Monday, September 1, 2008

The footprint of little Ethel

Ethel was the youngest sister in a family of six children (only her baby brother Kas came after her). Chances are, she was mothered not only by her mother but also by her three older sisters. I can just imagine this cute little girl with her head of blond hair, dress handmade by her mother, wiggling as her mother painstakingly buttoned each button on her little leather baby bootie.

Thanks to the care of her sisters, Ethel's bronzed baby shoe, circa 1920, has survived and is part of my little family history museum. (Admission free to the public; the red carpet is rolled out in a special way for extended family in particular!)

In addition to Ethel's little bootie, I have in my collection two little hooks: tools that must have been helpful in securing the five little buttons on each bootie. Hopefully, the children never got a hold of these tools - they might be quite dangerous in the wrong hands!

Both kept with the bronze shoe for many years, one hook has no information on it, but the other indicates the store where it must have been purchased. Along the handle (pictured above on the right), it reads:

203 AVE. A BET. 12th & 13th STS. N.Y.C.

Was this where my great-grandparents' did their shopping? I'm interested in looking further into the history of these items and New York City's A. Greenfeld just a few blocks from my family's home on E. 16th Street. After living in Manhattan since immigrating to America, they moved to Staten Island shortly after Ethel's birth.


To have these little pieces of Ethel's childhood in my possession is a true treasure. A beloved member of her family, Ethel was lost to us in her twenties because of a fatal illness. She remains in the hearts of her siblings and hopefully her memory will continue, thanks to family stories, beautiful photographs, and this little shoe that gives us a glimpse into her babyhood in the 1920's.

Ethel Ujlaky with one of her big sisters
riding Buster the horse
Staten Island, 1921

This story has been submitted as part of the 55th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. The topic is "Show and Tell!". Visit Jasia's Creative Gene for more stories about family heirlooms and other special items in family collections.


  1. It's neat to see what a baby shoe looked like back then. Imagine trying to fasten all those buttons on a squirmy child. Thanks for sharing.

  2. What a wonderful little boot! I've never seen one bronzed before.


For more from Lisa, visit

Related Posts with Thumbnails