My first cousin, Andy Blieden, once mentioned that he had a bunch of storage boxes that contained old family photos. He saved them from his mother’s house when he had to clean that out. Over the years, Andy and his family moved many times, but he always moved these storage containers with him.
In the fall of 2019, he and his wife, Gladis, visited me and my husband and brought the storage containers for us to look through. There were about 5 of them. Much to my amazement, he said he only brought some of them, and another time we would need to look through the rest!
I couldn’t believe my eyes when we started going through the containers. I felt like a little kid in a candy store. Here is a list of just some of the items that were in the containers, and what we learned that day:
There was my Aunt and Uncle’s, Andy’s parents, wedding album from 1948. It was such a beautiful wedding album that I couldn’t help but digitize all of the pictures. Here is an example on one:
There was a picture of Pesach Jacob (known as Jacob) from South Africa that was sent to my great-uncle Abe Blieden. Jacob turned out to be a distant cousin’s grandfather and it proved that the Bliedens stayed in touch with each other even though they settled in different parts of the world. In looking at the family tree, I was able to place Pesach Jacob on it. I emailed my Blieden contact, Naomi Rapeport, who is a distant cousin in South Africa to see if she knew anything about the photo. She guessed that Jacob was another cousin’s grandfather. She wrote to Cousin Barry Cantor and he confirmed her conjecture. Even more exciting, they had never seen this particular picture before. Exactly how were Pesach Jacob and Abe related? Their great grandfathers, Zundel Chanoch (Jacob) and Ber Blieden (Abe), were brothers. and sons of Mordkhel.
There were lots of old Harrisburg, PA, pics with our Aunt Reeve Blieden Bricker as a young girl with her PA relatives. I guessed they were all from the Handler family. Rose Handler was Reve’s oldest sister. Again, I had these confirmed with a Handler contact, Jim Greve, that I am in touch with. I met Jim via Ancestry.com as we shared the same family on our trees. Jim had been married to a great-granddaughter of Rose Handler.
We discovered that Andy’s father, my Uncle Arthur, learned about his father’s death from his landlord. Aunt Reeve’s husband, our uncle, Harry Bricker, wrote the landlord a letter and asked her to tell Arthur, who was in medical school in Cincinnati at the time of his father’s death.
There was other correspondence to Arthur from his parents, his sister, Mildred, and his brother, Bernie. We learn a lot about what their life was like during this time period and where they were living. The letters from his mother, my grandmother Gussie, were all in Yiddish, but I was able to have them translated on the Facebook Group, Tracing the Tribe.
There was a picture of Samuel Abramowitz,’ gravestone. Samuel was Grandma Gussie’s brother. This image confirmed what their father’s name was.
There were letters that my father sent to his brother, Arthur, while my father was overseas during WWII. From these letters, we learned new details about his Army experience. My father liked to write poetry and in the letters to his brother, he explains why he wrote each one of his poems. All of this was new and fascinating information.
There were also fabulous old photos of the Drosin family, which was Andy’s mother’s family.
If that wasn’t enough, in February of 2020, my husband and I visited Andy and Gladis in their home to go through the rest of the containers. In this batch, we found mostly Drosin stuff. There was a Drosin family tree and lots of old photos of my Aunt Lois as a child, and also photos of her parents and siblings growing up through the years.
However, there were also 2 old video tapes which I took to have digitized. One we knew was the video from my Aunt Lois’ (Andy’s mother’s) 80th birthday party. The other was labeled “Blieden Family Videos” but we had no idea what was on it. When we got the digitized tape back, much to our amazement, it started with wedding clips from my Aunt Lois and Uncle Arthur’s wedding in 1948. In addition, here was some kind of family dinner with Uncle Max Abramowitz. We could recognize his sisters in the clip as well as some nieces and nephews. Most of the videos, though, were of my cousins as children along with their parents, Lois and Arthur, and their grandparents, Louis and Mildred Drosin. They were so adorable and we saw them playing outside, at the beach, and at a petting zoo.
However, the best part personally for me, was a brief clip taken circa 1953 of my mother holding my hand and walking down some outside steps. I had never seen my mother in a video before and I was speechless to see this.
What’s next? I need to add all of the new information to this website. Mainly, though, we need to go back through all of the containers to make sure we didn’t miss any other treasures the first time around!