My great-grandfather William Charles McDonald owned a hardware store in Philadelphia. The address was 933 South Street. He and his family lived on the property, moving in sometime between 1895 and 1900. They rented the property at first, and then bought it in 1904. It was sold in 1914.

This item from The Philadelphia Inquirer, dated Friday, January 3, 1902, reports that the store was burglarized. Two revolvers were taken.

About eleven years ago, there was a break-in at the bookstore where I worked. It’s not a good feeling – in the pit of the stomach – to see a smashed window and know that you’ve been robbed.

Accordion, pt. 2


Here is another photo of Bob Lazarowski with the accordion. Next to Bob is his cousin, Sr. Joan Ference, and his father, Joe Lazarowski. Joan’s brother Charles is in front. Christmas 1965.

I like it when people provide their own entertainment instead of watching something on TV.



My godfather Bob Lazarowski played the accordion. Bob was the son of Elva Ference and Joseph Lazarowski, Elva being the sister of my grandfather. Unfortunately, I don’t have any memory of meeting Bob. He was born September 2, 1937 and died in June of 1991.

The name of Bob’s dog was Thor.


Bob performed at least once at an amateur night concert. I don’t know the date of this clipping.


Here is a later photo of Bob, taken in 1956.


At the Shore


Here are a few pictures of my aunt, Ciocia Hattie, enjoying some time at the beach with her friends. Ciocia means “aunt” in Polish; it’s sort of pronounced chow-cha. Her actual name was Hedwig and she lived from 1919 to 1996.

Ciocia Hattie is on the right wearing a white dress. I am guessing the pictures were taken in the 1940’s at the Jersey shore. I can see a sign in the background that says Atlantic City Beach Patrol.



Compensation Case


When she was in her early twenties, my Aunt Eliza (Elizabeth Craven) worked in a textile mill in Williamstown, Pennsylvania. Her job title was “Examiner.” She injured her arm at work, and this newspaper clipping refers to her quest to obtain compensation. The clipping is from The Evening News (Harrisburg, PA) of June 10, 1922.

Here is a picture of Aunt Eliza from around that time:


I found a paper trail about the compensation case in the boxes kept by Grandmom (Eliza’s sister). The first is a doctor’s receipt:


Grandmom wrote a thorough letter to Uncle Marty (Martin Doyle) about the situation. She described it as a “long drawn out affair.” It really seems like it was an ordeal for Aunt Eliza. Grandmom mentioned that Eliza was “able to hold her own end with the different men who have interviewed her.” I can believe it: Aunt Eliza was a strong person. The stationery Grandmom used for the letter is presumably from the company she worked for as a secretary.




This letter from a lawyer is addressed to Aunt Eliza’s father. It pertains to the additional compensation she was seeking.


Here is a letter from the textile mills’ insurance company directing Aunt Eliza about getting a medical examination:


Finally, here is a letter from the Department of Labor, about two years after the injury occurred. I don’t know what the final outcome was regarding Aunt Eliza’s compensation case. Whatever it was, they made her work for it.





My great uncle, Patrick “Taddle” Craven, was killed in action during World War I. Above is the casualty report submitted by his captain. Taddle was a member of a machine gun battalion with the 28th Division.

I once tried to decipher the map coordinates to no avail. Below is a picture from the scrapbook my Grandmother made about Taddle. It is labeled “Apremont.” I wonder if it is a picture of where he was killed. I didn’t know Taddle died on the main street until I found this report. I always pictured it happening in a field or woods. Reflecting on his manner of death is sobering.


Taddle’s remains were later transferred to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France. He was brought back home to Williamstown, Pennsylvania in 1921, and laid to rest in Sacred Heart Cemetery. Many other members of the Craven family reside there, too.

Private Patrick Francis Craven. I think my Dad resembles him.


Last Man Club


My grandfather, Felix Ference, was Delaware’s heavyweight weightlifting champion for seven years in the 1930’s. That never registered with me when I was young. Above is a picture of Pop (as we called him) with the Spartan Strength Club, which he helped to form. Pop is in the middle in front of the “S.”

Next to Pop on the left is Bernard (Ben) Stone, Pop’s best friend, best man, and neighbor. Along with seven other members of the Spartan Strength Club, they formed a “Last Man Club” in 1940. A bottle of wine was purchased, and every year on the first Saturday in May the members of the Club would meet. The agreement was that the last member living would get the bottle. This is something I do remember.

Ben Stone was interviewed in 1995 for the Wilmington News Journal and he told the story of the Last Man Club. Here is a copy (pdf) I made of the article. Below is the picture that accompanied it.


Ben Stone died in 2005, the final member of the Last Man Club. I assume he received the bottle of wine, but I don’t know.