Monday, March 22, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: My Grandmother's Parents, Creve Coeur Lake and San Bonita

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them. If you choose to join me in Amanuensis Monday and post your transcriptions, feel free to add a link to your post in the comments.

This week I continue a transcription of a family history tape recorded in 1987 between my grandmother, "Sissie" (Feinstein) Newmark, and a professional oral historian. This section begins with her talking about her father, Herman Feinstein.


Interviewer: What laundry company was he working for? At that time was he working for someone else?
Sissie: Yes. (pause) He ended up with Flint Laundry all his life.
Interviewer: And he owned it
Sissie: No, he managed it.
Interviewer: Managed it?
Sissie: He retired when he was in his forties.
Interviewer: Forties? That was lucky.
Sissie: Yeah, well he had a heart attack, several of them, and then retired and then went, because of a friend, with Batchelor Laundry, and they were really just friends, consultant, what have you
Interviewer: But he was a manager of Flint
Sissie: Yes.
Interviewer: Where was that located?
Sissie: On 4100 Finney I think
Interviewer: And there was pickup and delivery in those days?
Sissie: Yes
Interviewer: To your house
Sissie: Uh huh
Interviewer: Which was nice
Sissie: Uh huh
Interviewer: What do you know of their courtship?
Sissie: I know nothing
Interviewer: Your mom didn’t talk
Sissie: No
Interviewer: Where was their wedding
Sissie: I couldn’t even tell you that
Interviewer: Have pictures of it
Sissie: No pictures. I don’t have pictures of my own wedding
Interviewer: Oh my goodness. All right, when was it.
Sissie: Lets see now. Well, I’m 73. I guess it’s about 55 years ago, no it would have to be more than that, what am I talking about? I remember celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. I guess its about 75 years ago.
Interviewer: Two years before you were born. Were you the first child?
Sissie: No, I had an older brother.
Interviewer: So we have to go back a couple more years.
Sissie: Yeah, I’m 73, about 76 years ago. Let’s see he’s [father] been dead 23 years…
Interviewer: So it might have been 1911 let’s say
Sissie: My brother was born in 1913 and I was born in 1914, so it was about 1911 or 12
Interviewer: In St. Louis?
Sissie: Yes.
Interviewer: Your father was already in the laundry business?
Sissie: Right.
Interviewer: Was he with Flint Laundry by the time they got married?
Sissie: I don’t think so.
Interviewer: Where did they go to live? With parents, or did they have their own place.
Sissie: They had their own place, but I don’t know where it was.
Interviewer: Did your mother work
Sissie: No, never worked.
Interviewer: Not even to help him?
Sissie: No.
Interviewer: She just managed the household?
Sissie: Right.
Interviewer: Her dad you said came to live with her, but that was many years later.
Sissie: Right, that was after I was born.
Interviewer: So it wasn’t so many years later.
Sissie: Well it was when I was about 7 or 8 years old.
Interviewer: Well that wasn’t too many years. Molly had died? Your brother was born in 1913.
Sissie: Oh yea, ok. I thought you meant that was the wedding date.
Interviewer: No, we think it was about 1911
Sissie: Molly
Interviewer: Did she die?
Sissie: Oh yeah, she’s gone.
Interviewer: No, I mean, so that your dad came to live with you.
Sissie: You mean my mother’s dad. No, he was living with us before she died. She was an invalid, and she had her own place on Page Avenue somewhere on Page Avenue. Her kids were…she had a son living with her at the time, too, I think.
Interviewer: So Morris moved in with you guys.
Sissie: My mother, yeah.
Interviewer: That was nice for him. You got to know him real well.
Sissie: Yeah, he didn’t stay with us too long. He got ill, and then passed away.
Interviewer: Aww. So, your the first child was your brother.
Sissie: Right
Interviewer: And his name
Sissie: Bernard.
Interviewer: And then you were born?
Sissie: Yes.
Interviewer: Any others?
Sissie: Yes, I have a younger brother, Seymour.
Interviewer: When was he born?
Sissie: He was just 70, so he was born in 1917. No, yes it’s right.
Interviewer: What was your family like growing up?
Sissie: My family was gorgeous. Always.
Interviewer: Close?
Sissie: Always.
Interviewer: You all took care of each other?
Sissie: Yes, we were a very close family. Everybody idolized my mother and father. And my mother became Aunt Annie to everybody my father became Uncle Hermie to everybody.
Interviewer: Surrounding cousins.
Sissie: Friends
Interviewer: Neighbors
Sissie: uh huh.
Interviewer: They were warm and loving?
Sissie: Right.
Interviewer: Did your father work hard while he worked. I mean was he very busy


Sissie: He was always busy, everybody at the laundry called him Uncle Hermie. He ran the place.
Interviewer: Did he walk to work?
Sissie: No, he drove.
Interviewer: I mean, it was so far?
Sissie: Yes, he drove.
Interviewer: Did your mom drive?
Sissie: Yes.
Interviewer: What kind of car did you all have
Sissie: We had so many through the years.
Interviewer: Do you remember an early car?
Sissie: An early car? No.
Interviewer: Did your mother go to market at all?
Sissie: Oh, sure.
Interviewer: Was it in her neighborhood.
Sissie: No, she drove all over. She quit driving when my brother was in the service. She got very nervous.
Interviewer: But that was many years later
Sissie: Oh, yeah.
Interviewer: She was an independent woman?
Sissie: Oh yeah, she drove us to and from school. She drove the carpools.
Interviewer: Did you go to Forest Park as a child for picnics?
Sissie: Oh sure, but not with my family. No.
Interviewer: What did you do for outings?
Sissie: Well, we used to go to Creve Coeur Lake.
Interviewer: Did you?
Sissie: That was always a big deal with us. We’d drive as far as the Loop I think then take that, well you wouldn’t remember, that open street car
Interviewer: I heard about it.
Sissie: We used to picnic out there when I was very young
Interviewer: And that would take all day
Sissie: Oh of course, and my uncle Henry, my mother’s brother, used to have, I guess a dance hall out there.
Interviewer: Oh, my. You’d spend the evening too, come back in the dark.
Sissie: Yeah.
Interviewer: And families would go together.
Sissie: Well I used to go with my family. My mother my father my brothers. We’d go out there, and sometimes my aunt would go with her family.
Interviewer: That was special summertime.
Sissie: Right.
Interviewer: Did you have any activities in Forest Park?
Sissie: Well, as I was growing up, not with my own family.
Interviewer: Oh, but I mean did you go sledding.
Sissie: I’m sure I did, but not with my folks.
Interviewer: To the pavilion.
Sissie: Oh to the pavilion, of course, that was almost every night, but then I was going with my husband at the time.
Interviewer: Oh that was a more adult activity.
Sissie: Yeah. Our families would get together there. My family and Mel’s family were very close together.
Interviewer: Tell me about that.
Sissie: Well, I think when I first met Mel I was all of 12, and then didn’t see him for awhile. He was really a friend of my brother’s.
Interviewer: Bernard?
Sissie: Yes.
Interviewer: Where did they know each other from?
Sissie: I guess from parties. And then one day my brother said…he would sleep at our house in fact and I never even saw him, and then one day my brother said to do him a favor, and would I go out with his friend, he needed a date. And then I was all of about fifteen.
Interviewer: Still young.
Sissie: And we started going together right after my sixteenth birthday.
Interviewer: He was at Washington University by then?
Sissie: No, he had just graduated high school. He graduated in January I think, and didn’t start college until
Interviewer: Fall
Sissie: Right. And I went all through college with him, basically. I didn’t actually attend college.
Interviewer: You helped.
Sissie: I did all his work.
Interviewer: All right, so, where did you go to school?
Sissie: I went to Hempstead School until I was 9, and then we moved to Clayton.
Interviewer: Where in Clayton?
Sissie: On San Bonita.
Interviewer: And what school did you go to there?
Sissie: I went to Bellevue and De Mun and Clayton High
Interviewer: So you were an early Clayton High person.
Sissie: Uh huh.
Interviewer: Was there a difference in living in Clayton for you that you and your family than living in the city?
Sissie: No, because I knew everybody. All our friends were there. My friends. My mother’s sister lived right behind us. And my friends were all there already, so I had no problem, I used to visit there all the time anyway.
Interviewer: So that wasn’t a foreign place.
Sissie: No. We had our home…we moved from Ridge to San Bonita.
Interviewer: What 100 San Bonita?
Sissie: 6422
Interviewer: Have you seen that house recently?
Sissie: Oh sure we drove by it all the time.
Interviewer: That was a great neighborhood.
Sissie: Loved it, just loved it.
Interviewer: And you just had jillions of friends.
Sissie: Oh yeah, still friendly with some of them. Goes back a long time.


1) My grandmother's knowledge/memory of her parents' lives isn't strong, and I am aware of some inaccuracies in the information she does provide. Her father was still working at Flint Laundry (4234 Finney) at age 50, in 1936, when he filled out his Social Security application.

Her parents were married on May 26, 1912, and their first son, Bernard, was born 9 months later in February of 1913. The earliest address I have for them after their marriage is 1915, when Herman was driving a jitney taxi. They were living at 1935 Burd Avenue. Herman's parents were living at 1941 Burd.

2) It sounds strange that her grandfather and his second wife were living apart in his final years. Her grandfather, Morris Blatt, died when she was 12 years old, so if he moved in with them when she was 9, and stayed, he was there for three years. However, on his death certificate his last address is listed as 4920 Page, the same as that of his widow, who was the informant.

3) Depending upon the route, the street car ride from "The Loop" to Creve Coeur Lake would have been approximately 13 miles.

4) I knew the Feinstein and Newmark families were friendly before my grandparents got married, and I was also aware my grandfather was friends with my grandmother's older brother. However, I hadn't heard the story of their first date before.

5) I am disappointed to hear that she wasn't aware of any wedding pictures from her parents' wedding. I knew my family didn't have any, but that means my cousins are less likely to have them. There are photos from Herman's older brother, Harry's wedding.

I'm surprised there were no photos from my grandparents' wedding. My grandmother had a high school photo album. However, I have some honeymoon pictures, and other photographs from the same time period, so it's not as great a loss.

1 comment:

my Heritage Happens said...

An oral history, wow. I sure don't have anything like this in my family . I enjoyed reading this and especially your notes and corrections afterwards. I will have to find the previous post(s).