Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmases Past

This box held the topper for our Christmas tree

1945 Cele and Barbara

1945 Pat B

1945 in Queen's Village

Grandma Valentine

Jane & Barbara 1951

Bud, Ronnie and kids

Ann and Nancy 1945

Saturday, December 18, 2010


September 1950
Steps on Russet Lane
Bill and Jane

Fifty years or so later
Barbara Jane and Will

Things are smaller than you remember them

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Search Box

There's a new feature over in the left hand column, a SEARCH box. Type in the subject or name and search this blog for your own self or a topic like dogs.

Left to right: Elizabeth Daly Valentine,
 her son Commissioner Lewis, his wife Teresa  and daughter Miriam 
at his Swearing-In Ceremony in 1934

 For example: Type in Lew and three or four pages of posts referring to Lewis Valentine come up at the top of the text. 

Try  Brooklyn or Grandpa

You can also search by Label. Many of the posts have the names of the families in the labels, which you will see at the bottom of each post. See the labels at the bottom of this one.
Click on the family name or topic there and you'll see all the posts with that label. If you are looking for a particular person or family try both search methods.

PS: I've been trying out the Search box and find it's hard to work. Just keep trying is all I can suggest.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Family Reunion in the 90s

Not so many party shots as portraits

 A little photoshopping

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fire Dogs

Buddy and Jackie with Smokey, 1940

The family stories recalled mainly by Aunt Ann (and recorded by Bambi) is that Grandpa had two dogs, Teddy & Smokey.

Teddy, 1939
Teddy was the first. He was a retired fire dog from the station.

"He wasn't neutered and he used to get out to go carousing with the lady doggies. When he would come home Grandpa would yell at him and call him a bum etc., which Grandma and others didn't like - he had a people name and I guess they were afraid the neighbors would think he was yelling at a real person in the house for bad behavior."
Ann considered the second dog Smokey her dog. "Her Smokey" died while she was down South with George during the War, about 1944-45.

Smokey, 1944

Rex in Engine Co. #8, 1929
Fire dogs are usually Dalmatians. They still ride on the fire trucks.

Dalmatian next to the driver in York, Pennsylvania

Dalmatians were traditional coach dogs, which is probably why they became fire dogs.
The story is that they aren't afraid of the horses and can run at their feet.

1865 General Rufus Ingalls with his coachman and a Dalmatian

The last horse-drawn fire wagon in NYC, 1922

Why would you want a dog running with the horses? Before there were sirens and flashing lights the fire dogs ran ahead to warn people that the horse-drawn engines were coming. The dogs apparently continued to run ahead of the gas-powered engines after the horses were replaced in the 1920s. In retirement Teddy used to run in front of the McNally family car on the way to church.

Brooklyn Company #224 with Nellie's pups

We had this book when we were kids. It's advertised as
"the story of Kerry, a real dog, who became the mascot of Hook and Ladder Company Number 29 of the New York City Fire Department. After nine years of faithful service Kerry answered his last call. His death resulted from injuries sustained in the line of duty. Kerry now rests in the Hartsdale Canine and Animal Cemetery, Westchester County, New York."
See more about the McNally dogs at this post

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Curleys

A few weeks ago I posted this photo of Anna McNally and an unknown woman. I wonder if the woman who is standing so much like Grandma and dressed so much like her is her younger sister Elizabeth.

Bess about 1893, four or five years old

Elizabeth M. Valentine Curley was born December 9, 1888 in Brooklyn, the fourth of five children of Elizabeth Daly and John Valentine. The 1910 census found her living with her sister Anna and family in the Fort Greene neighborhood in Broklyn. She was working as an operator for the telephone company.

She married Francis Xavier Curley on June 17, 1914 and gave birth to seven children between 1915 and 1932.

She died April 2, 1940 at her home at 223 Adelphi Street in Brooklyn. She and Frank were living with her mother Elizabeth Daly Valentine. Bess died at 51 of erysipelas, a streptococcus infection of the skin. Dangerous complications from the disease included gangrene and septic shock, what they might call blood poisoning. She became ill on Easter and died shortly after. Scientists were developing penicillin and other antibiotics to fight strep diseases, but they would not be available until several years after Bess's death.

She left seven children (a daughter Joan had died soon after birth in 1930). Veronica, the youngest, was seven years old. It's likely her teenagers Marie, Joseph and Valentine were still at home. Her eldest boy Francis X (Frankie) had joined the Christian Brothers a year earlier.  Her two oldest daughters Ann and Betty were in their twenties. These children were my mother's first cousins.

Their father Frank died in 1946 at 63 years old. He had been born  in Brooklyn in 1883, son of James Curley and Mary Ann Robertson. In the 1920 and 1930 censuses he was listed as a chauffeur. At the time of Bess's death he was working for the city Public Works Department.

Bess's grandson Mark believes that the young man here is Bess's son Frankie, who entered the Christian Brothers order in 1939. He writes:
"Frank Jr. was born in 1920 (died in 1981), and he was a Christian Brother for all of his adult life.  I think he is wearing lapel pins that identify him as a Christian Brother, as he wore later in life.  With the suitcase in the foreground, I wonder if this photo may be a “going away” gathering for him, either to his studies to become a Brother or to a posting. "
Mark recognizes the man behind the suitcase as his grandfather Frank, Sr. It's possible that the woman here is Bess, in which case the photo is from before 1940.
But she really doesn't resemble Grandma. I had a memory flash about the hat that Grandma has on. We have another photo taken in May of 1943 when Grandpa and Grandma were visiting Jack at his army camp. She is wearing the same hat. So assuming our Grandmother was a woman of fashion and only wore that hat for a season or two we will have to guess that the photo above was taken after 1940. We still have no idea who the woman is.

May, 1943
written on the photo

Mark's Uncle Frank (Bess's oldest son) was known as Brother Adelbert Eugene or A. Eugene.
The photo and resume are from his funeral card, courtesy of the Sheehan photos.

Veronica Curley Haverkamp, Bess's youngest child, died this summer in Nebraska. She was Aunt Vera's cousin Ronnie. She left seven children and 23 grandchildren.

More about the hat: You may think Grandma wasn't hip but here is Rosalind Russell wearing the SAME HAT (give or take a stripe or two). The hat is part of one of the world's great movie costumes in one of the world's great movies---His Girl Friday, released in 1940. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Financial Advice

Ben and Cele on the left with friends at Wyndham

An unknown golfer in the family album

The photo of the golf gang at Finnegan's Tap Room in the last post brings back a few memories and inspiration to try a little internet research on the people in the photograph.

Here is a collage of George and Grace Walters Gerard. Vera said
 they owned the Halesite Golf Course where everyone golfed in the '40s.
It was at the top of Young's Hill.

These people were icons of my youth as they had, my father often told me, bought land on Long Island when it was CHEAP, operated the golf course there (near the Bay above) and then sold it when land was EXPENSIVE. At least this has been my memory.

Many times Ben bemoaned the fact that he'd never bought land on Long Island when it was cheap. As children we thought this marked him as rather foolish, letting that chance go by. It was certainly a mistake we would never make when we grew up.

Ad from 1914. My Dad was 4.

Were he around today I would remind him that he didn't have any money when land on Long Island was cheap, something I didn't realize until I was grown up. 

The ad below from spring 1945 in the N.Y. Times might be the time Ben had the opportunity to buy land from George. The ad for 65 acres says George will "sacrifice for less than the assessed valuation."

Ben in 1945
He had no money then and his first child was on the way.

I found out a little about George. He was a golfer, probably a sportsman in general, and he raised and judged registered English Setters and pointers. He was shot once as an innocent bystander in a hold-up. I found out more in this story from 1952, when he finally sold the land for $140,000 ($2,000 an acre).

The best thing I learned in the article was in the last 2 paragraphs:
"The Halesite golf course was laid out in the early Nineteen Hundreds by the late George Taylor and later sold for $900 an acre. About 1929 it was resold to the late C.J. Walters for $1,800 an acre. The present owner, George B. Gerard, who was Mr. Walters' son-in-law, has operated the golf course up to the present time..."
George did not buy the land cheap. He married Grace whose father owned the land. And he didn't make that much money on the land. Between 1929 and 1953 it only increased by 11 per cent.

It became the Marble Hills neighborhood. The developer advertised in 1953 that houses on 1/4 acre lots were expected to sell for $21,000 to $27,000. For those of you who don't live in Huntington I'll tell you those houses (now on smaller lots I'd imagine) go for $600,000.


Ben in 1966
I tried to follow out of my father's footsteps, but found that buying land when it is cheap is really no key to a fortune. I have myself purchased several parcels of land when land was cheap in Lawrence, Kansas and I am not rich yet. Land remains relatively cheap in Kansas. What he should have told me was to marry money.
 Huntington about 1910

As for local memories of the Halesite Golf Club and George...I did notice there is a Gerard Street in Huntington, right downtown north of Main.