Remembrances of John August Grenzig Jr.
by Billy Grenzig (William Grenzig Jr.), Grandson b: 6/14/1917
Written by Edward Grenzig (great grandson of JAG Jr.) on 9/15/2002
These stories were conveyed to me (Ed Grenzig) by Billy Grenzig on 9/14/2002 by phone as he remembers his grandfather John A. Grenzig Jr..
John was very interested in minerals and had collections in both his electrical shop in Brooklyn as well as the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in NYC. John had a display board of minerals set up as flowers and he would take this display to many mineral meetings and other places to show it off. He was very proud of his minerals and extensive collection. When this mineral board was exposed to ultraviolet light the flowers would glow. The board was about 3 x 4 feet in size. John would also take pride in his displays at the office and spend much time showing them to anyone who was interested. He would also take his grand kids to the AMNH on week ends and spend the day with them trying to educate them and spark their interest in minerals. It was his hope that one of his grandkids would become interested in mineralogy and take over his collection. Unfortunately, this was not to be.
Billy remembers working in the Electric Shop on 299 Adams Street (J.A. Grenzig & Son, Electrical Contractors) after school. John was sort of semi retired and spent time with his minerals. Gus, (August J. Grenzig), Johns Son, ran the business and was the shop foreman. The workers would go out on jobs as well as work on repairs in the shop. Billy’s father William also worked at the shop for a little time during the 1930’s since times were so bad. This was the depression years.
Billy sometimes got into trouble in school shop and was supposed to perform certain repairs on motors as extra work for fooling around in class. He would take these extra jobs to the shop at Adams Street and the workers would help him!
Billy attended Brooklyn Technical HS as well as Al (his cousin), Donald (cousin), Ronald and Robert his brothers.
Trips to Lake Ronkonkoma and Ferry beach in Oyster Bay were lots of fun. John, Mary, Gus, Nolie, daughter Ruth; William, Marge, kids Marge, Billy and Robert all would pile into the model T open touring car. Gus would drive. The kids sat on stools in-between the legs of the elders. Rt. 25, Jericho Tpky was a dirt road. Luggage was stored on the running boards between the doors and a gate on the outside of the running boards. Everyone had a great time, despite all the dirt and dust. Flat tires were a common occurrence.
John’s wife Mary also worked in the electrical business. She was the book keeper and secretary. She continued to work well into her 80’s even after John passed away.
Billy remembers that the funeral procession for his grandpa John, went to the Evergreen Cemetery and Mary realized that the wrong grave was opened for John. They all left and later that day William, Billy, and Gus returned to make sure the correct grave was used. John died of prostate cancer. Billy says that he went to the hospital himself by train one day. He does not remember if John was ever operated on but died at that time. 1944
His main remembrance seems to be of his grandpa’s love for minerals.
Notes follow from telephone call of 9/14/2002 between Billy Grenzig and Ed Grenzig.
The above letter was summarized from these notes.
******notes start here*****
Dotty , 83 yrs old, Billy 85 in June, Billy feels good. Still has a good memory.
John A Jr., Billy not on Internet yet, Billy last one left of 4 kids, remembers John very interested in minerals, that was his life, go out on exhibits,
a board with mineral flowers, made of stone, 4 x 3 foot, take to mineral club meetings, cut stone, small minerals, ultraviolet ray lamp lit up flowers, beautiful,
Billy had nothing in his family about JAG, mostly came from AJG his uncle,
JAG Very honest man,
Billy worked in electrical shop small jobs, after school in store till 5pm, take him home to crescent street station, shop on Adam street off Myrtle Ave.
Guys went out on jobs to do electrical work, also Billy, string lights etc, AJG was shop foreman ran business, JAG Jr. semi retired, William (his dad) worked also for some time during bad times in 30’s, Billy in HS
Brooklyn Technical HS, Billy, Al, Donald, Ronald and Robert all 5 grandchildren went to Brooklyn tech HS.
Bad boy in school, extra work, took to electrical shop, rewire an electric motor, he got guys in shop to help,
Does not remember his great grandfather John Sr. who came from Germany in 1870.
Grandma miscarriages, twins buried in evergreen cemetery, on grave next to JAG, one stone, Billy used to take care of grounds, Dotty and Him, does not know why AJG went to another grave site, Burial for JAG had wrong grave dug, open procession Mary saw wrong grave was opened,!! Went back to Johns house 90th rd, went back later Aug, Billy, William went back to make sure burial in correct grave.
Died of prostate cancer, walked to train to go to hospital by him self, and does not know if he died before or after an operation
Lincoln Ave lived, Helen lived down stairs with husband, upstairs 3 rooms in back,
25 Starr Street his father built, Billy does not know about it.
Woodhaven, AJG drove car parked 90th rd, model T, picked up grandma and grandpa to take them to work,
Lake Ronkonkoma, Ferry Beach, LI sound oyster Bay,
JAG, Mary, Gus Nolie, open touring car, side curtains, Ruth, William and wife, three Billy Marge, William, Kids sat in stools between parents legs, side running boards stored all items, packed in tight,
Oyster Bay on Jericho turnpike still a dirt road, dusty, dirty,
Lake Ronkonkoma water slide, he remembers, in 20’s
1928 William bought house in queens village, moved family to it,
Used to share house on 90th rd, Gus down stairs, William up stairs
William then moved out.,
Ronald change of life baby, Marge just getting out of HS when Ronald born
95th st public school, Mr. Gates, taught all grand children Public School # 97
does not remember if JAG was religious or not
Woodhaven Methodist Episcopal church, wood haven, 80th ave. AJG belonged to this Church
Billy and dotty married there also.
Cooper union JAG. Graduated
Cousins Donald, Ruth, Al, Billy in YMCA with Donald as kids,
Marge more outgoing than Bob and Billy
Marge Bridgeman (Billy’s Mother) had three sisters and a brother
JAG took grand kids to museums, a family day, to NYC, AMNH he had an exhibit there
He wanted someone to pick up the love of the stones, none did
He really wanted to pass on his collection and interest.
Exhibits in back of shop also, phosphorescent display also, shop no longer exists, civic center was developed at 299 Adams Street,
Mary lived front bed room 90th rd with Gus and Nolie, Ruth married to Roger, Mary was too sick to live alone
Billy used to go to Woodhaven after work and visit Mary for ½ hr, then pick up Dotty from work, Dotty worked until 8pm, gave him time to visit grandma
Mary was secretary, book work, lived Lincoln Ave. Crescent St. station took train to work at Adams street. Worked up into 80’s at JAG electrical died in 90’s, stayed home, moved to Gus’s then to Pittsburg with William, funeral service for Mary in Pittsburg and then Woodhaven,
Golden wedding at Neirs Hall, 1939, Gus and Nolie 25th also, picture in newspaper of 4 of them,
Bowling at Neirs hall, one ally, pins set by hand,
Billy set pins as a job in other allys, 5cents per line, marks on floor to set pins. Then new machine with a foot step which caused pins to come up from floor to line up bowling pins, foot operated. New invention!
Bucket and ball return, set pins in bucket, press button and bucket would rise.
No talk about Rehbergers as he remembers, Mary and Helen used to talk but in German, mom and daughter, boys did not know what was going on during conversations.
Billy does not know about Mary’s brothers and sisters
Billy still has the memory, Kathleen not in good health, Grace so so.
Billy weak heart
****end of notes of phone call 9/14/2002******
by Edward Grenzig 9/15/2002