Tag Archives: family photos

Seven Quick Takes Friday – Alone but not lonesome edition

Seven Quick Takes Friday

How did I spend my week alone you ask?

    1. I finished a terrific book. My review (posted on Goodreads):Bee Season
      Bee Season
      by Myla Goldberg
      My rating: 5 of 5 stars
      An incredible feat of a first novel. Of a tenth novel for that matter.This is the story of a family and the secrets held by each of the members. Told over the arc of two seasons of spelling bees, the relationships between the various dyads are very finely drawn. Each family member is experiencing a kind of very personal suffering or angst, and the novel weaves their stories into a sort of coat of many colours.It is not a sad book per se, but we meet these characters as they struggle to be true to themselves with sometimes unexpected results.Highly recommended.  View all my reviews
    2. Many thanks to the Canadian Opera Company for sending out their usual pre-opera reminder with links to reading resources etc. Otherwise, I might not have realized that my second time round with Peter Grimes on Saturday starts at 4:30 pm and not 7:30. I saw it opening night when Ben Heppner was indisposed. This time, fingers crossed, he will be on stage. Seeing it with a friend who likes Heppner, but not so much Benjamin Britten. We’ll have a good discussion at dinner afterwards, regardless.
    3. It’s not all operas and orchestras around here. Sometimes what a gal needs is a few hours of concentrated lounging in front of the television. This week, as I struggled to kick this cold, I caught up on a few of my fave series and suddenly wondered “What is it that makes bad boys so attractive to women?” I mean, women who are otherwise not interested in the immoral or illicit. Even bad boys who (to me) are not that physically attractive? (Nucky Thompson in Boardwalk Empire, played by Steve Buscemi) Or those that are? (Fitz in Call Me Fitz, played by Jason Priestly.) Okay, maybe the latter is a bit easier to understand, but he’s really a nasty piece of work on the show.
    4. Carter’s Baby Gowns

      What is the matter with all these people staring (and commenting) in wonderment at Prince George in a christening gown (or “dress” as they are wont to call it?) Have they no clue? Have they never seen old photos or footage of a traditional christening? In fact, babies of both genders have been clothed in gowns for centuries. When they were newborns in the 1990s, my boys wore long gown-like sleepers that my mother had set aside from when my sibs and I were babies. They were very practical, cozy, and cute.

      Prince George in reproduction Victorian christening gown.
    5. This is why your band needs to have a tubist, not a bass player (with apologies to Michael’s flat-mate, a bass player.)

    6. My (church) choir is putting on a concert to raise funds for the restoration of the organ. It’s Friday November 1st at 8 pm at Blessed Sacrament Parish (Yonge and Lawrence W, Toronto) and we’ll be joined by the marvellous Victoria Scholars and some special guest instrumentalists. More details to follow early next week after I actually make it to a rehearsal (*sniffle). Free to attend. Donations gratefully accepted.
    7. A big happy birthday to my sister Frances who turns 15 months younger than me today!  Here we are with our parents before the baby brother arrived.

      Berkman Family, early 60s.
      Berkman Family, lets just call it the 60s.

Mystery solved!

Thanks to the good folks at e-transcriptum, I got my postcard translated, at no charge!

As I posted a couple of days ago, I have a card with a photograph on one side and Russian handwriting on the other. While googling around for translation services, I found a link to e-transciptum on Cyndi’s List, a popular genealogy portal. I filled out a form and attached scans of the card mid-afternoon. A couple of hours later, I had a response.

Here’s the text again:


A translator named Evgeniya Vasilenko sent me the following reply:

The translation is: For me dear brother Konstantin Ilshtein (Elshtien) for a good memory. A. Ilshtein (Elshtein)
Leningrad, 20th of June, 1926

I also enquired about the embossed stamp in the corner.

Stamp: The word in the center is Leningrad, the date below is 1925, October, 18 (or 28)
First line is not clear, starts with A  ends with TER. It’s name of photo studio I guess. If you need exact name I can ask some specialists.

I am absolutely thrilled to get these details. The image in the photo is my great great uncle Abraham, the brother of my great-grandfather Konstantine Elstein.

Abraham Elstein, brother of my great-grandfather Konstantine.

Could this be an ancestor?

I found this postcard amongst my late grandmother’s things, and I’ve had it around for 20 years or so, wondering if it might be her father or uncle.

SCAN0339The reverse of the card has Russian writing that I have not had translated yet.


If any of my readers can help me out, I’d be much obliged.

My grandmother, Vera Elstein, was born in 1903 in the town of Alexandrovsk, Yekaterinoslav region, Russia, now Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. She was born to a Jewish father (Konstantine Elstein) and a Russian mother (Alexandra Meznekoff) and though she was raised as a Jew, she was baptised three days after she was born at Saint Nicholas Church. She was the first of ten siblings. Two years later, possibly because of the rise of anti-semitism, Vera and her parents emigrated to Canada. A sister Nadia was born onboard ship and died during the voyage. The remaining eight siblings were born in Winnipeg, Manitoba where Konstantine worked as a teamster and cattle dealer.

Vera Elstein and her mother Sarah Meznekoff, Ottawa, 1950s.
Vera Elstein and her mother Sarah Meznekoff, Ottawa, 1950s.

Konstantine’s sister Anna married a Michael Jampolsky and they emigrated to Canada around the same time, settling in Lipton, Saskatchewan. Jampolsky was a farmer, as was his brother Kostea (short for Konstantine….). Both Anna and Alexandra (known as Sarah) named children Vera.

I have a large box of photos, and would really like to identify some of the people from my past. If someone can help me with the translation above, it would get me started.

My favourite babysitter

My favourite babysitter.

My mother met Lucille Boyer when she was asked to teach Sunday School at a Baptist mission at Preston and Carling in Ottawa. She taught from the Fall of 1949 to June of 1951, when she was interning at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. Lucille was one of her pupils, apparently something of a wild child, and they have remained friends to today.

Ottawa Civic Hospital Interns. Spring 1950
Ottawa Civic Hospital Interns. Spring 1950 – Mom is left-most in front row (seated).

Lucille often babysat us when we were young. In this photo, she and her fiancé at the time, Don Campbell, had likely taken us out one Saturday afternoon while my parents got some shopping done. In the photograph,  taken in 1962, we’re parked on the Ottawa River Parkway in front of Don’s 1958 Pontiac. Lucille is holding my sister Frances and I’m standing. She and her soon-to-be-growing family spent Christmas Day with us through much of my childhood, and she’s in the Christmas photo I posted a couple of weeks ago.

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