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 . . . .

 

 

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.

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!