// past faces


rebeccafm has written 62 posts for a sense of face

frank, 1928

My grandfather died 22 years ago today. This summer, I visited Vienna, his hometown.  I thought a lot about him and about whether he had walked the same routes, seen the same buildings, gone to the same cafes.  I stood outside his childhood home, wandered around his neighborhood, loitered in front of his father’s store […]

rybky, 1885/2012

More than any other ancestral hometown, Rybky, Slovakia has always had the strongest pull on my heart.  Maybe that’s because it was the first ancestral hometown that I learned about when I was young, or maybe because it seemed to be a place that others were committed to remembering — or perhaps both.  My grandfather […]

hanni, david, me, 1885/2012

  Yesterday, I found my great-great-great-grandparents’ grave in a plum orchard in Slovakia.

frank, 1897

Frank Fenning, ca 1925 My great-great-grandfather Frank was a dapper little man who was thrifty, hard-working and good at suing people, and  the more I learn about him the more colorful he becomes.  Reconstituting the facts of someone’s life — the dates, names, and places — is one thing, but rediscovering and reconstituting the stories that fill out […]

202 west end avenue, 1903/2012

me, at what used to be 202 West End Avenue  When I was in New York a few weeks ago, eating some amazingly good gelato on the Upper West Side, I realized we were only blocks away from where my great-grandmother Charlotte grew up at 202 West End Avenue. Her building doesn’t exist anymore – […]

mechel, 1900/2012

In February, all I knew was that my great-great-great grandfather had come to the United States in 1889, but not what became of him after his arrival.  I didn’t know if he stayed in America, if he went home, how long he lived, when he died.  Now, in May, I know that he stayed here, […]

a shades of the departed special birthday edition: ladies in glasses

Many of my ancestresses suffered from poor eyesight, but only a few of them were ever bold (or perhaps desperate) enough to wear their glasses for the camera.   My great-great grandmother Ella was a very fashionable lady and a very strong-willed one.  It’s likely she didn’t need glasses until she was middle-aged (her side of the […]

the jacob goldman family, 1899-1900

Cleveland Leader, November 27, 1900 I never realized how colorful my family was – or how colorful the times they lived in were – until I made a survey of the Goldman family in the Cleveland, Ohio newspapers digitized by various commercial entities. I knew that some of my relatives were litigious and I knew that others […]

chaje and michael, 1889

Anna/Chaje Fenning Blaustein, unknown baby Blaustein and Celia/Czippe Fenning Buxbaum, ca 1890s In late summer 1889, my great-great-great grandfather Michael Pfenig and his youngest daughter Chaje made the trip from their small shtetl of Zmigrod (in what is now Poland) to New York City. They sailed via Hamburg on a ship called the SS Hammonia […]

frank and ethel, 1990

Thanksgiving 1990? Sometime right around when this photo was taken (I think this must have been Thanksgiving or sometime around then), my grandparents gave me an aquamarine ring as a Christmas/Hanukkah present.  They died not that long after and for the last 21 years, I have spent almost every minute wearing that ring. It has […]

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past faces