Taking Courses at The Art Students League in NYC: 1940s

Last week I posed the question of what drew Diana to New York City from Toronto.

What is known to me about Diana’s life in NYC before she married involved her education at the Art Students League, her survival jobs, and her painting. I believe it’s safe to say that what drew her was her artistic passion. From the time she was little, she was a talented artist. Her family first noticed it when they discovered that her “tracings” were drawn free-hand and were not traced at all.

The Art Students League of New York was well-known as a school for artists. Many famous artists had studied there, but perhaps two of the most important attributes of the school for Diana would be:

  1. Students can take classes as they wish–there is not a formal program of matriculation and coursework. She would not have had the funds to enroll in a full-time program.
  2. The ASL had a decades-long commitment to providing art study to women artists with the same respect it gave to men artists.

The following photo is what the Arts Students League looked like when Diana attended–and what it looks like today. It’s a landmark of NYC.

Here is a great article about The Art Students League: The Top 10 Secrets of the Art Students League

In the next photo, Diana is standing on the roof of the Art Students League. The water looks very close, which somewhat surprises me. I am guessing this is the Hudson River. Any NYC readers, what do you think? Diana wrote the location on the back of this photo, along with the year of 1947. She said her dress was wine-colored.

I plan on showing you a little more of her art in a future post, but here is something I discovered from 1943, when she was 21, and before she traveled to the United States for the first time. I guess it shows where her mind was at, even then. Please excuse the condition of the painting. Paint has chipped off it. It was in with her practice works, so not well cared for.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president of the United States. And a sign of the times, too.

Here is one more painting drawn from the news stories of the times Diana grew up in. Field Marshal “Monty” Montgomery. In the lower right corner, near her signature, Diana has written Toronto 1943.

Last year the gardener and I visited the Knoxville Museum of Art and saw an exhibition of the paintings of Joseph Delaney. He was an African-American painter who was born in Knoxville. He was a student at the Art Students League in NYC at the time that Jackson Pollock was a student, so a bit before my MIL’s time at the school. I was struck by this Delaney painting of the lobby of the Art Students League.

Seeing this painting meant a lot to me because I can see a lot of similarities between Delaney’s painting style and my MIL’s style. Was this taught to them at ASL? By a particular teacher, perhaps?

I know Diana cherished her time at the school. She sometimes mentioned it when she talked about her life in New York City. Diana remained a painter for the rest of her life.

Living Between Two Countries

The question of when my mother-in-law Diana Shulman moved from Toronto to New York City most likely cannot be definitely solved. It seems that it was a gradual move, according to the documents that I have discovered. The first document is 1945 (and does not indicate she was ever in the United States before), so I am going to assume that in 1944 she still lived in Canada. She was 22 years old in this photo taken on vacation in summer 1944. I do not know the location.

The first document I have found relating to her move is from 10 November 1945, documenting her crossing the border into the United States. Note that that is two months after the end of WWII. According to Wikipedia during this time period (1915-1954), crossings between Canada and the U.S. were only recorded at train arrival stations along the northern borders of New York and Vermont. Her crossing was at Buffalo, NY. She was 23, and the paperwork states that she was a saleslady.

I have a very hard time reading these index cards. It looks to me that she was traveling to her relatives, Mr. and Mrs. I. Z. Brand who lived at 1822 44th St. in Brooklyn. (This looks like an area of old brownstones). This would be Mr. and Mrs. Izidor Zangwill Brand, her mother’s younger sister Beatrice and her husband. They had three children, all a little bit older than Diana. On the line underneath her name, I have no idea what it says: SOMETHING in Canada.

There is a line that says “Last permanent residence,” and Diana’s parents’ address in Toronto is listed. Under “Purpose in coming and time remaining” it seems to say V-pl = 29 days. 

On the backside of the card, it seems to indicate that she should not be admitted without a SOMETHING visa. But I can’t read that word. It says “see file.” But what file if the index cards are usually the only thing recording a border crossing at this time period? Can you read what it says? Also, see near the top right: it says something about to 1/9/46–according to a reader, it probably says ext. or extended to 1/9/46.

Related question, in case you know the answer: are these index cards called a manifest or not? Obviously they are very different from a ship’s manifest because they are not a record of “everyone” on the same document. These cards do not, for instance, show if Diana was traveling with anyone else (although we believe she was usually or always alone).

This next card seems to be from 1947. I will post it as I downloaded it and then also the front and back sides separately so you can see better.

This time the card lists that Diana has been in the United States before: Var. visits and ?/1/46 – 2/21/47. She brings $50 with her and plans to reside permanently!

On this card she might be indicated she will live with her grandmother, Mrs. Isidore Shulman, who appears to live with the Brands (one of Diana’s grandmother’s daughters, of course) during this time period. I thought that Diana’s grandfather’s name was Harry, so I either have heard that wrong–or the card is a mistake, perhaps confusing Mr. Brand’s first name with Mr. Shulman’s?

Here is a card from, I believe, 1948:

Now we see where Diana resided last time she was in the U.S.: 542 ?. 112th St. Manhattan. This could be a fairly tall old apartment building. She says she was in the country from 3/26/47 to 3/28/46. HUH? Isn’t that backwards? or is 46 supposed to be 48? She has $12 with her this time, and is Res. Res. Perm., whatever that really means.


Perhaps these three documents would really help someone who knows more than I do about immigration genealogy. An understanding of the laws of the time would be very useful.

To me it looks like she traveled back and forth either to visit her family or perhaps because she was not allowed to stay any longer by the laws and had to go back to Canada and then re-enter the United States.

But what drew Diana to New York City?

(Next time!)

Murray’s Military Career, Part 3

I’ve written twice before about Murray Scheshko’s (Murray Castle) military career.

The other day I discovered some new documents that belonged to Murray. The gardener (my husband) didn’t realize we had these papers pertaining to his father’s military career.

I wrote earlier that Murray was in the 353rd fighter group: Murray’s Further Military History and Murray’s U.S. Military History.

One of the new documents I discovered is a discharge paper that states that he was in the 352nd fighter squadron.


So was he in the 353rd or 352nd? Apparently both squadrons worked together and were in England at the same time. Both also finished up their service in New Jersey, but not at Fort Dix as this discharge paper states–at Camp Kilmer instead. Both squadrons were highly celebrated.

In the stack of papers, I found Murray’s “transcript of military record.”

His bronze stars and other awards are mentioned, but not his purple heart. He not only earned a purple heart, but it meant that he received $67 per month for the duration of his life for the injury he sustained.

I found out that the gardener can order information about the bronze stars from NARA (National Archives) in St. Louis. I plan to help him do so this week.

These documents show that when Murray was discharged he was a sergeant. He had had a higher rank, but was in the brig for fighting, so he was demoted. There is a rumor he was AWOL for awhile, too, but none of this is mentioned on these official records.

On the transcript, I was particularly transfixed by the list of “battles and campaigns” he was involved with:

  • Air Offensive Europe
  • Central Europe
  • Normandy
  • Northern France
  • Rhineland
  • Ardennes-Alsace

We are guessing that his time in England would be covered under “Air Offensive Europe.”

According toU.S. ARMY CENTER
OF MILITARY HISTORY
EDUCATE-INSPIRE-PRESERVE
, these are the dates Murray would have been in these areas:

  • Air Offensive Europe – 4 July 1942 – 5 June 1944
  • Central Europe – 22 March – 11 May 1945
  • Normandy – 6 June – 24 July 1944
  • Northern France – 25 July – 14 September 1944
  • Rhineland – 15 September 1944 – 21 March 1945
  • Ardennes-Alsace – 16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945

In general, we knew that he had been in England, and the gardener and I had both heard about his service in Israel after WWII, but neither of us had any idea he was involved in these other battles and campaigns.

The gardener and I were talking about how we wished we had thought to ask Murray questions and interview him about his wartime and other experiences. But, unfortunately, Murray died suddenly of a massive heart attack onboard a flight home from his job in Tupelo to Kalamazoo at the age of 62. We were young and had expected him to be around “forever.”

The Fun of Finding Old Photos

A long time ago I posted a photo of the Scheshko family in the old country (probably Odessa, but maybe Tiraspol). Every member of the family is there, including a boy whose name I don’t have, EXCEPT Malka, the oldest child. That is because she had already emigrated.

Once I realized that Malka was not in the photo, I lost all hope of ever seeing a photo of her. In the United States she became Molly Riskin after marrying Isadore Riskin. Their only child was Charlotte Riskin Vendola.

But in going through that little orange box of photos we recently found, I spotted another photo of Charlotte and her father–this time she’s an adult–and a woman who has got to be her mother, Molly Riskin (Malka Scheshko).

 Moral of that story: never lose hope.

Here’s another photo I found.

This is a photograph taken at the bar mitzvah of Eileen’s son. Charlotte is in the center of the photo, looking striking as usual. Danny to her left and to Danny’s left are their best friends, Sally and Tut.

What I would like to find out is who is seated across from them. Eileen’s son thinks that these might be friends of his parents.The gardener says that there were three men at the bar mitzvah who were some sort of cousins, but nobody who is alive today knows who they were or how they were related. Could they be the men in this photo? The gardener thinks one of the men he vaguely remembers could be named Archie The bar mitzvah happened in 1968–maybe someone someday will see this post and supply names to the faces. Friends or family, I’d love to know who they are!

Always getting a little closer to the information, but not close enough. But finding these old photos is FUN.

This is my last post until September. I plan to do more research in August. Plus it is really really hot here in Phoenix . . . .

 

 

Mystery Man Not Solved!

I’m posting the results of the poll about the mystery man. If you go to the link you can find the three choices for familial resemblance.

 

Here is the winner!

The funny thing is that while you were voting, I found a note that Charlotte had written years ago. She says she doesn’t know who the man is!

That means he couldn’t be Danny’s father because she knew him. It’s still possible that he could have been a relative in Italy, and Charlotte never made the connection.

So could he be related to the Goodstein (Anna, Rose, and Max) family in some way? It’s possible, but why would Charlotte have their photo? She was related through the Scheshkos, not the Goodsteins. But, of course, she DID have the photo of the Goodstein family which features Celia Goodstein (who became Celia Scheshko), so maybe . . . .

It’s likely we will never know.

But I do know that the following photo is Charlotte and Danny in 1946. Are they in front of the bar or behind it?

And this photo is Charlotte as a baby on horseback (ponyback?). She looks a bit like her first cousin Murray (the gardener’s dad) here.

Murray:

Work is being done on the gardener’s mother’s family, but they are a tough genealogical nut to crack–and a huge family.

Murray’s Further Military History

Some time back, I wrote about my father-in-law’s U.S. military history. He was part of a heroic team in WWII. His father Isidore, who had served in both Russian and American militaries, must have been very proud of him. At the end of that post, I mentioned that before Murray settled down, got married, and became a business executive, he made one detour.

I mentioned that Murray experienced anti-Semitism while stationed in England. He was deeply affected by what happened there. At the end of the war, the stories of the death camps and murders of Jews at the hands of the Nazis must have also affected him a great deal.

On 14 May 1948, David Ben-Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel–and this time period found Murray in Israel, as an Israeli soldier. He served with a man who became his best friend and eventually his brother-in-law, Jack Blanc. Jack was an older Canadian soldier who was married with one child (at that time).

Although the quality is not the best, here is an AP photo that was published on 16 August 1948 in newspapers all over the United States of Murray and Jack in Israel (Jack’s name is misspelled). As the caption indicates, Murray is second from the right and Jack on the right..

What a lighthearted photo and caption (pin-up photos?) for such a serious mission they were on.

Here is the full page; check out the bottom left:

Murray was always very proud of his service for Israel, but it did take a toll on his life as he wasn’t able to pursue the higher education he so desperately wanted (I think I have mentioned before he wanted to be a lawyer). He was a soldier in Israel when his peers back in the U.S. were going to college and professional school.

After Israel, Murray came back to New York where Jack Blanc introduced him to a pretty art student from Canada named Diana Shulman. Diana was Jack’s wife’s younger sister. Murray and Diana eventually married and had first the gardener and then his sister. Here is Murray with Diana and the gardener.

 

The gardener wasn’t yet gardening at that point, but I imagine he was pretty active and kept his parents on the go.

 

 

 

More About Eileen

Last week I introduced Eileen Scheshko, the daughter of Celia and Isidore. Here she is on our right, a bit more mature than in the photo with her parents.

The dresses and accessories on Eileen and her friends are absolutely gorgeous and of the era: the 1950s! The sweetheart neckline, the wicker basket handbag, the button earrings!

In 1951, Eileen married Louis Horowitz. The following year she gave birth to her first child, Michelle. The year after that her father, Isidore, passed away. In 1955, her second child and only son was born in the same month that the gardener was born.

In the next photo, Eileen and Lou are seated on our deck in Michigan in April 1985. They were in Kalamazoo/Portage for the occasion of the unveiling of the headstone of Eileen’s brother Murray (the gardener’s father).

Sadly, on 15 June 1994, their only daughter, Michelle, passed away.The inscription reads Michelle Trager, her married name. Her Hebrew name was Malka.

Less than a year later, on 17 April 1995, Uncle Lou passed away as well. Aunt Eileen was plagued the last few years of her life with a brain tumor that caused her excruciating pain. Her strength was remarkable. She herself passed on 6 January 1998 and was buried at New Montefiore Cemetery in New York (where Uncle Lou and Cousin Michelle are buried). Eileen’s parents are buried at Montefiore Cemetery. I added Eileen’s headstone photo and sponsored her memorial at Findagrave.

Eileen lived just long enough to meet her two beautiful grandchildren through her son and his wife.