Back in January, when I was packing Grandma Snail’s things for her move into a new shell, I discovered an antique portrait postcard. The postmark said Boston, Mass. Jun. 2, 1911.
It was addressed to Russia (now Poland)
Wielmozny (title along the lines of “the illustrious”) L. Fyks
Ul. (short for Ulica, meaning “street”) Nowolipie 56/42
The message appeared to be in Yiddish.
What was this postcard’s story? Mama Snail suspected it had belonged to her beloved Grandpa Hal since he was a Jew from Boston. Mama Snail thought the man in the photo might be Hal’s father, which would be somewhat poignant as she recalled they did not have a great relationship. But who knew? Hal was my great-grandmother’s third husband whom she married after Grandma Snail was grown, so you can see why the Snail Family’s knowledge was vague when it came to Hal’s family history.
When I first shared this mystery postcard back in January, (see the Jan. 14 post), a woman named Ronnie commented, identifying the man in the photo as her grandfather! Mama Snail remembered Ronnie from their childhood. What a coincidence that, so many years later, she’d stumble upon my postcard post to find a photo of her Grandpa Elias! Her father, Leo, and Hal were brothers. Leo’s 99th birthday was January 19, just a few days after I posted the postcard and Ronnie saw it. She showed it to her dad on his birthday. Imagine being 99 years-old and encountering a rediscovered photograph of your father… I’m so glad this little postcard post was a part of that.
But the mystery was not completely solved. Ronnie and I were curious to know what the postcard said. Leo hadn’t read Yiddish in years and his eyes were not what they used to be, so Ronnie asked a rabbi. The rabbi couldn’t make out the small, worn message either. Ronnie made an enlargement for him to study.
I shared this curious postcard again last month in a tribute to Boston after the marathon bombings, (see the Apr. 17 post), and I just found that two days ago, Ronnie commented on that post that she finally had a translation of Elias’ message! Someone at a recent wedding brunch was able to read it. The over-brunch translation:
“My dearest sister. I haven’t heard from you. How are you? I am well. Things are good. With love.”
It was a short and sweet correspondence to Elias’ sister with his portrait. The new mystery is how Hal came by his aunt’s postcard from Old Russia!