Friday, December 26, 2008
I know it's late, but I want to wish everyone a very Happy Hanukkah this year. I made my cards (again) and prominently featured two photos of my paternal grandparents, "Bubby" Rachel (nee Levie) and "Zadie" Samuel Finkle. My grandmother arrived at Ellis Island as a girl from Dundee, Scotland, where her family had emigrated from Lithuania. Her father was a goldsmith...I suppose this jewelry venture of mine has genetic origins? My grandfather came over on his own as a teenager, from Russia, and they met in Trenton, New Jersey, where they married, raised a family of eight (!) children and died in their nineties after celebrating their 75th anniversary. My father is the youngest of their children, and the only one living.
When I was in Edinburgh in 2003, by coincidence I stayed at a hotel across Princes Street from the National Archives of Scotland. I of course went there to see if there were any census records of the Levies in Dundee at the end of the 19th century, but sadly, I didn't find any. I also have been unable to find any Ellis Island immigration records of their arrivals. We do have these two wonderful early carte de visite photographs of them, which I have admired for years. They are very young, formally posed, well dressed and a bit apprehensive-looking, but they had to remain motionless for a long time in order for the picture to be taken. My grandmother was tiny, and by the time I met her, she was already quite elderly, so I never knew this darkly exotic young woman. My grandfather was also a very old man who was Orthodox and somewhat alien; he spoke English with a very heavy accent, never shaved on Sabbath (we usually visited on that day) so his beard was so scratchy (an anathema to a young girl) and didn't talk much generally. I so regret that I was too young to have asked them about their lives in the Old Country and journey to America. I was only around ten when they died, but they are very much alive for me via my Father's stories about them and his young years.
I used images from Hanukkah 2007 - framed pictures of Bubby and Zadie at my Dad's, his silver dreidel, one of his menorahs that I now use, and stock images of Hebrew type. I printed the graphic out and glued them to card stock for a quickie card - I never seem to get my act together to make holiday cards in advance. Sorry about the big old watermark.
Because my father was the last child that they had, and they were older when he arrived, and my father had a late start on his family, my grandparents are old enough to be my great-grandparents. It's hard to believe that in my family I am only a generation away from the 19th century, but that's the way it is, and it's special to me.