Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, July 14, 2008

My father's photo album

Because of an e-mail I received from my niece, Lori, I'm continuing with what I know or can figure out from my father's photo album -- that meaning, the photo album devoted to my dad.

The picture is his 8th grade graduation picture. The certificate says he graduated from Grover Cleveland school on January 31, 1923. He would have just turned 15. A little old for an 8th grade graduation, but I think that during the influenza year schools were closed, and because of his mom's death, he didn't return until the next year. That last part is an assumption, not something I know for sure. I do know that schools were closed, my dad told me that. He said he was quarantined for over a month. And because the epidemic was so rampant, most gatherings, including church services, and school classes, were abated until the public health people were certain the epidemic was over.

From the pictures I can tell that he didn't wear "long pants" until he was 7 years old. What can I say, boys wore dresses back then, and I even have a picture of my father that is reminiscent of me and my sister -- he's holding a handbag!

My father's family was mostly grandparents and great grandparents. He had no siblings. His father had only one sister, who had only two children, so there really wasn't much of an extended family. And by the time I came along, the grands and great grands were passed on, and the only ones left were Uncle Harry (see his story in an earlier BLOG), his daughter Alberta (about whom I've also devoted a BLOG), and his son Herb, who I recall seeing three times in my life.

I suspect that my present girth is a gift from the Drexlers. Aunt Kathryn was quite broad, and by the middle of his life, my grandfather had expanded his waist line as well.

My grandfather (Charles Drexler) played tennis. And he was good at it. I have the trophy cup to prove it. It now holds pens and pencils on top of my father's desk in my office. See? I do recycle. And, he was the family photographer -- we get this because we have a picture of him with his tripod taking pictures. He took lots of pictures. I think all the siblings got a bunch of his pictures and when we think of it, we share with each other.

My father, and my brother, Mark, definitely resemble Louis Drexler -- my father's grandfather. And, I love looking at the old pictures and seeing my furniture or my children's furniture in the pictures. We have saved furniture from my father's homes and cherish each piece.

My grandmother, Bertha Mae Casper Drexler, must have loved acting. We have several pictures of her doing skits or acting in a play. And she always looks so happy in her pictures.

The Caspers moved down to the Jersey shore and opened a bath house -- very popular in the early part of the 20th century. They owned a whole block of shore-front real estate. The property was in Seaside Heights, NJ. And if you Google Seaside Heights, history, you can find out a little bit about the Casper Bathing Pavilion. I don't know what happened to that property. I recall dad talking about it back in the 70s when someone died, but that's all I remember about it. There are at least 10 pages of pictures of the visits my dad made to Seaside Heights. I don't recall that he ever took us down there, though. ````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````

My grandmother, Bertha, died in the influenza epidemic in 1918 as did the child she was carrying. My father was then moved in with his Aunt Kathryn (Alberta's mother). So, Alberta became his sister, so to speak.

In 1923 my grandfather, Charles, married again. He married Anna Mack. I remember Grandmother Mack. She died when I was 5. I didn't see her too often, but I do recall visiting her in Philadelphia on a couple of occasions. Her sister, Stella, was more active in our family and we all visited Aunt Stella in Philly on several occasions. We'd ride the bus, then the trolley, to get to her home. It was a two-story mansion -- at least that's what I thought about it. But then I was little. I do know it was bigger than our home in Runnemede.

I found my grandfather Drexler's birth certificate. He was born on April 24, 1882 in a house on the SW corner of Hanover and Thompson Streets, Philadelphia, to Louis and Kate Drexler. His father was a dyer. He was delivered by a midwife.

I'm going to stop for now. Information overload, you know? Ask me questions if you have them. I'll try to answer them. My daughter, Rebekah has the family Bible and that would have even more information than my photo album.



Lori said...

That's all so interesting! Thanks for filling in some of those blanks. Do you have any pictures of Louis Drexler? I'd love to see how much he looks like dad. Also, do you know what Grandpa's dad did for a living? I remember sitting down with dad and grandpa just a couple years before he died, at Aunt Debbie's kitchen table and we asked him all about school and he went through and told us who each teacher was, what they were like, and ornery things he did in school. Oh, how I wish we had written it all down!!!!!

Judi Hahn said...

I'm pretty sure your father has a picture of Louis Drexler. He's the stern looking man in your dad's album or maybe he's in one of the framed pictures. I only have a framed picture and scanning a framed picture doesn't work. Sorry.

Your grandfather's father was a postman, then postmaster at one of the Philly post offices. He retired as postmaster of the Huntingdon St. Branch.