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Connecting the generations through photographs*


It’s largely because of my cousin Jim Ostroff that I’m at all interested in genealogy. Jim is two years older than I am. Technically, he and I are second cousins (we share the same great-grandparents). But we have been close friends all of our lives, share a profession, and an alma mater.

But there are some areas in which our interests diverge. I tend to be pretty scattershot. I get interested in things in bursts of energy, and then move on to something else. Jim has always stayed focused. He seems to remember every conversation he ever had with his grandmother about family, and probably has detailed notes from the ones after he was about three or four. By contrast, I have trouble remembering which shoes I’m wearing right now without looking down to check.

A few weeks ago, Jimmy (which is what his family calls him) emailed me a pile of pictures from decades ago. I don’t know how this stack eluded him this long, because I thought he’d already scanned all of his pictures. But they make for pleasant viewing. And as an example of the power of photographs to keep us connected.

*8:30pm PT two corrections in one of the captions: Thea was the middle daughter of Jacob and Clara (not the youngest, as I said), and Jacob’s postcard was sent two months before he died.

A postcard from Jacob J. Rosenblum (Jim's grandfather) to his middle daughter Thea and her husband Herbie (Jim's parents), postmarked Monticello, NY, on June 16, 1943, slightly more two months before Jacob died.


Text of the postcard from Jacob J. Rosenblum: "Best regards to you and husband. Be good and well. J." Postmarked in Monticello, NY, on June 16, 1943.


Photo of Charlotte Rosenblum, Joe Altman, and Thea Rosenblum. (Charlotte and Thea were the sisters of Joe's wife Virginia.) Note on back indicates it was taken at 1935 Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn, which is where Joe Altman and Virginal (Rosenblum) Altman lived.


Note from Jay Altman to Jim Ostroff on previous photo. (Jay is the son of Joe and Virginia Altman, and Jim's first cousin.)Note is dated June 17, 2009.


Picture postcard of the Sunrise Hotel in Livingston Manor, NY.


Text of postcard dated July 13, 1941 and postmarked July 14, 1941 in Livingston Manor, NY. From Herb Ostroff to Thea Rosenblum. ("Thea Ross" is a pen name Jim's mother sometimes used.)


1935 photo of Virginia (Rosenblum) Altman with friends, presumably in Brooklyn, NY.


July 1959 photo of Virginia Altman with Ostroff kids, presumably in Douglaston, NY. L to R: Jim Ostroff, Ellen Ostroff, Matthew Ostroff, Virginia Altman.


Virginia (Rosenblum) Altman with her sister, Thea (Rosenblum) Ostroff and kids, presumably in Douglaston, NY. L to R: Thea (Rosenblum) Ostroff, Virginia (Rosenblum) Altman, Herbert "Herbie" Ostroff, Matthew Ostroff, Ellen Ostroff.


Virginia Rosenblum and her sister Thea Rosenblum, circa 1935.


The Rosenblum sisters, circa 1938. L to R: Virginia Rosenblum, Thea Rosenblum, Charlotte Rosenblum.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • jay altman January 31, 2012, 7:46 am

    I never saw that 1935 picture of my mother and Aunt Thea before.
    My father didn’t look too happy in his picture on the roof. T
    he Douglaston picture of my cousins is too cute. I’m putting it in my photo album.

    • Paul Skolnick January 31, 2012, 7:58 am

      Hi Jay,

      I thought at least some of these photos had come from you to Jim. Glad to share them with you. By the way, Jim suggests looking at the FIRST Douglaston photo. You can see in the rear window of your parents’ car what appears to be a horizontal head. Jim suggests that this may have been YOU clowning around in there.