52 Ancestors – #9 – Hortense Kesner Samuel – My Nana

My paternal grandmother, Hortense Kesner was the first daughter of Harry George Kesner and Estelle Byk. She was born in New York on February 22, 1907.<!–[if supportFields]>xe “New York:Brooklyn ” \f B<![endif]–><!–[if supportFields]><![endif]–> Her sister, Constance, was born in 1911. 

The date on the back of this photo says ” Feb. 22, 1907″ which was Hortense’s birthdate.
It’s tough to date this but I would say she’s anywhere from 5- 10 months old here.

August 17, 1908

Growing up, Hortense lived with her family in Brooklyn, New York. The family’s address from 1915 through at least 1920 was 450 St. John’s Place, Brooklyn.

“Horty” attended Public School # 9 in New York and graduated from the Manual Training High School. 

1916 – Hortense (Left) and sister, Constance

According to the 1925 New York Census her family’s address was 374 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn. This same census lists her occupation as “Milliner.”

She received a degree in teaching from the Normal Training School of Bedford Academy and by 1929 she was employed as a teacher at the Brooklyn Home for Children. 

Hortense was Jewish and an active member of the Brooklyn Federation of Jewish Charities. 

1929 Engagement photo

On December 21, 1929, Horty announced her engagement to Edgar Aaron Samuel. At that time, she was living with her parents at 277 Eastern Parkway in 
Brooklyn, New York.

They were married on June 5, 1930 in the Hotel Bossert, Brooklyn, New York and honeymooned at Lake Placid, NY. After the wedding, they moved to 135 Floral Blvd. Floral Park, Long Island.

1930 – Ed and Horty on their honeymoon.
Unfortunately, there is a bit of damage
to the center of this photo.
Horty on July 9, 1932, just 3 weeks before her
son, Alan would be born.

Edgar and Hortense had two children; my father, Alan in 1932 and my aunt Jessica in 1935.

The 1940 Census finds her living at 347 Lincol
n Place in Brooklyn and b
y 1945, the Samuel family had moved to 284 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, NY where they lived until moving to New Rochelle in the early 1950’s.

In 1952 Horty, Ed, Alan and Jessica were living at 30 Eastchester Road, New Rochelle in apartment 5E. I mention this specifically because Alan actually married the girl next door. The “girl”, (my mother) Doris Lichtenthal,  lived in Apt. 5D!!

After both their children left home, Ed and Horty moved across the hall, to a smaller one-bedroom apartment. This “set-up” would seem an ideal situation for the two sets of grandparents. And perhaps it was, for the most part. I do know there was a fair amount of competition for “visiting rights.”

I have a few specific memories of my Nana. For one, she was not a not a great cook. I remember one night when there was a great lightening storm. The power had gone out and Nana had no idea what to make for dinner as she couldn’t open any cans – they only had an electric can opener.

I have vivid memories of her kitchen – especially the comfy, cushion-y kitchen chairs. I also had an fascination for the white “hen” she kept on the table which contained her saccharin pills.

One of the funniest memories was during a summer vacation. My parents divorced in 1961. Every summer my father would take me and my three sisters for a month-long visit, most often to Little Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire. This one particular morning Nana did not wake for breakfast. We were getting quite concerned. I remember thinking the worst….was she dead??? No…..she had taken a sleeping pill later than usual the night before and was still feeing the effects.

But by far my favorite memory was the time Nana and Pop-Pop took me on an overnight trip to Atlantic City. I have no recollection of how old I was nor of anything I saw on that trip……except for for one thing: the frightening sight of a pair of teeth soaking in a glass on the bathroom counter. I was horrified! I had never even heard of false teeth until that day!

On March 31, 1973, Horty’s beloved Edgar passed away. She must have been devastated by the loss. Horty pasted several of Edgar’s obituaries into her family scrapbook. Above the entries, she wrote, “Our darling, gone forever.”

Less than 2 months later, on May 6, 1973 Hortense herself would die. She was 66 years old.


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