The Early Years

A year after Diana and Murray Scheshko’s marriage took place, they had a son, who happens to be my gardener (for those who don’t know, my gardener is also my husband hahaha). He was born in Jackson Heights, but I’m not sure where they lived at that time.

By 1959, they had another baby, the gardener’s sister.

So there you have the gardener playing Parcheesi at his mom’s feet. Diana is holding the gardener’s beautiful new baby sister.

What else happened to the family in 1959? You can see in this newspaper article.

“Borough president Clancy yesterday picked the winning ticket for the Fiat 500 Bianchina sports sedan awarded by the Steinway Merchants Association at the climax to its successful Steinway Jubilee Sales event  which broke all records last week.

Clancy chose the ticket belonging to Mrs. D. Scheshko of 34-15 12th Street, Astoria. The Astoria woman received her new car.”

That is our Diana who won the Fiat. I love how their address is included in the article, although it’s a little scary by today’s standards! The address is probably their first apartment in Ravenswood, a project of brown brick apartment buildings. There are 30 or 40 buildings in total. They still exist. A few years ago we visited Astoria to see the gardener’s old stomping grounds, and at Ravenswood, a woman leaned out a window and asked our daughter if she was with the city. Apparently she had some complaints about her apartment. When the Scheshkos lived in Ravenswood, the people were not as poor as they are today. And there was more diversity in those days: residents were all races and nationalities. The neighbors that the gardener was the closest to were his Italian teen babysitters (who bought him candy) and the Chinese couple who lived next door.

Back to the Fiat. This was a sports minicar, not a vehicle for a young mother with a preschooler and a baby. So the family traded it in for a used Pontiac and some lovely Italian provincial furniture that Diana and Murray kept for the rest of their lives.


A huge thank you to all the offers to help, including Amy of Brotmanblog who did a preliminary search for me. You all are wonderful and still might hear from me LOL!

The Great Depression Hits Hard

In a post about the gardener’s Aunt Eileen being born, I posted a photo of the house that Isidore and Celia Scheshko had purchased in 1925. The address was 739 Essex Street in Brooklyn and is the yellow house in the Google Maps photo. They also had Celia’s cousin Rose Goodstein Cohen, her husband Isidore Cohen, and daughter Grace boarding with them.

Now I have discovered some distressing news. I subscribed to Newspapers.com because that was the only way I could get access to the New York newspapers. I actually was looking for other information and decided to do a quick “Scheshko” search since it is such an unusual surname. Sure enough, I discovered that the house must have been in Celia’s name–and was foreclosed on in 1931. (At least that is my reading of this article–lawyers, what say you?!)

This clipping was from the Brooklyn Times Union, but sadly it was in many newspapers.

There are other articles I might want to read, but they are locked. I would need to upgrade to the Publisher Extra subscription. Does anybody know if I can access it through another membership I have, such as Ancestry?

I was sorry to see that Celia and Isidore lost the house they must have loved and been so proud of. The American Dream gone a little sour on them.

UPDATE on The Gardener’s Parents Get Married

FOR THE UPDATE, PLEASE GO TO THE END OF THE POST. I NOW KNOW EXACTLY WHERE DIANA AND MURRAY WERE MARRIED. I found an index record of Diana Shulman and Murray Scheshko’s 1954 marriage, recorded in Manhattan. Diana’s name is spelled Diane in the index.

Then I got my hands on their marriage certificate (where her name is Diana, as it should be). Let’s see if this document yields any good info.

Murray’s address was 326 E. 58th St. He was a radio and television technician. First I’ve heard of that. I’ve always heard the more colorful stories ;).

Diana lived at 483 West End Avenue. She was a portrait artist. Yes, that is true.

Here are Google Map images of the apartment buildings where they probably lived (I think these buildings have been there that long) and the distance between the two apartments.

Murray’s Residence

Diana’s Residence

 

Here is page 2:

This second page is very interesting. It is a page completed by the rabbi who performed the ceremony. According to this document, the wedding took place on 17 January 1954 at 66-15 Wetherole St. in Queens. I asked the Facebook group Tracing the Tribe about the location and was told: “66-15 Wetherole Street is a Building located in the Rego Park neighborhood in Queens, NY. 66-15 Wetherole Street was built in 1950 and has 6 stories and 113 units.” SEE UPDATE AT THE END OF THE POST.

Marriage ceremony location

So do the two pages go together and mean a wedding date of 17 January 1954? Because the date according to family lore was 20 January 1954. But documents from the City Clerk of the City of New York cannot lie. Right? And the rabbi would certainly know the date. Or was there a civil ceremony after the religious ceremony?

Because I have never seen a photograph that looked like a wedding portrait and the gardener has never heard about his parents’ wedding, I had assumed that they had a civil ceremony, but this looks like they had a religious ceremony. I just wish there was a photograph of the day!

There are two witnesses on this document who I have never heard of. Were they friends or relatives or perhaps random people provided by the rabbi? Charles Joseph Charnow and Hyman WHAT? Cigine? C. Kine? What do you think it says?

Well, it didn’t take long to find Charles Joseph Charnow. He married Grace Cohen in 1940. You probably don’t remember Grace, but I knew she sounded familiar. She was Murray’s second cousin–and the kids lived in the same household when they were very small because their parents, being first cousins, lived together for a bit. So in 1954, Murray was still close with his extended family in NYC. It leads me to believe there were family and maybe friends at the wedding!

So who lived at 66-15 Wetherole? Who did Diana live with prior to marriage and who did Murray live with prior to marriage? I would like to search these addresses in the 1954 city directory. Does anyone know if it’s available online or how? I can’t find it. It seems as though it hasn’t been put online yet??? (The 1950 census would be helpful here, but as we know it is not yet available). SEE UPDATE AT THE END OF THE POST.

Any insights would be greatly appreciated!

In lieu of a wedding portrait I will post the only early photo I can find that isn’t with children. It is possible that the gardener had just been born. The small child in this photo is Murray’s niece Michelle who was three years older than the gardener and Michelle’s younger brother (the boys were only 8 days apart). Maybe Murray’s brother-in-law Lou’s mother was taking care of the babies while the young couples went to the beach with Michelle, her parents, Lou and Eileen, and YES, that is Celia Goodstein Scheshko in the middle! OR is Michelle only two here and Diana and Eileen not yet “showing” or didn’t yet know they were pregnant? I actually favor the idea that this photo was taken in the summer of 1954, about 9 months before the boys were born.

I admit I did crop the photo a bit as it is a beach photo, and I don’t think they expected to have it put online decades down the road.

 

UPDATE!!!

66-15 Wetherole St. in Queens, where Murray and Diana were married, was the home of Murray’s sister Eileen (in photo above behind Diana) and her husband Lou Horowitz (who was probably taking this photo). This was a discovery by the gardener’s cousin, Eileen and Lou’s son who recognized it as the address on his own birth certificate! So we have quite a merry bunch already at that wedding because in addition to the witnesses (and their affiliated family, possibly), Celia (center of photo above) would have attended her son’s wedding, too. And perhaps other family and friends still unknown. Other information Eileen and Lou’s son provided is that the building was at one time called the “Oklahoma,” built by real estate tycoon Samuel J. LeFrak who owned a lot of property around Rego Park. The name LeFrak eventually became famous for LeFrak city, which featured over 4,600 apartments in one area.

Murray in His IDF Uniform

A year ago, I wrote in the post Murray’s Further Military History about how Murray went to Israel after WWII, where he served during the time of the Israel’s War of Independence. I mentioned that he served with a Canadian soldier who eventually introduced him to his own SIL, Diana Shulman. Murray and Diana eventually married.

In that same post I shared an AP news article showing Murray and his future brother-in-law as soldiers in Israel.

Recently I found a document in the same envelope with Murray’s U.S. Army transcript and discharge paper that proves that Murray served in Israel. This was a treasure to discover because Murray’s service during 1947-1948 has been unfindable up til now. We have his stories, which we know are absolutely true because Murray was not a “storyteller” and he was very realistic about his accomplishments.

You will see that one side of this document is written in Hebrew and shows Murray in his Israeli Defense Forces uniform!

My next door neighbor, who is Israeli, said that the Hebrew doesn’t say anything different than what the other side, in English, says, but he didn’t spend a lot of time translating it. If anybody knows differently, please let me know.

Here is the photo closer up:

Now the flip side of this document is a letter from the American  consul.

This is a document that will allow Murray entry back into the United States as a native-born citizen without a passport.

That is because his belongings, including his passport, were destroyed, according to this document on 21 June 1948 in Tel Aviv.

Murray was right in the middle of things when he was in Israel. He had some impressive stories. Without documentation, however, I don’t want to garble the stories or tell stories he might not want told on a public blog. However, he did know many of the movers and shakers of Israel from that period. He was on the Altalena when it was full of refugees fleeing Europe after the Holocaust. He was also around for the Altalena Affair, as well as other events. He did say, and I believe him, that if he had stayed in Israel he would have ended up a general, but he had family back home and decided to return to the United States.

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.