A Visit with My Grandmother
As a child I often visited my maternal grandmother, (whom my father lovingly referred to as “The Duchess!”) She was a terrific lady. She was smart, talented, and had a great sense of humor. She also could be very snobby, feeling superior to others largely because of her early American ancestors, some of whom graced her walls.
Over the couch was the handsome and obviously successful businessman Solomon Isaacs (1786-1855,) sitting on his red chair and holding his gold cane. He and his brother-in-law were leaders in the American Copper industry. On the opposite wall over the desk was Bilah Abigail Levy Franks (1688-1746,) looking very sweet in her pink lacey dress. Her letters to her son in London during the years 1733-1748 discuss family, political and social life, and to this day are a wonderful window into early eighteenth century New York City.
When I would sleepover at my grandmother’s in New York City, she would plan great activities. We would go to the zoo, feed the pigeons, eat at Schrafft’s surrounded by all the other grandmothers, and go to The Museum of the City of New York. My grandmother would lead me to the portrait gallery to introduce me to yet other family members. As a little girl, I couldn’t wait until we finished that room so that we could finally go to somewhere good–the doll house exhibition!
As I got older I learned to appreciate my genealogy as a connection to history. I found out that it is quite unusual for a Jewish family to be able to trace its roots back to before the Revolution. Today I enjoy looking at the family tree that my grandmother worked so hard on, and I appreciate leafing through the family Bible that she entrusted to me, so that I can pass it on to next generation.