Sunday, March 15, 2015

Memorial Tributes – Mabel McAboy Fitzgerald

I’ve had this box of things tucked away in a drawer and I decided to finally get it out and look through it.  I guess it’s official that my paternal grandparents weren’t the only packrats in the family – they shared that gene with my maternal grandmother, as well.  Although I will say that I can completely understand hanging on to the things you received when your mother died – how could you throw something like that away?  Inside the box was this book.

Memorial Tributes

And when I opened it up, I saw it was memorializing the death of my great grandmother, Mabel Viola McAboy Fitzgerald.  For the most part, the book was blank except for telling me that the services were held at the John N. Lisle Chapel in Fresno on November 15, 1966 at 2:30 p.m. with the Rev. Chester Snyder officiating.  But this page had some interesting information on it.

Clarence & Lorraine Follett (Mabel’s granddaughter and her husband)
Clara Hunter (Mabel’s daughter and my grandmother)
Warren Crawford (husband of Mabel’s daughter, Viola)
Stanley Fitzgerald (Mabel’s son)
E.F. Fitzgerald (Mabel’s husband and my great grandfather)
Viola Crawford (Mabel’s daughter)
Mr. & Mrs. Ferd. Fries (unknown but a pallbearer)
Mrs. Weisbrodt (unknown)
Winifred Hoey (daughter of Clara McAboy Hoey and Mabel’s niece)

And the funeral card.

Funeral Card Front

Funeral Card Inside

I don’t remember anything about this funeral and have no idea if I was even there but my dad was a pallbearer.

And more stuff!

I went through each card – some were cards which were attached to floral arrangements and some were ‘announcing’ the presence of someone at the service.  Here’s a few interesting ones.

Card Sig Levy

Looks like my paternal grandparents were there.  And that’s Sig’s handwriting.

And so many people sent flowers and someone wrote the type of arrangement on the back of the cards.

Flower Card Henry Langworthy

Henry was the son of Mabel’s sister, Lilly Gay McAboy, and William Ralph Langworthy.  Henry sent pink and white carnations.

Flower card John Fitzgerald

John Fitzgerald was the brother of Edward Fitzgerald (my great grandfather) – Jack and Elfie were his son and daughter-in-law.  They sent lavender chrysanthemum and pink carnations with a pink bow.

Flower card Sig Levy

And my paternal grandparents sent flowers and this is Loraine’s handwriting – I’d know it ANYWHERE!  They sent a bronze mum plant and someone added on the back Please Give Water.  Hope someone did that!

Flower card Gordon Levy

Even my parents sent flowers!  They sent a wreath of lavender mums, pom poms and pink roses.

This one just breaks my heart.

Flower card Ed Fitzgerald

Oh geez, he sent flowers?  The spray sounds beautiful and had a satin ribbon saying “Loving Wife”.  I do remember after she died Great Grandpa was overcome with grief and cried for months.  As I remember, the two of them were having some sort of disagreement so Mabel decided to spend the night at my grandmother’s house where she died in her sleep, just 6 days before their 65th wedding anniversary.  And being a sensitive 12 year old, I also remember just a month later picking out cloth handkerchiefs as my gift to him for Christmas.

Mabel is buried in I.O.O.F. Cemetery in Fresno.

Mabel grave

I don’t know why this is spelled Mable – everything I’ve seen is spelled Mabel including the record of her birth.  A mistake?  Did no one care or did no one take the time to make it right?

Mabel McAboy c 1965
Mabel Viola McAboy Fitzgerald
6 Jun 1883 – 12 Nov 1966

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Things I remember

Today is International Women’s Day which has caused me to think a lot about the women in my life who have come before me.  And as time marches on, I find myself the oldest generation in my family and it causes me to stop, take a breath, and really think about these women so whatever memories I have left of them aren’t lost forever.

Geraldine c 1949
My mom
Geraldine Martin Levy

Of course the most important woman in my life was my mother, Geraldine Martin Levy.  My mom had a pretty disjointed childhood as her parents were divorced when she was about 10 and for several years she either lived alone with her mother or with her Great Aunt, Anna Fitzgerald Sronce.  For whatever reason, my mother either didn’t have many memories of her childhood and “life before Dad” or she just didn’t want to talk about them.  Once I started on this genealogical journey, though, she seemed to share more of her memories.  But I learned that she would tire easily of my questions so I tried to limit them to small chunks at a time.  And now that the time is gone, there are still so many questions I want to ask her.

What I remember about Mom. 

First and foremost, books.  My mom loved to read and she always had a book with her.  I mean, ALWAYS.  In fact, when she was admitted to the hospital a few days before she died, she took a book with her.  I’m not sure how much of it she read during her stay but when we took her personal effects home, her book, I’ll Be Home For Christmas, was half read.  But she’ll have it with her always as we placed it in her niche.

Mom loved to play solitaire.  This was long before anyone had even thought about computers, iPhones, or apps.  She played with a deck of cards at the kitchen table.  And she knew a lot of cool games that I can’t remember now.  I don’t know how many hours a day she played but my memory of coming home from school always included Mom sitting at the kitchen table playing cards.  And bridge.  She and Dad played in several different bridge groups and I can remember helping to get the house ready before it was their turn to host.  Little silver dishes with nuts and chocolates were prepared and we always liked snitching a few as they were put out on the tables.  After Dad died, Mom continued to play with different partners and her happiest days were those when she would join the group at the San Jose Country Club for a day of bridge.

Thursdays and Sundays were always golf days – Thursdays with the women’s group and Sundays with Dad and their friends.  I remember when I went into labor with my first child on Thursday, Mom said she would come to the hospital after she finished her golf game.  Good thing grandmas weren’t allowed in the delivery room because I think my mom was probably on the 16th tee when her first grandchild was born.

In 2012, Mom asked each of the kids and our spouses to join her on her annual trip to Kauai.  I’m so glad we were all able to go as it turned out to be our last time together.

Clara Fitzgerald
My maternal grandmother
Clara Maxine Fitzgerald
Martin Hunter

This photo is exactly how I remember her – a beautiful woman with a twinkle in her eye.  I don’t know what it was about her but she was always so happy and seemed to genuinely love to see us.  Grandma Clara was a chicken farmer – I’ve written about that here – and we loved to spend a day at her house helping with the eggs.  I can still visualize those warm, summer Fresno days sitting at the picnic table out by the garage with her beloved San Francisco Giants playing on the radio in the background.  And we’d help Grandpa load up the eggs into the station wagon for his delivery route and visit with customers who would come by the house to pick up eggs.  Grandma loved to play bridge, too, but I don’t think she was able to play much during this stage of her life as she was all consumed by chickens and eggs.

Loraine Adult
My paternal grandmother
Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer Levy

Loraine was sure one of a kind but, unfortunately, I don’t think I appreciated that until long after she was gone.  She would always fuss at us – don’t do this, don’t do that – but deep in my heart I know she loved to see us.  When we visited Fresno we always stayed at her house, since Clara’s was too small, and we always had to be careful not to disturb things.  Many times when we’d arrive she would make milkshakes for us with little squares of ice cream – where in the world did those come from?  I remember traveling with her and we always had to arrive at the airport hours ahead of time and sit and wait.  Maybe that’s why I like to arrive at the airport so early?  I remember her ‘clicking’ her teeth (dentures?), playing bridge (that gene stopped with me), and saying “I couldn’t give it much” or “that was bunk” when she didn’t like something.

Sadly, the last time I saw Grandma was in the nursing home about 6 weeks before she died.  While I planned to surprise her with a visit, it got out that we were in town and she knew we were coming.  When we arrived she was sitting in her wheelchair by the front door, decked out in a fancy silk suit, red lipstick smeared on her face, but a big smile nevertheless.  She loved the two little girls I brought with me, her only two great grandchildren at the time.  They used to ask me why she didn’t know her own name because she always asked them “who am I?” so she could hear them shout out “Great Grandma Loraine”!  She sure loved those girls and died with a picture of the two of them in her hands.

Mabel McAboy 1
My maternal great grandmother
Mabel Viola McAboy

Mabel was the only other grandmother I knew.  She also lived in Fresno so we would see her when we visited.  She spent a lot of time helping out with the chickens so we spent time with her while we all cleaned eggs.  I don’t remember much about her except that she always seemed old.  I guess when you’re 10 anyone over 40 is old. 

There are so many other women whom I’ve gotten to know over the last few years but since I never knew them personally, I don’t have any direct memories of them.  But I’m learning about them now – boy, am I learning!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

First Signs of Civilization

Sometimes I run across interesting items in the boxes of items my grandmother held onto throughout her life.  Not just throughout her life, but those before her and those after her, including me.  Today was no exception.

Monterey Argus 30 Jan 1880

Now this would have been an interesting exhibit to see!  Abe Gunzendorfer (my great grandfather) was just 17 years old in 1886 so this was probably a school project or something.  What’s really odd is that this article from the Monterey Argus is actually glued to a piece of paper that someone used as a scratch pad to do some math problems – they couldn’t rely on a calculator in those days.  Maybe someone was trying to figure out someone's age?

Scratch Paper

Abe left quite a few quirky items for me.  I know he spent quite a bit of time putting together a miniature railroad for his family's store, The White House – he even left pictures!

Station and Power Plant

Trestle Scene

Forest Scene

Looks like he was a pretty handy guy! 

Here’s another picture of the train, the A.B.G.R.R (A.B. Gunzendorfer Railroad)

Model Train

And a close of up of the first few cars.

Model Train Cropped

I sure wish I’d known him – it seems like he was an interesting guy!

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!