In honor of all who served, no matter the country, here are a few photos of them in uniform.
There have been several Braunhart men who have served in the military. And yes, some served in the German army in World War I.
In honor of all who served, no matter the country, here are a few photos of them in uniform.
Leather is in my blood. The family business revolved around leather for approximately one hundred years, manufacturing pocket books, purses, Boston bags, key cases, eyeglass cases and calculator cases, when electronic hand held calculators were first sold en masse starting in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
My great grandfather, Isidor Heyman started the family business in the 1880s. In his naturalization papers in 1888, and city directories in the late 1800s and early 1900s in New York, he was identified as a pocket book maker. He received a patent in 1887 for a leather purse:
When he moved his family to Oakland, California in 1910, he started the Bay City Bag Company. His sons Arthur and Leo worked at the company, and his son-in-law, Mervyn Marks was a salesman for the company. This company manufactured leather purses. Arthur learned to sew at his father’s company and later was a clothing designer and a seamster in both World War I and World War II in the Seabees.
Mervyn Marks picked up the family business in the mid-1930s and started the Marks Leather Goods Company. His sons Robert and Mervyn, Jr. worked at the company. They primarily made key cases in addition to purses.
The company’s big break came during World War II, when it manufactured leather eyeglass cases for Rayban, who was providing sunglasses to the U.S. Air Force. It was then that the company changed its name to California Optical Leather Company.
The company moved its manufacturing site to Castro Valley, California from Oakland in the late 1940s. Mervyn Sr and his wife Cele had a home that was attached to the “shop” as it was called.
Robert designed many new eyeglass cases and had several patents, including these:
Mervyn Jr ran the manufacturing facility. In the late 1950s, the company was bought by the two sons. Mervyn Jr. left the company in the 1960s and Robert ran and increased the size of the company substantially until it was sold to a non-family member in the 1980s. Robert was responsible for hundreds of designs. I would venture a guess that the preponderance of eyeglass cases manufactured in the 1950s through the 1970s were his designs, many times "stolen" by other manufacturers, both domestic and foreign.
There are so many fond memories of the shop, as I worked there during my childhood and teen years. The smell and feel of leather; operating the massive “clickers’ that stamped metal dies onto the leather and cut the cases, and the chance to be around my grandparents, Mervyn and Cele every day, as well as my Uncle Merv and Aunt Jeanne.
But the most important life lesson for me was to learn to be a “tortoise” rather than a “hare.” As I stood every day at the “shaping” machines next to my grandfather, I always tried to beat him in shaping the most number of cases in an hour. But like most kids, I fell into the trap of being the “hare,” where for 15 minutes I could out do him, and maybe for a half hour, but at the end of the hour, his production was always greater, as he plodded along, without interruption and without fanfare.
So the smell of leather always produces fond memories of my family.
I have always wondered about the World War I draft card for my grandfather Mervyn Raphael Marks. There have always been two things that bothered me about it.
The first bothersome entry was that he identified himself as a "farmer." The second was that he had sole support of his mother, Mollie Raphael Marks. He had not yet married my grandmother, Celia Heyman. That happened in 1918.
Let's take a look at these two "facts." First, below are the two pages of his draft card:
I'm sorry, but unless I am terribly mistaken, my grandfather was not a farmer. He was a salesman. And although his parents according to the 1910 census were not living together (I could not find his father anywhere), I do believe that they were together in 1917 (his father Joseph Marks, died in 1919).
In reviewing the rules for deferment for World War I, about 50% of the men who registered in the first registration (men 21 to 31 years old), received deferments, and sole support of a parent and critical agriculture employment were two factors in receiving a deferment.
So did Grandpa lie to get out of the draft? His son is still alive, but I don't think this would be something that one would be proud to admit to one's son. On the other hand, maybe his parents were separated and he did work on a farm - but I doubt it. I don't think I will ever know.
My grandmother, Celia Heyman Marks, was a whiz at the typewriter. Because she mostly used manual typewriters all her life (she was born in 1894), she had incredibly strong fingers and hands.
The story goes that at the New York World's Fair in the early 1900s, she broke one of the first electric typewriters (which were first mass produced in 1902) because she typed so fast. On a manual typewriter, I know she exceeded 125 words per minute for an extended period. I believe the world record is 147 wpm for an hour.
There was much more to my grandmother - she was smart as a whip and loved word games.
Here she is and below her photo is a photo of her typing medal in 1909 from the Wood's Brooklyn School of Business and Shorthand.
My father, Robert Joseph Marks, had a terrific sense of humor. When faced with an adversary, his motto was "kill them with kindness". He took pleasure in combining humor with getting a dig at someone who was giving him a bad time.
Bill Fiset, the columnist for over 35 years at the Oakland Tribune, who regularly wrote human interest stories, memorialized my father's interaction with the Sequoyah Country Club and Castlewood Country Club in the following story:
Sixty nine years ago today, the US joined the war. My father, Robert Joseph Marks, joined the Marines a few months later and served in the South Pacific. As a tribute to him and the millions who were in that war, below is a photo of him at a lighter time during his service.
The following article is a true story although the names were changed slightly. In 1942, my father, Robert J Marks and his best friend Ray Kelly, were both 21 years old and were trying to decide which branch of the armed forces that they would join to fight either the Nazis or the Japanese during World War 2. They had recently seen the John Payne and Maureen O'Hara movie "To The Shores Of Tripoli" and had jointly decided that the uniforms were pretty cool - and with the goofy decision making abilities that young men often display, decided that that was a good reason to choose the Marine Corps.
What follows is an article in the Oakland Tribune newspaper, and it is all true.
There have been many in the family who have been in the entertainment industry as musicians, actors, writers, magicians, and dancers. Some have actually been in the entertainment industry making a living, while others performed as a hobby or sideline.
My first cousin, once removed, (my Dad's first cousin) Clyde Pound, has been a pianist, keyboardist, arranger, musical director, etc. for over 50 years. He started with the Dukes of Dixieland and through his career has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, Hawaii, Colorado, and now Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was musical director for the Hungry I nightclub in San Francisco and has been musical director for and played with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Liza Minelli, Dizzy Gillespie, and many others.
Another one of my Dad's cousins, Stafford Repp was a television and movie actor, best known for the part of Chief O'Hara on the television series Batman in the 1960s. He started his career in San Francisco repertory theatre after serving in World War II. He moved to southern California where he subsequently appeared in character roles in hundreds of television shows and movies.
Stafford Repp's sister, Elisabeth Repp, was a television writer. She was a writer for the pilot episode of the long running TV soap opera - "General Hospital".
Yet another of my dad's cousins was Gloria Metzner, whose stage name was Gloria Dea. Her father, Leo Metzner was an amateur magician known as "The Great Leo". She started her career as a child magician and performed at The Hotel El Rancho Vegas, the Las Vegas Strip's first casino resort.
Later she danced as part of Earl Carroll's Vanities in Hollywood and the Billy Rose Aquacade at the San Francisco World's Fair. She later was in several movies and serials. She was in the "King of the Congo" serial with Buster Crabbe in the starring role of "Princess Pha".
Although she had small parts in many successful movies such as "Around the World in 80 Days", she also had a small role in what has been called the worst movie of all time - Ed Wood's "Plan 9 From Outer Space". She currently lives in Las Vegas.
The first of Gloria's husbands was Jack Statham, who was a bandleader who also played the accordion. Her second husband was Hal Borne, most famous for being Fred Astaire's rehearsal pianist, as well as band leader for Tony Martin and Ginger Rogers' touring shows. He also wrote the music for one of the last Marx Brothers movies "The Big Store". Here is a photo of Gloria and Hal in 1945.
Clyde Pound's mother and father had a vaudeville show. Henry Pound had a group that was looking for a piano player. Mynette Heyman was hired and they got married shortly thereafter. Myn and her first cousin Edith Markheim Stone played together later in life for senior groups as "The First Cousins".
Arthur Heyman was a "smoothie dancer" and won several awards for his dancing later in his life.
My great grandfather Joseph Marks was a vaudeville agent and my great great uncle Isaac Marks was a stage manager for several San Francisco musical theatres in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
There have been several inventors in the family, many with patents -unfortunately, most didn't get rewarded for their ideas.
Some of their stories and ideas follow:
Louis Marks (my great great grandfather), was the first - he invented some carburetion techniques, and a pre-light bulb illumination machine called the "Eureka Gas Machine". All of these inventions received patents before 1875. One invention should be recognizable by many and that is his "Improved Door Securer". Its picture is below:
Isidor Heyman, my great grandfather, invented several items, only one patented. He was not a great negotiator, so was unable to capitalize on them. The first was a set of stairs that would hinge out to let passengers step up and down on and off a train. Family stories indicate that he presented the invention to Southern Pacific and they built them for their trains and left him with no compensation.
A subsequent invention that was patented was a valise hinge for a doctor's bag or "Boston Bag". Here is the picture:
My cousin, Clyde Pound has told me that when he was a young boy, living with his grandfather, that Isidor went to his room for three days, and emerged with a clip on tie type device, where there was an interchangeable tie knot in different colors.
Arthur Heyman, my great uncle, and Isidor's son, was a seamster, and invented the "Trik Skirt", which was a pleated, foldable skirt. He patented the skirt, yet like the others was unable to capitalize on his invention. This was unfortunate, since Koret of California, who bought the patent, ended up selling a million dollars worth of the skirt in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Contrary to Koret's claim that Stephanie Koret designed the skirt, she did not. In fact, the 1941 patent was assigned by Arthur Heyman to Joe Koret in 1943. This was accomplished by Arthur's wife Bess (nicknamed Babe), who needed the money during World War II, since Arthur was off to war. This was of course enviable on Arthur's part, except that Arthur had also served in World War I, and Babe thought that serving in one war was enough.
Mervyn Harvey Marks, who was an excellent golfer in his time (and who will tell you that he probably played more golf than he should have), invented the doohickey that attaches to the post on a walking golf cart that enabled the golfer to place a few tees, a scorecard and a pencil on it. Like his grandfather Isidor, who had shown his invention to Southern Pacific, Merv showed his invention to Bag Boy and they promptly stole the idea.
The most successful inventor was my father, Robert Joseph Marks, whose realm of patents (about a dozen) were all eyeglass or spectacle cases. In another blog post I will discuss how Isidor Heyman started the Bay City Bag Company, and his son in law started California Optical Leather Company, making key cases prior to WW II, and eyeglass cases during and after the war. His sons Mervyn H and Robert J took over the company in 1948 - Merv Jr. ran the factory, and Robert designed and sold.
Some pictures of the case designs from the patent applications are below - the oldest being the "777" with a clip, and the "Hideaway", both patented in the early 1950s.
The Hideaway was innovative because it was collapsable for "hiding" in a pocket when it did not have eyeglasses in it.
Robert also had several other patented eyeglass cases in the 1970s and 1980s.
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