My family calendar, now on Google, reminds me that tomorrow is the day my mother’s father passed away, in 1957, years before I was even born. I guess you can say he would have been something like 112 years old.
I hardly know much about Harry. He emigrated from Poland in the early part of the 1990s. If I understand right, he might my mother Ida, herself a Lithuanian immigrant, through some local Baltimore matchmaker. That’s how things were done then.
He was a shoemaker, and my mother, her mother, her three sisters and one brother grew up in a house above the shop on Aisquith Street in Baltimore. Harry must have been scrappy to support his family through the Depression, an era my Mom (born in 1929) does not remember except through the normal playful eyes of a child. Harry, and his son Harvey (my uncle) apparently lost their hair before they were 20. Some genes I am happy passed me by.
Harry was also apparently fond of practical jokes, and played cards in the back of his shop. He did run numbers at one time, and apparently got in trouble with the law, and stopped. He would bring home a live carp from the market that stayed in the bathtub, until it was prepped for eating.
That’s not much to go on- I have some audio I recorded with my Mom in 2008:
I’ve got some scans of photos from Mom’s scrapbook- there are very few photos of the parents, most are of the kids in my Mom’s family. It does say something that they saw the value of photos in the late 1920s…
It isn’t much, and I feel the family stories get more faded as the voices who can tell them are gone. What is it about my Grandpa Harry that is in me? And even with this, it feels like peering through a very thick distorted piece of glass to understand what it was like to live in the 1930s, a world we see as sepia, but would have been full color, rich audio fidelity.
The post "Grandfather I Never Knew" was originally pulled charred and crispy from a smoky charred oven at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2014/03/grandfather-i-never-knew/) on March 8, 2014.