Yesterday was a calendar reminder of the death of a man 67 years ago that I don’t know.

That as my mother’ father, aka Harry Herondorf aka my grandfather. I’ve previously written what I could in 2014, but I have found a few more shreds.

The most interesting is a photo my suster shared recently, maybe the only one I have seen of my mother’s entire family.

Herondorf family mid 1950s (?) center on couch is matriarch Ida and on the arm of couch, is her husband, my grandfather, Harry. Surrounding left to right is my Dad (Morris) and Mom (Alyce looking so young), Harvey (Mom’s brother), Ruth (Mom’s oldest sister), Milton (Ruth’s husband “the podiatrist”), Dorothy (Mom’s youngest sister), Herbie (Dorothy’s husband), and Dinah (Mom’s next older sister).

This indeed was Dorothy and Herbie’s wedding, she being the only living person in the photo. I spent some time and blog space documenting my Uncle Harvey and his later wife, Doris. My aunt Ruth, the oldest also lived so far the longest, passed away last year at 101 – she made it to 100 on the Smucker’s jam jar, but missed her air time on the Today show.

My mom and have told stories, some I recorded, from their childhood home on Aisquith Street in Baltimore. I think about their life there, as it was durig the Depression, but never heard it as dire times. She knew they were poor, but they always had food and shelter. Harry Herondorf was a self-employed shoemaker, and I guess people always needed show repairs. They have photos, and it makes me wonder too about investing in something like a camera in hard times. Mom said her father would rig up a backyard play space with a hose spreading water from up on high, that he liked to play practical jokes, that we would bring home a live fish that wa sput in their bathtub, and only later appearing on plates as “gefilte fish.”

She also said that her father loved growing tomatoes in his hard, and he would pickle them and share wth neighbors. Maybe that’s where I get my interest in gardening?

Their family moved later “uptown” to Garrison Avenue, where Mom would have lived in high school, where eventually a young man named Morris ran over to woo her.

I have a photo of Harry dated “1/55” which I must have made a copy of visiting my Aunt Dorothy in 2012.

One Grandfather flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

He looks pretty serious, but also might be gesturing as if in the middle of conversation. That looks like an ash tray, he might have been smoking. His obituary says he passed away in 1957, and a clue at the bottom is that i asks for donations to be made to the Cancer Society. That makes him having lived 75 years, noting from other records he was born September, 1881 in “Keltz”, Poland which I gather means Kielce, Poland that was turned into a Jewish Ghetto by Nazis in the 1940s.

Harry emigrated to the US long before this, arriving in Baltimore in 1913 and naturalized in 1923. Ancestry.com lists him as single in 1920 and living in a boarding house. By the 1930 census he was married to Ida, and listed the 5 children plus a mother-in-law on Aisquith Street.

Herodorf family as recorded in 1930 census.

The oldest child listed, my Aunt Ruth, is listed as 9 here, so his marriage must have been in 1920 or 1921. Mom’s story was it was arranged by a matchmaker, which must have been a real thing and not just a song.

The last bit of newer evidence / information for Harry is his draft registration card dated 1942, when he was 49 years old– were they really registering potential soldiers that old? (yes says Wikipedia, they registered up to age 64 but drafted only 18-45).

Small things here, at age 49, my grandfather was my same height (5 foot 9) but a trim 150 pounds, and a noticeable scar on the right side of his leg. I also note that the address of the childhood home of my mom is listed as the address of his business, a shoe shop. So when they moved uptown, the busines stayed where it was.

And lastly the address of the Herondorf family home in 1942 I can find and gaze at in Google Streetview

That’s not much of a story, but the rest of life here is left for me to imagine or draw inferences from the meager records I have.

That’s the extent of what of know of ya, Grandpa Harry. You did well.


Featured image: Detail of Herondorf family photo with superimposed the text from Harry Herondorf’s registration card. I made this and can slap on a Creative Commons CC BY license, as if anyone except the ever scraping and never asking AI.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. Interesting! I didn’t know him either but I was named after him. It would have been nice to know our grandpas.

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