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!

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.

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!)