Looking back from today

My Berkman ancestors have, until recently, been something of a mystery. My father’s parents, David Berkman and Vera Elstein, were divorced in 1931, nine years after they were married and seven years after my father was born. David died in 1956, four years before I was born, and so I never met him. Nor did my father speak of him. At all. Never in my memory.

Vera remarried and Maurice Winer was my paternal grandfather. I was very fond of him, but figured out pretty early (due to the last name) that he wasn’t my biological grandfather. I don’t recall if I ever asked my father about his father directly, but I definitely asked my mother. While I don’t remember her words, it was clear that this would not be a good subject to raise.

At my grandmother’s death, I saved boxes of letters, photographs, and other ephemera. The only trace of David was some holes cut out of photographs and a business card.

David Berkman card

Regardless, the starting point for any genealogy is one’s immediate family. I blogged about my father, Franklin Berkman, in another writing space. I am one of three children, the first born. My elder son was given “Berkman” as his middle name (much to his chagrin.) My brother has three children including two sons, and so the Berkman name will continue into another generation. (I will leave patriarchal naming systems for another time, possibly another lifetime.) As I examine my family history via this blog, it is of the generations in the future that I think.

 

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