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The Christian and Berta Palmer Family Album 1919 -- 1965

My parents Christian Palmer [1897 -- 1981] and Berta Lederer Palmer [1908 -- 1991] emigrated from Geradstetten, Germany in the 1920s, Christian in 1924, and Berta in 1928, as near as we can now fix the dates. Christian was the oldest of three children, with bothers August [1899 - 1980] and Wilhelm [1902 -- 1972]. Berta was the middle child of three, with a sister Friderike [1903 -- 1993] and a brother Wilhelm [1910 -- 1941].

Christian and August were soldiers in WW I, as shown in the first album link below. The 1920s were not good times in Germany, and many other Germans made their way to the US in those days, often to the New York area. August came to New York in 1923, and Christian joined him in 1924. Christian first lived with his younger brother August in the Whitestone section of Queens, NY. He returned to Geradstetten on a visit a few years later, and met Berta at a wedding. She came to America in 1928. They were married in 1929, living in various neighborhoods of New York City: Ridgewood, Brooklyn [late 20s, early 30s], the Bronx, where Alfred [1932] and William [1937] were born, Maspeth in Queens [1937-1940], Ridgewood, Brooklyn [1940-1943], and Forest Hills, Queens [1943-1974].

My parents kept two family albums. The first one, tattered and black, was filled with old pictures, many of them studio photographs dating from the early parts of the twentieth century. As a kid I enjoyed paging through this one. I remember studio shots with vases and potted palms for props. There were also shots of Christian's army service in WW I, when he served in France with a German Artillery unit. I had not seen that album for years, and when Berta died it was not among her belongings.

The second, and exisiting, album, with the Albert Ballin on its cover, was also one I remember paging through from my earliest years, and it was this album in which my parents collected photographs as they were married, had children, and these grew up, roughly the period 1924 - 1965. It was also the album in which they collected the many photos that were sent from our relatives in Germany, so they serve also as a record of that branch of the family for these years.

This record, alas, as I intimated above, is not unexpurgated. Many of the photos have been removed, and replaced by newer ones. Some of the photos from the earlier, black album may have been inserted in this one. Pictures that conjured up painful memories did not survive Berta's editing in her last years. An example is one I remember of Berta's brother Wilhelm in German army uniform, killed on the Russian front in 1941.

This was an era of black and white photography, and slow film speeds. The family camera, a sturdy Kodak box, was not often put into service, and Christian's photos are not always sharp and perfectly exposed. From Germany, in later years, came many technically excellent shots, often when Berta or Christian were in Geradstetten. So we have a mixed bag of pictures here, all vetted by Christian and Berta, sometimes with repetitions of very similar shots. In preparing these for a browser-friendly format, I have decided not to edit out any of the pictures, only arranging them chronologically as best I can. To these I have added some free standing pictures that were part of Berta's last effects.

At the end of this time period, about when I got serious about photography, the black and white era of photography ended, and that of color slides began. The visual family history of the next years, for this reason, is contained in color slide collections that are outside the scope of this Albert Ballin collection. Some day I will get to that task.

A few more remarks are in order about these times in New York. Christian and Berta had relatives in New York, Christian's brother August, August's wife Lena, and their three children Charles, Margarete, and Otto. They figure prominently in these pictures. Among the circle of Berta and Christian's friends were many fellow immigrants from Geradstetten, whom they saw regularly: the Stangle's, the Ries's, the Marquadt's, the Bock's, the Kittleberger's, the Bubeck's, and the Authenried's. (The Kuhn's and the Gehrmann's were also very close friends, though not from Geradstetten.) Some of these people also appear in the pictures. When these landsmann got together socially, as they often did, the talk would eventually run to Geradstetten, which always remained a deep part of them, their memories refreshed by constant contact by mail with their parents and siblings and other relatives across the ocean, as well as by periodic visits to their homeland.

The visits to Germany of Berta and Christian recorded in this collection are:

1934 Berta with son Alfred on the Albert Ballin

1949 Berta with Hilde Ries on the Ile de France

1953 Christian on the United States

They returned to Germany several more times, not recorded in this album: Christian in the late 20s, Berta in the mid 60s, Berta and Christian in 1974, and Berta in 1983 (her last trip) with her nieces Jocelyn and Caroline.

In the following links I have attempted to identify people in photographs as best I can, including birth and death dates where appropriate. If I have made mistakes, please let me know, and I will correct them.

If you have pictures of my family that are not among these, I would be pleased to make copies of them, to add to an appendix to this archive.

Finally, let me remark that this record is one of simpler times than now, when Christmas did not start at Thanksgiving, when the car for the most part only left the garage on weekends, and a family vacation consisted of two weeks on Charlie Stangle's farm, picking blue berries. These days I take as many pictures in one year as fill this album of some 40 years. Both times are good, but I can't say which is better.

Bill Palmer

December 2000