Yes, I needed a break after the daily deadlines of February’s Family History Writing Challenge, but I miss the structure and accountability that the challenge provided. I thought if I told you what’s upcoming on my blog I would be committed to write about those topics or, as you’ll see, shame others into providing promised guest posts. If I say so myself, there’s some pretty interesting stuff in the future– even objectively speaking.
Here, in no particular order, are the top
five six topics.
The Curtis Allina Story
Jill Leibman Kornmehl has gathered a great deal of material — in part by listening to Shoah testimonies — about Curtis Allina, who was the nephew of the “other” Siegmund Kornmehl (OSK), i.e., not Freud’s butcher but the brother-in-law of the same name who co-owned Vienna’s Viktoria Cafe. I have been in touch with Curtis Allina’s daughter, Babette, and hope to get more information from her about the family, including about OSK, who is my great uncle (by marriage) and hers more directly: Mina Allina, Curtis’s mother and Babette’s grandmother, was OSK’s sister.
You’re already confused and wondering why you should care about any of this, right? Short answer: Because Curtis Allina is the man who put the heads on Pez dispensers.
Finding My Grandparents, the Rosenbaums
It’s a bit nutty, but I know far more about several of my great aunts and uncles — not to mention more distant cousins like Ezriel and Viktor Kornmehl, of Family History Writing Challenge fame — than I do about my grandparents. This has to change. It doesn’t help that my grandfather’s name is Hermann Rosenbaum. My blog was — and continues to be — a Kornmehl magnet because Kornmehl is not such a common name. I doubt that the mention of Rosenbaum in the title of a post will create any stampedes over here.
Maybe I should start with the question of what made rose trees (bushes?) so popular among European Jews.
A Guest Post By an Actor Who Channeled Freud
Yes, the actor who played Freud in a production of “Freud’s Last Session” has promised to write a guest post on how he prepared for the role. I’m calling in that debt, gently but firmly now. Next time, names will be named.
A Review of the Film “Auf Wiedersehen”
Even before I started this blog, I was directed to the film “Auf Wiedersehen: ‘Til We Meet” again by my friend Lydia who, when she is not helping me research my family and writing highly acclaimed short stories and doing highly acclaimed translations, teaches writing at NYU. One of Lydia’s writing students, it turned out, worked for a professor named Linda Mills, who went back to Vienna with her mother and son and made a film about the experience. That film meant a lot to me and I keep telling people to see it but I haven’t written about it yet. It’s about time, don’t you think?
Research into the Schmerling Family
I mentioned that I know less about my grandparents than I do about other family members. The family members that I know most about in many ways but haven’t written about yet are the Schmerlings. I met my great aunt Mizzi (Kornmehl) Schmerling and her daughter Stella (she who may or may not have been sent to see Dr. Freud to determine if her limp was psychosomatic) in Vienna, and I met Stella’s younger twin sisters, Mimi and Ditti, in London. For a variety of reasons, it’s clear to me that my mother and my grandparents were closer to this family than to any of the others in the VK8 (as Jill Kornmehl dubbed the eight Vienna Kornmehl brothers and sisters at the center of this blog and pictured at its header).
There’s a lot to write about them that isn’t difficult: David Schmerling, Mizzi’s husband, is a
distant Kornmehl first cousin whose family changed its name at some point before they married one of the VK8. retained the mother’s name. Talking about their kinship to the other members of the Kornmehl family and about the name change should be easy. And I recently discovered that Hillel Koren, son of Viktor Kornmehl, had heard about the Schmerling family when he honeymooned in Holland, 45 years ago… That’s intriguing.
But there’s a lot of guilt associated with my relationship with these relatives, why I didn’t keep it up, as well as, in the case of the Vienna encounter, with the visit itself. That’s going to make writing about this family difficult to tackle.
On the other hand, I have pictures. And when you’re blogging, that’s half the battle.
Update: I totally forgot. In addition to attracting Kornmehls, this blog also attracts Friends of Kornmehls (like Friends of Bill, only different). Two sets of childhood friends have reconnected here. I’m going to extract a price for this matchmaking service. Those sets of friends will either have to write about the reunions themselves or agree to tell me their stories so I can write about them.
That’s plenty to keep me busy, right? I also learned the importance of focusing from the Family History Writing Challenge. So I’m going to try not to tackle all these topics at the same time.