How come Arthur did not attend his father’s funeral?

Gussie Abramowitz (1884 – Feb. 22, 1967) and Harvey Blieden  (Oct. 15, 1879 – Nov. 20, 1934) are our paternal grandparents.

(Harvey’s South African travel permit)

Harvey (Harry) was the son of Aron Bliden and Hannah Wolfson (Anna Shocket) of Wenden, Latvia, outside of Riga. He grew up in a stone structure where one side was his home and the other side was the mill his family ran. (A Picture of the mill and stone house is on the Aron and Hannah page.) He was studying to be a rabbi when his father died.  He did not want to run the mill.  He first travelled to London, then to South Africa, but decided to settle in the Brooklyn, NY, area where his mother and youngest sister were. According to the US 1910 Census, Gussie arrived in the US in 1904, while Harvey came in 1906. Gussie attended Landsmanshaften Society meetings.  Landmanshaftens were clubs formed by immigrants originating from the same area and they were springing up all over NY and Brooklyn. Harvey Bliden, also known as Harry, was at one of the same meetings that Gussie attended. They started seeing each other and were married on March 5, 1909, in Manhattan. On their marriage certificate, Harry said he was 30 yesrs old living at 38 Summer Ave., while Gussie listed herself as 23 years old, living at 48 E. 107th St. Harvey and Gussie's marriage Certificate

(Gussie Abramowitz and Harvey Blieden) on their wedding day)

Gussie worked as a seamstress in a sweatshop, while Harvey went to work for his new brother-in-law, Max, in his Custom Peddler’s Business.  Later, Harvey worked for the John Hancock Insurance Company as an agent. A kind, gentle man (although his children knew him to have a terrible temper), he was no businessman.  He was supposed to collect money from his clients, but when they could not pay, he often put out his own money rather than lose an account. At first they moved around Brooklyn every few years. In 1915, they live at 201 Stockton Street.  In 1920, they had moved to 150 Thompkins Avenue. In 1930, they lived at 230 St. John’s Place.

Harvey’s  Draft Card on page 2 of the draft card Harvey was described as short, stout, with brown eyes and light grey hair

Harvey’s Naturalization Record Index

Harvey and Gussie had 5 children with 3 surviving past infancy: Arthur, Bernard, and Mildred. When the children were small, they lived in a three bedroom tenement costing $20 a month rent.  In the apartment, they had the modern conveniences of the day, such as, a coal stove, an ice box, and indoor plumbing. Their building had the usual fire escape.  They could not afford a car (that new-fangled invention) so they got around by foot, bus, trolley car, or subway which cost a nickel. During the summers, the family often went out to the country and vacationed in the Catskills.  They stayed in a Kochalein, a building where each family lived in one room and everyone shared a community stove for cooking.  The children would laugh when their father, Harvey, would call corn animal food, which it had been in Latvia. He had never seen people eat it before! The Great Depression was hard on Harvey Blieden’s family.  They had little money before and now things were ever harder.  The children were dressed in hand-me-down clothes.  Bernie worked many odd jobs to contribute to the family income.  Gussie was a good cook and saw to it that there was always food on the table.  The children were often sent to the butcher to wait for scraps like Skirt Steak, which was just thrown away in those days.  Also, they were able to get extra milk.  Miraculously, their four quart milk can actually held five quarts, so when it was filled up at the milk line they got extra!

(Gussie and Harvey)

In 1930, Harvey suffered a massive heart attack and was forced to stay at home for a few years. With his brother, Arthur, now in medical school, Bernie took on odd jobs to help out his family.  Finally the day came when Harvey was strong enough to go back to work.  He went around telling all his friends how good he felt and that the next day he’d be back at work.  He arrived home from his walk and died suddenly.  It was November, 1934. Arthur was not told of his father’s death until after he was buried. Since he was in medical school at the University of Cincinnati, Gussie did not want to disturb his concentration.           (Harvey Blieden) All through the years, Harvey had been very close to his mother, Hannah.  He was her jewel.  She died six months after his death.

(Harvey and his mother, Hannah)

To learn more about Harvey’s siblings, click here.  To learn more about Harvey’s and Gussie’s children, click here.

Although Harvey was originally buried in Mt. Judah cemetery in Queens, NY, his son, Bernie, had his headstone moved next to Gussie’s.  They are buried in the Blieden family plot in Beth-El Cemetery in Paramus NJ. Gussie and Harvey's Hebrew Names
Outstanding Research Questions:
  • Where was Harvey born