This little 2" x 3" picture has been in my family for many years. It is a picture of a young Frederick Austerlitz who was known to the world as Fred Astaire! No, he's not a relative. Fred was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 10, 1899. His father, Fritz E. Austerlitz, worked for the Storz Brewery in Omaha and would travel throughout the midwest on his sales calls. My great-uncle, Edward Stanton, owned a tavern in Ravenna, Nebraska and the senior Austerlitz would often bring his son along with him as he traveled. Young Frederick would sometimes be a guest at my great-aunt and great-uncle's home in Ravenna. This picture appears to be taken at my aunt's home. Unfortunately, the identity of the boy on the right is unknown. We believe he is a relation (a distant cousin, perhaps), but his identity is lost. The picture was probably taken in 1904 or 1905 when Frederick would have been 5 or 6. According to a number of Internet sites, his show business career began in November 1905 when he and his older sister, Adele, began dancing in vaudeville together. There are a number of great Fred Astaire sites including FredAstaire.net and Dance on Air.
Monday, October 25, 2004
This is a picture of my great-grandparents' sod house in Nebraska. The house was located a mile or two from my grandparent's farm. My grandmother, May Chamberlain Cornelius, lived here as a young girl. In summer 2002, I visited the site. The house was torn down years ago.
A picture of my grandfather (under arrow) and his company from Sherman County, Nebraska as they prepare for basic training. This photo was probably taken in 1917. His basic training took place at Camp Funston, Kansas and then on Long Island before he was shipped off to France. I have about 20-30 letters that he wrote to his sister from camp and when he first arrived in France.
A photo of my maternal grandfather, Edward Kostal, taken in 1917 before he shipped off for France. He was severely wounded in action at Argonne in Septmber 1918, a few weeks before the Armistice was signed. He eventually recovered from his wounds and settled in Ravenna, Nebraska, a small farming community in central Nebraska. He became a rural letter carrier until he retired in the mid-1960s. He was a pretty good golfer, winning a number of state and local tournaments. He passed away in January 1967.