|Minnie Crane |
Autor of Stored Treasures, A memoir
I opened this series on March 1st with a post about Minnie Crane, my great-grandmother, and favorite female ancestor. Today, I chose to return to Minnie and tell the story of her employment out of the home. By the time I had the pleasure of knowing Minnie, she was retired, so I didn't really think of her as a working woman. While researching her remarkable life story, I learned that she had been working since a very young age. Her tenacity, ingenuity hard-work and determination took her through many jobs both in and out of the home and enabled her to contribute to the household economy as well as support herself when she was alone.
|Minnie's Mother, Feige Kranowitz (Yarmovsky)|
The Mail Business- Minnie's father, Moshe Aaron Kranowitz was the town postman. All the children helped their father with picking up, sorting and distributing the mail. Despite receiving very little formal education, Minnie could read and write in Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, Russian and later on German as well. The towns folks sought her out to read the letters they received from their loved ones. She also helped supplement the family income by writing letters for illiterate neighbors.
Apprentice Dressmaker- Minnie must have learned to sow at home. By the time she arrived in America in 1913, alone, at sixteen, she reported herself as a dressmaker on the Ellis Island ship manifest. Her first out of the home, paid American job was as an apprentice dressmaker. In January, she arrived in Atlantic City, speaking no English, and got a job helping with the alternations at her uncle's friend's ready-to-wear ladies shop. Apparently, the clothes weren't quite ready to wear. Disappointingly, the first week's salary, $3.50 did not cover her $5.00 weekly boarding fee. By April, she moved to New York City, roomed in the tenements with some girl cousins and worked in the needlework business again. As soon as she could, Minnie enrolled in English classes.
|Minnie Crane, Hartford, CT 1917|
(Note the collar on the dress is very similar
to the one worn by the sisters from
last Friday's Faces from the Past orphan photo).
Head Bookkeeper-When Bernard left for Medical school in 1920, Minnie decided to try her luck in the big apple and returned to New York. Only seven years after immigrating to America, Minnie got a prestigious, well paying job as head bookkeeper in an interior design company. She worked full time and continued to take night classes at the Columbia Extension School.
|Minnie selling meat at the Bloomfield|
Market, Lakeport, NH early 1920s.
|Crane Apartment Building|
(Click to Enlarge)
Landlord- The marriage did not last long and Louis passed away in 1951. She was in her mid fifties and couldn't stay idle for long. Looking for work proved quite difficult. Luckily, her daughter Ethel and an architect friend, came up with an idea. They convinced Minnie to buy a couple of vacant lots and build apartments for rent. Minnie became the proud owner of the Crane Apartments! The building housed twenty furnished apartments. Minnie administrated the building as well as did most of the maintenance. The Crane apartments were some of the first of what later became a very popular building style in Houston; horizontal apartments built around an interior courtyard and a pool. When her daughter Ethel got divorced, she moved into the apartments with the four kids and Minnie was able to help Ethel with childcare while Ethel went back to law school.
|Minnie cleaning the pool at the Crane Apartments|
Looking back at Minnie's timeline, I am amazed with her accomplishments, especially considering her humble background and limited early education. Minnie loved the United States! She never took for granted the opportunities this country provided her. Thirty years after she passed away, she added another profession: Published Author. She certainly was fearless!
More posts about Minnie Crane:
The True Stored Treasure Surfaces!
The Gift that Keeps on Giving for Mother's Day
LOVE 1920s Style
Women's History Month Day 1: Fearless Females: Favorite Female Ancestor & Genealogy Guru!
To learn more about +Lisa Alzo's 31 inspirational writing prompts in celebration of Women's History Month visit her blog: The Accidental Genealogist. It's not too late to join!