Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Christmas Memory

There is one Christmas event that persists from my early memories.

Frances (my mothers mother), continued to work beyond her retirement years as a Registered Nurse taking on temp nursing home positions. One afternoon while she was away from her house,  my mother, (and her only child,) decided to surprize her with a little Christmas tree.

After buying a small set of twinkling lights and a small fresh table top tree with a crossed wooden stand nailed to the trunk, my mother let herself into the empty house. With my help we proceeded to set up the little tree complete with the lights and small blown glass balls hanging from the branches.

This apparent random act of kindness was in stark contrast to the overt contempt that my mother displayed for her mother on a regular basis. And this is why the memory remains clear to me after all these years.

I loved setting up that little tree knowing that my grandmother would be so pleased to find it waiting for her arrival home.

copyright © 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Look Around the Internet

This story is about my family and one of my grandfathers, Nicholas Dozenberg. I grew up hearing confabulous stories about him from my grandmother. She was the only person that ever knew him. He left an impression on everyone that he met. He made a great splash in the American family that he married into. There was quite a flap over the subsequent public humilation and termination the marriage suffered.

Nicholas Dozenberg

He has become a legend of his own making. He is a favorite distained subject of John Earl Haynes and an object of admiration by communist and marxist sympathizers. A Soviet spy with his cover blown wide open he testified for the US government in the trial of Earl Browder and before the HUAC Committee ..... much of what is known about candelstine Soviet activites in the interwars years is because of him.

I doubt Nicholas ever thought his story would be so widely known. He died heartbroken after suffering a long debilitating illness. An internet search proves otherwise below is one site of interest.

Much of the information provided on this site was provided by this author or borrowed (without permission). The content is not necessarily endorsed by this author. As a matter of record the site claims to be run by the "Nicholas Dozenberg Family," when in fact is maintained by a single family member.

copyright © 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Lost Manuscript

I can still hear the tap-tap-tap of the portable electric typewriter keys as they struck the paper and the ding as the carriage neared the completion of another sentance ..... it was a work in progress, typing and re-typing the story that wanted to be told but Frances never finished her story.

Before the days of Xerox and Kinkos the only way to produce a copy of a typed record was to insert carbon paper behind the front sheet which would have contained the original key strokes.
Frances started working on her book the year I was expected into this world. Not too long after Elizabeth Bentley and Whittaker Chambers had both published their accounts of their lives as communists in the underground.

There was a manuscript produced, indeed there where probably two versions of the manuscript at one time and at least one was sent off for a publishers review. The manuscript was sent but was never printed or returned .... it whereabouts remained a mystery until now.
A Google search of grandfathers name a few months ago yielded a link to the unpublished manuscript.

I nearly fell off of my chair when I read the title: "Time and Chance: The Autobiography of Frances DeLawder." Having read a copy of the much rumored manuscript only recently upon the death of my mother it was more than surprizing to find it listed in the WorldCat.

After sending off a few emails in the early morning hours I was filled with anticipation. Where could this manuscript be after all of these years? The next morning I found my answer waiting in my inbox ... the manuscript landed in the library of the CIA.  It has been rumored that parts of this manuscript have been borrowed but thanks to the wonders of the internet it has been located.

Time and Chance: An Autobiography of Frances DeLawder


copyright © 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Where in the world is Warren Gordon Cantrell?

This boy was a neighbor and playmate of my mother as a toddler. He was known to have lived in the Alban Towers, Washington DC in the years 1938-1940.

See the census record here: 1940 Census Alban Towers, Washington DC

His mother Cecil Cantrell (1893 - 1980) was a frequent visitor to the warm sunny coast of California and the guest of my grandmother Frances DeLawder.

Warren Gordon Cantrell

copyright © 20110

Friday, April 23, 2010

So I Want to Write a Book

For some there falls the task of recording the family history as it can best be known. From my predecessors come individuals such as Albert Hopkins Davis who in 1927 recorded events and people in his advancing and infirmed years, and Joseph Francis Thornton who published his compilation covering generations before and as many after as he knew them in 1940. The motivation for taking on such a daunting task can be found in the very family of which they speak. For Albert he wished that descendants would know and appreciate the accomplished life his father Don Henry Davis led as a veteran of two wars and public servant. For Joseph he left the reader with the distinct privilege of coming closer to the dear Christian heart and benevolent love his mother showered on all of her children, left to raise them to maturity when his own father died a week after his birth.

As for me, it is my hope to write a version of public and private events that surrounded of my closest and most interesting relatives, my grandfather Nicholas Dozenberg and the woman he loved who was equally interesting; Frances. Her personal reputation preceded her and was left for others in the family to marvel at years beyond her death. It was no wonder that she attracted dashing, powerful, and equally charismatic men.  Her choice to become a mother at an unfashionably late stage of life was no less unique than also becoming a single mother in a social setting that was not so well equipped for the task. She cherished her only daughter and each of her grandchildren.  Her death and his absence left a vacuum that could not be filled, the loss was palpable, and for at least one, an insurmountable sum of events.

This story has its roots at least in part from family legend for more years than I will admit in public. This is a story that could only happen in America, the greatest melting pot ever created, where established families and immigrants came together in a new social context. I have read that for some descendants with ancestors of doubious character or story, they - (the descedants), end up on the "wrong side of history". It is my opinion that there is no "side" to history but rather a continium of time in history.

After spending countless hours and personal treasure on regrouping family ties and reconstructing events, my research aided by unimaginable technology in ancestors time, I will present the story as I know it. I am not an historian in the academic sense, but an appointed historian in the familial sense. And so I embark on a journey like so many other journeys in life with an unknown destination, the first task is to settle on a title of my words yet to be tied together in some fashion of readable form.

I have come up with the title after discarding several others. The final choice after much consideration is: "A Man of Family," and the title for this blog.

This is a true story that spans the globe, political philosophies and intimate personal desires, the stuff that makes up human life. I will share some of the details here. You are welcome to tag along as a trek along this path.

me with my family taken before the
final baby was born
left to right: father, Amy, David, George, Frances
(mother is the photographer)

copyright © 2010