Saturday, January 15, 2011

sepia saturday: oh, lady be good!

if the information on the back of the photo is reliable*, today's photo was taken around 1924. the photo is of some of the woman on my maternal side of the family. my mother's parents were married in the spring of 1924, although there's no indication of whether the photo was taken before or after my grandparents married, I'm think it was taken after - as to why I think this, I'll get to that later.

the woman on the right is my mother's mother, mary who was only seventeen when the photo was taken. the other young women were her two of five new her sisters-in-law - veronica on the left and margaret in the middle. margaret was the youngest of my grandfather's five sisters and although married, she was the only sister not to have children.

so why do I think the photo was taken after mary and george married? I may be completely off base, but when I look at mary (aka nana) and veronica I think they may both have "buns in the oven" as they look a bit think in the middle. veronica was married to a fellow named kelly furnanage; they had one child, george, who was born in march 1925. nana and my grandfather, also named george, had their first child, my mother rita, in may 1925.

my grandfather's family of origin was tight knit and all remained in harwood mines to live and raise their families (although margaret and her husband, named wassiel patrick, never had children, they were very close to their 15 nieces and nephews). two of the sisters, veronica and helen, even married brothers! as I mentioned above, veronica had one son; helen had two sons.

in the spirit of full disclosure, I will mention that for a brief period the sister named mary, who married a fellow named albert (and had four children), lived in another little coal patch town named cranberry which was a whopping mile away from harwood mines! (by the way, both towns have now been subsumed by hazleton, or rather "hazle township" at least in terms of their respective mailing addresses - this was mentioned in a previous sepia saturday post)

my grandmother mary and four of her five sisters-in-law all lived well into their 80s or 90s. the oldest of the sisters, annie, who had five children - 3 girls and 2 boys - was the only one to have died prematurely; she died in her early 50s. unfortunately, the men didn't fare as well, but that is not too surprising given their occupations, their lifestyles, and the times - by today's standard all of the men died young; one died in his 40s, three in their 50s, and the remaining two in their early to mid 60s. of the fifteen offspring, five are still alive among them my mother (age 85) her brother (82); one of helen's sons; and two of mary's sons - I don't know their ages, but I expect they are all in their late 70s or 80s.

the following has been updated to reflect correct information.
the second photo was included as I believe it was is a photo of my great-grandfather, george joseph kravitz (who is called zedo) and my great-grandmother, anna ducha (who we called baba) - george and anna were both born in what was then considered the austro-hungarian empire, later their homeland was known as czechoslovakia, and today it is part of slovakia. when baba and zedo were old and frail they lived with my mother's family - yep, like I said nice and tight knit!

however the following photo is not of george and anna, in fact according to my mother she can't recall seeing any photograph of anna kravitz. the photo is actually of her maternal grandparents josef kostenik and julia pecuch kostelnik. the photograph was taken behind their home in bethlehem, pennsylvania - this explains why the house in the background looked so different to me than the kravitz house in harwood mines. here I thought it there had be some major renovation between when this photo was taken and now (yes the house still stands). but not, it was a different building. unfortunately the home in bethlehem no longer stands; however, I remember visiting the house when I was young a couple times, but I don't remember architectural details.

(no information as to the date of this photo)

*odds are excellent that the date is reliable as "around 1924" was provided to me by nana while I interviewed her when I extracting information during the photo/document rescue visit discussed in last week's sepia saturday post. the hand on the back of the photo is none other than mine.

below cliff "ukulele ike" edwards 1925 version of the 1924 hit song oh, lady be good! was written by george and ira gershwin.

if the song sounds familiar, this is not surprising, according to the portal:
The song was introduced by Walter Catlett in the Broadway show, Lady, Be Good!, written by Guy Bolton, Fred Thompson, and the Gershwin brothers, starring Fred Astaire and Adele Astaire. It ran for 330 performances in its original Broadway run. The song is also performed in the 1941 film, Lady Be Good, though the film itself is unrelated to the musical play.

A 1947 recording of the song became a hit for Ella Fitzgerald, notable for her scat solo. The song became readily identified with Fitzgerald, and she sang it many times in live performance. For her album Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Songbook (1959), Oh, Lady be Good! was sung as a ballad, arranged by Nelson Riddle.

click here for ella's version from the above mentioned album

to visit other time travelers, visit the sepia saturday blog.


Watson said...

things are looking very familiar to my human, Mouse! What fun!

Alan Burnett said...

A wonderful combination of images, words, research and music (but I expect nothing less from you Kim). One of the things I really love about Sepia Saturday posts from people who live in other countries to my own is the way in which they expand my conception of a country. Outsiders always tend to think of big places, famous places, famous people : to see the lives of people who - in the finest meaning of the word - are "ordinary" makes us see and learn so much more.

California Girl said...

I do not know whwere you came up with the audio but it's pretty funny. I lovve Fred Astaire's version of this song. He recorded a series of his movie hits with the Oscar Peterson trio back in the 50s and it's dynamite. It has been said many times by music critics, Fred Astaire's remarkable timing made up for his rather weak voice. He had the rhythm and that's what counts.

Nancy said...

I agree, I think Mary looks "thick in the middle." Great observation! I love the photo of your great-grandparents. Look at the little building in the background. Isn't it great?!

Bob Scotney said...

I loved the video - especially the shot of the four sporting ladies towards the end. What a pair of 'bloomers' for netball.

Some great pictures here from so long ago.

Lisa said...

Great family history -- and what fun putting it all together and ending with a tune for us. So interesting going through the Sepia Saturday pots visiting the ancestors that make up real history, piece by piece.

Barbara said...

What fun!- the family story, the photos, and the music. I really enjoyed it all.

Marilyn & Jeff said...

Yes, I agree with you, they do look 'thick around the middle'. Wonderful photos, this one and the the smaller one. I am fascinated by all the history that I read of in the SS posts.
Like you said in your comment on my SS post, I wish i could time travel too.

Unknown said...

I so related to this, the mines in PA, but as I may have commented before I am not sure where the Harwood mines are/were. There is a Cranberry Township currently in PA with which I'm familiar. Although my heritage is pure Polish I called my grandmother Baba and when I think of her still that is her name to me. Great tune to go with it all too!

Bruno Laliberté said...

much liking zedo and baba's picture.
thanx 4 sharing!!

Merle Sneed said...

I think if I could just give myself a nickname, Zedo would be it!