Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Starting With Aunt Bea

A MyHeritage Journey: The journey doesn't actually start with Aunt Bea. It starts with Abq Jew's father, Richard Yellin z"l, who built and shared our Family Tree.

Dad built the tree using an ancient version of Family Tree Maker, and regularly sent out multi-page printouts of his updates.

Dad passed away in 2007 (his yahrzeit was just this week), and left Abq Jew (among many, many other wonderful and valuable things) a Family Tree with 646 leaves on its branches.

Which Abq Jew was able to export as a GEDCOM file (genealogists will understand) and upload to
Millions of families around the world use MyHeritage to create their family tree and make instant, meaningful discoveries about their ancestors. With access to all the major record archives and the most internationally diverse collection of family trees, exciting discoveries are at the touch of a button. 
The site makes it easy for users of all levels to uncover their roots with minimal effort and preserve their family story for future generations. The site is available in more than 40 languages.  
Once you’ve created your family tree, our Smart Matching™ technology will alert you of other possible relatives, helping you discover other family members.

After which, Abq Jew did nothing with the Family Tree for a few years. Until PBS started showing Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Watching a few episodes inspired Abq Jew to see what he could do with his father's Family Tree.

Oh - and about that Smart Matching™ technology. What it means is that MyHeritage searches while you sleep and/or live your life for folks in other people's Family Trees or in public records who match or appear to match folks in your Family Tree.

And presents its finds for you to OK - or not. MyHeritage thus helped Abq Jew build out his Family Tree - from Dad's original 646 people to more than 3,600.

Which brings us to Aunt Bea, who will (Ken O'Hara, knock wood) celebrate her 90th birthday on December 29th.

Now, growing up, Abq Jew didn't know much about Aunt Bea - except that she was married to Uncle Abe, and was the mother of cousins Marty and Eleanore.

Abq Jew saw (from MyHeritage) that her maiden name (as we used to call it) was Levinsky, and called up Eleanore to see what more she knew about other relatives.

Let the genealogy games begin.

It turned out that Eleanore knew a fair amount, which, being cousins, we had (of course) never discussed. And which she related, and which Abq Jew added to the Family Tree. Whereupon Eleanore asked

Did you know that my Mom and Ronnie Gilbert
were best friends back in the day?
And that Ronnie wrote about my Mom in her memoir?

Yes, The Weavers' Ronnie Gilbert, who left this world on June 6, 2015. Abq Jew immediately bought and read Ronnie Gilbert: A Radical Life in Song from cover to cover. And here (in part) is what Ronnie Gilbert says about Aunt Bea.
It was in Brighton Beach that I found a true best friend: cheerful, witty, and bouyant Beatrice Levinsky. Throughly Jewish Beattie (she hated "Beatrice") was the perfect tonic for my over-serious, self-conscious, Waspish, socially-shy self.  
She was curious and amused at my life experience in goyishe Queens. I admired her poise, her happy rootedness in the culture of Brighton Beach, and her stories about helping with her mother's kosher catering business - preparing buffets and waiting tables to earn an allowance.  
She admired my "interest in politics," as she termed my concern with the lost Spanish Civil War, my worship of the volunteer American soldiers who fought for the Loyalist cause, and my worry about the Spanish refugee children. 
"How do you know about these things?" she asked. "Oh, I read the Daily Worker," I bragged, although what I spouted was mostly parroted back from adult conversations. 
Lounging on her bed or mine, Beattie and I always had something to talk about. We were growing up with the rise of the big bands, and we jitterbugged and lindy-hopped ourselves silly ... 
"Your voice is better than Helen Forrest's, Ronnie, You should be singing with a big band," insisted Beattie, my first avid fan, her encouragement feeding my dreams of going on the road with Tommy Dorsey. 
And after a summer's separation -
With so much to tell Beattie, I could hardly wait to see her again. But as it turned out, Beattie wasn't much concerned about my problems with the Hitler-Stalin Pact, and she was only slightly interested in my theatrical adventures at camp. 
Because that summer, Beattie had discovered boys.

Ronnie Gilbert's obituary in The New York Times tells us
Ronnie Gilbert, whose crystalline, bold contralto provided distaff ballast for the Weavers, the seminal quartet that helped propel folk music to wide popularity and establish its power as an agent of social change, died on Saturday in Mill Valley, Calif. She was 88. 
The death was confirmed by her partner, Donna Korones.

Which brings us to Great Grand Mama,
who celebrated her 92nd birthday in June.

Great Grand Mama is Abq Jew's beloved mother-in-law. And - surprise! - it turned out that she, too, was keeping a Family Tree for her father's family, the Orings.

Great Grand Mama did not create the Oring Family Tree. The outstandingly extensive and intensive R&D work was done by her grandfather's half brother's granddaughter Linda Lou Samuels z"l, who passed away in 2011 - before (chaval) Abq Jew started work with his Family Tree.

Abq Jew worked diligently, and, in a few full days, was able to add 200+ leaves from Mom's multi-page printout of Linda Samuels' Family Tree into MyHeritage.

Which brings us back to Ronnie Gilbert and Donna Korones.

The New York Times, you'll recall, mentioned Donna Korones as Ronnie Gilbert's 'partner.' It was more than that. The obituary concludes with
Ms. Gilbert’s marriage ended in divorce. She is survived by her daughter, Lisa, and a granddaughter. 
Ms. Gilbert, who lived in Mill Valley, Calif., is also survived by her partner, Ms. Korones, who was her manager and business partner for many years. 
They were married in 2004 in San Francisco during a brief period when the mayor, Gavin Newsom, opened City Hall to same-sex weddings; theirs and some 4,000 other marriages were later declared invalid by the California Supreme Court.
And of course Ronnie Gilbert wrote about Donna Korones (and Donna's family) in her memoir.
Settling into my seat for my flight to Minneapolis, the first leg of the 1984 H A R P (Holly Arlo Ronnie Pete) Tour, I was not happy. Holly [Near] should have had the adjoining seat, and I was looking forward to the opportunity to be alone with her so we could evaluate our collaboration with Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie. 
Instead, I found myself sharing the armrest with Donna Korones, a woman I barely knew anything about other than that she and her family had hosted Holly during H A R P rehearsals in New York City.
By the time we landed in St Paul, I was seriously smitten with the intelligence, wit, and lively mouth of Ms Donna Korones and wished I could close it sweetly with a kiss. 
That's nice, Abq Jew hears you say. But -

What has that got to do with the price of tea in China?

Well ... As Abq Jew was working diligently to input the Oring Family Tree, he had noticed a Donna Korones on one of the branches. He wondered: Could this be the Donna Korones in Ronnie Gilbert's memoir?

And while we're asking questions -
Why did Abq Jew notice? 

  1. Because, in a sea of Rosenfields, Orings, and Kellermans, the Korones family name was distinctive enough to catch Abq Jew's attention. 
  2. Because, in a sea of Sarahs, Annas, and Elizabeths, Donna's first name and her daughter's - Harlene - were distinctive enough to catch Abq Jew's attention. 

MyHeritage put it all together. Abq Jew turns out to be Harlene's great-grandfather's half brother's granddaughter's son-in-law.

And perhaps more germane to our story - Aunt Bea turns out to be Donna Korones' grandfather's half brother's granddaughter's son-in-law's uncle's ex-wife. Here's how:
  1. Belle Braunstein is the mother of Donna Korones.
  2. Solomon (Sam) Oring is the father of Belle Braunstein,
  3. Alter (Zalman Manes) Oring is the father of Solomon (Sam) Oring.
  4. Lieber (Louis) Oring is a son of Alter (Zalman Manes) Oring.
  5. Abraham Oring is a son of Lieber (Louis) Oring.
  6. Great Grand Mama is a daughter of Abraham Oring.
  7. Mrs Abq Jew is a daughter of Great Grand Mama.
  8. Abq Jew is the husband of Mrs Abq Jew.
  9. Roselyn (Rose) Yellin is the mother of Abq Jew.
  10. Uncle Abe is a brother of Roselyn (Rose) Yellin.
  11. Aunt Bea is an ex-wife of Uncle Abe.
Therefore - stay with Abq Jew - because Ronnie Gilbert was (briefly) married to Donna Korones, Aunt Bea was (also briefly) not only Ronnie's girlhood best friend, but also - let's just say a 'distant relative.'
In other words

We've come full circle.

Aunt Bea
Ronnie Gilbert
Donna Korones
'Cousin' Harlene
Alter (Zalman Manes) Oring
Great Grand Mama
Mrs Abq Jew
Abq Jew
Mom & Dad
Cousin Eleanore
Aunt Bea

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