Category Archives: Ancestors

Stories about the people who came before us.

Mom’s Tea Cups ©

A family’s tea cups speak to Bobbi Rankin

tea cupsThe English have a long-standing tradition of afternoon tea.  It’s a social event, a way to meet people and when the chips are down they always find comfort and stability in coming together for tea and cucumber sandwiches.

This ancient tradition was carried over the pond by my great grandmother when her daughter, my grandmother, was very young.  Their destination was a small town in Montana where they settled to live, work and raise their children.  As my grandmother established her own home and family, she made it a point to serve afternoon tea.  Serving tea in the dainty cups and saucers helped to bring to this uncivilized cowboy town, the civility and comfort this tradition represented.

My mother grew up with this tradition flowing through her veins and cherished her own cup of afternoon tea.  I can still see this dignified woman (The 1950’s Woman) holding the saucer in her left hand and with her pinkie poised, the cup in her right.   She would gaze out the window seemingly to remember the afternoon teas spent with her mother.

As the years went on and my parents left Montana to capture a new life in California, my mom brought along her cherished tea cup collection.  This collection no longer sat on an open wooden shelf in the kitchen of their Montana countryside home.  Instead, my mom created a place of honor for those precious porcelain pieces and the memories they inspired.  She purchased a tall, lighted cabinet that proudly displayed her cup and saucer collection.

My mom never lost the place a cup of afternoon tea filled in her daily life, until came the time when this tradition was replaced with jobs and family related restraints.  However, she held onto the pure enjoyment that drinking tea brought her and the place it held in the social gatherings of family and friends.

tea cupsThe day finally came when I had to decide what to do with her collection.  While I do enjoy an occasional cup of tea, I’m a coffee drinker.  When I would drink tea at my mom’s home, I’d gladly use her cup and saucer.  Anywhere else, I’m happy with a mug.  You see where this is going, I’m sure.  Literally, what am I to do with this collection?  My mom kept many things she never used.  I’m one who keeps only what I use and let others have the overflow.

I did find a solution in giving away a set to any members of our family who wanted to treasure my mom’s memory.  I too kept the set I most frequently used when sharing a cup with her.  This English tradition doesn’t flow through my veins but the memory of that time of precious civility and afternoon tea with my mom comes flowing back to me whenever I see the set sitting proudly in the corner of my kitchen, right next to my favorite mug.

photos courtesy  Bobbi Rankin

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Small Sacrifice ©

Sacrifice through a child’s eye by Cathy Reineke

sacrificeIn a spurt of independence, my seventy-year-old grandmother bought a ticket and boarded a train to see her sister for two weeks.  My stubborn German grandfather stood on the tracks, arms clasped behind his back.  He squinted as the train left the station and disappeared out of site.  He turned to my mother with disbelief in his voice and remarked, “She went.  She really went.”  My mother sighed and retorted, “And you should have gone with her.”

My grandmother agreed to go if my mother would fix my grandfather dinner.  He never learned to cook.  My mother promised he would not starve but left him to solve getting his own breakfast and lunch.  He mostly likely walked to the local dive ordering his greasy brains and eggs as he sat with all his old railroad cronies.

Each night my mother and I drove to visit him, a plateful of hot food wrapped in tinfoil carefully balanced on my eight year old lap.

On the third evening of this dinner- delivery journey, my mom asked my grandfather how things were going.  “What are you eating for breakfast?” she inquired.

“You know, I’ve been eating this new breakfast cereal I found.  It is really different.  But I have acquired quite a taste for it.  I just pour some milk on it but it’s quite crunchy”

My mother’s curiosity rose.  How could a seventy-year-old man think that Cheerios or Corn Flakes could be “really different?”

sacrifice“What is the name of the cereal, Dad?” she responded.

“I am not sure” he exclaimed as he rose from his rocker and headed toward the kitchen.  He rummaged in the cupboard and soon returned.  “It’s called Malto Meal”, he answered proudly holding up the box.

Immediately, I began to protest.  “Mom, Grandpa’s eating . . . ”

My mother quickly turned to shush me with her mom-stare.  She turned back to her dad and smiled.  “ Well, I am glad you are taking care of yourself, Dad.”  With that, she gave him a hug and directed me quickly out the door to the car.

As she started the car, I found my voice again.  “Mom, why is grandpa eating that cereal raw?”, I proclaimed with indignation.  I knew the cereal needed cooking as my father prepared it for us children each morning before school.

“He’s just making a few small sacrifices so grandma can enjoy a few weeks of freedom” my mother answered.  “Cathy, your grandmother has never been on her own vacation before so her time away is very special.  If we tell her about grandpa, she will never allow herself such a vacation in the future.  Grandpa has always been so helpless.  We just don’t want grandma to know how helpless.”

With that, my mother drove away from the curb silently laughing and shaking her head.

We did keep grandpa’s sacrifice a secret from grandma.  She never again took an independent vacation but we often heard reminiscences from her wonderful sojourn.

I am also sure my grandmother cooked the rest of the Malto Meal for my grandfather’s breakfast in the days after her return.  He happily consumed the cereal, totally oblivious to its metamorphosis.

photos by chatchavan & shinazy

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Bastille Day ©

Bastille Day is important to Shinazy

bastille dayJuly 14th is Bastille Day, a day I’ve been planning for, well, for years. I waited because I needed Bastille Day to land on a Saturday. The previous two times it did, I was unable to organize the family reunion I desired – I thought our family was too big for me to track down and arrange a gathering.

But this year, is the year!  Because, I learned, I knew every member of my family – it was just us. No unknown relative living in a town I had to research to know what state it was in. No long lost anyone.

The planning started when I was into genealogy and uncovered some facts about my great great grandparents, who came to San Francisco from France.  Julie Robinet arrived first, in 1866. She emigrated from Paris. I am unable to image how she felt. She was young, single, and unemployed; a city girl, speaking a language different than everyone else, arriving in a lawless, dirt street, frontier town. She was a brave babe.

Jean Jacque Chaine arrived later that year from Lyon. He came with buddies, this had to help him transition into his new life. He was a farmer; she owned a laundry (but that’s another story). He bought land in what is now Colma, CA, then deeded it to her 5 months later (I bet there’s another story here, too.)  My family still lives on that property – the seventh generations to do so.

I also discovered the location where they were buried. On a Bastille Day years ago, I decided to visit them. The old parts of cemeteries are difficult to navigate. I found where I thought they should be, but there was no marker, just crabgrass. I felt sad. This is all there was to commemorate the lives of two courageous people. Something had to be done and I am, after all her intrepid great great granddaughter; I can do this. And, so the idea of a family reunion on Bastille Day was formed.

I designed a stone for them. It has a french cross, called the Cross of Lorraine. I wanted a modest marker because I think they were unpretentious people, at least their daughters and granddaughters were – I knew them and that is why I decided my assessment was correct.  I put their full names, dates, and the city from where they came.  I had it made from California Granite because they choose California and it felt right.

So, now, forever after, when anyone wanders through this old part of this cemetery they will see that Julie and Jean were important and loved. I may never have met them, but I know who they were because they are me. On this Bastille Day their descendants will gather and celebrate them; I am grateful I am one of them.

photo by shinazy

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Cowboy Bill and the Ranch©

This story written by Bobbi Rankin

I still remember those long Sunday drives up the Bayshore, through the city and over the Golden Gate Bridge, on our way to the country, with the three of us sisters sitting in the backseat (without seatbelts) of our parents ’49 Plymouth.  The backseat felt huge and as we sank into the cushions, barely able to see out the windows.  Being the youngest, I saw only the sky as we rode over the bridge wanting to so badly to see the wide-open spaces of the ocean that stretch out to the west of us.  My sisters would often exclaim, “Look, I see a boat out on the bay, an unusual sight in those days.

My excitement soon overtook me and I cared less about the ocean or the boat, as we got closer to The Ranch.  The Ranch was where my cowboy Uncle Bill lived with his wife, Julie and their horses.  The Ranch is where the haylofts, buggies, horses and hammocks were beckoning me to hurry up.  As my mind swiftly began to enjoy my time there, I tried to stay calm but to no avail, annoying the heck out of my older sisters.  When we’d come to that last bend in the road, one of our parents would always say, “First one to see the house gets a pony” and we would immediately sit up, straining to look over the high front seats, wanting to be the one who gets that first glimpse of Uncle Bill’s Ranch.  I’d yell, “I see it, I see it” simultaneously with one of my sister…….” jinks, jinks you owe me a coke” she says to me as I waited in anticipation of getting out of the car and breathing in that wonderful hay and horse fill country air.  As far back as I can remember, I have always been tantalized by the smell of horses and hay.

As we climbed the big wooden stair to the front door, it swung open and there in its huge wooded frame stood my tall, rugged and good-looking Uncle, welcoming us into their home.  I was instantly engulfed with the familiar smells of leather, wood stove and wool rugs as if warm caring arms were wrapping themselves around me.  I loved that feeling.  I loved that place.  I loved being there.  I was in awe of my cowboy Uncle Bill.  Everywhere I looked; there was evidence of his personality and passions.

The simple Craftsman home fit their style and needs, two bedrooms and a bath, with an all-in-one living and dining area.  One of the first things I did upon arriving was to go look in my Uncle’s bedroom.  This bunkhouse style room was a delight for me, a one-day-only cowgirl.  The walls were paneled and hanging from them were his stirrups, holsters and a Stetsons hat.  He had a wooden bunk bed with an original Indian blanket for a cover.  Being born and reared near a Montana Reservation, the whole family was familiar to the ways and wears of the Crow and Blackfoot.  The wooded rocker atop a wood floor was the only other piece of furniture besides a small dresser.  The room spoke western, cowboy and manly.  I could just feel myself on a ranch is the wilds of Montana.  Stark is a good first impression but I could see his past and his present lifestyle all wrapped up in one.  If I was a cowgirl that day, this was my favorite room and I remember thinking that it must have smelled like a bunkhouse.

This was heaven to me or at least what I thought heaven should be or was it just that I was always so happy to be at the Ranch.  To me it felt like we had driven to another world or maybe Montana, for surely this is what Montana must be like.  I was sure the books I would read could never give me the thrills and adventures I had on the Ranch.

It was beginning to get dark as we climb back into the backseat of my parent’s car and begin our trip home.  That cowgirl was being left behind waiting for my return…..and I would return.  By the time we started over the bridge I would sit in anticipation of the foghorn as it signaled the approaching ships that the “gate’ into the bay, was near.  As we winded our way south through the city, I would slowly return to that city girl who had arrived at the Ranch just that morning.  My day-visit felt like a month, a place to become whoever I wanted to be and use my imagination in ways the city could never provide for me.  The many adventures left me tired for sure but bored, never!

photo by bobbi

WISDOM Wednesday: Two Grandmothers©

This story written by Malati Marlene Shinazy

If you are raised in a San Franciscan multi-ethnic / multi-cultural family, you automatically get an education in diverse worldviews that most people must study diligently and travel extensively to comprehend.  We had no idea that we were the recipients of a treasure trove of experience that shaped who we would become and continue to be relevant in each of our lives.

Earlier BOBB stories introduced my renaissance grandmother Pauline Josephine Robinet Chaine Kennedy Shinazy, the matriarch of our Gold-Rush pioneer San Francisco clan (see: “A Room of My Own,” “Pauline Shinazy, Artist,” and “Wonder Woman.”)  A consummate seeker of spiritual and political truths, she converted from being a French-Irish Catholic, to the follower of a Guru, to a Socialist, to a Jew.  For my tenth birthday, she gave me a copy of Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet.”  She refused my request to spend junior-year-abroad in France because she didn’t approve of Charles de Gaulle’s politics.  Still, she took me to Temple to tell me she was traveling alone to Israel immediately before, and during, the Six-Day War.  She was a brilliant, wise, artistic, and spiritually worldly woman.

My maternal grandmother, Casimira Erang Chang Pacheco Smith Price White, Nana, was more modest in her worldly pursuits.  Raised on the province of Pangasinan, Philippines, she married an African-American Army Corpsman and immigrated to the U.S. as a young woman.  After several years in Arizona and San Francisco, she found herself living as a struggling single mother of three young children.  She kept her family afloat by learning how to out-negotiate poultry and vegetable vendors in Chinatown, through the goodwill and charity of her neighbors and the local Catholic Church.  Later, she would marry and adore the man I loved as Grand Father (see Grand Father’s Little Girl).

By the time she was a grandmother, Nana was the woman into whose bosom I could cuddle when I felt sad or just needed affection — way into my 20s.  She was also the only woman I consulted as I was considering giving birth to my first child at home, rather than in a hospital.  When I asked what it was like to have a baby, she admitted,

“Oh, I could feel the baby coming, so I tucked my skirt up between my legs and ran home to get on the bed.” 

There was no need to give me verbal permission.  The naturalness of birthing a child I had intuitively suspected was confirmed by her experience.

She also encouraged me not to let my babies cry, “There’s enough time for crying in life.”  And, to breast feed them for as long as I wanted, “It’s mother’s milk.  It’s good milk.”  I received countless disapproving looks during the times I was negotiating with each of my toddlers about ending the nursing ritual.  But Nana supported me with resolve, “They will stop when they’re ready.”  And, they did.

Two grandmothers.  Two distinctly different worlds.  Two uniquely rich contributions to the person I would I become as a spiritual being, a woman and a mother.

photo by Alex E. Proimos and fradaveccs


When Past and Present Unite

A Storyn by Joy Grude

“Tell me the story about Henry and the castle… please, one more time?”  My grandmother would snuggle next to me and begin the familiar tale, one that I had heard many times before… but still reveled in its wonder!

The opening line was always the same: “My father was born in a castle in Germany…. His father was the coachman to the Baron.  “While listening intently, my imagination grew, and I quickly envisioned scenes from Cinderella, with noble ladies in flowing gowns and sparkling crowns upon their heads.  I could see stately gentlemen wearing top hats and tuxedos.  Then the enchanting bedtime story would turn dark, but this was also mesmerizing, even though I was too young to understand all the implications.

“The baron needed an heir to carry on the family name… but was unable to sire his own offspring.”  As an eight or nine year-old kid, I had no idea what she was talking about, but understood that the baron wanted a child, but nature was not cooperating.  “He asked your great-great-grandfather, the coachman, to impregnate the Baroness…”

My grandmother made this statement as though it was a common occurrence, with no sense of shame or cause for embarrassment.  No… the family myth of my ancestor’s role as a “surrogate father” – to stand in for the impotent nobleman – was proudly passed down through the generations.  We were somehow related to European royalty!

As the story goes: “the job was quickly accomplished by the virile coachman, Johann Mischke,” and thus, the young baron was born.  The coachman’s own legitimate son, Henry, was to be raised and educated alongside the young heir.  As far as anyone in the family knew, this was accepted as a true story.  Henry Mischke grew up as though he was part of royalty, and his best friend was the “young baron.”  The two boys were inseparable companions until a time came when their secret brotherhood was disclosed, resulting from gossip amongst the peasants in the community.  So the baron needed to get rid of the evidence of his impropriety… he paid for Henry’s ticket to America!

Forty years would pass before technology would make it possible to prove or disprove this wild story about a secret agreement between the baron and his coachman.  Was it really true?  And who was this baron?  No one in the family could even remember his name.  But I had to try to solve the mystery, and maybe find my long-lost relatives!

The Internet has been like a magic wand for genealogists, providing resources at our fingertips!  But the only detail I knew for sure was that the castle was called “Schloss Niederrathen” and it was located near the “Table Mountains” in Germany.  My first surprise came in 2005 when I found a photo of the castle on the Internet… and then discovered that it was actually located in POLAND!

“Am I Polish or German?”  I wondered.  No, it had been part of Lower Silesia in Germany, but the borders changed after losing the war.  All the ethnic Germans had been forcibly evicted from their Silesian homes and sent “West” as displaced persons.  Then I wondered what had happened to the baron’s family – and did they survive the war?

It would take too long to describe all the twists and turns during my research and obsession with this noble family.  But I had finally found their name!  The baron who held reign of the area during the mid-1800s was “Woldemar von Johnston,” a wealthy landowner of Scottish origin.  Hurray!  I could now put a name into the story!  Unfortunately, the family myth began to fall apart soon after that discovery.

It turned out that the baron who secretly contracted stud services of his coachman had died two years before the supposed date of the agreement.  Furthermore, he already HAD a son, Max von Johnston, who was a teenager at the time of his father’s death.  The story, as told, could not be true!  There was no need to provide an heir… a son had already existed!

I was in shock.  Was this family story a total lie, a fanciful fairytale that my great-grandfather concocted for amusement?  I wondered why he would make up such a thing, but then thought about his reasons.  After I traveled to Poland in August 2011, I acquired a sense of the culture of the old Prussian days, and this led to the formation of a new theory.

Further research will be necessary, however, to uncover the truth, and possible false identity of my great-grandfather.  Was he a noble bastard born under secrecy, or just a big liar?

In the end, it doesn’t really matter what happened 150 years ago!  The family myth has provided a lifetime of entertaining stories.  It has also led me to the living descendants of Baron Max von Johnston.  I recently found his great-great grandson who resides in the Hannover area of Germany, and he is a successful, hardworking CEO of a wildlife foundation.

“Hilmar von M.”  (name withheld for privacy) and I have corresponded by email, and we hope to meet in person next summer.  At that time, I will present him with an artifact from his ancestry.  A few months ago, I had found a 1903 bookplate with Max von Johnston’s name and family crest imprinted upon it.  Right now it is framed and displayed in my family room… but it will soon be returned to its rightful owner in Germany.

What a momentous day it will be when I hand over this token gift to the Baron’s closest living relative – perhaps a time to feel one’s history… when the past and present unite!

_  _  _  _  _

You can enjoy more of Joy’s writing by reading Scandals of the Coachman’s Son

photo by Joy


WISDOM Wednesday: Grand Father’s Little Girl

A Story by Malati Marlene Shinazy

My Grand Father was one of the most important people in my life.  He was the first man I loved and was my life teacher.  While other grandchildren called him Gramps or Granddaddy, I declared our loving attachment by providing him a designation of my choosing.  Only I would call him, “Grand Father.”

He had little formal education.  Instead, Grand Father had street smarts and tenacity.  He was a Merchant Marine during the war, then a Merchant Seaman.  He started from the lowest rungs of the hierarchy, bus boy, and rose to the level of Chief Stewart for international shipping companies.

When I was five years old, Grand Father taught me to read and write so we could correspond during the long months he was off to Hawaii, then Japan, then back again.  His letters were filled with encouragement and the unconditional love only a Grand Father could bestow his “Little Girl.”

Whenever I was fearful I couldn’t accomplish something, and some adult was suggesting I give up, Grand Father would gently scold me in a letter (gently, because he knew I cried easily),

             “ You don’t believe anything anyone else tells you. You are just as smart as everyone else, so you can do anything you put your mind to.”

Months at sea also meant months at home!  Grand Father and I had an exclusive four-note whistle salutation.  As I’d run through Nana’s kitchen asking where Grand Father was, I could hear his half of the greeting coming from outside.  Out I’d run to the top of the steps.  Stop.  Catch my Breath.  Then send my two notes.  We’d continue the volley of whistling until I located him.

Once found, I’d instantly help with whatever task was at hand.  When he’d be doing laundry, Grand Father would hand me an item of clothing from the washtub and I’d feed it through electric rollers which squeezed out excess water … before we hung it on the clothesline.

My habit was to push the hanky, sock, towel, etc., through the wringer too fast — which meant my fingers would be pulled in with the clothes and pinched between the rollers.  Fortunately, the dangerous hand-eating thing would suddenly pop open with a loud onerous sound, and stop.  Grand Father would patiently pat my smashed and reddened fingers, reminding me that I had to feed the beast slowly, carefully, and with attention not to get too close to the rollers.

I’m actually surprised I didn’t end up with gnarled, broken fingers, as inevitably five or six times in every wash cycle, I’d push something through without paying attention to impending danger… until:  “Owwwww!”  Pop!  Loud onerous sound!  And, stop!  Grand Father would give me the patient warning again – and hand me another sock.

Words and actions of unconditional love and encouragement … Grand Father would laugh if he knew how I continue to act as though I can achieve “anything I put my mind to,” despite my fingers getting pinched on occasion.

photo by Bob n Reneeand Molki

Pauline Shinazy, Artist

 This story was written by Charles Blim
In 2003, I received an email from Pauline Shinazy’s granddaughter stating I was the only site on the web referencing her grandmother.  From my research, I showed Pauline exhibiting primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

One of the exhibitions, where I discovered her name was at the prestigious 1956 Association of San Francisco Potters, held at the de Young Museum.  A few months after this initial contact with Pauline’s granddaughter, we conducted this interview to explore her grandmother’s interesting history, as a member of the American Studio Pottery Movement.

Pauline Shinazy came from a lineage of strong women.  Her grandmother left Paris, with no knowledge of the English language, to stake her claim in America.  It is no wonder that Pauline inherited these ideals of a liberated woman in a non-liberated era.  Pauline was born in 1900 in an area outside of San Francisco.  In 1910, after the family home was lost in a fire, Pauline’s mother and aunt with the assistance of a handyman rebuilt their home. The main home had the craftsman or bungalow style, but over the generations, as the family grew, it was expanded, again and again.  It is uncertain when Pauline first decided to create, but her first medium of choice was oil painting.  In the mid-1930’s, an unfortunate family accident led to Pauline’s studio being destroyed.  From this accident, she moved to the medium of pottery.
Pauline never formally studied pottery-making at an art school, and like many of potters from the Movement, she experimented in the medium to reach very desirable results.  To create pottery, Pauline built a shed, where she kept a couple wheels of differing sizes and the necessary inputs to produce ceramic art.  She also mixed her own glazes.  Her pots were primarily functional in nature, and her granddaughter recalls using them for everyday life.  The family is uncertain of the output created by Pauline, and her work should be considered rare because she was not a production potter. 

Unless Pauline was going to a social event, she always wore trousers.  Although a very sociable person, Pauline typically only shared her process of creating with her family.  With six grandchildren, Pauline stirred the creative spirit in each of them and from speaking with her granddaughter; this spirit is as fiery as the day when it was introduced by Pauline many years ago.

She was a person who was always working with her hands. Pauline created pottery until the early 1960’s, when she progressed into the medium of jewelry making.  She then ceased to create pottery.  She constructed a new addition to her pottery shed to separate her jewelry making from everything else.  It was this progression and dedication from medium to medium, which appears to be a common theme in her design. 

Although there was a period, where her work showed Native American influence, she created from a “sphere of vision,” where her design represented a unique meandering of her translation from objects in nature and everyday life.  The jewelry making was particularly memorable for her granddaughter because of the interesting hunts for different stones in California and Nevada.  The trips to Lovelock, Nevada were especially poignant because they searched for a particular stone indigenous to this area of the Silver state.

It’s not only the quality of the art but also the quality of the person I have come to know from this interview.  For me, an artist that moves from medium to medium with a very smooth shift of the gears is what I consider a desirable and rare trait of a great artist. 

As a pottery collector, I feel lucky, that Pauline chose the medium of pottery at one point to express her creative will.  I know when I discover the first Shinazy signed ceramic piece for my collection that it will not only be a quality find, but a tangible sense of the magic she created.

Charlie B. Gallery
200 E. Main St., Fernley, NV 

Editing & photo by Shinazy

The Scent of Roses

  by Joy Grude, author of Scandals of the Coachman’s Son
 I can still hear my grandmother’s husky voice, with that very distinctive New York accent, as she would describe in vivid detail magical stories of the “olden days.”  Her collection of memories were both sad and happy, with some full of mystery and intrigue.  By the time I was ten years old, I had heard all the family stories numerous times, but never seemed to tire of them.  On weekend sleepovers, I would beg to hear them again and again, knowing that they were true family legends.  My grandmother Bella recited these stories from her youth, recalling some very interesting life experiences.  One of my favorites was a mysterious tale about “the scent of roses.”
Isabella (Bella) Mischke was the middle child born to German immigrant parents, Henry and Emma Mischke, in the fall of 1898.   The family had settled in the slums of Yorkville, a poor German neighborhood of New York City. Of the couple’s ten children, only six survived into adulthood, as four of the unfortunate infants and toddlers succumbed to deadly diseases such as diphtheria and typhus.  It seemed that the lack of birth control was balanced out by the lack of medical science in those days, as childhood mortality rates were at an all-time high.  The grieving parents could only turn to their faith for comfort in coping with their losses and deep sorrow.  Bella’s mother, Emma, was a devout Catholic and prayed daily, looking up to the picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary that hung on the wall of their rundown apartment.

As the children grew up, the three girls and three boys relied on each other as playmates, best friends and confidants, as their close sibling relationship developed.  Times were tough, and they were very poor, but there were also many happy times together, including family picnics at Bronx Park, trips to the Botanical Gardens, and canoe races on the lake at Central Park.  The family always pulled together as a strong supportive unit, especially during the hard times.  When Henry had died suddenly in 1907 at the young age of 46, Emma again relied on her religion to carry her through, not knowing how she and the children would survive without their main breadwinner.  Her worries were somewhat eased when the community took up a collection and saved the family from starvation and destitution.  Never losing faith in God, Emma often spoke about life in the “hereafter.”  She truly believed that the soul lives on after death, and tried to reassure her family that they would all be together again in heaven. 
One day while sitting around the dinner table, Emma made a surprising statement to her adolescent and grown children.  “When I am dead and gone, I will send a signal to let you know that I am watching over you.”  With widened eyes, they inquired as to what her signal could possibly be.  Emma thought about it for a few moments, then remembered her favorite flower…  “I will come back in the scent of roses!”
Emma had died of natural causes in 1941, but her memory lived on.  Ten years later, the Mischke brothers and sisters, with their wives, husbands and children were gathered together on Christmas Eve at the home of the oldest daughter, Hilda, in Roselle Park, New Jersey.  It was bitterly cold on this December night of 1951, with snow falling lightly outside.  Everyone had arrived, and there was much laughter and lively conversation among the adults and children, some speaking in German if the subject was not suitable for young ears.  Suddenly there was a loud knock on the door.  They all looked at each other, trying to figure out who was missing from the party, but were bewildered.  Hilda, as the hostess, said she would answer the door, commenting as she walked away, “I wonder who it could be!”  She opened the heavy oak door that let in a gust of wind.  When Hilda returned to her guests, her face was as pale as a ghost and she kept mumbling the same words over and over.  “It was Mama… it was Mama.” With all eyes fixed on Hilda, each slowly turned their heads in amazement as a sweet smell drifted through the house.  Sniffing the aromatic air, not a sound could be heard… until someone called out softly: “The scent of roses!” – – – – – –
You can enjoy more of Joy’s writing by reading Scandals of the Coachman’s Son