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
Me
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.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

More Details About a Wedding

I just can’t get enough of reading newspaper accounts of my ancestors’ weddings,  There is always so much to learn, especially when the article is filled with names of the bridal party, parents and guests.  And if there is enough detail, you can almost picture exactly what it looked like.  Or as my dad would have said “now I can visualize it”. 

So even though I've previously read and blogged about the engagement and wedding of my great grandparents, Bertha “Birdie” Schwartz and Abraham “Abe” Gunzendorfer, I couldn't get over the amount of information in this article from a Santa Cruz newspaper (Santa Cruz Sentinel?) on or about 9 Sep 1894 that I found stashed in the boxes of stuff my grandmother held on to all these years.


Stylish Wedding 9 Sep 1894 page 1
Stylish Wedding 9 Sep 1894 page 2

How ‘bout that – it was A Stylish Wedding!  Not just stylish but also filled with so many interesting facts.

I’d read about the bridal party in another article but this had new information.  Where before I only knew the Flower Girl and Ring Bearer were her niece and nephew, this goes on to say that they were Hazel Steen, daughter of Samuel and Rachel (Letter) Steen, and Colemann (Colman) Schwartz, the son of Louis and Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz.  Samuel was the brother of Rebecca Schwartz, Birdie’s mother, and Colman was Birdie’s brother.  Both children would have been about 10 at the time of the wedding. 

Colman Schwartz 1890
Colman Schwartz
c. 1890

I knew that the bridesmaids were Dena Steen (sister of Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz and Birdie’s aunt), and Jennie and Bella Steen (daughters of Jacob and Pauline (Jacobson) Steen and Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz’ cousins), but the mention of Grace Barnet is new information.  Grace graduated with Birdie from Santa Cruz High School in 1890.  I’ve tried to find ancestors of Grace but from what I can tell, she never married so doesn’t seem to have left too many ancestors behind.  I need to ramp up my search.

The groomsmen were Chas. Berg (not sure who this is), M. A. Steen (Meyer Steen, brother of Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz and Birdie’s Uncle), Adolf Gunzendorfer (Abe’s brother), and Milton Schwartz (Birdie’s brother).

Schwartz Milton 2_28_1894
Milton Harry Schwartz
28 Feb 1894

Rabbi Jacob Nieto was a well known Rabbi in the area and much has been written about him and his importance to the Jewish community at the time.

Rabbi Nieto
Rabbi Jacob Nieto
photo courtesy of Magnes Museum

Many toasts and telegrams were read, a few of which seem so very sentimental based on the author.

“Cause and effect, responsibility of the cause; we desire his apologies for bringing us here, F. Gunzendorfer”  I’m not quite sure what this means but this was Ferdinand Gunzendorfer, Abe’s father and my 2nd great grandfather.

Our Birdie, she has flown into a cage; let us hope that she will be an exception to the rule that those who are in want to get out, Joe Schwartz”  Joe was Birdie’s older brother.

“Present at her birth, witness of her childhood, participant at her festivities, J. Steen”  I would like to think J. Steen was Joseph Steen, Birdie’s maternal grandfather, but since he died in 1866 this can’t be him.  So I’m guess it is Jacob Steen, Joseph’s brother.

Steen Jacob c 1880
Jacob Steen
c. 1880

Another uncle, thoughtful and humorous, Sam Steen”  Samuel was Rebecca (Steen) Schwartz’ brother and Birdie’s uncle.

A good example well set should be followed, J. Guzendorfer”.  “The only bachelor left, may he soon join the Benedicts, Adolph Gunzendorfer”  These were two of Abe’s brothers, Adolph and Jacob.  No mention of his oldest brother, Gustave Gunzendorfer.  Was he there?

Several Barnet family members were mentioned.  S. Barnet (Grace’s father, Samuel), Z. Barnet (Grace’s brother, Zacharius), Bertha and Emma Barnet (Grace’s sisters), H. Barnet (Herman, Grace’s brother).  It makes me think that the Barnet family must have been very close to Birdie and, perhaps, the entire Schwartz family.  Santa Cruz was a pretty small town back then and since the Jewish population was probably quite small, it makes sense that everyone worshipped together and were close friends.

Whenever I think of this beautiful affair, it saddens me to know that Birdie’s father, Louis Schwartz, died in 1893 so wasn't able to see his only daughter marry.  I wonder if her older brother, Joseph, walked her down the aisle or maybe one of her many uncles.  No matter who it was, I can imagine Birdie had an emptiness without her father.

I’m so thankful I ran across this article - I think it’s becoming apparent that I come from a very, very long line of packrats.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Top 10 Genealogical Finds of 2014

Letterman
Photo by Pierce Place

As 2014 comes to a close, I’d like to step back and reflect on what I’ve learned over the past year.  So in my best David Letterman voice, I bring you my fourth annual Top 10 genealogical finds of 2014.

Number 10:  Thanks to some help by my new found cousins (see #2), I was able to identify a mystery photo that I've had stashed away in a box.  This handsome man is Mervyn Gunzendorfer – cousin of my grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy.  And they also shared a photo of him from later in his life.

Mervyn Gunzendorfer 1916-1917
Mervyn Gunzendorfer
c. 1916-1917

Mervyn Gunzendorfer 1957
Mervyn Gunzendorfer
1957

Number 9:  My great grandfather, Abraham “Abe” Gunzendorfer, was an amateur photographer in Monterey in the early 1900’s.  I have quite a few photos marked “Abe Gunzendorfer, Photographer” and I’m never quite sure if the photo was of a family member or just a photo that he took.  But it was pretty clear what was going on in May, 1901 – President McKinley visited the area and Abe took photos!  I wrote about it here and shared some of the photos – this one gives a pretty good idea of the scene.  And it was right in front of the family mercantile!

Addresses Citizens Close up

Number 8:  I found my grandmother’s diary!  Actually, I found it a few years ago but I stashed it in a drawer and just re-discovered it this year.  It really wasn’t much of a diary, per se, but it did have some very poignant items she shared with her “little friend”.  No matter how hard I try not to think about it, I just can’t forget her words about Ernest “breaking her in” before he left for Stanford.  Lalalalalalalala.

Number 7:  After nearly 2 years, I finished documenting my grandmother’s scrapbook.  I started here and finally finished it here.  What a gift to be able to share my grandmother’s teenage years with her!

Number 6:  I still can’t get over seeing my great grandmother, Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer, pregnant!  While I’m not 100% that’s what I’m seeing, I truly believe that it is.  I need to do a little more research about that house and see if it could, in fact, be their home in Monterey.

Bertha in front of house c 1895
Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer
c. 1895

Number 5:  Louis Schwartz had a father!  Well, of course he had a father but I think I know his father’s name!  Over the summer I received a call from Victoria, the researcher I’ve connected with, and she told me she thought she’d figured out his name.  I wrote a bunch of notes, and I know she has notes, but the short story is his name was Bendusch (or Bendel) Schwartz!

Number 4:  I just love seeing old houses, particularly when they were the home of my ancestors.  I’m pretty sure I’ve discovered not one but two homes that Ferdinand Gunzendorfer and his family lived in during the late 1800’s.  I wrote about the first here – the home of Ferdinand and Fannie (Goldstein) Gunzendorfer in about 1880.  And following that, I received a copy from another cousin, one generation older, of another house that he said was also the home of Ferdinand and Fannie.  As I looked at the photo a flood of memories came forward as I KNEW I’d seen that house before!  Sure enough, I went through Abe’s photos and there it was – the same house! 

Ferdinand Gunzendorfer House Pacific Grove
Home of Ferdinand Gunzendorfer
c. 1893

What’s especially interesting is that he told me the home, on the corner of 5th St. and Ocean View Blvd. in Pacific Grove, had been turned into a B&B and was called Green Gables.  So I looked online and sure enough, here is the Green Gables.  Same house, right?

Green Gables

I wrote to the Innkeepers and the house history and dates they provided to me doesn’t really match up just right so I need to do some more research.  Add that to my list for 2015!

Number 3:  Last year I wrote about connecting with a Fitzgerald cousin and this year she shared a very special photo with me – the photo of my 2nd great grandfather, Mathew Fitzgerald!

Matthew Fitzgerald
Mathew Fitzgerald

I wrote about Mathew here and was hopeful that a volunteer would get a photo of his grave for me.  Look what appeared just a month or so ago!

Fitzgerald Mathew
Findagrave.com – Memorial #126404259 – photo by Seth Pearl

And as an added bonus, here’s his wife and my second great grandmother, Julia Horgan Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald Julia Horgan
Findagrave.com – Memorial #126404793– photo by Seth Pearl

Number 2:  Probably the greatest gift I’ve received as I’ve gone through this journey is connecting with cousins.  My Gunzendorfer family is so very, very small that while I have connected with cousins on both of my maternal grandparents’, as well as my paternal grandfather’s, side, I really didn’t hold out much hope of ever connecting with a Gunzendorfer.  After all, as my mother proclaimed years ago and what started me on this journey, there weren’t any Gunzendorfers left in the United States (darnit, I hate when she’s right).  But I knew there were Gunzendorfer descendants with different last names and this year I found some!  And it was truly genealogical serendipity when I heard from the first one THE NIGHT BEFORE I was planning to write about her great grandmother!  Read about the genealogical serendipity here.  My new cousin connected me to a few other cousins and we’ve had fun sharing information.  What really brings this full circle is that one of the other cousins I knew as a child and now he is back in my life!  My family just keeps getting larger and larger and I couldn’t be happier.

Number 1:  The bracelet.  Sure this wasn’t a new discovery – I inherited “the bracelet” in 1982 after my grandmother passed away – but a discovery that became much meaningful in 2014.  Grandma had always kept a list designating who would receive what after her death and I had always known I’d get “the bracelet”, even though I wasn’t sure what was so special about it and why I would want it.  I learned in 1982 that it had belonged to her mother, Bertha Schwartz Gunzendorfer, and had been a gift for her high school graduation in 1890 as the bracelet was inscribed with the words BS, Graduated June, 1890.  That bracelet has been a part of my life for over 30 years but it wasn’t until this year that I really had a good appreciation for just how important it was in my family.

And one day, as I struggled for inspiration for a blog post, I ran across this photo.

High School Graduation
Santa Cruz High School Graduation
June 6, 1890

That’s Bertha (aka Birdie) standing on the right.  You can read my post from May 4 here, but the Cliff Notes version is that she’s wearing “the bracelet”!   Look closely at her arm!  It’s such a treat to know the history behind a family heirloom but even better to actually SEE it. 

Bracelet on wrist

And from there I did a little research and connected with the great grandson of the young man in the photo, Harry Wanzer, and shared the photo with him.  I’d love to be able to contact descendants of the other graduates but, unfortunately, I put it aside and never got back to it…..until last night.  Maybe getting the graduating class’ descendants together might be my top find in 2015!

And that’s what I’ve been up to in 2014.  While I feel like it’s been a bit of a quiet year, I realize how far I’ve come and the treasures I’ve been able to share with my family. 

Who knew?


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas, 1917

As I wrote in my last post here, I have hundreds of letters that my grandparents, Loraine Gunzendorfer and Sig Levy, wrote back and forth to each other from about 1916-1919.  My goal is to some day get them all transcribed and put in chronological order so that their letters become a story of their courtship and, ultimately, marriage.  But, unfortunately, I tend to go gang busters on this project for awhile and then put it on the back burner for weeks or even months.  But I thought it appropriate to dig out the letters from Christmas, 1917 and see what was up in their worlds. 

I started the transcription project with Grandma’s letters to Sig because her handwriting was better and since I was 28 when she died, her handwriting was much more familiar to me than Grandpa’s who died just before my 14th birthday.  So today was the first time I really studied any of Sig’s letters to Loraine.

Envelopes to Loraine

I started sorting them out by year, then month, and then to put them in date order.  As I got started with the month of December, I noticed something very interesting in the top left hand corner of the envelopes – Grandma left me bread crumbs!  The numbers (42, 43) indicate that these were the 42nd and 43rd letters he wrote to her – she put them in chronological order for me!  See, I know she wanted me to find these!  And interesting that the stamps are all missing.

And the back of the envelope is interesting.

Back of Envelope

I love how he just wrote ‘Sig’ on the back – I’m sure her heart skipped a beat when she saw that.

So here’s excerpts from the letters right before Christmas, 1917 with my comments [ ].

December 22, 1917 – 6 pm [From Loraine to Sig]

My dearest

Your letter didn’t arrive until this morn, guess it was held up on account of the holiday rush. I looked for it last night but was disappointed.

Well, my dear, I’m home again [Monterey] and it seems wonderful – really it does and I do feel very happy. Everyone has seemed so glad to see me that it makes me feel as though I have been missed. And once more I am getting acquainted with my family. And I’ve been practically living in my brother’s machine [she always called the automobile the machine]. He took me for a ride yesterday aft and also this morning and has promised to teach me to drive it [remembering that she wasn’t a great driver as an adult, do we have her brother, Wilton, to blame for her poor driving?].

The Alumni of the High School are to give a dance Christmas night and before I even came home I was put on the refreshment committee, so you see, dear, they want me to work even if I am just visiting here. Quite a bunch of my friends are to be home over this week-end, enlisted boys and the like, so it will be like old times.

And now about war again – I’m so sorry, dearest, that you weren’t accepted in the non-flyers but guess it can’t be helped and now that you have actually enlisted in the flyers, even though I am against it, I am glad, because it seems as though all the best fellows enlist in that branch and no branch is too good for you. And it is all just a great big chance of life or otherwise I guess after all, whether it is flying or trench work. But all anyone can do is hope for the best and that is what I am hoping for you at this very minute.

And, dear, I don’t know when you are going to get that picture of me [which picture, Grandma?  I have several and want to know which one it is]. It hadn’t been finished when I left Thursday so I left orders to send it to me, so you’ll get it sometime before New Year’s, I hope.

Believe me, I had to come home to lose my cold. My mother doctored it up last night [wonder what the magic cure was?] and today I am feeling great. We are having glorious weather down here, sunshine and the like but no fog. But we surely had a lot of fog in Oakland before I left, both night and morning and now you are getting a taste of the same kind of weather.

Tomorrow we are going for a little ride up into the country to get some Christmas berries and I wish you were here to go along.

The point of the fountain pen I’m writing with is very hard and I can hardly write – my letter looks it, too. So if you can’t read it don’t blame me, blame the pen [HA – blame the pen!]. And I do hope you hear soon from the aviation dept so you’ll be coming up shortly for your examination as I’d like to see you, dear.

I must bring this to a close now as I’ve promised to meet one of the girls in a short while. Write so that there will be a letter waiting for me Wednesday night in Oakland, that is, if it won’t inconvenience you [one thing my grandmother wasn’t was passive aggressive].

And my wish to you for Christmas is that everything will turn out to your liking, sweetheart, and that you will enjoy the day, even though we won’t be able to enjoy it together, but as long as we will be thinking of each other, we’ll try to be happy. And if you care to [what if he didn’t care to?] I wish you would convey my best wishes to your family for a pleasant holiday season.

As always much love
Yours
Loraine
 
December 23, 1917 – 6:30 pm [From Sig to Loraine]

My dearest Loraine,

Just a tiny note in answer to yours just received. I know you are a busy girl and this note will just come in between so it won’t be so long a wait. I’ll answer your letter properly so one will be waiting for you Wednesday in Oakland [good boy, Grandpa].

I thank you, my love, for your wonderful wishes in my behalf and I know with these thoughts that nothing but good will come to us.

The weather here is miserable and it was even too foggy to play tennis today [never thought about it being too foggy to play tennis] so I have been loafing all day.

Glad you are having such a wonderful time. I know you won’t enjoy the letter [oh, I’m sure she enjoyed it], but I didn’t want you to wait until Wednesday even if it is just “hello”. So that is all for tonight and I’m happy your cold is better.

A big lot of love to you, my dear, Sig

Am late getting home – the reason for the rush.
 
I just love this photo of Sig playing tennis.  I ‘rescued’ a couple of his rackets from their garage after Grandma died and they have hung on my wall for over 30 years.  I never knew just how much he liked to play tennis.
 
Sig Tennis
 
December 25, 1917 – pm [from Loraine to Sig]

My dear

Your “Merry Xmas” telegram [I found the the telegram!] came a little while ago, and this is what I said, “The thoughtful boy”. I did sort of want to phone to you just to wish you the season’s greetings, but didn’t know just where I could reach you so let it go [Grandma, why did you give up so easily?]. Your few lines came last night, also. [did she not enjoy it like he predicted?]

Am spending a very quiet day today as it is raining! Do hope it doesn’t storm tomorrow as I leave in the aft for Oakland, accompanied by Mother. Have been thinking of you today as have been knitting on your sweater and it is nearly finished! [again, she was crafty?]

You’ll probably not hear from me again until Friday as I’ll get in so late tomorrow night I won’t be able to write.

And what are you doing today? When do you expect to be called for examination? Probably your letter will tell me all details.

Love from
Loraine

Telegram

December 24, 1917 – 11 p.m. [from Sig to Loraine]

My dearest Loraine,

Well my love it is Christmas Eve, and can you believe it, I just came to the club and it is certainly delightful out. Rode around the residence section [exact address, please] and really it was a pretty thought to see all the Red Cross service flags [Grandpa was involved with the Red Cross for many years] in the windows with the spot lights behind them. Gee I wished that you were with me to ride around on a nice quiet night to see all the people enjoying themselves in their different ways of happiness.

Early this evening we had a pretty tree for the baby at my brother’s home [brother would have been Herb and the baby would have been Herb Jr. who was born 10 February 1917] and it was cute – our first little one to have a tree [was this the beginning of the non-Jewish traditions?] and he was so excited with all his presents but of course he is too young to know what it all means but nevertheless he enjoyed it thoroughly – but the saddest part is that my father is not well enough to be up and see it all. [father, Herman Levy, died just a few months later, 6 March 1918]

Fresno was a busy little city today and you would really think this was a military center – so many soldiers and sailors. They are all home for Christmas and you know Fresno leads almost every city on the coast for enlisted soldiers. The visiting soldiers even had a big baseball game today.

Did I tell you I saw Dick [I need to figure out who Dick is]. Well he sent word that he was coming through the other night and he arrived at 12:30. Two sections to the train and they were just loaded with soldiers all bound for Texas for aviation. There was a mob at the depot and poor Dick was all in – he had an awful cold [he had a cold, too?] and said he had spent the toughest week of his life. The poor kids had no Pullman and they were just packed in – It was anything but an inviting looking future and Dick hated to break away from the bunch. It certainly looked strange to see him in a uniform. He is going to write me all about the life as soon as he hits Texas.

Dear I think we will go “over the top” on our Red Cross drive. It looks like 25,000 members for Fresno. How do you like that? Has Monterey done its share? [I sure hope so!]

The Red Cross dance the other night was also a huge success. All you hear or see down this way now is war. After this next call, dearest, there’ll not be a young fellow left. I haven’t received my questionnaire but they are already getting ready to call for the physical examinations. I will get mine I think in about a week. In the meantime I am hoping for a call from S.F. but nothing yet has arrived. Talked with one of our aviators today and he said the course at the university was about the stiffest thing yet. Only eight weeks to learn about everything and to bed every night at nine-thirty.

I’ll bet you have been stepping around since you left for home and I hope you haven’t worn your little self entirely out [see, he knew Grandma liked to party!]. And now that you are back I suppose it seems like another little dream. And sweetheart, have you had any real dreams about someone down this way in the last few days? [please say YES, Grandma!]

At any rate I hope this letter is waiting for you when you reach Oakland – was it and did you really look for it the first thing you did? Honest dear?  [tell the truth, Grandma]

And dearest you soon start with your new work and please don’t work too hard [one thing I don’t think Grandma ever did was work too hard] and tell me all about it. I should receive a great big loving letter [loving?] from you now, as you no doubt have a lot to tell me even if you must take time off this very night just for me.

The new year is soon to come – a year of something no one knows. I hope for you it will be wonderful. I’ll do my best. Keep well and happy, sweetheart.

As always with love, Sig
 
I was going to stop there but I just had to see if Grandma actually looked for the letter first thing and SHE DID!  This story just keeps getting better and better……..
 
December 27, 1917 – 8 pm [from Loraine to Sig]

My dearest

On my way home a short while ago I beheld the moon just rising and you should have seen it – a huge ball of fire and so pretty and then I wondered what the date was as the moon was full and it is the 27th – a month ago tonight you and I were at the Palace! How the time goes.

Here I am, back in Oakland and I don’t know whether I am glad or sorry. When it grew to be train time yesterday I didn’t want to leave, but Monterey is so quiet that had I remained, in another week I would, in all probability, want to come back. Arrived at 10 o’clock last night after a pleasant trip with Mother, and, in answer to your question, I did look for your letter immediately upon my arrival [NICE!]. So, your letter was here to greet me if not yourself.
 
And that’s where I’ll stop.  Just a glimpse into the Christmas holidays from 1917 thanks to my grandparents, Loraine Gunzendorfer and Sig Levy.