to camp and the minute we drove up, the giant bell that signaled a meal started chiming as they were announcing to the rest of the camp that we were back!

Z = Zwieback Toast

I remember my kids loved these and would suck on them and gum them for hours.  They would get all mushy and before we knew it, they were covered in mush and needed a bath.  Do they even make this stuff anymore?

Thanks for following this journey with me of Things I Remember!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A to Z Blog Challenge: What I Remember – Part 2

For the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of bloggers posting as part of the A to Z Blog Challenge.  From the website the challenge began in 2010 and the challenge was this:   Can you post every day except Sundays during the month of April?  And to up the bar, can you blog thematically from A to Z?

I never took the challenge, even though it looked interesting and I enjoyed reading many of the posts.  So this year I’m doing my own abbreviated challenge – What I Remember from A to Z.  And I won’t do it daily but will condense it into several posts.  You can read Part 1 here.
J = June Bugs

As I wrote in Part 1, we spent a lot of time in Fresno as kids since all of my grandparents lived there.  And I remember that I always, always hated to visit in the May-July time frame because there were – GASP! – June Bugs.  Anyone who has been around me for more than about 3 minutes knows that I HATE bugs and as far as I’m concerned, they can all be eliminated from this planet and the world would be a much better place.

But sadly for me, we did visit during June Bug season and I can still remember trembling at night while those damned things were smashing into the upstairs windows as we tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to sleep.  Even though it was hot and that house had no air conditioning, those windows had to stay CLOSED!  Splat, splat, splat against the window!  Ugh, I’m shuddering now just thinking about it – although it could also be from scanning the internet for a picture of the stupid thing.

June Bug

I’m not even sure if this is what they really looked like because I ever got close enough to one of them to actually look at it.


KLIV was an important part of my past in a couple of different ways. 

First, KLIV was one of “the” radio stations to listen to when we were growing up.  KLIV has been on the air since 1946 (before my time) and was originally KSJO, a daytime only AM station.  In 1960 it became a top 40 station, which is what it was as I was growing up.  The station changed hands in 1967 when it was purchased by Robert “Bob” Kieve and James Trayhem, Jr. and then became a big band station in 1981.  I remember my dad talking about Bob Kieve and, in fact, Bob spoke at my dad’s memorial service in 2005. 

In 1991, KLIV became an all news station and somewhere after that time, when I had long since moved from San Jose, it became important for another reason.  My dad, a long time stock broker/financial advisor in the Santa Clara Valley, became one of the KLIV “voices” when he began to report the financial news on the radio.  Since I didn’t live in the area, I rarely heard my dad’s voice coming across the airwaves but I do remember once driving in the car while I was visiting and poof, my dad was talking to me.  I blocked everything else out and drove along with a smile on my face listening to him tell the listeners how the Dow Jones had performed that day.  After he passed away, a KLIV listener even signed the on-line guest book saying “I miss his voice already.  He was such a staple that it will be strange not to hear him.  My prayers are with his family, I know they will miss so much more than just his voice.”

L = Levy Brothers

My grandfather, Sigmund Levy, and his brothers operated an insurance and real estate business, Levy Bros.  I always thought it was so cool to have a business using my last name!  But what I didn’t know is that it was that business which, in the end, tore the brothers apart.  I wrote a little about the brothers here.  That business was such an important part of our family history and one day, I want to learn more about it.

M = Ming’s

Ming’s was a Chinese restaurant in Palo Alto that was the site of many, many family dinners over the years.  Ming’s was the first Chinese fine dining restaurant on the mid-peninsula and opened in 1956 on El Camino Real.  It was a favorite gathering place for Stanford staff and the Stanford football team ate there after every home game.  This must have been what enticed my parents to dine there.  When El Camino was widened, it displaced the restaurant and it was relocated to Embarcadero, east of the Bayshore Freeway.

I remember getting dressed up for dinner – jeans, shorts or casual clothes were not appropriate attire for a visit to Ming’s back in those days – and we’d pile in the car for the approximate 30 minute drive to Ming’s.  Once seated, Mom would be the only one with a menu as there was really no point in the rest of us even looking at it.  Mom always, and I mean always, did the ordering for the table no matter how many people were there or who they were.  We’d start with Won Ton soup, sometimes she’d add their signature Chinese Chicken Salad, Ming’s Beef, and Leechi Pork (yum, my favorite) were also staples.  If there was a special occasion or guests in town, we’d always make a visit to Ming’s.

I’ve learned that Ming’s was closed in December, 2014 and will be demolished to make room for an extended stay hotel and a newer, smaller Chinese restaurant.  One day I hope to be able to visit again and rekindle some old memories.

Photo by Veronica Weber
December, 2011

N = Needle

I probably shouldn’t share this memory but since my dad is no longer here, I’m probably safe.  I will say that Dad was never really the type to get ‘mad’ but he did have a habit of reminding us about something over and over and over again.  And this was clearly one of those times.

I can’t imagine why I loved to sit on the floor of my room, propped against the foot board of the bed, watching TV, and doing whatever it was I wanted or needed to do.  I do remember sitting there doing some mending or hemming or something that involved a needle.  The other thing I liked to do was walk around the house barefoot – really, what California teenager actually liked wearing shoes?  I’m sure you know where this is going – suffice it to say that needles on the carpet and bare feet really don’t go together and the next thing you knew, I stepped on the needle that should have never been on the floor in the first place and surely should have been put away when I was done.  But hey, I was 15 years old and I knew everything.

I pulled it out, or so I thought, and went about my day.  Ouch, my foot sure hurt!  I didn’t want to admit how much it hurt because I had a school scavenger hunt to attend that night which I was really excited about and I wasn’t going to miss it.  I did go on the scavenger hunt but by the end of the night the boys (oh, I loved being the little sister of a popular senior girl with lots of boy admirers) were literally carrying me on and off the bus and around town trying to find whatever it was that was next on our list.

The next morning I tried to get out of bed and literally could not put any pressure on the foot.  Uh-oh, I guess I had to admit to Mom and Dad now what was really going on.  Thankfully, our next door neighbor (and like a second dad to me) was a physician and even though he was an anesthesiologist, he took one look at my foot and announced that it was time to get in the car and go to the emergency room.  And within a few hours on that fall Sunday morning, I found my second dad back by my side getting ready to put me to sleep so that I could be taken to the operating room to get that darned thing out of my foot.

After an overnight stay and a week on crutches, I was pretty much back to the pre-needle incident.  And all these years later (and it’s been A LOT of years since I was 15) I still have a little scar and lump on the bottom of my foot thanks to the dreaded needle.  Probably a good reminder to not sit on the floor to sew and to never, ever walk around bare foot.  And if that wasn’t reminder enough, my dad was always there to remind me!

O = Organ

My dad not only played the accordion, but he also played the piano and later in life, the organ.  What special memories I have of Dad playing the organ and as the years went on, he shared those memories with my daughters.  He took lessons (usually weekly or bi-weekly) until shortly before his death and there were so many hours spent in that house listening to the beautiful sounds that would come from his hands and feet. 

My beautiful picture

P = Pets

Mom and Dad had pets since they were first married (maybe even before) and I can never, ever remember them being pet-less until the last few years of Mom’s life.  There were many but, sadly, I haven’t run across pictures of many of them. 

Their first pet was Fluffy, a beautiful silver Persian cat.  The story goes that Mom was home alone one night (I believe before they were married) and Fluffy started growling and hissing.  I don’t know any of the particulars but Mom always said there was an intruder trying to get in the apartment and Fluffy’s behavior must have scared him off.  Good girl, Fluffy!


Another early pet was Bruce, a beautiful Collie.  I think they brought him home as a puppy shortly after they were married.


Bruce must have become a dad because I found this photo of Mom holding puppies which was labeled “Bruce and the Children, July 25, 1952”.  I think the mom’s name was Lassie (duh) and there were a total of five pups. 

Bruce Pups

I do remember that while Bruce was fine with us, he wasn’t too fond of children so we had a special section of the backyard fenced off so he would be away from our friends when they would come to play.

After Bruce left us, we started on the poodle craze and had a miniature silver poodle named Penny, followed by two smaller poodles named Buffy and Tinka (after my mom’s hairdresser).  The poodle craze was over and then started on the Sheltie band wagon. 

My beautiful picture

Dad wanted to name our next dog Tinka after the apricot/buff poodle who died so young but we didn’t want to hear it.  What a shock when we walked into the house to meet a Sheltie and the owners said “meet our dog, Tinkerbell”.  It was fate and her name was never changed!

Several other dogs followed Tinker – Mandy, the beautiful Sheltie who died in Dad’s arms after a hit and run outside their house, and then the wacky Cherry Pie (boy, that dog was weird).  By then it was time to try a large breed (what couple in their 70’s decides they need a big dog?) and Cody, the Golden Retriever, joined their family.  Cody was a faithful friend to Mom once she was alone but then, sadly, he left her, too.  And those last few years of Mom’s life was probably the only time I remember the house being pet free.

I even had a short stint as a lamb owner when I raised Lil Abner as a 4H project.  It was a sad day when I sold him at auction but I ended up getting quite a high price for him.  I wonder if it had anything to do with Dad’s Rotarian friend who bought him?  He did invite us over for lamb dinner one night and while I can’t remember if Mom and Dad went, I politely declined.  And I haven’t eaten lamb since.
Lil Abner 1968
Lil Abner and Me
August, 1968

Q = Quilts

I have a couple of quilts that I rescued from the storage unit which had been left to die in that dark, dusty hole.  I brought them home, had them dry cleaned, and left them wrapped in the plastic in order to pass down to descendants at some later date.  My mother thought they were made by her great grandmother, Rebecca Moriah Waller McAboy, but she couldn’t be 100% sure.  Here’s one – does it look like something that would have been made in the late 1800’s or very early 1900’s?

A very long time ago, my mother gave me this quilt which she thought had been made by her grandmother, Mabel McAboy Fitzgerald.  I always thought it was so fun with all the little girls in their sun bonnets.

I have a lot of memories about this quilt.  I remember being sick and lying on the couch to watch TV, covered in love with this quilt that my great grandmother, Mabel, made.  I always loved the scalloped edges.

R = Rabbi Gitin

While my family wasn’t deeply religious when I was growing up, there was one constant in our lives that provided us with a spiritual upbringing – Rabbi Joseph Gitin.  Not only was Rabbi Gitin the Rabbi of our Temple, but he and Dad became great friends due to their shared love of Rotary.

I’ve run across many photos of Rabbi and his beloved wife, Rosalie, and I’m sure there are more to come.  In fact, Rabbi Gitin probably deserves his own blog post at some point in time. 

My beautiful picture
Rabbi Joseph Gitin, Geraldine Levy, Gordon Levy
Date unknown

Rabbi Gitin officiated Mom & Dad’s renewal of their wedding vows on their 25th wedding anniversary in 1975 – perhaps this was taken at that time.

My beautiful picture
Rabbi Joseph Gitin and Rosalie Gitin
Date unknown

Rabbi Gitin was a major part of the most intimate and meaningful day of my life.  And, as always, he beamed that ever present smile.


Another very important event that Rabbi Gitin shared with us was a celebration for Dad when he was awarded the Legacy Medal in 1982.  Of course they sat at the table with us – Dad wouldn’t have had it any other way.  I’m not sure what my mom was thinking but something sure put a funny smile on her face.

Gordon and Gerry Levy, Rabbi and Rosalie Gitin
March, 1982

Several years later, he officiated at my sister’s wedding – he and Dad spent some time together on the lawn during the rehearsal.

Rabbi Joseph Gitin and Gordon Levy
August, 1987

After the rehearsal, we went to dinner at a local Chinese restaurant (not Ming’s) and as usual, Mom did the ordering.  Of course since my mother wasn’t raised Jewish, she didn’t think about what foods Jews might or might not eat.  Once again, Rabbi and Mrs. Gitin were seated at the table with us.

Rabbi and Rosalie Gitin
August, 1987

Imagine Mrs. Gitin’s surprise when the waiter arrived at the table with Moo Shu Pork!  Yikes, Mom didn’t think about the fact that Jews don’t eat pork.  I will never, as long as I live, forget Rabbi Gitin leaning over to Mrs. Gitin and whispering “Rosalie, just shut up and eat it!” 

Come back next time for the last installment of A to Z Blog Challenge – What I Remember.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A to Z Blog Challenge: What I Remember – Part 1

For the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of bloggers posting as part of the A to Z Blog Challenge.  From the website the challenge began in 2010 and the challenge was this:   Can you post every day except Sundays during the month of April?  And to up the bar, can you blog thematically from A to Z?

I never took the challenge, even though it looked interesting and I enjoyed reading many of the posts.  So this year I’m doing my own abbreviated challenge – What I Remember from A to Z.  And I won’t do it daily (obviously, since it’s now April 19th and I’m just getting started) but will condense it into several posts.

A = Accordion
I remember my dad playing the accordion.  He didn’t play often but I remember him dragging it out of his closet, strapping it on, and away he’d go.  I wonder if many people play the accordion anymore.

B = Blood
I remember eating roast beef and we always carried on the tradition of drinking the “blood” after the roast had been sliced.  We’d get a spoon, dad would tilt the plate, and we’d collect a spoonful of the juice and slurp it down.  My dad’s parents started them on the tradition while they sat at this dining room table.  It makes me sick to think about it now.

Dining Room 1982
Levy Dining Room

C = Costumes
I never thought about Mom being crafty but thinking back, I think she was.  I remember she made a skirt for us every year for the school folk dance event and many years we had cool Halloween costumes.

Oh my, what is THIS?  It looks like me posing as a baby doll but that isn’t my sister in the fancy hat.  Maybe our next door neighbor, Mary?  What in the world were we thinking?

My beautiful picture
Baby Doll and Friend

By 1960 we were costumed in a little more ‘traditional’ costumes – a farmer and a queen.  That’s me as the queen!

Farmer_Queen 1960

And the following year, I used the cannibal costume that mom had made a few years before and my sister was half of a set of dice.  Check out the chicken bone on the hood of the cannibal – I’ve always remembered that!

Cannibal_Dice 1961

D = Doug’s Delivery
This was a big day in our lives – our little brother was making an early entrance into the world.  I remember Mom coming from the back bathroom and saying it was time to go to the hospital because there was water all over the floor.  I’m pretty confident that a little girl about to turn 7 didn’t really understand what all of the water was about but I do remember there was a lot of excitement, my sister and I were carted off next door for the night, and we waited patiently to find out if we were getting a sister (please!) or a brother.

The next morning we went off to school without knowing what was going on or why Mom wasn’t home yet with her new little bundle of joy.  I know my family has heard this story way too many times to count (boy did my Dad love to tell it!) but I remember sitting outside my classroom on the little step eating lunch when I saw Dad coming across the playground.  He walked up to me with a big grin on his face and said “Debi, you have a little brother” and I said what any almost 7 year old girl hoping for a sister would say “YUCK!”.  But I quickly learned that a little brother was THE BEST and now a half century later, I’m so happy to have this wonderful man in my life.

Apparently, we wrote letters to Mom while she was in the hospital.

Debi writes letter Cary writes letter
Deep in thought
Love the Brownie uniform

And since Mom was gone, it looks like we took over her bed.  Dad captioned this photo “Sing Along” – wonder what we were singing?

Sing along

Mom had her own bed in the hospital – she looks happy to have the delivery behind her.

Mom Hospital

E = Eggs
I’ve written before about my grandparents’ chicken farm.  I have such wonderful memories of that farm and the hours we’d spend there helping them around the farm.  We loved to collect the eggs, clean them, and most of all, weigh them and put them in the correct cartons.

Debi_Cary collecting eggs 1958
Off we go to collect eggs

Debi_Cary_Shell_eggs 1958
Old fashioned egg scales

F = Fresno
Since both of my parents were born in Fresno and all of our grandparents lived there, we spent a lot of time there as kids.  What I remember most about Fresno was the heat in the summer and houses weren’t air conditioned back then.  Plus, since we were there to visit our grandparents and their friends, it seemed that everyone in Fresno was OLD.  We had many good times on the patio where we spent so many hours tending to the eggs.

Family Dinner
Shell Hunter, Clara Fitzgerald Hunter (standing), me, Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy, Mom (Geraldine Martin), Sig Levy, sister Cary.

Dig in Sig
Dig in, Sig

My parents both graduated from Fresno High School, as did my grandfather, Sig Levy, and his brothers.

Fresno High School

G = Grandparents
I have so many memories of my grandparents and every once in awhile something new pops into my brain.  I always felt special in that growing up I had five living grandparents (four biological plus one step) and two great grandparents.  I was almost 12 before I lost any of them and then one by one they were gone.  And not only did I have so many grandparents but I actually have a photo of six of them all together!

Standing – Edward Fitzgerald (great grandfather), Clara Fitzgerald Hunter (grandmother), Sheldon Hunter (step grandfather)
Seated – Mabel McAboy Fitzgerald (great grandmother), Geraldine Martin Levy (mother), Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy (grandmother), Sig Levy (grandfather)
Not pictured – Earle Martin (grandfather)

H = Horses
One of my fondest memories from childhood is the hours and hours we spent with our horses.  I need to do a separate blog post about that as there is so much to say but for now I will say the six plus years I was a horse owner may have changed my life.  My “guy” was Smokey Joe, a beautiful (at least to me) dappled grey gelding who was one of the most docile horses I ever came in contact with. 
My beautiful picture
Smokey Joe
We spent hours together in that stall

My beautiful picture
All ready for the show

I = Intercom
My grandparents used to have this intercom contraption in their home that always fascinated me.  There was a little alcove in the upstairs hallway that, at one time, held the intercom machine and somewhere else in the house were other alcoves (unfortunately, my memory is pretty fuzzy on this).  I don’t know why this memory has stayed with me all these years because I don’t think I ever saw the intercom work but I thought it was so cool that you could be upstairs and talk to someone else downstairs.  Pretty fancy technology for a home that was built in 1934!

Come back next time for What I Remember – Part 2!