Well, it's a few weeks early officially, but to give equal time, this week's sepia focuses (if you'll pardon the pun) on the hoary patriarchs of my family.
One of the ineffable pleasures of genealogy is considering the lives, the careers, that one's ansestors had. When photos exist that show them "in action," that's a very rare treat.
This photo was on the wall in my grandmother Helen's house (you may remember "Salome" from an earlier Sepia Saturday of mine). Moshe Loss was her maternal great-grandfather. He was Lithuanian, probably born around 1800, so I estimate this portrait (painting, or a heavily retouched photograph?) shows him around 1870. I know little about him except reportedly he was a rabbi. Here he looks quite rabbinical indeed.
My great-grandfather, David Blumenfeld (b. 1863, Latvia), married Moshe Loss's grand-daughter, Lena (b. 1865, Lithuania). David, son of an unfortunately ne'er-do-well peddler father, had a varied and colorful series of careers; he immigrated to the States in 1884 and eventually became a successful tailor and haberdasher in South St. Paul, Minnesota. Here he is in his store, featured in the local paper around 1955, shortly before his death at 97.
David's daughter Helen ("Salome") married Arthur Singer, whose father was a furrier born in Russia in 1857. Singer obviously was a name given to the Jewish family upon arriving in the States in 1887; I do not know for sure what their original surname was. After a stint selling dental equipment, Arthur wound up as a traveling Paris-fashion dress salesman, serving I. Magnin, Frederick & Nelson, and other department stores. He always had a bottle of Scotch, a box of chocolates, and a Playboy in his hotel room for his clients and fellow salesmen. Here he is showing off a sample Tricot suit. He too worked until hs was too old, half-blind, and ill to drive anymore.
Meanwhile, my father's father alternated between shopkeeping and teaching. He was a Michigan native of English/Irish extraction; some of his forebears had arrived in the States in the 1640s. A mere three hundred years later, a high school was named for him in Livona, Michigan. Here he is in earlier days.
So now the lines converge. Arthur's daughter Beth (last week's subject) married George's son, Nelson. Nelson wound up teaching English and Creative Writing -- virtually nonstop from 1952 until his death in 1990. Here he is in his element -- his University of Washington office -- behind several decades of student papers. Don't be fooled, he could easily put his hands on any document in there that you happened to want.
Music by the Klezmonauts (and yes, authorities, I bought it, off of ITunes).