Friday, July 1, 2011

Though April showers may come your way, they bring the flowers that bloom in May.

Here is the photograph for the month of April in that 1975 Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, School District Centennial Calendar that I told you about in my last post.

Clicking on the photograph should give you a closer view.
I apologize for the blurriness, which resulted from my inability to keep my hand steady while taking a picture with my cell phone.

The man sitting in the chair at the left is my maternal great-grandfather, Max Silberman (1845 - 1914), who was born in Germany and came to America as a teenager. He opened Silberman’s Department Store in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, in the late 1870s or early 1880s. The sign on the wall next to him reads, “Gloves, Suspenders, Knit Jackets, Trimmings, Ladies & Gents Underwear At Wholesale Prices.” The woman standing next to him is probably my great-grandmother, Sarah Nusbaum Silberman (1849 - 1925), who was also born in Germany. I have seen only one other photograph of her, taken when she was much older. (If it is not my great-grandmother, it might be Max’s sister, Caroline, increasing the possibility that the next person in the picture is their brother, Henry.)

See the four young boys sitting on the curb in front of the store? The second boy from the left is, I think, Nathan Silberman, my grandfather, the son of Max and Sarah, who was born on March 21, 1875, and died on December 20, 1970. If that boy is not my grandfather, he sure looks a lot like my youngest grandson, Sam. As an adult, my grandfather played the clarinet in the Pennsylvania National Guard Band during the Spanish-American War and helped found Jenkintown’s volunteer fire department. Later he owned a real estate and insurance firm in Jenkintown for many years; my Uncle Sol Silberman continued to run it after my grandfather retired. The office was on West Avenue between the Post Office (where I met Norman Land) and the bank at the corner of Old York Road (where my cousin Philip worked during his college years). On the window in gold letters were the words, “N. Silberman and Son.”

I believe that Max, Sarah, Nathan, Nathan’s wife Rosetta Aarons (1878 - 1937), her parents Solomon Aarons (1847? - 1902) and Rachael DeWolf Aarons (1847? - 1932), and even Max’s parents, Jacob (1813 - ?) and Fannie (1823 - ?) Silberman, possibly along with other relatives of mine, are all buried in Adath Jeshurun Cemetery in Philadelphia, but I’m not sure.

After having had family members live in the same small town in Pennsylvania for well over a hundred years, not a single member of my family lives there now. We cousins have scattered to the four winds.

[Editor’s note. In no way did I mean to imply that by playing the clarinet in the Pennsylvania National Guard Band during the Spanish-American War, my grandfather helped found Jenkintown’s volunteer fire department. No, indeedy. They were two separate and totally unrelated events, and this note would not have been necessary if I had put the word also before the word helped in the sentence in question. --RWP]

[Editor’s note #2. Perhaps it also would be more accurate to say he played clarinet in the band, not the clarinet, unless it was a very small band. --RWP]

[Editor’s note #3. If the Silberman and Nusbaum families had not emigrated to the United States, their descendants would probably have been killed in a World War II concentration camp, and you would not be reading this post. --RWP]

This song (3:04) is a metaphor for happy endings everywhere.


  1. you would make a good mormon with all the geneology in this post<><><>

  2. Somewhere, I suppose, some member of my mother's or father's families have put together a family history. About all I know at present is that my father's grandfather came from Wales, and that his mother's family was Scots. Mama's side of the family was mostly English. One greatgrandmother, Maggie Dry (my grandmother's grandmother, not mine) was from Germany. She married into the English Pond family. To my knowledge, there are no photos of any of them. I think it's wonderful that you have photos, even if they are from an old calendar.

  3. Putz, I love learning about my ancestors, but I'm not baptizing any of them.

    Pat, I think it's wonderful, too! Your second sentence could have come straight out of my Dad's own mouth, something about "seven brothers from Wales" and "the Hydes of Scotland" as I recall. Now we see through a glass darkly...

  4. I'm exceedingly happy your ancestors found their way to the USA before WWII! As I am that centuries ago my mother's ancestors made their way from Germany to England.

  5. i've only baptised them all<><> of them dead for over 1,200 ancestors, but that's me not you<><>i'd be willing in your abcense to baptise all of yours

  6. Hi saw your post, could Jacob and Fanny be Grabosky? My father was Max Silberman born 1945 but named for a relative who passed away also Max Silberman. his father was Jay Silberman whose wife was Evelyn Grabosky. I believe her relatives ? Parents were Fanny and Jacob. Know it's a long shot but had to throw it out there . My father Mac was from the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia and later moved to Lower Merion area. Any chance? Thanks , Susan Scalzi (Silberman-maiden name) don't check google mail but am on Facebook if interested in further discussing. Can send me a message on there.

  7. Susan S, it's good to hear from you; welcome to my blog! My Jacob and Fanny were definitely Jacob and Fanny Silberman (in Germany it was spelled Silbermann), not Grabosky. My relatives were from the part of Germany called Bavaria (according to one of the old censuses), and from what I've heard, from around Mannheim (this despite the fact that Mannheim is not in Bavaria on current maps -- perhaps Bavaria used to be bigger). My relatives were definitely German, though. The name Grabosky seems to me to be a Russian name (because of the -sky ending; a name ending in -ski would probably indicate a Polish name). I'm sorry I can't help with your search, but I wish you good luck in finding your ancestors!