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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • ABOUT PARIS, 1895

The Handsome Family: 1941

The Handsome Family: 1941

August 1941. "The family of Gottlieb Zahler in their new farm in Lacona, New York, to which they moved from the Pine Camp relocation area." Medium-format negative by Jack Delano for the Resettlement Administration. View full size.

 

Pine Camp (Now Fort Drum) Family Relocation 1941

The government took our farm of 158 acres in Antwerp, N.Y. for the Pine Camp expansion (now called Fort Drum) in the summer of 1941 The Zahler family was one of 525 families forced to move. All buildings (houses, Barns, businesses,schools churches, etc.) and 5 villages and 7 smaller communities eliminated. This picture is of Harold {age 24} - standing, Andy {age 11}, Donald {age 17}, Helen {age 10}, Mom {age 49} (Ida), sitting on the couch at our new home in Lacona after relocation - (Now Joanne's house). Dad {age 56} (Gottlieb) is not in the picture as he was working as a carpenter building Army barracks in Pine Camp during the day. The rest of the siblings ( Alice, Lillian, Edward, Erwin ) were not involved in the move as they were living, on their own, away from our Antwerp home. A government photographer made available pictures of some of the relocated families - not so much as I suspect for the historical record but as to show the public they were being well treated.
The situation in Europe in 1941 required that training facilities and a speedy U. S. armed forces build up was a top priority. As I recall, the families were given about 1 year's notice to vacate the premises. The eviction notice stated (under eminent domain) that when leaving all permanent fixtures (water pumps, Kitchen cabinets, windows, doors, electric fixtures, all pipes, etc., must remain. Most of the people that had to move complied. The result in obeying this edict was that the area junk dealers and others, had a field day. No one stopped the stripping of all useable items in the buildings., the rest being vandalized. Most of those "drummed out" were far from rich and could have used some of these items in their new homes- since we were just coming out of the "Great Depression". We returned to our former home a month after our move to see what we could salvage. Nothing of value was left . What was not taken was destroyed by vandals'. Every single window of the farm house and barn was smashed and this was true of every former farm neighbor.

The Village and Community cemetery's on the Fort Drum reservation land acquisition are now maintained by the Army. However, at the time of the taking, family cemeteries were not a priority. There are several that still have not been accounted for.

Even more history

I looked through some old photos and documents and verified that the man standing on the left is Uncle Harold and not Grandpa. So - you are right - Gottlieb is not in the picture. I also do not think that is Grandma in the picture - it could very well be my mom, as she would have been 26 at that time.

More History

Dad says that it is Gottlieb in the picture and not Harold, but I am not sure as he would have been older than he looks here. The guitar on the wall belonged to my mother (Alice Zahler), as she played Hawaiian guitar (also known as steel guitar). My Dad took it to war with him (WWII) when he went overseas and lost it, as he came home very sick and lost all of his belongings. Mom would have been 26 years old at the time this picture was taken. The pushbutton accordion was Uncle Ed's - Mom's older brother. The deer head on the wall belonged to Harold, and was still in the family up until about 5 years ago. I inherited it but couldn't stand to look at it and got rid of it. I have memories of the eyes following me around the room when I was a child. It was very old and ratty by then anyway. Sorry!! I think that the children are Andy (youngest boy), Helen, and Donald. Donald later was killed in the war - he was a tail-gunner.

Thanks, Whitney!

It's so interesting when you can find out just a little more about people in a photo, and from someone who knows the personal details.

Tail Gunner Sgt. Donald C. Zahler

There's Donald in the back row far right.

A Handsome Family

There is a pun in the title, and I'm sure it's intended here.

The Handsome Family is an "Americana Folk" duet currently active writing and performing what might be best described as Folk Noir. They are utterly brilliant with wonderfully odd instrumental arrangements underneath truly bizarre, mostly non-rhyming lyrics that deserve not just a second listen but a twentieth.

A Little Zahler History

This is a little odd seeing my family photo on a website with so many comments, but being a historian, I must learn to deal with it. As another person said, the woman on the far right is also my great grandmother, Ida Zahler, who was 49 years old at the time of the picture. She married Gottlieb (not pictured) on May 18, 1913, arrived in New York on May 30, 1913, and my grandfather, Ed (not pictured), was born in March 1914. They had nine children total with one dying within a year of birth – that may be why she looks worn, but she was one tough German woman.

The young boy sitting on the far left of the sofa is Andy, who is still living, and the boy sitting next to him is Donald. This picture was taken in August 1941 so a few months later he went to enlist with my grandfather after Pearl Harbor. Of course, with his being 17, my great grandmother refused to sign for him but eventually gave in after realizing how badly Uncle Donald wanted to join. He went into the 8th Air Force to be a tail gunner for the B-17 while my grandfather went into the 5th Air Force in the Pacific. Unfortunately, Donald’s plane was shot down during a bombing raid in Germany in 1944, and being the tail gunner, he could not evacuate. My grandfather and Donald were very close and up until the year my grandfather passed away, he still attended 8th Air Force meetings.

But, that’s enough family history for now…

Many have mentioned the musical instruments but what about the pheasant and the deer? I am assuming my family hunted a great deal?

And I do like the title of this photo…I like to think I’ve come from a handsome family. :-)

Guitars are Fine

But I confess that I love the little button accordion on the mantel beside the souvenirs. This must have been musical family that might have spent at least part of the evening playing their instruments instead of the radio.

Quite a looker

The guy on the left must have left the ladies swooning, and the kid in the middle is going to break some hearts, once he grows into his teeth. Mom on the right was probably pretty, but she's had a hard life -- I'll bet she's not as old as she appears.

Zahler Family Photo

Ida and Gottlieb were my great-grandparents. The other children of the family were Alice (deceased), Lillian (in Maryland, I believe), Donald (deceased), Andy (Lacona, NY), Edward (deceased), Erwin Zahler Sr. (deceased). The man on the left may very well be Uncle Harold. I sent the photo to my father, who would know better.

Geetars

The guitar on the right is a wood-bodied instrument with a "spider" style cone arrangement, set up with a nut riser to be played lap-style. It's an early version of what is now generically called a "dobro," used in bluegrass.

The guitar on the left looks like one from the big Chicago manufacturers (Lyon and Healy, Harmony, Kuhrmeyer, etc.) sold by mail order under a range of brand names. And that double row button accordion is a cool thing, too -- the big brother of the single row Cajun squeeze boxes.

Imprinted

I was born in 1942 and I am almost certain I remember wallpaper exactly like that in our house. Gotta look up some old pics to be sure.

The Handsome Family: 1941

Mr. Zahler died on Sept 3, 1976. If you Google him, you will find a Facebook page dedicated to his family history. Some of his family history is also posted on Ancestry.com. He and his wife Ida had nine children.

Souvenirs

The first thing I noticed was the guitar too! Wish I had it!

But then my eyes were drawn to the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building on the mantel. We've still got our souvenirs too!

They're on Facebook!

Not surprising such a distinctive name is so traceable.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&gid=2227466743

Musical Family

One can see that music is important to this family (and quelle guitar!).

From the Watertown Daily Times, Tues., Sept 7, 1976

ZAHLER - In the House of the Good Samaritan, Watertown, Sept. 3, 1976, Gottlieb Zahler, 90, of Lacona. Memorial service Monday at 2 p.m. at the Summervilte Funeral Home, Sandy Creek The body will be cremated.

The family has a FaceBook page "Zahler Family Tree". I will pass this along. Someone may be able to give us some more info on the family in the photo!

The family tree.

Gottlieb Zahler was born in 1885 and died in 1976. I assumed from the caption that Gottlieb was the fellow on the far left but that must be a son instead making this only a photo of Gottlieb's family without Gottlieb.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&gid=2227466743

Ed Zahler: "My father was Edward Gottlieb Zahler, son of Ida and Gottlieb Zahler. He is survived by his brother, Andrew Zahler, currently living in Lacona, NY. June 3, 2009"

Whitney Zahler: "My great grandparents, Ida and Gottlieb, were from Lenk, Switzerland and came to the US in 1913 on one of the last ships out of Europe before the War. My grandfather, Edward Gottlieb Zahler, was the oldest. June 2, 2009"

Electricity at the push of a button

I like the light switch. The house I grew up in had the same type of pushbutton units.

The Wall

Nice National Steel Resophonic guitar hanging there.

Pine Camp to Fort Drum

Pine Camp is what Fort Drum used to be called. According to this history, about 500 families were relocated when Fort Drum was built from the old Pine Camp site expansion.

Great Collection

Two guitars, a pheasant, stags head, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, an accordion ... wow! Is that a boat as well? And what's the item next to the steel guitar?

 
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