|Happy New Year! May this year be sweet.
Time to reflect, especially with some good ol' tunes on KCTS (the local PBS station here in Western WA) during pledge night, the show being "The Great American Songbook".
As I hear Kate Smith sing, my mind goes to my Grandmother, Lillian Herman Cohen, who was known as the "Second Kate Smith", her stage name being Billie Herman, who did radio shows and sang contralto. The rest of her family was not shabby either. Both her brothers, Al and Jay, had big bands, and her brother William, was an inventor of some amazing things like "that rubber thang on the end of a plug" so you don't get a shock, windshield wipers for the car, and around his death, some coil or radiant heat emanating from the floor (or was it the ceiling), utilizing atomic power or some other scary thing (personally, I always thought he looked very much like Keenen Wynn! --> a very absent minded professor image)
Maybe some of this is family legend, but I do remember that when Uncle Bill died, my Aunt Anna (they lived in Providence, Rhode Island) had to contact the government first before letting her family know about his passing, because they had to come to the house and grab all his documents lest these secrets fall into "enemy" hands.
AND, I do have a tattered scrapbook from when my Grandma died (lovingly known as Grangraw in our earlier years ) and there are some items from Uncle Al Herman's band's radio shows and his gigs.
Lillian married Martin Harris Cohen, who was pretty amazing himself! Among his skillset, is his being a "shill" in the audience during an act, who would have a sneezing attack. He could amazingly do this sneeze in different dialects -- go figure LOL! Of course, the act would play off of his distraction. Were that I ever could have seen him and Grandma perform in their earlier years.
They got married young. I think in MA, he maybe 18, she 17 I think. I remember her b'day is July 11th, (no year) and his is June 20th or 21st, just after my Mom's, Geraldine Elinor, on the 19th.
Mom went to RISD and she is an amazing artist -- creative, diverse, and very much ahead of her time. She did Graphic Arts, Designed Coats.
During her married life, while working part time at Gillman's W.H. Inc in CT with 2 kids (me and James Andrew) she painted in Oils (mostly -- some acrylics), did sculpture in soapstone, and busts, full figures, even wax figures. She threw very creative parties, and also was found designing costumes for local theater groups.
In her youth, she also "knew" the stage in her early life despite her protestations, methinks it was doing radio shows with her father (Granky I know I know -- Grangraw and Granky?!?) and just to round things out, she had a younger brother, Jay Eliot, who married Joan Grace Rosenberg [thank god /dess she doesn't deal with computers and /or the net -- Grace is her dirty little secret ], and they had 2 kids, Terri Lynn and dear Michael who also died way to young in his twenties ... .
I don't think I mentioned that my effervescent, funny, wry, very own Uncle Jay, also died way too young at 40. If there be any justice in the world, he and my Dad are up "there" swaping quips, and riding their bikes (as in Motorcycles), paving paths that have yet seen angel, man, woman, machine, critter or spirit -- yes! I like that image in my mind.
But I digress. I don't know the Herman /Cohen side of my family much at all.
On my father's side, I remember a lot more at least of his 13 siblings -- Dad being the youngest of 13! Raymond Leon Gillman, March 20th (spring day, not his b'day he always insisted).
But my cousins, there must be scads of them, are pretty much gone their own way and out of touch...come to think of it, I am not sure of his Mother's maiden name, Rebecca Catherine [Goldberg maybe?].
So...tonight, I've been searching the net looking for possible recordings of my Grandmother (Billie Herman) or her brother's Jay or Al Herman's big bands. Soon it became a frenetic frustrating futile romp around the net for just someone else's family tree criss /crossing mine. Sigh, no such luck for now.
So folks, if any of this tickles your family tree, please get in touch (I had to turn off the comments yet again, because more spammers ;p~~~~~~) email@example.com
BTW just to round it out:
Terri married Donald Mattran, Jr.
They have a daughter, Jenna who has a daughter, Hailey
Their 2nd child is a boy, Donald (again )
My brother, Jim married Mary Elizabeth Martin
who have two boys
Gregory Martin Gillman who married Kate
Andrew Jay Gillman is still unhitched to the best of my knowledge