Archive for the ‘HERITAGE’ Category

Movie Still #3 from Home Movies

Friday, February 22nd, 2013


Nobody misses Beverly. It’s all about Brenda. I just don’t understand it sometimes. Can you believe Bev is gone 13 years this August already. Maybe that’s why. It was so long ago. Pretty soon your existence on this planet becomes nothing. Unless you are a president or a celebrity. Unless you are leaving something important behind, like a legacy of inventions or books.
One hundred years ago our great grandfather struggled everyday with making ends meet for eleven children. He had hundreds of different relationships with family and friends. He walked down the streets of Jersey City to the German butcher to talk in his native language to the people that worked and hung out there. In his mind this world that he knew and loved would be here forever and in the back of his human thoughts maybe he would be here forever too. New technology to him was cars going down the street, photography, indoor plumbing and electricity. Now the entire family is dead. All their everyday worries, heartaches and triumphants don’t mean a blessed thing anymore. Think about how minuscule your deepest desires will be in one hundred years. Some freckle-faced little future cousin of ours will be looking at a photo of you posing with your large family from Carteret, New Jersey and thinking, “He’s dead now. I wonder what concerned him in 2013?”

Soon the breeze you feel pushing against your face as you walk down your sidewalk, surrounded by your own technology friends and family will make you smile at the simple joys of being alive. You carry a phone in your pocket and you have almost three hundred friends in your combined social networks. Your Great Grandfather had chickens in his yard and you buy your chicken already cooked at a place called KFC. Did you ever look at old photographs and wonder just WHO those people were? Are they still alive? What kind of life did they have? Was it happy?

The human experience.

The human experience.

What Number Am I Thinking Of?
I believe in ghosts, UFO’s, the after-life, angels and God. I used to believe in magic until my brother Gregory actually “became” a magician. He collected magic tricks and purchased them at a “Magic Store” I think in Westfield NJ. We got most of our cool stuff from downtown Westfield. He paid a lot of money for this magic because basically he was paying, not for the props but for the “secret” of how this magic trick worked. This is why I don’t believe in magic anymore. It’s not magic. They are all tricks and delusions. I was very disappointed when I saw all this in my closet that Greg and I shared.
This was the same closet where my brother collected Charlie McCarthy dolls. There were seven of these dolls “living” in our closet. I saw all the magic tricks and their secrets. The hidden doors and collapsable boxes.

For the record Greg had a few great moments as a magician. He may seem quiet and a little anti-social but once during one of Beverly’s three weddings (maybe it was the denim one with John Morgan the ex marine and steel worker) that Greg performed one of his best magic shows. It was magnificent. I remember people actually saying “oooooohhh” and “aaaahhhhhh” after one of his tricks. This was the last night that I ever believed in magic.

If You Believe In Ghosts…
pepBoys…then Joan, Carol and Fred are sitting on the empty table next to you in the dimly lit bar. They are giving you Keno numbers written on Pep Boy match book covers. You wonder why the numbers aren’t all winners. You can’t see a ghost of course but sometimes if the light from a mirror bounces off a wall at the right angle… I do believe in the other dimension, the one right in front of you. The one defined by quantum physics. There is no present, past or future there. Smoking their fucking brains out and lining up cans of Bud and shots of Rock and Rye. The lushes they were, they will always be and hoping that this time in upside-down-land they might finally feel the buzz. Joanie as she is known here, would do anything to fall and break her leg (again) and feel the pain because you can’t feel anything in that ghost dimension. Who can forget Mom laying in the dark middle room in agonizing pain from her sciatica. Sciatica can be induced with pregnancy. My mother was very good at pregnancy. In a micro moment they are walking with Rebel down the property line of 2850 Pioneer 9th street.
“I just can’t fucking believe it.” Rebel says over and over again.
“I just can’t fucking believe it!” as he walks a straight line down the outskirts of his property. He looks down at this imaginary line and paces to the northwest corner. Stops. Turns left. Then continues down the invisible line.
“That fucking Butch. That god-damn son of bitch fucking no good Butch!”
“Where’s my property?? Son of a bitch!!”

dummyThere were moments when I fantasized living there. It was always sunny and there were cows and horses everywhere. A perfectly symmetrical cornfield. Chickens clucked during the long hot days and rooster woke me up at 4:30 in the morning. Kryha told me that the cows are a lot of hard work but they are worth it. The froth at the top of fresh warm milk in a bucket is supposed to splendid. Perhaps even containing secret ingredients to good health and a long life. (I’ve never had it) Technically I was the only homeless man that actually owned a home and property in the whole world. It was one of aunt Carols greatest last wish in this life here in the non-other-dimension that the property remain in the family. Greg tried. Then nothing. Truth is the place is better off with someone to take care of it. To give it the love and attention that it needs. Nethertheless I failed greatly. Carol doesn’t care much but Rebel has been trying to kick the shit out of me for the past month. He is stalking me with this southern rage. I find his beard hairs on the bathroom floor. I feel the whiplash of the breeze every time (six or seven times a day) he tries to punch me in the face. His ghost arm goes right thru me. So the ghosts of our heritage past watch over us, speak to us in German in our dreams, they toast to our upcoming deaths with Irish whiskey.

James Fredrick Gill our cousin keeps in touch with me since we rediscovered his and his sisters existence again on the cute social network FaceBook. Basically we text one-liners to each other during the football season and exchange cool emails. This has been a great find in my life. I am really grateful for the internet in this respect. His love and knowledge of sports is ferocious and he has turned out to be quite a great dad and person. Since our reunion he always stretches out his arms in invitation and tells me that there is a free room waiting for me and Kryha in Ohio. All we have to do is get there. This invitation has become relentless. In the beginning it was nice and then it started to piss me off. It made me crazy because as simple and sweet as the invitations were….I just couldn’t make it a date. I always had an excuse. Work, money or time. I never had any of them…..and THIS just pissed me the hell off. That if I can’t take advantage of this beautiful thing….then there is something deeply wrong with me. Life is too short as I have explained in detail this entire post and actually my entire blog.

My Death
My great grandfather died at age 55 and he had diabetes. Before he passed away he had his left leg amputated because of the disease. My grandfather also died of diabetes but he lived to be 71. He also had his left leg amputated before he passed away. My father died at age 38. He didn’t have diabetes but his death was very complicated.
Here is a page from his autopsy. Click Here.
This was so long ago and officially they say he died from a bleeding ulcer. It is so obvious here that we inherit so much from our past generations. Do you think it’s ironic that both my grandfather and great grandfather had their left legs amputated? It’s surely not a coincidence also that our sister Beverly also died from diabetes although drug usage and anorexia also played a part. Beverly had begun to slowly kill herself in her teens. I called her death a slow-motion-suicide because that’s what it was. Do we believe that alcoholism is inherited? Or any of the other addictions. Do I have my fathers nose or my great grandfathers penis? I am glad I don’t know the answer to that but I do know that he made his living as a printer. I am a printer.
So what is the lesson here? Should I have a doctor check out why two middle toes in my left foot are slightly numb?
I have already out-lived my father by fourteen years and in two my years I will have caught up to Charles Hartmann from Jersey City. What happened to my dad? There was something burning his insides out. They couldn’t figure it out. The doctors seemed to have did everything wrong. I was never one to go around suing everybody for every little thing but this was quite possibly an open and shut case of medical malpractice. I even remember hearing someone telling that to my mother shortly after Dads death. Just think how much more complicated and deadly our little family of ten would be with a couple million of dollars injected into the already chaotic state?
This is why so many people have become so interested in their heritage. Where did we come from? It is an amazing journey through time to catch a glimpse of your past. A photograph. An old letter. A lock of hair. I hope it is, that whatever my father died from, is NEVER inherited into the family. Hopefully it was just botched doctor work. For the record all his siblings were “sick” to some extent. His brother William (that is still alive) is a polio survivor. His sister had lupus and was told she wouldn’t be here long (but lived an very long life).
There are two sides to every heritage however. We have a father and a mother. We are the combination of both heritages. Mixed in a blender and spread out on a plate of surprise. Nobody knows what the heritage blender is gonna mix up as a person. Sometimes it even creates a new trait, feature or addiction for the next generation to handle.
For the most part I have succeeded in obtaining a huge chunk of the Hartman side of our family. Two years ago, I thought I would never see a photo of my great grandfather or his children. Not only do I now know what they look like but I have also obtained two huge documents they contain an oral history of the family. They are written by two of the eleven children. In my next post I hope to have them obtainable here in PDF form for downloading/printing and reading.

I have neglected the Gill side of our family. My mother Joan’s heritage for the most part is a complete mystery. The people that I would like to ask even the most basic questions to…are all ghosts now. That is very frustrating because I had my entire life to ask these questions to all of these people when they were alive and now when I need them they are in another dimension chain smoking Viceroys.
I always did have a curiosity for the past. My mother was a strong story teller and I loved when she would get into that story telling mode. Sometimes she would get TOO HONEST. A couple of “King of Beers” in the white can and a pack of smokes and she would sit at that kitchen table and tell us all about Grandpa Gill and May Gill. How they would get their children into the cinema for free during the depression just by saying that their dad was a policeman in town.

Somewhere, somebody named “Bernie” had or took what was called the “Gill Family Bible”
I do remember this thing being mentioned in one of my mothers rambling stories. Supposedly it contains names and layers of the Gill tree. Photos and other information too.
It is now the quest of cousin James and I to find that treasure.

For the Hartman explosion of heritage discovery it all began with a letter. Barb took the time to write to a nuns retirement home to ask about our great aunts who were nuns. The information we received back helped greatly in the discovery of our Jersey City New Jersey heritage. I am surprised that even the simplest facts of Gill family tree heritage is not even know. Grandpa Gill, the Westfield cop…did he have any brothers or sisters.

From what I remember he did have at least an uncle Frank but I wasn’t sure. I also remember my mother telling me the story of how Frank went to WWII as a sailor in the Navy and his submarine was lost at sea. Nothing or nobody was ever recovered from the water. How could a young boy like me who obsessed with combat movies ever forget that tale.
Here indeed is a letter verifying “Uncle Frankie” existence.

"March 25, 1938 8:30 AM"

“March 25, 1938 8:30 AM”

Here is what is inside the letter. HERE This beautifully scripted hand-written letter post marked almost exactly seventy-five years ago, a short but sweet introduction to a newborn is just classic. Real letters like this, from the heart are almost extinct now. FaceBook, twitter and emails are the new norm. There were probably hundreds if not thousands of letters delivered between all the members of the Gill/Hartman family and yet this one ended up saved. It survived I believe because it was written by a man that he would “see you soon” and maybe that never happened. Uncle Frank was lost at sea and never found.
Are there any more siblings of Fredrick Gill? Perhaps we think a sister Caroline? (according to…not confirmed.) Maybe this is who our aunt Carol is named after? Also with this letter we get a different address presumably the one they lived at before Austin street.
The lost art of letter writing and the US Post Ofice has announced that they will soon end Saturday deliveries! At one point in the beginning of the century, when our great grandparents were not ghosts, the mail was delivered seven days a week and two times a day!! Twice a day deliveries ended in 1950 and it’s been pretty much downhill from there.

Does expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected?

Things Greg collected:
charlie McCarthy dolls
horror movies

What happens when you say that you don’t believe in magic anymore? Your life can become a dull senseless voyage to nowhere. I have always been connected with the news. I waited by the door for the newspaper to be delivered when I was a kid. Three different times I worked for newspapers and I read every daily issue from from to back everyday. Now with the internet the news is at your fingertips everyday. There have been so many sad news stories lately that I keep telling myself that I am just going to stop reading the news. The Sandy Hook school tragedy affected everybody greatly. For me it was comparable to 9/11 which took me months to get over. Or do you even ever get over something like that? I haven’t. It changes you. It changes the world.
In my news musings I found this viral video of a little girl who was going to ride on a train for the first time. She was almost the same age as the children that were machine-gunned to death in Connecticut. That video is HERE.
When I first saw this I realized how magical life is when you are a child. Everything seems fresh and new and then what happens? There is magic, never lose faith. Even when you think you have seen all the hidden doors and collapsable boxes, you really haven’t. There is always another magical trick awaiting around the corner. It will surprise you when you least suspect it.
“There is magic, but you have to be the magician. You have to make the magic happen.”
SIDNEY SHELDON, Are You Afraid of the Dark?

764 Central Ave Westfield

764 Central Ave Westfield

When is the spaceship coming to pick me up?

Home Movies

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

On the plane back from Las Vegas Nevada my prized possession was a dvd that Jaybird had burned for me. Several attempts at viewing proved futile and finally a visit to a "dvd specialist" gave me the bad news. The dvd never really burned. What I had was three seconds of Comedy Centrals Happy Days. Well, these weren't the happy days I was looking for.
When I called Mr. Jaybird with the bad news he almost instantaneously resent the dvd along with some other surprises. The movie then had to be converted in order to edit it. I found some free software on the web.
Originally this movie was just thrown together. It is a scrambled mess of dates and places and is in no way in any kind of chronological order. Some of the earliest stuff on here is around 1961 and the pool scene is probably a two years before dad died.
I want to thank Robert Jaybird Jones our long lost cousin for getting so many memories to me. It has been so good to be able to talk to him randomly on the phone.
For me, it is really quite eerie seeing dad "moving" That many of us probably never even remember seeing him move. To see someone you love acting goofy and even clowning around with his father is quite amazing after 41 years. The few seconds of mom being a loving mother is just priceless. You can almost forget at this point in your life that she did indeed give birth ten times in her life. She was a mom practically her whole life. A good mom too.

Most of these movies were taken by Jay Jones. Our uncle. He too, died terribly too young before any of us could really grow up to appreciate what a great guy he was. I remember him fondly. I am very fortunate. He had a heart of gold in his own military way!

A further analysis of this tape including a "who is who" list will come quickly after this posting.

who cares?

Monday, March 19th, 2012


This photo of George Joseph Hartman, my grandfather, our grandfather, to me is the quintessential photo of who he was to me. There is everything here. His cloths, his car, his posture, that face, the cigarette, stamped out cigarettes surrounding him. His loaded pockets, that CLASSIC station wagon, parked in the Westfield alley behind his third floor apartment with the wooden steps leading up to them. Grandpa had a certain way of letting his tongue hang out of his mouth sometimes. But really…who cares? My relationship with him…….zero…..I was petrified of him. He seemed too quiet and mean. His cigarettes stunk….his tongue hung out like an animal. Like almost ALL of our grandparents, uncles, aunts and family….he died before there was time for anything!!! Why does it seem like most of my friends had all their relatives for most of their lives? Even their parents ARE STILL HANGING AROUND!! But who cares?? When i saw this photo while thumbing through the literally hundreds from our history in Jaybirds (Robert Jones) home in Las Vegas, I got so excited. I couldn’t stop looking at it because I had to….there was SO MUCH in those photo albums … but WHO CARES? Why do I even put these things in the blog. He’s dead. Nobody hardly remembers him. He was my fathers father. WHO CARES? I think I’m just wasting my time with all these dead people. WHO CARES what they did, who cares what they looked like? Several people have told me I’m a fucking idiot for caring….so really….W H O C A R E S????????

Geraldine Jones

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

circa 1945 -perhaps Westfield-

Long overdue, I know. Geraldine Jones 9/4/29 to 9/5/11. Rest in peace. A wonderful woman, wife, sister, aunt, mother, daughter and friend. For the most of the Mighty Ten we lost touch with her and her family soon after Dad died. Our aunt Gerry. Our fathers sister. I was mightily blessed to have made a very slight connection with her right before she passed away and it brought back so much to me at the time and even now it still does. It all happened so suddenly and all at once, finding Gerry and Robert, Diane, Dennis and Bill, the losing Gerry and then….that dream-like sequence of events where I was actually visiting Robert at his home (Rock and Roll museum), the jet-lagged visions of Fort Dix, Brooklyn, Tin cups, Jay in full military garb, his smile and southern accent, Gerry’s screeching yelling at us crazy kids to stay in the basement. But most of all my memories of her are the time she scooped me up and took me to Sacramento Ca. In 1975. Reno, Los Angeles, Nevada, Disneyland and maybe I would have stayed there forever if she didn’t finally pay my way home because mom couldn’t. I could have been George Jones. I have always missed her and I always will. Not many in the Hartman family remember her. She slipped away so quickly and silently….right before I was going to see her. That’s what hurts so much. I had so many questions and now maybe they will go unanswered forever. God bless her soul.

For Gods sakes put your arm around me!!!

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

You say goodbye, I say hello

Another photo from the Gerry archives. This is Uncle Bill. William Hartman. Dads brother. I will give Gerry tons of credit…even though the photo is taken too far away, off center and is blurry as hell….at least SHE TRIED! Thirty six years ago when she took this photo, she tried to create a memory, she tried to connect me to my uncle Bill. The man I NEVER knew. He was always so reserved and quiet…but that is just him and I’m sure he hasn’t changed much or at all. God bless him. I have thought about him the past 36 years. I think he was living in San Diego when I last saw him. I even think I was at his house. Or maybe it was Long Beach. I just remember California being another planet, not another state. Things were so so different there.
I have been told that Uncle Bill lives in California still. I know he had some health issues as a kid but here he is out-living my dad by two-fold.
In this photo we are at DisneyLand. We are standing in front of the attraction: “It’s a Small World” What happens in this ride is that you are seated in a boat and you float into several rooms representing different parts/nations of the world. There are ethnically correct dolls on both sides of the “river” and they all sing the same song–in synch—in their language. The message is pretty powerful, being this: We are all one. We are one world. The song to me, is just very sad and it brings tears to my eyes EVERYTIME. I do know this, Aunt Gerry just simply ADORED the “It’s a Small World” attraction and I can remember the look on her face as we rode it together long ago in 1975; she was a little girl in a candy store. I think I can slightly remember her having some kind of doll collection when I was little.

it’s a world of laughter, a world or tears
its a world of hopes, its a world of fear
theres so much that we share
that its time we’re aware
its a small world after all

its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small world after all
its a small, small world

There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone.
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It’s a small small world


Hello Clara and Charles

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Hi Clara, Hi Charles. Has it been awhile since someone has visited?

Just checking in. How is the weather up there? We are starting to warm up a bit.
With the information you gave me on the family tree, I went to visit Charles today.
As it turns out, the cemetery that he is buried in is only 8 miles from where I am living with
my girlfriend. I went into the office and he told me that Clara and Charles were buried in separate lots.

I spent one hour searching for the wrong grave. There were Hartmanns buried there but not Charles.
I was very disappointed and the cemetery was gonna close in one hour. So, I went after Clara.
Very tough to find only because their numbering system is so complicated and I was given no map in the office.

When I found Clara’s grave, it was just as I had thought. Charles was right there with her.
I have got to tell you, I was deeply moved. I imagine it has been many years since anyone has visited them.
So I spoke out loud and told them that their memory still lives…even in the minds of people that have never met them.

I have attached a photo for you.

Just some quick questions….

According to the web tree … an uncle that I knew, my fathers brother, William Hartman, is still alive.
He was very distant from us. He had polio as a child and the last time I saw him was 1975 at Disneyland.
Is there anyway to find out if he is still alive?
Because he may be still alive, his name isn’t listed.
Is there an “administrator” to the web tree?? Might that be you?
Just wondering. Now that I have found you, maybe some things have changed.
Do you think that my grandfathers real name is what is listed?? I knew him as George Joseph Hartman.

I am planning on sharing your wonderful photos with my family through the family web site at the beginning of April.

It is so strange that Charles and Clara were only eight miles away from me this whole time.
I think that Clara was a very beautiful woman. The fact that there was only one blue-eyed child is kinda strange.

Have you ever wandered into the states???

Full of curiosity and kind regards

a MAJOR heritage Hartman BREAKthru

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

In my on and off extensive search for our heritage I have found out some very cool and very important information. Only because of our sister Barbs brave dig into our great aunts sisterhood on Menham NJ, (a letter mailed about 4 years ago) was I able to obtain the complete list of our Grandpa’s 12 brothers and sisters. With this information, I may have contact with someone who has access to even more information and even more exciting some photos of our great grandparents and their 12 children.
We already knew there were 13 children and that one had died in infancy but now it has been uncovered that two had indeed very sadly passed away before their first birthday. (this was actually a pretty common thing back then and the life span of most adults back then rarely went past 50)

So here it is, In order of their births:

1. Gertrude b:1888 d:1973 (In 1913 became an nun “Sister Clarella.”)
2. Fred b:1889 m:1920 (Married Lydia Marklein) d:1941
3. Clara Mathilde b:1890 m:1914 (Married J.Van Duzer) d:1932 (Relatives
located on this side of family.)
4. Emmy b:1892 d:1892 died as infant
5. Frieda b:1894 d:1973 became a nun “Sister Richardis”
6. Charles Richard b:1895 d:1895 died as infant
7. Katherine b:1896 m:1918 (Married Henry Jager) d:1969
8. George Joseph b:1898 m:1917 (Married Florence Swaine) m: 2nd time in 1929 (Alice Anderson) d:1970
9. Margaret Helen b:1899 m:1919 (Married Frank Robarge) d:1971
10. Clara b:1901 m:1927 (Married Henry Ulrich) d:1962
11. Rose Anna b:1903 m:1925 (Married William Ross) d:1974
12. Alfred b:1906 m: 1933 d: unknown?
13. Marie Elizabeth b:1909 (never married) d: unknown ?

#8 – George Joseph is our Grandfather . Also very new information is that he was married twice and his second wife – Alice Anderson our Grandmother, was the mother of our father George Charles. It is important to note here that in the 1950’s which was shortly after World War II and the holocaust, our Grandfather knocked off a ‘N’ on our last name. I remember our mother telling me it was a business decision based on the name Hartman (one ‘N’ Jewish) and Hartmann (2 ‘N’s’ being German). Since most salesmen in America in the 1950’s were Jewish, it was said that they merely avoided any contacts with German people.

I am trying very hard to get in touch with the woman that posted this information on the web. Her Grandmother was our Grandfather’s sister; Clara Mathilde. I have emailed her twice so far with no return. Of corse I will never stop trying.
Somewhere out there are photos of this family and I think she may have them. It would be amazing to look into the faces of a one-hundred year old family of fifteen and to see, perhaps, our own likeness’. You must understand that DNA and generation to generation chemistry is carried on and passed. We are what they were and although every individual that has ever visited this planet is entirely unique, but that families are in some spiritual and chemical way… are tied together for all eternity.
-more info to come-

Over the river and thru the woods….

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

a letter written in 1918, tells me where the Hartmann's lived!

A letter received several years ago from Mendam NJ after an inquiry by our sister Barb about our two great aunts on our fathers side. Our grandfather came from a family of 12. Really, 13 but “he” died early in life. Health was a fragile thing in the beginning of the twentieth century. All you really need to do is walk through an old cemetery to see the short life spans and large number of young children.
SO this first large family of Hartmanns in the United States of America lived in Jersey City. When I first saw that address, I knew that one day, I had to go there.

"Rosy" my navigator will guide me with sweet robot voice

SO here we go, over the river and thru the woods. I was pretty excited, almost like I felt as if the entire family of 15 was waiting for my arrival.

In our great aunt Gertrude’s original letter she stated that she was born in NYC on June 6 1888.
Between 1820 and 1880, thousands of German and Irish immigrants arrived in New York City as men, women and children left their homeland to escape civil unrest, persecution and the repeated failure of the potato crop. Initially, many of the Germans settled in what became known as Little Germany, a section of the city east of the Bowery and extending from Houston Street to 12th Street. She also states that her mother’s name was:
Clara M. Flanger and her fathers name was:
Charles R. Hartmann
The first American Hartmann family had FIFTEEN children!! One sister and one brother died early so there were 13. Of these 13 I only know the name three of them. My grandfather George Joseph and his two sisters Gertrude and Frieda who both became nuns and therefore our sister Barb has attained their records by writing a letter to their home sisterhood.
The church mentioned in Gertrud’s letter “Church of St Joseph Yorkville” at 408 East 87th Street still stands. It is there where I am going to attempt to get Baptismal records that may give me the remaining names, birthdates of the NINE girls and FOUR boys. I might also be able to discover exactly when they moved to 15 Cambridge Ave in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Gertrude also mentions that her father Charles was a printer…as am I!
The Journey
I don’t know the name of that bridge but I it got me into Jersey City.

It was a weird day. I felt very alone and tired. Wishing someone was here with me on this journey.
Before the bridge, passing the city of Newark. To me: a very depressing city with an even more depressing name. The only ties our family have there are that my aunt Carol and her husband Fred (Rebel) Dooley met there and married. Strange how a country boy from Alabama ended up as a parking lot attendant. I remember they owned a red VW punch-bug and me and my sister Barb rode in the back with the top down to go to their apartment that was on the top of a very large building there.

The "Red Light" beggar

This was one of the most remembered things of this journey. Waiting at the red light after the bridge…I’m in Jersey City. This beggar walks in between the cars with a paper cup. Looking for money. I gave him a handfull of change from my change jar that I keep in the car. He was very grateful. I watched in the rear view mirror behind me the dressed up fancy smancy couple, shake their heads, roll up their window and then roll their eyes.

Old time Jersey City New Jersey. Turn of the century. No cars. No cell phones. Blue crisp sky day. Buried in time.

“Rosy” my navigator was taking me through the streets of Jersey City 2011, where one hundred years earlier my great grandfather, mother and his kids played, shopped and worked. She took me down the very long main street, full of shops, cars and a melting pot of race, creed and color. Some things never change.
I was almost there now, according to “Rosy” 15 Cambridge. “Make the next left to arrive at destination.”
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting but of corse I wasn’t expecting this.

When I turned the corner onto Emerson Street…I was expecting everything to maybe turn black and white. I was looking for Charles R. Hartmann’s kids to be playing on the street. I was looking for a sepia sky, trolly cars, horse carriages. I was looking for maybe Clara Hartmann to be coming down the steps pregnant.

These were the streets of my heritage. That in this space a family of 15 lived, struggled, had dinner together, celebrated holidays and never once thought that one century later the fathers son of one of their own would come here looking for them.

Of corse I was disappointed. It was obviously not the same house, it was not the same street and certainly wasn’t the same city. Everything had changed. There were no survivors. Nobody remembers “The Hartmann’s” … that big German family with the printer father. Everything was buried deeply in time. And in another hundred years, another hundred families will have been born and raised on these streets. That time and technology are interlocked into a giant machine that consumes the human spirit. All the laughter, tears, hopes and dreams of 15 Cambridge Street are gone. Not too long ago, they were the most important things in the world to the Hartmann’s. I just had to get out of the car and breath the air, walk the street, where once horse carriages trampled by. I looked around… and the wind blew some old newspapers down the street……….

15 Cambridge, Jersey City, New Jersey.

I’ll have a number 18 please

Friday, January 22nd, 2010
happy family ??

happy family ??

From the Brady Bunch and Partridge family, the Cleavers, Cunninghams and Crosbys. Are we a happy family? Are you a happy family? Is your neighbor a happy family? This Gill family photo from the side porch of Austin Street in Westfield. Aunt Carol is just a little baby, and she was the sole survivor in this Happy Family until she passed away now, almost two years ago already. My keen questions about the Happy Family to her were abruptly ended by her death.
Who Wrote Happy Family on this Photo?
Was it the Grandmother we never knew? May Gill. (it looks like a womens handwriting) Maybe it was Grandpa Fred, the Westfield police sargent and decorated hero? Naaaa. I did know him and what I knew of him was that he was a very moody, crabby man. Stern would not be the word to describe his harsh treatment of The Mighty Ten. He worked the Westfield police shift in a era of accepted police corruption, “benefits” extreme prejudice and “missing” evidence. His relationship with May was said by Carol to be very stormy. He was accused of several affairs even with a wife and three kids at home.
What Really Happened To Grandma?
She got sick. Died very suddenly at home. She was buried very quickly under Sargent Fred Gills orders without an autopsy. One week later he was with another woman and soon after that they were married.
The rumor spelled out is that he killed his wife and covered it up using his hero power to sweep it very quickly under the rug.
Rumor Number Two
Fred Gill and his daughter Carol were very close. Maybe too close and I will leave it at that.
When I talked to Carol about Austin Street and Gill family, she admitted her close ties with her dad but I never got a feeling of incest. Maybe because it was just too strange to even cross my mind.
Fred Gill was NOT laid to rest next to the mother of his only three children. Would you want to be buried next to the woman you murdered? This is why her son, our Uncle “Brother” Fred Gill is buried there.

I have to try Happy Family sometime

I have to try Happy Family sometime

The Play is the thing…….Entry for February 4, 2008

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

There are strange crazy sights

in the high desert nights

When the moon works its magic on all

But the strangest of all

was when Eli didnt fall

and Tyree

he catches the ball.

Few moments in life can be so well scripted. To be surrounded by friends with all a common goal…while the hopes of the road warriors were leaking all over the strange stadium with the moveable roof. The Pats were up 14-10 with less then a minuet to spare. Listen: I saw it. I did. And they still don’t know how he did it. In the end we danced up and down holding each other, some falling to the carpet. I think of you Dad, how you would have loved the elation and the sight of Josh and Jonathan in the center of a living room dance….that went on into the night.

A great(artistic) view of the ticker-tape parade in NYC a day later: