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.

Enter Eileen

Isidore and Celia Scheshko had a daughter when their son Murray was four-years-old. Eileen Ruth Scheshko was born on 2 December 1925.

The couple still had Celia’s cousin Rose Goodstein Cohen, her husband Isidore Cohen, and daughter Grace boarding with them at that time in their home at 739 Essex Street in Brooklyn. They lived at what is now the yellow house. Thanks to an inspiring comment from Sharon at Branches on Our Civitano Tree and Branches on Our Haimowitz Tree, I discovered that they moved into a brand new house in 1925!

This is only 12 years after Isidore arrived in the United States–and 15 years for Celia. I learned this information from the 1925 New York census. Another interesting piece of info on that census is that both the Scheshkos and the Cohens were apparently naturalized in 1916.

I’ve shared the photos of Isidore and Celia when they were young and before they had children. Here is a photo of them, older, with their daughter all grown up. I suspect Murray was away in the military, but maybe not. Perhaps it is a photo taken upon the occasion of Eileen’s engagement in 1951. If anybody in the family knows, please let me know, and I will correct this post.

Celia’s footwear has changed from those beautiful two-toned boots she wore in the photo I had colorized by Val Erde. A change of shoes happened to me over the years, too, so I completely understand.

I love that the women are wearing similar brooches. Isidore’s double-breasted suit is pretty snazzy!

Yiddish as a First Language

Rather than doling out information in little bits and pieces without a real pattern, I am putting this blog into a holding pattern for now. When I come back, I’ll have some good information and lots of posts!

I’ll leave you with a photo of Murray with his first child, his son, the gardener (my husband).

One generation before this photo, when Murray himself was a young child, he spoke the language of his household, Yiddish. When he started school in New York at age five, he did not speak English. The method in those days was complete immersion with no outside help. Let me tell you, he learned English really fast.

By the time I met him when the gardener and I were in high school in Michigan, he spoke (to my Midwestern ear) English with a strong New York accent.

P.S. Yes, I know the photo has the wrong watermark, but at least it’s one of my watermarks!

Isidore in the Czar’s Army

Recently, I was able to find Isidore Scheshko’s WWI draft registration. This, of course, complements the photo of Isidore in his U.S. Army uniform that was recently colorized.

The family story from the gardener’s father was that Isidore served in the “Czar’s army” before immigrating to the United States–and that he then signed up four years after arriving in the U.S. to fight on behalf of his new country in WWI.

This document does confirm that story.

If you notice, it says that he was a private in the Marine corps in Russia for 3 1/2 years.

Now, I will say that it’s unlikely that he, being Jewish, was in the actual Marines in Russia.While the Russians were very thorough about making sure young Jewish men were forced to serve, they generally would be in the army and serve under very awful conditions.

I found this information from The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe:

Between 1874 and 1914, there were more Jews in the Russian army than non-Jews in proportion to the general population. For example, in 1907, Jewish soldiers constituted almost 5 percent of the entire military but only 4 percent of the population of the empire.

Isidore was born in 1887, although January 26, not December 28 as listed here, making him almost a year older than he may have thought. I say that because it’s likely that he didn’t actually know the date of his birth. So let’s say he was conscripted at age 16 (the age at which Jews were conscripted ranged from age 12!!! to 25 and the term could last for 25 years or more! To give you a sense of the whole picture, non-Jews could not be conscripted until age 18!) and served for 3.5 years. He would have been done by age 20. If he was conscripted at 18 he would have been 22 when he was discharged. (I use discharged loosely because we have no way of knowing how he left the Russian army).

During the period that Isidore would have served, the far right in Russia was arguing that Jews should be banished from the military; however, it did not happen. I suspect it could have made things even more difficult for Isidore, though, because it could have fueled anti-Semitism toward Jewish soldiers.

If you have information to share on this subject of Jewish soldiers in the army of the Russian Empire, I would love to know more.

 

Isidore in Living Color

Last week I showed you how Val Erde at Colouring the Past was able to take Celia Goodstein Scheshko’s photo and add color.

This week I asked her to take Isidore Scheshko’s U.S. Army photograph and do the same thing. Note that these photos have the same background and might have been taken in preparation for their wedding in 1919.

Here is the photograph I gave Val to work on. Note that it is the best I had, but not an original photo.

Now see what Val did with it!

Any idea what that X on his sleeve means?

Here are Celia’s photos once again. Note that the background and floor are the same, but the more Val worked with the background the more she learned about it. These interpretations are different, although similar.

The original image:

And here is the photo after Val’s work on it.

 

The amount of research, knowledge, and artistry that Val puts into the photographs is remarkable.

Don’t tell the gardener about these. I’m ordering prints for his birthday!

Celia in Living Color

Last fall I took the B&W challenge on Facebook and took pix of my everyday life in black and white instead of in color. I loved the focus on shapes and the balance of light and dark. The idea was not to include any people in the photos.

And I can see why not. There is just something about color that brings people to life. That is why our antique black and white or sepia photos of ancestors are wonderful to have, but really just give us an “outline” of the individuals.

So I asked Val Erde at Colouring the Past to take Celia Goodstein Scheshko’s photo and add color. Wow, look at the difference!

Here is the original image:

And here is the photo after Val’s work on it.

See how pretty she looks! And now those nifty two-toned boots show up even better.

I feel myself getting hooked on this. I wish I could have all my old photos colored!

Murray’s U.S. Military History

Murray Harry Scheshko, the gardener’s father and son of Isidore and Celia, was a highly intelligent, active, and energetic young man who came of age at the time of WWII. He was born on 5 June 1921 and can be found on a U.S. Marines muster roll on 11 January 1940. He was 18 years old.

He was a private, and the listing is alphabetical, so he is about #9 up from the bottom.

Also, on 11 January 1940, this is listed on Ancestry for Murray, but again, no record to go with it: NEW YORK NATIONAL GUARD SERVICE CARDS.

Name: Murray H Scheshko
Birth Date: 5 Jun 1921
Birth Place: Port Chester, New York
Residence Place: New York City, New York
Enlistment Age: 18
Enlistment Date: 11 Jan 1940
Enlistment Place: New York City, New York, USA
Unit: Co A 1st Mar Bn

U.S. Veterans Affairs Death records show Murray as enlisting on 8 January 1941. But 8 February 1941, a month later and a little over a year after the Marines muster list, he is showing as enlisting in the U.S. Army, Airborne division. What happened between the Marines and the Army? Between 1940 and 1941? I don’t know. And I don’t have a document for this as this is text info on Ancestry.

I’ve never heard of this site before, but they have his army serial number listed (12025969) and mentioned he was Air Corps.  For those of you who don’t know, as I did not know, there was no U.S. Air Force before 1947. The air division was part of the U.S. Army.

Murray’s military history must have been extremely interesting. On the one hand, when I was dating the gardener, I was regaled by the gardener and by Murray with stories of how he spent most of his time in the brig for fighting. At one point, I knew how many days he spent, and it was astronomical. On the other hand, he must have spent some time not in the brig because when the gardener was little, his father had a bucketful of military medals, including a Purple Heart. The gardener has rueful recollections of playing with the medals (and possibly cutting up the ribbons) when he was a kid.

What I didn’t know until somewhat recently is that Murray was part of the 353rd Fighter Group that flew bombing missions over occupied Europe. They are considered heroes in England. Murray was not a pilot. He was staff sergeant, an “armourer,” which means that he was in charge of the weapons for the group. There are websites online devoted to the group, and Murray is mentioned in them.

American Air Museum

353rd Fighter Group

I have also been given some photos of the group with Murray in them.

Murray is standing, on our left.

Murray on our right

Were the brig stories exaggerated? Or was he able to be a hero in between his fights? By way of explanation about the fighting, I will mention that during the time that Murray was stationed in England he experienced a great deal of anti-Semitism which tainted his time with the English.

I am posting a photocopy of a pic of Murray with other soldiers in the U.S. Army in case someone finds this blog post and recognizes someone in the photo.

Murray was a gentleman and a good father, but there were some vestiges of him as a “tough guy” throughout his life. He always dreamed of being an attorney (and loved his copy of Black’s Law Dictionary), but the opportunity didn’t happen for him. Instead, he became Plant Manager and VP of Research and Development for Dr. Denton (yes, the pjs with feet) and Lambknit sweater mill (southwestern Michigan).

After his American military career, instead of going to school or settling down, and before he became a business executive, Murray took one detour. To be continued at some point.