I was born in New York City, the third child of artist parents. I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan when it was still a middle class neighborhood. I attended public schools, including the High School of Music & Art, as an art student.
My father started out as an illustrator/commercial artist upon arriving in New York in 1940. He later became a noted author and photographer, best known for his work with Native Americans. Please see his bio for more about Richard Erdoes. [Erdos-14]
My paternal grandfather was a Hungarian Jewish opera singer, who died in Budapest in 1912, just weeks before my father was born. My grandmother was Austrian Catholic. My grandparents decided somehow that my father would be raised neither Jewish nor Catholic. So I have both Jewish and Catholic roots, but not the religious background of either. Much of what I know about my Jewish ancestors is through genealogical research.
My mother's roots stretch back to early colonial settlers of New England and New York. They came from Holland, England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France, and Norway - that I know of so far. Between my two parents, I count about 14 different nationalities.
My favorite family genealogy story is one in which my maternal grandfather was explaining his lineage to my father, his future son-in-law. My grandfather was intensely proud of the Revolutionary War heroes and prominent colonists in our background, especially our ties to General Philip Schuyler of Albany.
After listening to my grandfather's pedigree, my father replied, in his thick Austrian accent, "Zat's nussing! My uncle caught ze clap from ze Dutchess of Bentheim!" thereby both deflating and charming my grandfather with his wry sense of humor. :-)
Now I live and work in Maine. I have been researching my roots since the 1990s, first at a local Family History Library, slogging through microfilms of Hungarian vital records. I also transcribed records as a volunteer for JewishGen, though I have not been active with that organization lately.
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