My grandparents' marriage was not made in heaven. Jack Garber and Dora Morris had known each other their entire lives (they were both immigrants from Labun) and were first cousins.
My father and his younger brother Lenny would joke about their mother's terrible cooking and housekeeping. My father said that if someone exclaimed that a meal was "just like mother used to make," he would run in the opposite direction.
My grandfather had more than one mistress. My father's first cousin, Hal, related that fairly early on there had, apparently, been a family meeting among the Garbers and Morrises about the state of my grandparents' marriage. Dora's mother, Sarah (who was also Jack's aunt), opined that Jack's wandering was Dora's fault for "inviting" whatever woman my grandfather was having an affair with at that time into the house. Needless to say this soured the relationship between mother and daughter.
A few years ago I asked my uncle Lenny why he thought my grandmother was such a failure at cooking and housekeeping. He suggested that she just didn't seem to care. From my distant perspective, it is hard to know which came first, chronic depression or a wandering husband.
I do not know exactly when Alice came into my grandfather's life. It was definitely before my grandmother died of cancer on 24 August 1954. My father's elder sister Leah never forgave Jack. My father, ever the peace-maker, would dutifully take us to Brooklyn to see Papa Garber (our name for my grandfather Jack) and Alice from time to time.
I have wondered about Alice. I did not know much about her. She was round, had short straight white hair and, unlike my grandfather, spoke English without a foreign accent. My older cousins told me that they had heard that Jack was seeking a woman who, unlike my immigrant grandmother, was a real American (!): born in the USA. I also recall hearing that Alice had some children from a previous marriage.
After he died on 1 June 1963, and my grandfather's small estate was settled, I believe the family rarely, if ever, had contact with Alice. Considering the family's feelings, it is not surprising that Alice's grave is not in the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots where my grandparents and many family members are interred. I did not know when Alice died or where she might be buried. I had no idea what her maiden name or prior married name might have been.
There are so many Jewish cemeteries in the New York metropolitan area that if one does not know where a person had been buried it is nearly impossible, without a death certificate, to know where to look. I would have gotten nowhere on my search if I'd not recalled that Jack's sons told me that Alice was devoted to my grandfather and "carried on" at his funeral. My hunch was that Alice's devotion would have translated into a strong desire to be buried in the same cemetery as Jack. I searched Montefiore Cemetery's online index for the grave of Alice Garber. Bingo!
Sarah Elka daughter of Tzaduk
May her soul be bound in the bonds of the living
DEC. 25, 1894
AUG. 30, 1975
While I wasn't completely sure at first if this was her, this information did give me enough to start my research. The next step was to acquire her application for Social Security (SS-5) and their marriage record.
Alice was originally named Sarah. She was the fifth child of ten born to Charles Mushnick and Lena Goldstein/Goldfarb/Goldberg on 10 December 1893 in Providence, Rhode Island. Her tombstone and Social Security application indicated that she was born on 25 December 1894. This was, according to the date on her Providence, RI birth register, incorrect.
Her father Charles emigrated in about 1886 and was followed in the early 1890s by Lena and their first three children. In Providence, Charles had a business as an express wagon driver.
Sarah still attended school in 1909, but by 1910, she worked as a bench hand in a jewelry shop. In the 1940 census, she reported that she'd completed the 8th grade.
In 26 May 1912, Alice Mushnick married Samuel I. Rodman in Providence.
By 1920, Alice and Samuel Rodman lived in Brooklyn, New York, with their two children: Leonard (b. 8 Oct 1913) and Lillian (b. 3 Sep 1915). Samuel Rodman was a shoe salesman. The couple's third child, Florence, was born about 1920.
Alice and Samuel were recorded together in the 1930 census. The 1940 census found Alice divorced and living with her children in Brooklyn. The date of the divorce is unclear. When Alice married Jack Garber in 1955, she stated that her divorce was effected on 11 February 1927 in Chicago, IL. If this was true, then either the information in the 1930 census was not correct (i.e., Samuel did not live with them), or Alice later recalled the date of her divorce incorrectly.
Jack Garber married Sarah Alice Mushnick Rodman at the Kings County Municipal Building in Brooklyn on 8 January 1955, less than five months after my grandmother died of cancer at the age of 56.
1. Kings County, NY, certificate of death no. 156-54-315803, Dora Garber, 24 August 1954; Department of Health and Mental Hygeine, New York City.
2. Kings Co., NY, certificate of death no. 156-63-311669, Jack Garber, 1 June 1963; Department of Health and Mental Hygeine, New York City.
3. Under New York law, I could not acquire her death record.
4. For Alice's birth, see: Providence, Rhode Island, 1893 birth register, vol. 15, p. 182, Sarah Mutznick, 10 December 1893; "Rhode Island, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1630-1945," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9VD-J2T8?cc=2146229&wc=Q6HB-WZ3%3A1590132303%2C1590132304%2C1590132373 : accessed 18 March 2018), Providence > Providence > Birth register, 1891-1893, vol 15 > image 226 of 262; Rhode Island State Archive, Providence City Archives, city and town clerk offices. Lena's maiden name appears with several variations in records. She was identified as "Lizzie Goldstein" in Alice's birth register. On her SS-5, Alice says her mother's maiden name was Goldfarb. On Alice's sister, Rebecca's birth record, her mother is identified as Goldberg. See, "Rhode Island Births and Christenings, 1600-1914," index, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 17 March 2018), entry for Rebecca Mushnick, 8 November 1905, Providence, RI.
5. 1910 U.S. Census, Providence Co., Rhode Island, population schedule, Providence, e.d. 26, sheet 11B, dwelling 115, family 246, Charles and Jennie Mushnick family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 March 2018).
1920 U.S. Census, Providence Co., RI, pop. sched., Providence, e.d. 193, sheet 9B, dwell. 83, fam. 183, Charles and Lena Salomushnick family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 March 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1442.
6. 1910 U.S. Census, Providence Co., RI, pop. sched., Providence, e.d. 26, sheet 11B, dwell. 115, fam. 246, Charles and Jennie Mushnick family.
7. 1940 U.S. Census, Kings Co., NY, pop. sched., Brooklyn, e.d. 24-2041B, sheet 1A, household 4, Alice Rodman family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 March 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T627.
8. "Rhode Island Town Marriages Index, 1639-1916," index, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 17 March 2018), entry for Samuel Isaac Rodman and Sarah Alice Mushnick, 26 May 1912, Providence, Rhode Island.
9. 1920 U.S. Census, Kings Co., NY, pop. sched., Brooklyn, e.d. 734, sheet 6B, dwell. n/a, fam. 28, Samuel and Alice Rodman family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 March 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T624.
10. 1925 New York State Census, Kings Co., NY, enumeration of inhabitants, assembly district 13, election district 13, p. 4, Samuel and Alice Rodman family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : access 25 October 2013), New York State Archives, Albany.
11. 1930 U.S. Census, Kings, Co, NY, pop. sched., Brooklyn, e.d. 24-45, sheet 6B, dwell. 10, fam. 116, Samuel and Alice Rodman family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 October 2013).
12. 1940 U.S. Census, Kings Co., NY, pop. sched., Brooklyn, e.d. 24-2041B, sheet 1A, household 4, Alice Rodman family.
13. Kings County, New York, certificate of marriage registration no. 18441 (certificate 26171), Jack Garber and Alice Rodman, 8 January 1955; Office of the City Clerk, New York.