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My grandfather made his fortune, lost it in the 1929 stock market crash, managed to put his two sons through college during the depression, re-made his fortune but had it
confiscated by a retroactive IRS decision (or at least that was my understanding as a 12 year old), and then re-made his fortune yet again.
The painting above the mantel now hangs in my office. The sketch behind the floor lamp, by my uncle, is in my brother's possession. My sister has the candle sticks.
My grandfather was born Kentucky not far from Cincinnati, Ohio, but both his parents were German and spoke German. They arrived in this country slightly before the Civil War. He was the youngest of eleven and even though the Civil War ended in 1865 and he wasn't born until 1879,
when he told me war stories they were about the Civil War. His older
brothers were adults when he was born and had fought in the Civil War. They had told him stories about it when he was a child. He had only one brother who was close to his own age.
My grandmother, Carrie Leona (Brossene or Brosene) Selmeier was born in the USA also, but was of Alsatian decent, apparently German. When she and my grandfather met, she was teaching piano at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. I suspect she stopped teaching when they got married.
On Grand Vista in Cincinnati, Ohio they built this house
during the depression. Apparently they had lost the mansion they had lived until
1929 when the stock market crashed. Oddly, I found no family pictures of that
mansion. Could it be that when you lose everything overnight you don't want a
record of it? They moved to a small house in Pleasant Ridge, which was a newly
prestigious community at the time. On one of the best streets in it, Grand
Vista, they bought one of the smallest houses. Across the street from it was an
empty lot at 6272 Grand Vista. In 1933 they they built this house on that lot,
watching it as it was built. It's a five bedroom house with a five car garage. I
guess to my grandfather that was moving down.
In the days before air conditioning, people
often sat outside evenings. The cement pond in the backyard surrounded by chairs was a setting
of which they spoke fondly for the
rest of their lives, though their daughters-in-law snubbed those remembrances, when they weren't around, wondering what the big deal was.
I could write a paragraph what heartwarming things I believe were involved. However, they never talked about their mansion. They talked
about loving this place. It worked for them.
A gnome in the early 1920s.
owners of the house sold off the rear property. The pond is gone and the yard is
much smaller now.
They were civic minded.
When the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music was building a new
building, my grandparents donated two grand pianos for a practice room that
needed two pianos in it. A plaque still carries their name by the door.
They donated scholarships to Principia College and helped to
pay for the building of churches.
They steered their sons away from Harvard in order that their
attendance at a smaller college would help further establish that college. Both of
their sons had been had been accepted to Harvard. Dad was a Rhode Scholar candidate.
His brother set academic records at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati that were not surpassed for decades.
But they were steered to attend Principia College to help build it,
rather than join the Ivy League.
It was a cause in support of their religion. So they were self-sacrificing and community oriented,
but their sons' wives did not regard their parents-in-law to be warm.
Warm or not, building this house in the middle of the
depression while putting two sons through a private college is an amazing feat.