A New Puzzle Piece

I discovered a genealogical record today that appears to unlock several mysteries at once. I want to pose the evidence to you, my Genealogy People, to see what you think. Am I barking up the right tree? Am I missing anything obvious?

For those who have been following for a while, you know that I’ve been trying to acquaint myself with the least-documented branch of my family, the Spielmanns, my great-grandmother Margaret Spielmann Lessiack’s family of origin. I inherited a mass of photographs, most of which were unlabeled, and through a careful, two-year-long process of comparing genealogical data with the pile of photographs, I think I’ve got just about everybody identified.

Franz Georg Leopold Lessiack and Margaret Spielmann Lessiack, New Jersey, 1917. Photographer unknown.

My great-grandparents, Franz Georg Leopold Lessiack and Margaret Spielmann Lessiack, New Jersey, 1917. Photographer unknown.

This the Spielmann family, 1917. One son--possibly Erwin--is missing from this picture. Leonor peeks out from behind Fanny. Photographer unknown.

The Spielmann family, 1917. Herman and Franziska (Fanny) Spielmann had eight children. My great-grandmother Margaret (on the right) was the eldest, and the youngest, Leonor, peeks out from behind Lillian. One son — possible Erwin — is missing from this picture. Photographer unknown.

But, some mysteries remain.

Mystery #1:

As I wrote in Meet the Spielmanns:

“At first I thought there were nine children, because the 1900 census also reported a Jennie Spielmann, born in 1882, living with the family in Manhattan. However, examination of the actual document revealed Jennie to be a “sister-in-law.” Though the relationship was supposed to be listed relative to the head of the household, I think that Jennie must have, in fact, been Herman’s sister, and therefore Fanny’s sister-in-law. Otherwise, why would Jennie have the same surname as Herman?”

Why indeed?

Mystery #2:

When my mother and I both did DNA tests through 23andMe, my mother’s results revealed ~25% Jewish ancestry. We were both stunned by this revelation, because neither of us had any idea of Jewish ancestry prior to the DNA results. I pondered this discovery in The Hidden Branch, but the question remains: Where does Judaism reside in my Mom’s family tree? All of her other grandparents are quite well documented going back many generations (did you see that scroll, People?), so Leo and/or Margaret seem like the likely candidates.

Today’s Discovery

Herman and Fanny reported in the 1900 US census that they were married in Vienna, Austria in 1891. While browsing in the GenTeam European database today, I discovered a marriage record from Vienna, Austria from 1891 that I think belongs to them.

Two interesting things:

  • The record was catalogued as part of the “Index of Jewish Records of Vienna.” The Volume was called “Tempelgasse” — at least part of which, Google Translate tells me, means “temple.” (The other part of that word means “alley” which doesn’t make much sense, but there you have it. I seriously need to rustle up some German speakers.)  In any case, I think I just found my Jewish ancestors.
  • The groom was Herman Spielmann. The bride was Franziska Spielmann. Is it possible that they already had the same last name when they got married? That would explain the “Jennie Spielmann as sister-in-law” mystery mentioned above.

What do you think, People? How else might I confirm these conclusions? What am I overlooking?

When Leo and Margaret married, the ceremony was performed in the German Evangelical Lutheran Church — I have the original wedding certificate. This is the same denomination into which Leo was christened as a baby (I have his original baptismal certificate too).

Does this mean that Margaret converted? Did the whole Spielmann family convert at some point?

No shortage of mysteries here. Until next time, dear People.

Mystery Ladies, Part Deux

A few weeks back, I shared some mystery photographs that I found among my great-grandparents’ things. Here are a few more of those lovelies.

As I mentioned earlier, some of the picture are from Hamburg, where Leo grew up, but a few are from New York and New Jersey, where Leo arrived as a young man of 21 in 1912, and where he and Margaret settled. The quality of the images is so exquisite — the paper is creamy, they’re mounted on durable (and seemingly acid-free) board, and they look as if they haven’t faded at all.

If you recognize anyone, please leave a comment.

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I assume that these three women — Hedwig, Else, and Cläre — are sisters because they look rather alike. Hedwig signed the back the photograph.

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I played with Google Translate for a while to understand the inscription from Hedwig. It seems to say something like, “To your happy memories” or “To commemorate happy memories.” This is only a guess, however — alas, I don’t speak German.

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This intense young woman is identified only as “Chris” and the photo was presumably taken in 1945 at Studio Percenel in Brussels.

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“In remembrance of August, 1938, with all my love, Chris.” Now I really wonder what happened in August of 1938!

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There are two shots of this unidentified young lady, both taken at the F. Reimer studio in Hamburg, but at different times, based on her clothing.

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Here’s the second, closer view. That hairdo must have been quite something to achieve every morning, and the eyelet lace she’s wearing is so exquisite.

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This is my favorite of the mystery ladies. She looks as if she’s dressed for an adventure. Alas, there are no clues to her identity or where the photograph was taken.

In other news, I’ve been digging into that genealogy scroll, and I am in awe of what my great-grandmother Helen Hudelson Adams Yoder was able to achieve without benefit of the internet. I have no idea how she did it, but am so very grateful that she did. I’ve begun entering all the data into my own family tree and am discovering many fascinating things along the way — there’s fodder for about a million posts in there. The trick is going to be staying focused and not going off in ten directions at once. Squirrel?!?

Have a great weekend, People.

Easing Back In

Hello, People.

I’ve been on a brief hiatus due to end-of-summer madness, a busy time at work, the start of school, the search for a new vehicle, and a whole bunch of other distractions. (No, I did not overdo it celebrating the Centennial of the Panama Canal, though I did buy a round for my colleagues that day. Silicon Valley folks will celebrate anything if you provide free beer).

Happy Centennial, Panama Canal!

Happy Centennial, Panama Canal!

I’ve also been helping my friend Pauline Picchi launch her blog, which will cover the most amazing array of her Sicilian family recipes. Watch this space for more information about that project in the coming days. It will be genealogy at its most delicious (and, I think I might need new pants).

In other news, my daughter returned from Panama hand-carrying a few more treasures for the archive. The one I am most excited about is this very long, handwritten genealogy scroll prepared by my great-grandmother, Helen Hudelson Adams Yoder, who was a lifelong genealogy addict and a member of the DAR for more than 70 years.

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I can’t wait to dig into the secrets this scroll holds. I’m standing on the shoulders of giants, People.

A Personal Panama Canal Centennial

Today, August 15, 2014, is the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal.

The entire world is fêting the 8th wonder of the world today (and the internet has lots to offer on the topic), but I’m celebrating in a very personal way because four generations of my family worked on, in, beside, and in support of the Panama Canal. The Big Ditch is truly our family business — one of my People helped build the canal way back in the day, and one of my People still guides ships through the canal today.

This perspective -- facing the wrong way into a chamber at the Pedro Miguel locks -- is not a view of the Panama Canal you get unless you know someone. I know someone. I took this photo in 2011 from the deck of my Dad's tugboat, Cacique.

This perspective — facing the wrong way into a chamber at the Pedro Miguel locks — is not a view of the Panama Canal you get unless you know someone. I know someone. I took this photo in 2011 from the deck of my Dad’s tugboat, Cacique.

I’ll leave coverage of the facts, figures, maps, construction, and politics to the many excellent museums and societies dedicated to the preservation of Panama Canal history — this post is dedicated to my own Panama Canal People.

Here they are, in rough generational order.

Roger H. Adams (1879 – 1930) –  My great-grandfather, and holder of a Roosevelt Medal. Issued by executive order of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, the Roosevelt medal recognized American citizens who completed at least two years of service to the Panama Canal construction effort between May of 1904 and December of 1914. For every additional two years of service, a bar was added to the medal. Great-Grandpa Roger’s medal had two bars, for a total of six years of service during the construction era.

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My great-grandfather, Roger H. Adams

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This is not actually his medal, but you can see what it looked like. Photo credit to http://www.coins-of-panama.com/.

Helen Hudelson Adams Yoder (1890-1986) – My great-grandmother, known to the family as Mama Helen, who worked as a secretary in the Finance Bureau of the Panama Canal Company. After my great-grandfather, Roger H. Adams, passed away in 1930, Mama Helen remained in the Canal Zone, raised three children (future Panama Canal employees, all), and eventually remarried.

Helen Hudelson Adams Yoder and her three children, Robert K. Adams, Katherine Adams Lessiack, and Roger W. Adams. All worked on the Panama Canal as adults.

My great-grandmother Helen Hudelson Adams Yoder (third from left) and her three children, Robert K. Adams, Katherine Adams Lessiack, and Roger W. Adams.

Mama Helen's Canal Zone driver's license from TBD.

Mama Helen’s Canal Zone driver’s license from 1922.

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When the Goethals Memorial was dedicated, Mama Helen received special recognition along with the other remaining construction-era Old Timers.

Austin Flagel “Buck” Yoder (1917 – 1982) – Mama Helen’s second husband, and my step-great-grandfather, the one I actually knew. I’ve already written about my Pop Yoder’s extraordinary life as a jazz musician, but he also worked as a property inspector in the Accounting Department of the Panama Canal Company. He and Mama Helen were married in Pedro Miguel Union Church in the Canal Zone in 1945.

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Buck Yoder, a Panama Canal employee who could also really blow a clarinet.

Robert K. Adams (1912 – 1997) – My grand-uncle, son of Roger H. Adams and Helen Hudelson Adams Yoder. “Bob Adams” as we called him (always one word strung together) was a 2nd-generation Zonian who served as Balboa Harbormaster until he retired and moved to California with my grand-aunt Ruthie.

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Robert K. Adams, my grand uncle, and a 2nd-generation Panama Canal employee.

Roger W. Adams (1918 – 2006) – My grand-uncle, son of Roger H. Adams and Helen Hudelson Adams Yoder. My mom and I both called him “Uncle Roger Sir” for reasons I can’t remember, but the name sure stuck. Uncle Roger Sir was a 2nd-generation Zonian who served as Superintendent of the Motor Transportation Division. He and his wife Katy (below) eventually moved to Sarasota, FL, and later settled in the Seattle, WA area.

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Roger W. Adams, my grand-uncle, and a 2nd-generation Panama Canal employee.

Uncle Roger Sir doing God knows what. The Motor Transportation Division seems pretty fun, no?

Uncle Roger Sir doing God knows what.

Katherine “Katy” Schafer Adams – My grand Aunt, and the wife of Roger W. Adams. Katy taught Biology and Physiology at Balboa High School on the Pacific side of the Canal Zone for many years. Prior to moving to the Canal Zone, Katy was on the faculty of the Zoology department at the University of Florida in Coral Gables, FL.

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Katy Schafer Adams, my grand-aunt, and a science teacher in Canal Zone schools.

Katherine Adams Lessiack (1920 – 2012) – My maternal grandmother, the daughter of Roger H. Adams and Helen Hudelson Adams Yoder. Grandma Kathi was a 2nd-generation Zonian who worked as a secretary for the Panama Canal Executive Planning Staff. I owe a special debt of gratitude to her, because so many of the treasures in my archive came from her.

Katherine Adams Lessiack, a 2nd-generation Panama Canal employee. She holds my mother, Susan Lessiack Stabler, and 3rd-generation Panama Canal employee.

Katherine Adams Lessiack, a 2nd-generation Panama Canal employee. She holds my mother, Susan Lessiack Stabler, a 3rd-generation Panama Canal employee.

Robert Lessiack, Katherine Lessiack, Lew Stabler, Sue Lessiack Stabler, and Moi in the Canal Zone sometime in the early 1970's.

Robert Lessiack, Katherine Lessiack, Lew Stabler (see below), Sue Lessiack Stabler (see below), and Moi in the Canal Zone sometime in the early 1970’s.

Robert Lessiack (1921 – 1984) – My maternal grandfather. Grandpa Bob came through Panama a couple of times before officially becoming a Zonian, once as a child, and again as a USMCR officer during WWII, when he met and married my Grandma Kathi. Grandpa Bob worked in finance in the Panama Canal Administration Building, and he retired as Assistant Financial Vice President of the Panama Canal Company in the early 1970’s. He and Grandma Kathi settled in Kerrville, TX after retirement.

Katherine Adams and Robert Lessiack

Katherine Adams Lessiack and Robert Lessiack in the Balboa Union Church, CZ, on their wedding day, November 29, 1945.

Grandpa Bob and my mother Susan Lessiack Stabler. Palm trees are very special to CZ kids.

Grandpa Bob and my mother, Susan Lessiack Stabler.

Robert Lessiack, as published in The Spillway on the occasion of his retirement.

Grandpa Bob as he appeared in The Spillway on the occasion of his retirement from service to the Panama Canal.

Joseph Stabler (1916 – 1999) – My step-paternal grandfather, and a career fire fighter in the Panama Canal Fire Division at Pedro Miguel. Grandpa Joe arrived in Panama in 1944 as a Chief firefighter with the U.S. Army. Grandma Blanche was a floating receptionist working for the U.S. Army, temporarily assigned to the desk where Grandpa Joe reported for duty. Grandma was dating another fellow at the time, but the rest is history. After WWII, Grandpa Joe joined the Panama Canal Fire Division.

Joseph Stabler, my grandfather, and a Lieutenant fire fighter.

Grandpa Joe Stabler, a Lieutenant and longtime Canal Zone fire fighter.

Grandpa Joe doing community outreach. Don't play with matches, kids!

Grandpa Joe doing community fire education. Don’t play with matches, kids.

Helen “Howie” Adams Laatz – My first-cousin-once-removed, the daughter of Robert K. and Ruth Adams, and a 3rd-generation Zonian. Howie worked as an administrative assistant for the Industrial Division and also as an assistant to the Governor of the Canal Zone.

Helen "Howie" Adams Laatz, a 3rd generation Panama Canal employee.

Helen “Howie” Adams Laatz, a 3rd generation Panama Canal employee.

Gerry Laatz – Husband of Howie Adams Laatz. Gerry worked in both the Motor Transportation Division and the Electrical Division on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal.

Gerry Laatz, who worked in both the Motor Transportation and the Electrical divisions. You can tell Gerry is a Zonian because he's wearing a guayabera.

You can tell Gerry Laatz is a real Zonian because he’s wearing a guayabera.

Susan Lessiack Stabler  – My amazing mother, a 3rd-generation Zonian, and the daughter of Robert Lessiack and Katherine Adams Lessiack. Mom taught English and Life Science at Cristobal Jr. Sr. High School on the Atlantic side; I can personally attest that she was a superb teacher because I actually had her for 8th grade English. She later worked as a journalist  for Panama Canal Public Affairs, where her byline and photographs were familiar to readers of the Canal Zone’s weekly newspaper, The Spillway. She couldn’t stay away from her beloved classroom forever, though, and today she teaches English in the middle school at the International School of Panama, inspiring a whole new generation of kids.

My mom, Susan Lessiack Stabler, a 3rd-generation Panama Canal employee.

My mom, Susan Lessiack Stabler, a 3rd-generation Panama Canal employee.

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Lewis Stabler – My adored stepdad, son of Joseph and Blanche Stabler. Lew completed 40 years of service to the Panama Canal in October of 2013. His long career with the Panama Canal (which isn’t over yet) began as an usher at the Balboa Movie Theater. He later became a schoolteacher at Curundu Jr. High, an electrician with the Electrical Division, and later still, a Tugboat Master, the job he still holds today.

Lew Stabler and Sue Lessiack Stabler at Miraflores locks just after a ceremony recognizing Lew's 40 years of service to the Panama Canal.

Lew Stabler and Sue Lessiack Stabler at Miraflores locks just after a ceremony recognizing Lew’s 40 years of service to the Panama Canal in October of 2013.

Lew Stabler on the tug Morrow in the Gatun Locks.

Lew Stabler on the tug Morrow in the Gatun Locks.

Lew Stabler on the tug Cacique training the next generation of tug masters.

Lew Stabler on the tug Cacique training the next generation of Tug Masters.

Bobby Adams – My first-cousin-once-removed, son of Robert K. and Ruth Adams, and a 3rd-generation Zonian. Bobby served in the Panama Canal Construction division. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of him.

Donnie Adams – My first-cousin-once-removed, son of Robert K. and Ruth Adams, and a 3rd-generation Zonian. Donnie served as a Marine Electrician in the Industrial Division. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of him either.

Lorin Lessiack (1949 – 1974) - My uncle, son of Robert Lessiack and Katherine Adams Lessiack. Lorin was a 3rd-generation Zonian who worked in the Panama Canal Dredging Division. If you read David McCollough’s epic book The Path Between The Seas, you will quickly understand why dredging is an essential part of canal operations. Lorin passed away on August 15, 1974, a sad anniversary we also observe on this day.

Lorin Lessiack, my uncle, and a 3rd-generation Panama Canal employee.

Lorin Lessiack, my uncle, and a 3rd-generation Panama Canal employee.

John Lessiack  – My uncle, son of Robert Lessiack and Katherine Adams Lessiack. John is a 3rd-generation Zonian who worked in the Canal Zone Schools carpentry shop, for a Smithsonian scientist researching Panama core samples, and on Barro Colorado Island at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Station studying frogs, tadpoles, and their predators.

John Lessiack, a 3rd-generation Panama Canal  employee.

John Lessiack, a 3rd-generation Panama Canal employee.

Baby Moi, Lorin Lessiack, Susan Lessiack Stabler, and John Lessiack, Balboa Heights, Canal Zone, 1967.

Here are baby Moi, Lorin Lessiack, Susan Lessiack Stabler, and John Lessiack, in Balboa Heights, Canal Zone, 1967.

Frank Stabler (1941 – 2010) – My uncle, son of Joseph and Blanche Stabler, and 2nd generation Panama Canal employee. Frank worked in Canal Protection.

Frank Stabler, at work in Canal Protection.

Frank Stabler, 2nd generation Panama Canal employee, at work in Canal Protection.

John Stabler – My uncle, son of Joseph and Blanche Stabler, and 2nd generation Panama Canal employee. John worked as a Canal Zone Police officer and continues to do business in Panama today.

John Stabler, 3rd generation Zonian, and a Canal Zone Police officer.

John Stabler, 2nd generation Panama Canal employee, and a Canal Zone Police officer.

Francis Stabler Meyer – My aunt, daughter of Joseph and Blanche Stabler, and a 2nd generation Panama Canal employee. Fran started with Pan Canal as a movie theater usherette, and later worked as a clerk for both the Administration Division and the Transportation Division.

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Francis Stabler Meyer, 2nd generation Panama Canal employee.

Ron Meyer – My uncle, husband of Fran Stabler Meyer. Uncle Ronnie began his Pan Canal career as a movie theater cashier, and later became an electrician in the Electrical Division. He eventually became Lockmaster at Gatun, Pedro Miguel, and Miraflores locks. No ships got through unless Uncle Ronnie let them through.

Ron Meyer as a young Panama Canal apprentice.

Ron Meyer as a young Panama Canal apprentice.

Craig Meyer – My cousin, son of Ron Meyer and Fran Stabler Meyer, and a 3rd generation Panama Canal employee. As a teenager, Craig held a Student Assistant job at the Tugboat office in Diablo for one summer. Hey, it counts. Like me, Craig now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Craig Meyer, 3rd generation Panama Canal employee.

Craig Meyer, 3rd generation Panama Canal employee. however briefly.

Pancho, aka Leslie Griffin Robertson – Daughter of Susan Lessiack Stabler and stepdad Lewis Stabler, and a 4th generation Panama Canal employee. While it feels a little silly to list myself among all these folks who had long, honorable careers in the service of the Panama Canal, I did hold a Student Assistant job in the Housing Division office prior to college. So, if Craig’s legit, I’m legit.

Also, like any good CZ girl-brat, I put up with having a Pollera portrait taken per my mother's fond wishes. Don't I look happy about it? Traditiooooon...Tradition! Traditiontiooooooooooooooon!

Moi, 4th generation Zonian and Panama Canal employee. Like any good CZ girl, I (barely) tolerated having a Pollera portrait taken per my mother’s fond wishes.  Traditiooooon…Tradition!

And there you have it, my own personal Panama Canal centennial. I leave you with a line from the speech that Theodore Roosevelt made to the assembled Panama Canal force in Colon, Republic of Panama on November 16, 1906. It’s worth noting that Roosevelt’s visit to Panama marked the very first time a U.S. President made an overseas trip while in office. It was that important.

“You are doing a work the like of which has not before been seen in the ages, a work that shall last through the ages to come.”

And the work goes on.

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Here I am with my Dad, Lew Stabler, at the construction site of the new Panama Canal Expansion project in October of 2013. Maybe Lew will get to steer ships through these locks too.

Happy 100th birthday, Panama Canal, and a happy centennial to all of my People who made it sing.

Mystery Ladies, Part One

Here are some beautiful mystery friends of my great-grandparents, Leo and Margaret Lessiack.

Earlier, I published the mystery children’s portraits I found among their things, and later there will be some mystery men’s portraits, along with a few group shots. Some of these picture are from Hamburg, where Leo grew up, but a few are from New York and New Jersey, where Leo arrived as a young man of 21 in 1912, and where he and Margaret settled. The quality of the images is so exquisite — the paper is creamy, they’re mounted on durable (and seemingly acid-free) board, and they look as if they haven’t faded at all.

People, may I present to you… the mystery ladies.

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Although the message is written in German, the photograph is signed E. Hocffle, Bogota NJ (where my great-grandparents lived). I tried running the words in the message through Google Translate but didn’t get anything meaningful. Any German speakers out there who can help?

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This beauty was definitely photographed in Hamburg by the Willy Wilcke studio. Date unknown.

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Here’s another image of the same lovely young woman. Based on the clothing, I assume that this image was taken on the same day as the previous image.

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This image is also from Hamburg, but by Atelier Ideal. The writing on the back indicates that it was taken in 1914. I can’t make out the rest of the handwriting, unfortunately. Can any of you, readers?

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"Xmas 1923 To Gretie - With Love, Eleanor"

This sultry Miss was photographed in New York by the Sarony Inc. studio. The message on the back says “Xmas 1923 to Gretie – With Love, Eleanor.” I suspect that Gretie is actually my great-grandmother, Margaret Spielmann Lessiack.

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Here is the studio mark on the folder in which the image above was stored.

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“Lest you forget me. With all my love, Minna.” There was no studio mark on this image, so I don’t know where or when it was taken. She is wearing quite an elaborate costume, isn’t she?

More mysterious ladies to come. Stay tuned.

 

Heirloom Love

Happy Sunday, People. This busy weekend was mostly devoid of genealogy and writing time, but I wanted to share the results of a project I’ve been working on for a while. I’m so delighted with how it turned out.

After my grandmother, Katherine Adams Lessiack, passed away, I came into possession of a pair of oak Danish Modern chairs that had a lot of happy associations from early childhood, when my great-grandfather Leo was still living. Here we are, sitting in one of those chairs.

On the back of the photo in my grandmother's hand: "Early March, 1973." I'm on the left, and my cousin Jenny is on the right.

On the back of the photo in my grandmother’s hand: “Early March, 1973.” I’m on the left, great-grandpa Leo is in the center, and my cousin Jenny is on the right.

And, here you can see one of the chairs themselves a little bit better.

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The interior of my grandparents’ house in Balboa Heights on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal Zone. Great-grandpa Leo lived in New Jersey, but often came for extended visits to the Canal Zone when I was a little girl.

By the time the chairs came to me in the summer of 2012, the brown cushions had been replaced with cushions covered in a very 1970’s goldenrod yellow, no doubt very stylish when my grandmother picked it out, but now much stained and worn with use. When I got them back to California, I tried dyeing the covers in my washing machine, but the result was a perfectly ghastly baby-poop greenish brown. So much for that, though we did live with it for longer than I care to admit. Also, the cushions inside the now-hideous covers desperately need to be replaced, as did the webbing on the chair frame underneath them.

I replaced the webbing myself, which was not all that difficult, but the cushions required professional help. This turned out to be much more costly than I expected. So, I saved my pennies for a couple of years (this project is a model of delayed gratification), my aunt Toni contributed two very nice inner-spring seat cushions that fit perfectly, and then I ordered custom foam for the backs, which are an unusual tapered shape and consequently not a candidate for anything off the shelf. But what to cover them with?

Even cushion covers are expensive, People. After collecting a few bids, I realized that we would live with these covers for a very long time. I became paralyzed with indecision. Will this fabric look dated in a few short years? Will I get sick of of that pattern? Will the fabric withstand the vicissitudes of dog and cat use? (The dog wouldn’t dare when we are home, but when we’re not, all bets are off.) Then, I came across this pattern:

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“That looks for all the world like a mola,” I thought. Molas are the extraordinary and spectacular handiwork of the indigenous Kuna people of Panama. Like many Zonians, I have a large collection of molas and a very special place for them in my heart.

Lo and behold, the name of the pattern turned out to be Sunbrella “Kuna Sand” — it was meant to be! Sunbrella is a nearly indestructible fabric meant for outdoor use, so it would stand up to pet abuse. The pattern wouldn’t ever look dated because molas are timeless, and I knew I wouldn’t get sick of it because I’m a mola nut from way back. Perfect! So, I bit the bullet, wrote the check, and waited.

Ta da.

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Two years in the making, but I’m so very happy with the result. I think that Grandma Kathi, Grandpa Bob, and Great-grandpa Leo would be too. It’s a modern look, but a nod to our Panama heritage as well. These are very special chairs, so it was worth the wait to get them just right.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, dear People.

A Little Piece of My Childhood in Panama

My Aunt Fran sent me this lovely short film from Nowness celebrating Panama’s incomparable Diablo Rojo buses.

While I didn’t ride the buses much as a kid, I always enjoyed looking at them, especially to check out the different girlfriends’ names painted under every window. Later, when I was learning to drive on the mean streets of the Atlantic side, I came to fear them too. They were buses on a mission, so look out!

Photo courtesy of http://locationpanama.com/

Photo courtesy of http://locationpanama.com/

The buses were ubiquitous rolling works of art, now consigned to the dustbin as Panama moves its transportation infrastructure into the 21st century. This film, which features artist Andrés Salazar, is beautifully and lovingly done, and it really gives you a sense of the art and the pride embodied by these buses.