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Two Sides of the Family--One Building

 
 
Roberta
 
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 11:24 am
I have mentioned here somewhere at some time the unusual circumstances of both sides of my family living in the same building. I've been looking through photographs lately, and this has brought this home.

Don't know whether this is a topic for discussion or just me rambling, but I felt like talking about it.

In the 1930s in a building on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx: On the second floor front lived my mother's family: her two parents, my mother, her sister, and her brother. On the second floor rear lived my father's family: his mother, his older brother, my father, his sister her husband, and their son.

Everyone knew everyone. Just found a picture of everyone milling around on the roof. In particular I have a picture of my two grandmothers, who were friends.

By the time I was born, my mother's sister had married and had gotten an apartment on the ground floor of the same building. She had two sons. My father's brother had also married. He lived around the corner. And my father's nephew married and lived a half-mile away.

I eventually came to think that my grandfather had two wives, one live-in and one down the hall (one grandpa, two grandmas).

I came to learn that my mother, my father, and my father's brother were best friends. I also came to learn that my father was like a big brother to my mother's brother. I also came to learn that my mother's brother and my father's nephew were good pals.

They all lived in this building and formed these relationships long before my parents were married. Their friendship ultimately turned to love.

It took me a looooong time to figure out and understand sides of the family. It also took me a long time to figure out who was related to whom, who was friends with whom, and who didn't like whom.

So when I was born there was an aunt, uncle, and two cousins on the ground floor and an aunt, uncle, one grandfather, and two grandmothers on the second floor.

Was it possible to visit just one person/apartment in this building? Not always.

I'm enjoying the pictures.

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Type: Discussion • Score: 23 • Views: 32,021 • Replies: 335

 
Izzie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 01:57 pm
oh Boida - do tell more...
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 02:02 pm
@Roberta,
And do post pictures!

What an amazing way to grow up. These days, anyway. Well, no -- it's pretty unusual just in general that the mother and father would have grown up in that close of proximity,
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 02:03 pm
@sozobe,
seconding the idea of posting pictures if you feel comfortable
0 Replies
 
Roberta
 
  2  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 02:37 pm
I'd love to post pictures. No one can object to having his or her mug on the Internet. They're all dead (except for a couple of cousins).

I can't post pictures with my computer. I have trouble just accessing pictures that are sent to me. I'm missing some kinda disk.

There's one pic in particular I'd love to share. Eveybody sauntering down the Concourse.

I did pull out one picture to add to my collection that is displayed: my two grandmothers, one seated, the other standing behind her, on the roof of the building. No tv aerials. There wasn't tv yet.

Two gray-haired ladies with buns. (My grandpa's two wives Smile )
Diane
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 08:54 pm
@Roberta,
Oh boida, you know I love you, but this is one of my favorite stories of your family, which makes me love you even more. Soz is right, this story is rare even among older generations. Yes, there were more generations living together, but they were likely to live in just one house.

Get Thomas to figure out a way to scan your pics. He might be able to do it on his own computer, that is if you trust him to take good care of your photos. You know that he doesn't like you very much (Hah) but out of the goodness of his heart, he might make the sacrifice.

After the story of The Concourse, we will need to hear could hear you tell about the men in your family helping to construct many of the buildings in NYC. If only we could really hear you--your accent makes these stories seem more than real, they sound immediate, as if we could walk to the Concourse and meet all the relatives.

I wonder if you realize how fascinating the stories of your family history are? In many ways, they could be films directed by Barry Levinson.

Please keep going my friend, this is good stuff.
Roberta
 
  3  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 09:36 pm
@Diane,
Hi Diane, Finally got a rise out of you, did I? Good.

Yes, my beloved grandpa (the bigamist) was one of the people who made Noo Yawk tall. He was a construction worker. Worked on the Empire State Building. He also worked on my elementary school. He told me that he wrote his name on the inside of the walls in both places. Lots of construction workers did that. "Where, Grandpa, where?" I wanted to know. "On the fifth floor of your school."

I found his fifty year union pin when I was rummaging through some stuff. Priceless.

My father and his brother were in vaudeville as singers. Never stars. But when the Depression hit, that was it. I loved family gatherings with his side of the family. Everybody sang well. All those baritones. Wonderful. And my second soprano.

My grandfather bought a turkey farm in Noo Joisey. He always loved the land. My grandmother was raised in the city. She eventually could stand it no longer, and they returned to the city. She, like me, required concrete under her feet. My aunt repeatedly told the story of how she wore a red sweater, and all the turkeys went after her. Mental note: Don't wear red around turkeys.

I remember when I was a child talking to friends about family. One side of the family barely knew the other side. What's the matter with these people? My cousin (the one on the ground floor) on my mother's side wondered what was the matter with me. I hadn't gotten all the relationships straight. "There are two grandmas upstairs." "Yeah, but only one of 'em is mine." ??????????????

When I was older, I wanted to go to a swimming pool north of where I lived. I had to pass THE BUILDING to get there. Would it be possible for me to walk past without being spotted. I walked close to the buildings. No one will see me. From above I heard,"Raboida!" "Hi, Grandma." (My mother's mother.)

Often people sat out in the street on folding chairs. I have pictures of that too.

I also have pictures of all the men in uniform returning from the war (WW II). Out on the street in front of THE BUILDING. All the men were in the army. My sweet father was the only one who got schlepped overseas.

My parents got married when he returned home on leave.

Rambled enough. Wonderful memories, helped by the photos. My cousin (on my mother's side on the ground floor) is coming up for a photo review and exchange.








0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 09:43 pm
@Roberta,
I don't know, kiddo, but I think a2kers can help you. - I have this kind of problem too and don't want to lean on anyone, but maybe people can help you hurdle the process (disc, whatever). Or maybe you are just impossible.. and then,

maybe one or another of us that you may trust could post photos.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 09:44 pm
@ossobuco,
Oh, by the way (and you know this, have known it for years), you need a new computer badly. I wish I could help.
Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 09:46 pm
@ossobuco,
It's not a matter of leaning, osso. It's a matter of access. I'm hoping that my friend Sheila will help with some photos of stuff I want to sell. Maybe she can help with these as well.

But I won't send the photos anywhere. It's not that I don't trust people. It's just that it makes me uncomfortable to think about. That and that I'd have to schlep to the post office.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 09:50 pm
@Roberta,
I get it. And I am working up photos of stuff I want to sell. I also am discouraged re P.O. schleping. Schlepping? Big deal to me.


In my case, Fed Ex and UPS are much closer, but they aren't the preferred places, at least re books.


Ok, I'll send you commiseration.
Oh, and oreos.
0 Replies
 
Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2010 10:13 pm
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:

Oh, by the way (and you know this, have known it for years), you need a new computer badly. I wish I could help.


More than well aware. But I won't be selling anything to get a new computer. If I sell something, it will be to pay rent and bills.

So I'm stuck with what I have. I'm just hoping it keeps on working.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2010 09:31 pm
@Roberta,
Quote:
Don't know whether this is a topic for discussion or just me rambling, but I felt like talking about it.


Oh please keep talking, Roberta! I'm finding this absolutely fascinating. I'd love to hear more about the various personalities in this big family. How they got along, the things they got up to. ....

If you can't post your family photographs, it'd be great if you could post some images of the Bronx at the time. So's we folk in faraway places can get a bit more of a feel of your childhood environment. But don't feel under any pressure to do that if it's time-consuming, or you don't feel so inclined. OK?

I await the next exciting installment. Please continue! Smile
0 Replies
 
Roberta
 
  4  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2010 10:07 pm
Hi Olga, I couldn't find a photo from the thirties that did the street justice. It's a glorious wide boulevard--eight lanes.

The photo below was taken within my lifetime. I remember the large white building on the right being built. About three blocks north of that white building is THE BUILDING.

Look at the two short brown buildings south of the white building. I lived in the northernmost one with my family. We moved there after eleven years in a tenement. We had arrived.

http://scty.org/re/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/21concourse2_650.jpg

About three blocks west and three blocks south of my building was Yankee Stadium.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2010 11:57 pm
@Roberta,
Quote:
Look at the two short brown buildings south of the white building. I lived in the northernmost one with my family. We moved there after eleven years in a tenement. We had arrived.


Very salubrious! Smile

Thank you, Roberta.

Looking forward to more!
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 08:24 am
@Roberta,
Wow!
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 08:50 am
@Roberta,
Roberta wrote:
In the 1930s in a building on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx



the photo of the boulevard itself ... wonderful



If anyone's interested in learning more about the Grand Concourse, it might be worth begging your library to stock this book

Boulevard of Dreams. By Constance Rosenblum.
New York: New York University Press,2009.277 Pages

http://boulevard.fromthesquare.org/?p=91#more-91

Quote:
This history by Constance Rosenblum, a New York Times reporter and editor, is being released just before Nov.24,2009 when the Grand Concourse will celebrate its 100th birthday.

In the years before the Grand Concourse was constructed, the Bronx consisted largely of farms and park land.

It was annexed from Westchester County by New York City in 1874, becoming the only part of the city attached to the mainland.

Louis Risse, a French engineer who settled in New York at the age of 17, designed the Grand Concourse as an 11-lane speedway where wealthy New Yorkers could race their horses while, at the same time, it served as a link to the parks of the Bronx.

Conceived in 1892, the Grand Concourse was dedicated in 1909,by which time the horses had given way to automobiles.

In short order, the Victorian houses lining the Grand Concourse were replaced by opulent five- and six-story Art Deco apartment houses. Upwardly mobile Jewish families from the Lower East Side moved into these apartments.

By 1930,the Bronx had 585,000 Jews,many of them living on the Grand Concourse or its surrounding streets.

The actual number was determined by counting how many students were absent from school on Yom Kippur.

On the High Holy Days, the Grand Concourse bustled with well-dressed people heading home from the synagogues in the area.

Their weddings and bar mitzvahs were held in the luxurious ballrooms of the Concourse Plaza at 161st Street and the Grand Concourse or in the many nearby catering halls.

Close to the Concourse Plaza was the Yankee Stadium, which saw its first game on April 18,1923 and which is now replaced by a new Yankee Stadium.

Further to the north where Fordham Road crosses the Grand Concourse, a shopping area, featuring Alexander’s and Loehmann’s, attracted customers.

In that same neighborhood, the Loew’s Paradise began business in 1929 with its Italian Baroque architecture and a blue sky ceiling with twinkling stars.

Close by were the ice cream parlors: Krum’s,Jahn’s,and Addie Vallins.



there is a photo slideshow here

http://boulevard.fromthesquare.org/?page_id=15
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  2  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 10:05 am
nice little article here

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/18/looking-back-at-the-grand-concourses-first-century/

the best part (IMNSHO) is the comments by the readers - people who, like Roberta, have childhood memories of growing up on/near the Grand Concourse

The Bronx Museum had an exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Grand Concourse

http://www.bronxmuseum.org/intersections.html - a few good photos there - and hints about where there is more archival material

what a neighbourhood!
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 10:36 am
shhhhhhh you don't see me

this is one of the NYT local tours based on subway stops

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/04/nyregion/04stop.html?_r=1

Quote:
What’s up with those yellow and red signs sprouting up on Concourse lampposts?

More or less distinguished sons and daughters of the Bronx are honored on a Walk of Fame, including Rita Moreno, Bobby Darin, Robert Klein and Charles Fox. Charles who? He’s a composer who wrote the theme to “Laverne and Shirley” (created by another Walk of Famer, Garry Marshall).

Cardinal Hayes High School was once known as the “School that Makes the Concourse Grand,” educating generations of Catholic schoolboys, including Martin Scorsese, Regis Philbin and Don De Lillo. George Carlin called it the coolest school in the Bronx . He was expelled after three semesters.


there's a link there to the George Carlin piece at the side of the article


the Bronx Walk of Fame? Roberta better be there!

she's brought the Bronx alive for so many of us
Roberta
 
  2  
Reply Sun 4 Jul, 2010 11:12 am
@ehBeth,
bethie, Thank you, thank you, thank you. The links brought back such memories. Places I know. Places I hung out. Places I shopped, ate, went to the movies.

Didn't see this. Doesn't mean it wasn't there. Just means I missed it. Spent many Saturdays or Sundays there with my father when I was little and with friends when I was older.

http://www.shenet.org/high/hsacaddept/science/chood/bronx-zoo-address.jpg
 

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