Sometimes you just can't say no. Having recently suffered this kind of aphasia here at the Brooklyn Collection, we are now the custodians of a mysterious trove of photographs. Last month we received an email from a photo archivist at a well-known New York newspaper, with the subject "accession query." The email went on to describe a small collection of photos discovered in a Brighton Beach dumpster, just outside of the Trump Village apartments, by a filmmaker who teaches at a New England College. Knowing that Irving Herzberg lived in that same Trump complex, where he also ran a camera club, we were intrigued, and so we made a visit to the newspaper's offices where we were dumbstruck by the touching personal photographs which had somehow found no better caretaker than a dumpster.
The couple you see here appear again and again in the photos, often in the back yard of this house.
They're either entertaining this baby, or spending time with these two pictured below.
The majority of the photos are small, typically about 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", and appear to have been removed from an album.
In addition to these snapshots, there is also a professionally assembled album of Bar Mitzvah photographs for Teddy G. Kaminsky, from November 5th, 1949. The photo below comes from that album. Teddy is on the right. Perhaps he is the baby all grown up?
It's difficult to tell exactly where these photos were taken; if this is Brooklyn, where in Brooklyn is it?
From the photo below, of a woman who is neither of the women depicted above, we can tell they're at Coney Island. That thin smudge in the sky is the Parachute Jump. But who is this we see on the beach?
This photo also looks to be from Coney Island.
The one person who appears more than any other in these images is the woman on the right, above, and beside the horse, below.
Here she is on a rooftop.
And here she is again, now older, with blonde hair. Is that the same man who appears in the first photo with her? Is this, perhaps, a grandson beside them?
But for all these images, we are left with more questions than answers. A few names appear here and there on documents included with the photos: Rhonda Kaminsky, Rhea Kaminsky, and Richard Kaminsky. There is also a Standard & Poor's Employee ID for Selig Rosenberg, who is the man pictured above in the red robe. So at the very least we know his name. It's also likely that the woman's name is Rhea Kaminsky, judging from dates that appear on some of the assorted documents. But were they married? Why do they have different last names? Are Richard and Teddy their children? Is Rhonda their child too or perhaps a grandchild? What happened to them?
This is one of the earliest photos in the group. Relatives of Selig? Relatives of Rhea? There are no notes or names on the back of the photo, no way to know. In looking on Ancestry.com for some clue of the Rosenbergs/Kaminskys, I was able to dig up Social Security Death Index records for both Selig Rosenberg and Richard Kaminsky. Rhea Kaminsky only appears in the U.S. Public Records Index, where her birthdate is listed as 5 January 1913 and her address, as of 1990, as 2915 W. 5th St. Apt. 21D, Brooklyn, New York. I also found a 1930 census record for Selig Rosenberg. His father, Edward, born in Russia, ran a candy store. He and his wife, Sadie immigrated to the States in 1891 and 1906, respectively. Selig had three siblings: Jacob, Silivia, and Florence. Do any of them appear in these photos?
There are well over 100 photos in this mystery collection. Some, like the one above, were tucked away in the kind of plastic sleeve that fits in a wallet. And others, like the one below, are no bigger than a matchbook.
If you are familiar with any of the names mentioned in this post, or recognize any of the people staring out from these photographs, please let us know. There is very little information to go on, and we are curious to flesh out the lives of the people you see depicted here.