And climb the stairs to the beach...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Morning Folks-Father's Day 2009

In doing genealogy research one acquires a passion for the search and real excitement with the forks in the road that come unexpectedly. Often small historical tidbits catch my eye and off I go down a path I never expected to find. It can be just a little interesting information that surfaces when I look at the history of a town someone lived in, or an address from a census that sparks some curiosity about the neighborhood that points me off in some direction. For example, the hospital my father was born in in New York City has had me curious ever since I was a child, really, when my grandmother spoke about it as though it was a place where celebrities were born. She made it sound like it was the hospital to the stars. But, the fact is that back in the early part of the 20th century, having your baby in a hospital instead of at home was a fairly new idea and that is probably why she always seemed so proud of having her children there.

Anyway, as I started to satisfy my curiosity about the hospital in New York City, I thought that as a Father's Day tribute, it would be fun to do a little digging into a couple of other places I have identified in New York City that played a role in my father's childhood.

My Dad, Bill Hall, entered this world at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City in June of 1927. That hospital is still there and was first established as the German Hospital in 1857. It was started by a group who recognized the need for medical care for the large immigrant community there in New York City.

It is located between Lexington and Park on 77th Street.
In 1918, they renamed it Lennox Hill Hospital. Nine years later, my Dad was born there.
In 1931, Prime minister Winston Churchill was treated there afer he suffered a serious injury crossing Park Avenue when he was hit by a car.

Over the years many firsts happened here. For example, the first Physical Therapy department in the US was opened here in 1907. The first angioplasty was performed there in 1978. Early in the hospital's history 4 German-American nurses started a nurses training program there and it grew into a large and well respected nursing school. In 1969 Margaret Mead spoke at their commencement. Over the years it grew in size and reputation and became a teaching facility associated with NYU.

Many famous people have been treated there over the years, like Elizabeth Taylor, Barry Manilow and Jimmy Cagney. Joan Rivers and Sara Jessica Parker both had their babies in this hospital. Some famous folks have died there, too, such as Wendell Wilkie, Ed Sullivan and just last March, poor Natasha Richardson, injured while skiing. Enough about the hospital.

When my grandparents took little Billy home, back in 1927, near as I can tell, he was brought home to 1374 Lexington Ave. We find the family there in the 1930 census. It looks like it's 16 or 17 blocks straight down Lexington Avenue from the hospital.

Here is a link to a map showing the area and how close the neighborhood was to everything. When you get there, just type in 1374 Lexington Ave, New York City, NY and you will get a good view of it. Plus you can find pictures of buildings as well.

Here is a picture of 1374 Lexington Avenue now.

I couldn't find anything specific for that building on, a website that shows values of properties everywhere, but unit #5 at 1384 Lexington Ave, a roomy 2,907 square foot spot has a price tag of $4,232,500. They estimated on Zillow it would only cost a little less than $20,000 per month to finance it. My grandmother told me that one of her apartments back then cost $12 a month.

From the map of NYC, it looks like he lived in the upper east side only a couple of blocks from Central Park, near museums and lots of fascinating places. I know he used to love the museum of Natural History as a kid. He has told me about hanging out there.

1324 Lexington

In a 1931 NYC Directory, my Dad's family had moved to 1324 Lexington Avenue and his father's father who ran a grocery store with my grandfather lived at 1377 Lexington Ave.

Dad probably visited his grandparents here.

1377 Lexington Ave.

Here is an ad that ran in a 1925 brochure for the Park Avenue Church who were running a capital campaign at the time. This was my Dad's church where he was likely baptized. His grandparents and parents and various aunts and uncles are listed as members. The Ad is for the grocery store my grandfather and great grandfather ran at 1074-1076 Park Avenue.

Here is what 1074 Park Avenue, where Hall's Food Shoppe was, looks like today.

Here is a picture of their church from 1925:

and today. It looks like they are still doing work on that capital project

Well, I am sure there were a couple of other places Dad lived before he moved to Sudbury in 1942, but this is what I have found so far. I'll keep looking and he'll have to fill me in on some other addresses.

And here is a picture of my Dad, holding his youngest Great Grandson, Michael Anthony Hall, taken a couple of months ago.

There is a line in the movie the Amistad that I think about a lot when I do my family history research. ( And if you haven't seen that movie, you should.) But the quote is spoken by the leader of the slaves accused of leading an uprising on a slave ship in the 1830s, I think. He had been royalty in his homeland and now he was a slave going into a trial and facing death. But, even in my free, safe, fortunate life, I understand what he meant.

"We will not be going into this alone...I will call into the past - far back to the beginning of time and beg them (my ancestors) to come and help me at the judgment. I will reach back and draw them into me; and they must come, for at this moment, I am the whole reason they have existed at all".

I love the continuity found in what I discover when I research genealogy. Makes me connected and grateful for the past and hopeful for the future. Seeing my Dad holding his great grandchild and having had the privilege to have known my father's grandmother means that right now I have had direct contact with 125 years of personal family history. I think that's awesome.

But this is a Father's Day tribute, really. And leaving genealogy aside for a minute-

Dad, Happy Father's Day. I love you very much and am so grateful that you are always there when I need you, even at my advanced age! Thanks for your sense of humor and your sense of fairness and your sense of curiosity, all things I like to think I inherited to some degree; For your wisdom and for your patience. Especially thanks for keeping me on an even keel when I was headed for stormy seas and for encouraging me to take risks at times and play it safe at others. Thank you for giving me a love of music, and words and poetry, learning and laughing. And for teaching me by example to be loving and caring and how to parent my boys. For bringing all these things and more to me and to my sisters and brother, I will always be grateful. So have a wonderful Father's Day. You are the best Dad a girl could have!

And to the rest of you, I am sure you will all be thinking today of Dads who are in or have been in your lives. And maybe of your grandfathers, great grandfathers and on and on. I hope you have as much to be grateful for as I do. And for those of you who are Dads, Happy Father's Day! Play some golf. Watch a game. Eat some barbecue. Talk to your kids if you can, but whatever you do, enjoy your day! You deserve it!

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