At Play In The Archive
I’m not sure why I find this 1915 picture of Emma and Wally Keil so funny, but maybe it’s because we all sometimes take things just a little too far when we play with our kids. My husband once crawled into my toddler daughter’s bedroom on all fours growling, “I’m a LION!” and she came totally unglued. Likewise, my stepdad could bring my little brothers to near tears in his guise as “the CLAW!” Consider all the children terrorized by Santa Claus or clowns every year, while the well-meaning adult bystanders giggle.
Here, it seems that a snowball fight wasn’t quite as much fun as expected.
Note the nifty wooden sled behind Wally. Now, that looks like fun.
As usual, my great-grandpa Leo seemed to enjoy the the tasks of country life. Here he is with his characteristic pipe.
This snowy house is a bit of a mystery. It isn’t the same one pictured in my last post, but the evidence all points to multiple residences on Queen Anne Road in Bogota, NJ, so I’m having a bit of trouble sorting out which house is which. See what you think, People.
Here’s a photo of the same house with Bruno Keil reading the newspaper on the front steps, Bosco the dog behind the flag, and Emma and Wally in the back right corner. I don’t recognize the man leaning against the porch railing.
Allow me to digress briefly about the flags. There’s an American Stars and Stripes on the left, and another kind of flag on the right. Without colors, it’s difficult to tell what it is. My first guess was German, but it seems unlikely that the family would be flying a German flag during WWI; then again, the U.S. didn’t enter the war until 1917, so maybe it was still OK to publicly embrace one’s German ethnic identity in 1915. The flag looks like it has a dark stripe on top and dark stripe on bottom, which would actually match any number of the German flags for the period shown on wikipedia.
Whatever the case, both Bruno Keil and great-grandpa Leo Lessiack registered for WWI service, and here too are clues about addresses.
Great-grandpa Leo registered on June 5, 1917. In his registration, he declares his intention to become a U.S. citizen. Note that Leo lives at 67 Queen Anne Road, Bogota, NJ, and his profession is listed as “Bookkeeper” employed by “Hamburg American S. Line, New York City Office, NY.”
Bruno registered on September 12, 1918, and he also declared his intent to become a U.S. citizen. His profession was “Waiter” employed by “Lord & Taylor” (fancy schmancy!) and his closest relative is Mrs. E. M. Keil, also living at 67 Queen Anne Road, Bogota, Bergen, NJ.
The 1915 Bogota Directory also lists my great-grandpa Leo (with his last name spelled incorrectly) as living at number 67.
So, maybe the house shown above is 67 Queen Anne Road? In that case, where is this house (from my earlier post), and how does number 69 come to be?
The 1920 census tells us that Bruno and Emma Keil (as well as the Engelkes) lived at number 67, but great-grandpa Leo and great-grandma Margaret lived at number 69 in 1920.
Here, again, is the picture of Baby Wally labeled “1914 July, Bogota, NJ,” and the slats on the side of the house match those on the single-family dwelling with the flags.
This evidence suggests that I might have misidentified the multi-family dwelling in my earlier post, but if this house is 67 Queen Anne Road, then where is 69 Queen Anne Road, in which Leo and Margaret purportedly lived? And, where is the mystery multi-family dwelling shown in the photo above located?
So many questions. If you have ideas, please leave a comment. Until next time, People.
I don’t think I can help with the house mystery. People just moved so often in those days, though I’d think that was less true of single family homes than it was for apartments. Isn’t it possible all the houses were somewhat similar?
There was probably anti-German sentiment even before World War I started, but there was also a lot of German pride. It must have been very hard for German immigrants when World War I broke out in 1914. Even though the US didn’t enter for three years, I have to believe there were many who saw Germany as the enemy. Maybe your great-grandfather just felt safe in his community. Or maybe it’s not a German flag!
You are right in all respects. I wish I had some color to go on.
That first photo is so wonderful! I don’t have any of the boy-child in “game-gone-wrong-meltdown” but there are some of me in that mode. 🙂
Me too, mostly with Santa, or at birthday parties that got too intense for me to deal with gracefully. I like to think I’ve calmed down some.
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I like to think I have too, but sometimes I’m not sure 🙂
Have you tried Google maps Leslie? Perhaps the frame still stands today and you will recognize it.
I think that they most likely hung the flag for nationalistic reasons.
Have you checked you their local historical society or Facebook page? You might find more info about your family or the neighborhood.
All great suggestions! Thank you.
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Hi Panch, I think the mystery snow house may be the same one that we can see the corner of in the snowball-fight-gone-wrong photo of Wally and Emma. If you look closely at the siding, the dark “skirt” and the light colored vertical window frame, there are strong similarities. Just a guess…
Yes, I agree!
I also think it’s interesting that your great-grandfather Leo, in the photo of him with his signature pipe, is using a broom to deal with the snow!
Ha! Did not notice that. Clearly a pose. 🙂
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