95 Years Ago Today: WWI Pass To Paris - Treasure Chest Thursday

(Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2013 Cynthia Shenette)                    

A. P. O. 702.
December 26th 1918.
Pvt lcl Adoplph Szerejko, 1269507 has permission to be absent from this post from 9:00 AM until  10:00 PM this date for the purpose of visiting PARIS. Regulation Uniform.
Off the streets of Paris by 9 PM          H.C. Rasmussen [signature]
                                                              Commanding Officer.
                                                              Capt. Air S.

Last summer I finally emptied the last carton of stuff I saved from my mom's house after her house was sold in 2004. At the bottom of the box I found this certificate. It's a day pass giving my grandfather, Adolf Szerejko, permission to visit the city of Paris on December 26, 1918.

I couldn't believe such a small, seemingly inconsequential, scrap of paper survived in my family for 95 years!  I love it when I discover exactly where one of my ancestor's was on a particular day in history.  It's like I've been given the gift of sharing in their day from long, long ago.              

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Product Review: Saving Memories Forever

(Text Copyright (c) 2013 Cynthia Shenette)

Saving Memories Forever ( www.savingmemoriesforever.com )
     Free Membership: Free!
     Premium Subscription: $3.99 monthly / $40.00 annually

A while back the folks at Saving Memories Forever asked me to write a review of their product system for recording, saving, and sharing stories. The system consists of two parts--an app and a website. According to the the website "...the app provides great mobility for interviewing and easy uploading to a secure and private storage on the website."  There are two levels of membership--a Free Membership and a Premium Subscription.  I am evaluating the Premium Subscription for my review.

About the product: The free app is available through the Apple App Store and the Google Play store. Before I downloaded the app to my iPhone I decided to check out their website to learn a little more about the product.  The Saving Memories Forever website is neat and easy to navigate.  On the left-hand side of the screen there are three sections: Start Here; Helpful Tips; and Free vs Fee.  All three sections are helpful.  The Start Here section has easy step-by-step instructions.  I like their suggestion that I interview myself to get the basic feel for the interviewing process. Being a newbie to interviewing I also like the practical suggestions offered in the Helpful Tips section. Finally, the Free vs Fee section clearly outlines the benefits of each type of membership.

The product is essentially an audio scrapbook for saving family memories. To get started you need to downloaded the app.  A User's Manual is available, but the app is pretty simple and self-intuitive for those who prefer to jump right in.  You can create and manage multiple "storytellers" and have the option of uploading photos to each storyteller's profile.  The "Helpful Tips" section on the app is short but helpful. I like their idea for keeping stories short, five to ten minutes.

Stories are organized by storyteller.  A series of prompts are provided and the prompts are organized into broad categories: Childhood (0-12); Teenage Years (13-19); Adult (20-25); Adult (26-40); Adult (41-55); Adult (56+); Jokes; Philosophy; Religion; Other Stories and Songs.  You can create multiple stories for the same prompt.  The ten or 11 prompts in each age category are pretty basic, such as "Describe you mother and father" and "Describe your childhood home" in the Childhood (0-12) category, and "Describe your family" and "What did you like to do?" in the Adult (41-55) category. You can tag stories to make them searchable.

Saving Memories Forever allows you to share your stories with others, but anyone you share a story with must create an account before they are able to access the stories you've uploaded.  Sharing stories is a key feature of the product, but the user manual points out that you will share ALL your stories with everyone.  You can also put story notifications on Facebook to let the rest of your family know that a new story is available for listening.  At the end of a story you press a button on your phone, and your story uploads to the website.  You can use Saving Memories Forever in conjunction with Skype for interviewing family long distance and can download stories to your computer using a zip file.

The Saving Memories Forever Privacy Policy states that "..all content will be made public 100 years after the date of initial creation." I think this is important to note given that you are gathering stories from other people and that your storytellers' privacy, even a hundred years down the line, may be important to them and/or to you.

Finally, a bonus included with the product is a copy of Thomas MacEntee's Preserving Your Family's Oral History and Stories which is available with the Premium Subscription in .pdf form or as a webinar.

What do I think?  Saving Memories Forever is a nice product.  The phone app aspect of the product is particularly handy.  No special equipment is required, just your phone and your computer.  Most people have their phones on them all the time, so there isn't special equipment to remember. You put your phone down on the table, press record, and forget about it! It's that simple!

I do have a couple of suggestions though.  Before I reviewed the product I read Jennifer Wood's review of Saving Memories Forever on her Climbing My Family Tree blog. I agree with her suggestion that it would be nice to be able to add/change/customize the interview prompt questions/titles. I also hope this will be available in a product update down the line.  Some of the prompts are pretty basic and a bit limited in scope, like having the question "Who did you date/marry?" in the Adult 20-25 category and not again in any of the other adult categories.  

While you can add and search tags, it would be nice to have a tag list/cloud to select from.  I know from experience with my blog that sometimes it's hard to remember all of the tags that I have assigned my various posts over the years, and the tag list is an incredibly helpful reminder when I am looking for something specific.

What's the bottom line?  Saving Memories Forever would make a great gift for the genealogist in the family, but you don't need to limit your purchase to just gift giving or genealogists.  It would also make a great purchase for anyone with an interest in saving stories or family history. Imagine being able to listen your adult children telling stories recorded when they were young or to your grandparents' voices and stories long after they have gone. Saving Memories Forever truly has the potential to be a gift that lasts a lifetime.

[Disclosure: I was not paid for my review of Saving Memories Forever but was contacted by the company and offered free access for a year to the Premium Subscription in exchange for my honest evaluation of the product.]

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Helene, In Color AND Black and White - Those Places Thursday

(Digital Image. Photographs Privately Held By Cynthia Shenette; Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2013 Cynthia Shenette)  This is a photo of my mom's sister, Helene (Szerejko) Dingle (1923-1955), taken at Tumbleweed Guest Ranch in Westkill, New York in 1943.  Which photo do you like best, the one in color or the black and white?  It's kind of interesting comparing one to the other.  I think there are advantages to both, though I prefer the one in black and white.  The details in the black and white are more defined and the image of Helene seems more real for some reason.  The hand-colored photograph is interesting but appears harsh.  Some of the details in the background seem lost, but the colored one does pick up one interesting detail. Look closer. Helene is wearing red fingernail polish!

If you have a minute take a look at my recent post, Tumbleweed Guest Ranch, August 1943.  If your or your ancestor spent time there, especially during the 1940s, I'd love to hear from you!

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Tumbleweed Guest Ranch, August 1943

"The Gang
(Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, First Row Center)
(Digital Images. Photographs Privately Held By Cynthia Shenette; Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2013 Cynthia Shenette)

Enjoy a New Thrill - Go Western in New York
Vacation on Horseback at
"Tumbleweed" Guest Ranch
Westkill, N.Y.
Pack trips every week - Free Horseback instructions
Swimming - Archery - Ping Pong - Badminton
Social Activities, etc.
Moderate Rates - Write for Reservations Now
Directions - West Shore R.R.to Shandakin Station
Call Ranch for Pick-up

(1941 Newspaper Advertisement)

It's amazing how much information you can discover about a photo or a group of photos once you start digging.

Last week, as I was sorting through the last couple of the boxes of stuff from my mom's house, I found an amazing vacation photo album from the 1940s.  The funny thing is I vaguely remembered seeing the album at my grandmother's house when I was a kid.  I have hazy memories of sitting on my grandmother's living room couch, flipping through the scrapbook, looking at photos of my mom dressed in cowgirl clothes. Mom seemed so young.  It was hard for the ten-year-old me to contemplate my mom was ever so young. Years went by, and Gram downsized to an apartment at a nearby senior living complex, and shortly after that my parents and I moved into her old house.  Stuff got moved into the basement, and I never saw the scrapbook again.  Until last week.

The album was in the last box I opened.  Subconsciously, I must have saved the best for last!  The album, with it's nondescript brown cover, didn't look like much when I picked it up.  But when I flipped it open there they were! The photos I remembered from so long ago!

"Kris + Brownie"
(Christine (Szerejko) Shenette)
Mom use to talk about spending summer vacations at a dude ranch. Somewhere.  I thought she said New York, but I wasn't sure.  I remember the idea of a dude ranch kind of cracked me up.  It seemed so hokey, and old fashioned, almost like something you'd see in a Mickey Rooney / Judy Garland movie.  Mom loved the place!  I discovered Mom and her sister, Helene, vacationed there three years in a row.

"Helene + Cherokee"
(Helene (Szerejko) Dingle)
Thankfully someone, probably Mom, took the time to write captions to go with the photos in the album. From the captions I learned that she and Helene went to Tumbleweed during the war years--1943, 1944, and 1945. The section of the album for 1943 has almost 60 photos alone!

"Watering the horses at the creek"
(Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, Facing Camera)
Luckily, Mom took a few scenery shots, and a couple of the captions identify the Catskill Mountains.  I did a quick Google search looking for info on Tumbleweed in the Catskills.  I discovered that Tumbleweed was located in Westkill which is a hamlet of Lexington, New York.  Tumbleweed eventually became a ranch-style camp for teens in the 1960s and 1970s. There is a facebook page devoted to memories of Tumbleweed!  I also did a little newspaper research and discovered a bit of info, including the ad above.  I found ads in newspapers from New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.  My guess is my mom and her sister probably found out about Tumbleweed from an ad in one of the local papers.

"Daniel Boone Halstead"
(Mason Halstead)
What's also nice about the captions is that some of the other people at the ranch that year are identified.  The young man above is Mason "Mace" Halstead.  He appears in quite a few of the photos in my album. I have contacted possible descendants on Ancestry via their message board, so hopefully I'll learn a little more about him.  If you are related to Mace and read this I'd love to hear from you!

(Lucy and Jack Franks)
Little Lucy appears in a number of my photographs.  The man in the photo with Lucy is identified as Jack.  I discovered that a Jack Franks owned or ran Tumbleweed for a while.  I don't know if the Jack above is Jack Franks, but am in the process of contacting the Lexington Historical Society so hopefully I will find out more from them.  I do know they have some info on Tumbleweed, so hopefully I'll have more information to share in a couple of weeks.  

Saddling Cherokee"
I don't have a last name for Warren.  I think he worked at the ranch.  If you recognize him I would love to hear from you!

"The Ding Bats
fight it out"
This couple also appears in a number of my photos.  Unfortunately, they are always identified as "The Ding Bats!"  Were they guests at Tumbleweed or did they work there?

"The dunk hole"
Also included in the album were nice scenery shots, some of which were identified by captions which in turn helped to potentially identify some of the locations.

"Egg Shampoo"
(Christine (Szerejko) Shenette and Helene (Szerejko) Dingle)
A number of the photos were taken at "the falls."  After a little research, I suspect there are two sets of falls in these photos.  If you look at this video for West Kill Falls here you will see rocks that are very similar to the photo below.
"Picnicing  (sic) + Resting
At the Falls"
(Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, Reclining Top Left)
I suspect that the falls below are Diamond Notch Falls.  I found a video of Diamond Notch Falls here. What's interesting about the video is that sound is included.  While I love the black and white photos, the sound and color of the video really do give added perspective to the scene.

"The Falls"
I also checked for maps of the area.  There is a map, with hiking information and a layout of the area here.

"Diamond Notch
Several photos were taken at or near the summit of Hunter Mountain. Using the same Catskill Hiker website I was able to find a map with hiking information and a layout of the area for Hunter Mountain as well.  You can find that here.  The fire tower is shown on the map, plus there is additional information on the fire tower on Wikipedia here.  The Wikipedia article also notes a couple of books--Fire Towers of the Catskills: Their History and Lore, by Martin Podsckosch and The Catskill Forest: A History, by Michael Kudish--that might be interesting and add insight.

"Forest Ranger's
Tower - Hunter Mt."
There is also a Wikipedia article on Hunter Mountain here. What's interesting is that the Hunter Mountain summit is given at 4025 feet in the photo below, but all of the current information that I found has the height of the summit at 4040 feet.  I also love the caption on the photo below. Clearly, Warren must have been the troublemaker in the group!

"Betty, Warren, Helene
Kris + Harry
(Stop Kicking, Warren)"
(Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, Bottom Left; Helene (Szerejko) Dingle, Top Right) 
I feel incredibly fortunate that Mom took the time to write captions for all of the photos.  They are helpful for identifying people, places, and even figuring out some of the personalities involved.  I have transcribed the captions exactly as they appear in the album.

"Kris - Helene
Brownie - Cherokee"
(Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, Left; Helene (Szerejko) Dingle, Right)
While this concludes my August 1943 visit to Tumbleweed Guest Ranch I do intend to post images from 1944 and 1945 as well over the next couple of weeks.  

It was a great vacation!  See you next year!

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Happy Acres - Those Places Thursday

Happy Acres Family Resort, Middlefield, CT

(Digital Images. Photographs Privately Held By Cynthia Shenette; Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2013 Cynthia Shenette) My mom, Christine (Szerejko) Shenette always use to talk about Happy Acres Family Resort.  She and her sister, Helene (Szerejko) Dingle use to spend their summer vacations there in the late 1940s.  After Helene got married in 1948 mom still vacationed there. Mom would meet her friend, Rosalie (Wagner) Massey, at the resort. Rosalie lived in New York City so it was a nice place for the girls to meet between Worcester, Massachusetts and NYC.

Left, Christine (Szerejko) Shenette; Middle, Mary Foersta ; Left, Helene (Szerejko) Dingle
23 August 1947
Until I did a little research I had no idea where Happy Acres was located.  I knew it couldn't be too far from where my mom lived at the time in Worcester, Massachusetts.  I eventually discovered that Happy Acres was a well known resort located on Lake Beseck in Middlefield, Connecticut.  I found photos of the resort online and matched the places shown in the online photos to my photos below.

Christine (Szerejko) Shenette
Happy Acres was started by Captain Jack Sibley, a former World War I pilot, during the 1940s.  The resort started out as a fresh air camp for city kids in the 1930s.  It eventually became a family resort, finally closing in the 1970s.  I was happy to discover that there is a facebook page devoted to Happy Acres, and the facebook page is great! There is a map of the layout of the resort, as well as some great old photographs and postcard images. There is even a photo of Captain Sibley himself!  Apparently, people use to come back year after year, reuniting with other resort friends who often vacationed the same week each year.

Mom use to talk about the fun she had at Happy Acres--tennis, games, swimming.  One of her most vivid memories was of meeting Rosalie at the resort.  Apparently, Happy Acres employed an accordionist to play music as guests arrived at the resort.  My mom said on this particular day the accordionist played the song Rosalie over and over again as people arrived. When mom's friend Rosalie finally arrived at the resort the accordionist played Rosalie one more time.  Rosalie was thrilled because she thought he was playing it especially for her!

Travel back in time with me.  

Happy Acres offers...



Christine (Szerejko) Shenette

Left, Unidentified Friend; Right, Helen (Szerejko) Dingle

Left, Helen (Szerejko) Dingle; Right, Unidentified Little Friend
Fun for kids of all ages!

Left, Christine (Szerejko) Shenette; Left, Unidentified Friend
Horseback riding!

Helene (Szerejko) Dingle

Left, Helene (Szerejko) Dingle; Right, Unidentified Friend
Opportunities to make new friends!

The "Sharayko" Girls
Left, Christine (Szerejko) Shenette; Right, Helen (Szerejko) Dingle

Happy memories.

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The Week That Was, August 2, 2013 - Follow Friday

(Image from AnySnapshot.com. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0; Text Copyright (c) 2013 Cynthia Shenette) I don't usually do Follow Friday posts with a lot of links though I admire the folks who do.  While I'd love to post a faves list every week, too, the fact is I know I'd be setting myself up for failure.  It's kind of like that purple afghan I started crocheting about five years.  It's still sitting in a drawer. Unfinished.  That said, I have read some great blog posts and articles this week and had a little extra time to write a Follow Friday post, so I'd like to share. 

Copyright and foreign letters by Judy G. Russell, The Legal Genealogist

I posted a comment on one of Judy's blog posts this week, and she kindly asked if minded if she wrote a blog post based on my question.  Judy is awesome, and her response to my question solved a copyright question that I've had on my mind for a long time.  Thank you, Judy!  

My grandparents' haplogroups: N1c1 & R1a1 Y-DNA; T2b & H27 mtDNA and 75% Eastern European DNA? Sounds about right to me, by Barbara Proko, Basia's Polish Family: From Wilno to Worcester

Barbara has published a couple of amazing blog posts this past week that discuss her DNA research.  Her research and analysis are impeccable and make for a fascinating read.

Kid's don't hate history, they hate the way we teach it, by Glenn Wiebe, History Tech

The title pretty much says it all.  History is more than names and dates.  Why does teaching and standardized testing have to take the joy out of learning?  And while I'm on my soapbox...

The Problem With Summer Reading, by Carolyn Ross at The Millions

Not exactly genealogy, but on an education-related note Carolyn Ross' article pretty much sums up my thinking as well.  I'd really kind of like to say, "What she said."

Romantic Deceit Via Telegraph: How 'Catfishing' Worked in the 1880s, by Jessica Gentile in The Atlantic

A fun and interesting story about technology and romance in the 1880s.  Did I mention I met my husband on the Internet?  No, I'm not kidding.

Not Even Silicon Valley Escapes History, by Alexis C. Madrigal at The Atlantic

I'm married to a techno-geek who has done a couple of contract stints in Silicon Valley.  Sometimes history is more recent than you think.

Things You Find at Grandma's House, a slide show from Boston's ABC affiliate, WCVB

Thankfully, there aren't any plastic covered couches in my family, but you should see the Hummel collection I inherited!

How the FBI Turned Me On to Rare Books, by Natalie Zemon Davis at the New York Review of Books

A confiscated passport leads a National Humanities Medal awardee to discover a love for rare books.

In The Digital Age, The Family Photo Album Fades Away, by Heidi Glenn at NPR's All Tech Considered

I was doing great until I gave up my 35 mm camera.  Vacation photos were developed and organized in a timely manner.  You don't want to see the state of the photo folder on my hard drive these days.  What a mess...

Unsealed birth records give adoptees peek at past, AP political writer John O'Connor

Obtaining one's birth certificate is something most of us take for granted. I've done a couple of adoption/foster research projects for friends and family, and sometimes discovering the origin of a person's birth is easier said than done.

Thousands Buried Beneath Philly Playground, by Peter Crimmins

The original Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church cemetery was used for interments from 1810 to 1864 and after that a dump and a playground.  How many other places are lost (and almost) forgotten like this one?

My Fictional Grandparents, by Laila Lalami in the New York Times Magazine

Laila's mom was placed in an orphanage in Fez in 1941.  Her parents died.  Or they didn't.  A DNA test leads to more questions.  What happens when stories conflict?

Pentagon agency under fire for refusing to ID unknown soldiers from World War II, by Bill Dedman and Mike Taibbi of NBC News

Shameful.  And it's about time.  What else can I say?

100 Years Later, the Roll of the Dead in a Factory Fire is Complete, by Joseph Berger of the New York Times

I missed this one the first time around.  Not new, but an interesting read that I just discovered this week about a genealogist who identified the previously unidentified victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

That is the week that was--ending August 2, 2013.  Now, where's my crochet hook?  Cold weather is coming!

Have a nice weekend everybody!

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Chatham Light - Wordless Wednesday

Chatham Light, Chatham, MA
(Digital Image. Photograph Privately Held By Cynthia Shenette; Photograph, and Text, Copyright (c) 2013 Cynthia Shenette) Last May I had to attend a family function on Cape Cod.  While I was there I took a few photos.  The trees didn't have leaves yet, but it sure was a beautiful spring day for taking pictures.

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Picnic! - Wordless Wednesday

(Digital Image. Photograph Privately Held By Cynthia Shenette; Photograph and Text, Copyright (c) 2013 Cynthia Shenette) Summer is picnic time!  This photo was probably taken at one of St. Mary's (Our Lady of Czestochowa) parish picnics in Worcester, MA in the late 1910s.  My grandmother, Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko is the first young woman on the left.  I believe my grandfather, Adolf Szerejko, is the young man seated to her left.

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Their Flying Machines - Wordless Wednesday

Depliage des ailes
du Handley-Pagge. (aile gauche)
l'aile droite est on place.
(Digital Images. Postcards Privately Held By Cynthia Shenette; Text Copyright (c) 2013 Cynthia Shenette) My grandfather, Adolf Szerejko, served as an airplane mechanic in France during World War I.  These are a few of the postcards from his collection.  I can't help but be reminded of the movie, Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines.  The theme song for the movie is the ultimate earworm.  Listen if you dare, but don't blame me if you spend the rest of the day singing that song.

Defense et Chasse
Depart d'un
Hydravion Tellier.
un Seine
Av. Anglais.
Sopwith Camel.
Monoplace de chasse.
Av. Caudron.
apres un mauvais
Un "Gotha" capture

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Visiting The Tenement Museum in NYC - Follow Friday

Tenement Museum Visitor Center, 103 Orchard St.
(Digital Images. Photographs Privately Held By Cynthia Shenette; Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2013 Cynthia Shenette) As if last year's trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty wasn't enough, this week I got to live another dream by visiting the Tenement Museum in New York City.  I always feel that experiencing things first-hand really makes history come alive.  The Tenement Museum offers a fascinating glimpse through a window back in time.  I'd like to share my visit with you and offer a few practical tips if you decide to go.

Tip 1: Plan Ahead If Visiting With Children

My husband was working in NYC for a few days earlier in the week so my son and I decided to go along for some vacation fun in the city.  Monday we visited the American Museum of Natural History and Tuesday we visited the Central Park Zoo.  Why do I mention this?  While my kid IS interested in immigrant history after a unit on immigration at school, going with Mom to the Tenement Museum on a hot July day was not high his list of "Fun Things To Do" in the Big Apple.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, and occasionally I am forced to pull out what I've come to think of as my I-Did-Fun-Stuff-With-You-Now-Just-Make-Mommy-Happy Card. That said, you can make an enjoyable and (relatively) painless trip to the Tenement Museum with your kid or grandkid, but you need to plan right.

Tip 2: Buy Tickets Online, And Follow Tour Age Recommendations

You can buy tickets ahead of time online if you know exactly when and what tour you would like to take. Information can be found on the museum website.  There are several tour options for the building, including Hard Times, Shop Life, Irish Outsiders, and Sweatshop Workers tours.  Pay attention to the age recommendations on the tours if visiting with children. There are also walking tours of the neighborhood, and an opportunity for younger children to meet Victoria Confino, a costumed interpreter playing the part of 14-year-old Greek Sephardic girl who lived in the tenement in 1916.  Given that it was 90 degrees and humid the day we visited we made the obvious choice, the Sweatshop Workers tour.

We did not buy tickets ahead, but I did check online and tickets seemed relatively plentiful on the day we decided to go.  We visited on Wednesday which might be a slightly quieter day given it was in the middle of the week. The museum only allows 15 people on a tour at a time, because of building occupancy regulations, so if you do decide to buy tickets on site be aware that tickets may be sold out by the time you get there.

Tip 3:  Prepare for a Long Cab Ride

The museum is on the Lower East Side, on the corner of Delancey and Orchard.  It is a LONG cab ride in traffic from midtown Manhattan.  Make sure you have a snack and visit the restroom before you leave your hotel. There is a restroom on site and food options close by if you need either before or after your tour.

Tenement Museum, 97 Orchard St.
Tip 4: Enjoy the Tour!

The young woman who was our tour guide was clearly interested and enthusiastic about her job.  She began by asking us where we were all from and at the end gave people the opportunity of sharing their personal immigration stories.  During the hour-long tour she mentioned that 7,000 people lived in 97 Orchard St. over the life of the building!

Not surprisingly, the tenement was dark, close quarters and HOT. The walls were thin and you could see through cracks in the floor boards to the apartments downstairs.  Each tenement consisted of three VERY small rooms.  It's hard to imagine a family with six children living in one small apartment.  How pleasant was it for the mother of a family to walk up and down the stairs multiple times a day to fetch water from the communal pump?  I also suspect privacy in the tenements was nonexistent.

Our tour guide asked my son how old he was.  She talked about how boys my son's age and younger worked as runners in the post-Civil War garment industry to deliver piece goods to workers in tenement sweatshops around the neighborhood. She also talked about how people lived and worked in the same small tenement.  In the early days stitchers and basters worked in the front room and the a presser worked in the kitchen near the coal stove.  Hot coals were placed inside a heavy cast iron and the presser ironed garments all day, sharing kitchen space with the homemaker of the house.  The kitchen was oppressively hot as the stove ran all day, summer and winter, because the presser needed hot coals to do his job.

Tip 5: Shop 'Til You Drop!

Unfortunately, we did not have much time to look around the bookshop because we had to meet my husband back at our hotel.  If you do have the time I suspect the shop is someplace you could lose yourself for an hour (or two).  They seem to have an excellent stock of books and items about New York, immigrants, tenements and the various ethnic groups.  The Tenement Museum does have a shop online if you run out of time on the day of your visit or have a whiny, hot kid who needs a cold drink and a snack.

Tip 6: Follow the Museum on Social Media

I follow the Tenement Museum on Twitter and discovered  that they have a blog.  Interesting posts talk about the discovery of objects under the building's floorboards and elevated trains in NYC.

Tip 7: Plan a Return Visit

My husband will probably have to return to the city sometime in the next couple of months, so I'm already planning another visit.  I would love to do one of the neighborhood walking tours, perhaps on a cooler day without the somewhat bored child in tow.  My guess is that spring and fall are probably nice times to visit, and you'll miss out on the actual sweaty part of the sweatshop experience (That's a good thing unless authenticity is seriously important to you.).

A Final Word...

Everyone I encountered at the museum was pleasant, helpful, and enthusiastic, and when we got out of the museum I asked my son what he thought.  He said, "It wasn't too bad.  It was actually kind of interesting. Except it was hot." which I consider high praise from a ten-year-old boy on a 90 degree day after a museum tour. It might not have been on his Top Ten List, but I'm happy we got to experience the Tenement Museum together.

What was the worst part of our day?  Trying to flag a cab to get back to our hotel!


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