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. 

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