My Maternal Grandfather

This is a photo of my grandfather(1879 – 1938) whom I never met. When my father moved to Highland Park from the Boston area, he gave me a photo album that had belonged to my mother. The photos are from the late 19th century through the 1940’s. I have been going through the album a little at a time, and I only had the emotional energy to scan in one photo. I was going to scan another Mariampole photo, but somehow I got stuck on this one.

My grandfather’s name was Solon Friede. There was a blog discussion recently about names; in the discussion the question of naming after a relative came up. I can’t imagine having a child named Solon. As his Hebrew name is translated to Shlomo, my brother received that name as a middle name. My father had a brother named Shlomo who had died in his twenties, so the Shlomo was also for him. Do you have a naming tradition in your family? I am glad that my eldest and youngest bear the names of precious dead relatives. My middle son, who was born a few months after my paternal grandmother died, received a Hebraicized, masculine version of her name as a middle name. But there is an Aidel (her Yiddish name, in English she was Ida) in Brooklyn who is named for my paternal grandmother.

 More on my grandfather in this post
 About the Jews of Lithuania, where my grandfather was born

As this photo is sepia, I am including it in this new meme called Sepia Scenes.
Thank you, Mary!

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28 thoughts on “My Maternal Grandfather

  • Great photo of your grandfather. In my Russian culture it’s traditional for all the children to have their father’s name as their middle name. It would translate ellen, Moisi’s daughter, Bagdanov…

  • Great that you still have pictures like this. I always like looking at these type of portraits from the antique store and always wondered who these people were. I’m glad there is a story that came along with this one. Thanks for sharing!

  • Hi Leora,
    I never knew my Grandfather either who died before I was born and I’ve never seen a photo of him. I am so happy you have this photo for yourself.
    You won’t beleive this but Monday I was on a drive to an old swimming hole and we passed a church named Mt. Solon. I thought it was an odd name. It was spelled just like you have here. I’m curious about the name now.
    But, wonderful photo for Sepia Scenes.

  • It’s a great photo of your grandfather.
    And it’s a great thing that you’ve managed to keep it safe.
    I never see my grandfather face nor his photo ๐Ÿ™

  • He looks very distinguished.

    My children are both named for relatives who have died, but since we wanted more modern names we used their first initial (in Hebrew), rather than the actual name. Itai is named for my grandfather, Maya for Jay’s mother.

  • My father bears his own father’s name; but the latter was still alive when my father was born.
    In my father’s family there is also a tradtion to give the name Beatrix, a Flemish version of Beatrice to the girls so it is my second name. In addition, since my maternal grandmother died a month begfore I was born, her name, Hรฉlรจne is my third name.
    Thanks for sharing your photo with us; I now know what Solon looks like.

  • Thanks, everyone.
    Ilana-Davita, my mother’s name was almost Helen. She and my grandmother chose an English name, as her Russian name was Lena. Helen was the translation, but they preferred Elaine.

    Carletta, I believe Solon is a Greek name meaning “wisdom”. Interestingly, Shlomo, which was his Hebrew name, was considered to be the wisest of kings (Solomon in English). I guess his mother wanted a “Hellenized” name for him. All his great grandchildren have Hebrew names.

  • “I am glad that my eldest and youngest bear the names of precious dead relatives.”
    Agreed. I named my son Yitzchak after my grandfather who had just passed away a few months ago. He was very dear to me, click here and here

    I feel really good naming after him.

  • What a lovely photo and what a treasure you have in that album. I have little information about my family history in China, but my husband has pictures and has been the keeper of his family tree back into the early 1800’s. I feel blessed to have all of that history intertwined with mine. In looking at his tree it appears that they had the tradition of carrying on certain names as there are a whole lot of Moshes on the tree.

  • Leora, great story about your grandfather sand your naming tradition. In my family we usually name after the father and in my husband family you name after the father’s father… You’ll find Sepia Scenes
    here ๐Ÿ™‚

  • That’s a great subject for Sepia Scenes, Leora, your grandfather really was a very handsome man. I got my grandmothers name as my third name, first name is mine of course, then my mother, and then hers.Lovely picture!

  • “Do you have a naming tradition in your family?”

    yea, we name after relatives that were niftar. For myself knowing that I’m named after my mothers grandmother makes me feel a connection to her even though I never met her. Whenever my grandmother talks about her I will listen closely to hear about this relative that I’m named after.

    I heard that sephardi’s name after living relatives. I hadn’t known this all the time. When my friend told me she named her daughter after her mother in law, I felt bad for her that her mother in law was no longer there. But then she had said that her mother in law was watching the baby, so she had to still be alive. SO then I found out that they name after living relatives.

    About the actual picture I can understand how it would be emotionally draining to look at them. In my grandparents old house they had pictures of my grandfather’s brothers that were niftar in the war, on top of a book case, and every time you would go up the steps to go to the bathroom you would pass the book case, the photos were black and white, and since I knew they were not living it always made me sad and spooked me out, I was always afraid to look at them.

  • Thanks, Babysitter, for all your comments. I was going to write about the Sephardi custom, but I try not to include too much in one post. A friend here said the advantage is her son knows his grandfather for whom he is named. The grandfather is unfortunately no longer around, but the two did have the first ten years of the boy’s life to get to know each other.

  • I do know a young man, not Jewish, named Solon. He’s an amazing young man, very multi-talented. Solon means wise man, and it’s a good name, if unusual. I like your sepia photo as well. My own grandmother came from Kiev which is the Ukraine, by the way.

    Thanks for an interesting post, and for visiting my blog. Nice skywatch photos also!

  • can you identify all the photos in that album?
    i have almost all of my paternal grandparents’ old photos. i spent some time with them identifying the people in the pictures but my grandparents were already so old they couldn’t remember everyone (and some they never met themeselves).

  • This is a recent tradition but starting with my maternal grandmother the first girl gets the first name of her mother as a middle name. So my Mother is Lenore Marie with Marie being her mother’s name. I am Michelle Lenore and my daughter is Dianna Michelle…I hope she will keep it going…

  • Michelle, that’s a nice naming tradition. So what happens if someone has boys? I guess it would just need to be tweaked, like my son’s middle name was so I could remember my paternal grandmother.

    LoZ, unfortunately, no. I do know what my mother’s mother’s mother looked like, so I can identify her. And I can guess about some of the relatives of my paternal grandfather. But some of the very oldest photos, the ones from Mariampole of children, I have no idea. Mysteries.

  • I think names are interesting, especially names that come from families. Both of my girls have middle names that are the first names, or a first of the first names, of their maternal grandmothers–though they will never remember one of the grandmothers and the other very little since the last passed away when the oldest had just turned five.
    Their first names are nothing to do with family, and are unusual, but not made up. They have to do with their Irish and Dutch heritage.

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