More Stories from Chick

Some Gureasko anecdotal stories you all might enjoy.

1. Spanish American War stories.

We all know that Louis Gureasko was in the Spanish American war and spent time in Cuba during the conflict.  For the record, he was a Corporal.  His unit was 7th Cavalry, Troop L.

What you may not know is that he was not the only Gureasko to volunteer and serve in that conflict.

Also serving was his younger brother Sam, father of Henry. I do not know his outfit, but know he served in the Philippines during the Morro insurrection following Admiral Dewey’s victory over the Spanish fleet in Manila harbor.

According to my mother (Hilda) her grandmother was very angry at her father for having so inspired his younger brother.

For those who are interested, Jamie has the Spanish bayonet and Jon the Spanish sword that Louis brought back from Cuba.  And I believe Michael has the Spanish musket he brought back.

2. Turkey & Khazar

As many of you may know it is likely the bulk of the Jewish that settled in Poland, Lithuania and northern Russia arrived there via Germany starting in the 17th century at the invitation of the Polish king of the moment.

Much of the Jewish population in the Odessa and Black Sea area (where the Gureasko came from), however, probably took a different route.They likely settled in that region via Turkey which was historically very friendly to Jews.  It is a fact that he Ottoman Empire invited Jew to settle following the expulsion from Spain in the 15th Century.

It is likely that all or at least a significant portion of the Gureasko family came to the Odessa area via that route.

My mother (Hilda) told me that she remembers one of her older relatives telling her specifically that the family came to Russia via Turkey.  This came up when she was reading the Massie biography of Peter the Great.  She told me hat she had always wondered when the family moved from Turkey to Russia but realized when reading the book that it was not the family that moved.  Rather, it was the border that moved following the conquests of that region by Peter the Great and later Catherine the Great in the 18th Century.

Some of you may also know something of the Jewish Kingdom of the Khazars.  This kingdom is a historic fact.  It flourished in that region from about the 8th to the 10th century (give or take a hundred years or so) until it was destroyed by Tamerlane and then following that absorbed into the Kievan Kingdom.

My mother also told me once that another older relative also indicated that some of the family in that area might have been descendants of Khazarian Jews.  I cannot vouch for this, but might give it some credence if only because only scholars at that time really knew of the Khazars so the story could only have come down through family lore.

3. The Hollywood connection

As some of you may know, we had one or two relatives with Hollywood connections.

The best known of these was the actor Dane Clark, ne Bernie Zanville.  Dane Clark was a featured player in many movies through much of the 40’s.  From what I gather, his parents might have been 2nd cousins of Hilda, Ruth, Marty, et al.

I know my parents used to visit with his parents when they were in Florida.  He had a very solid career and was always featured.  In most 2nd world War movies there was always a tough talking, city-wise infantryman or, if in a submarine, torpedo man written into the script.  This part was generally played by either Richard Conte or by our cousin, Dane Clark.  He crops up periodically in old movies on TCM or TNT.  He was pretty good.  But he never wanted to have much to do with the family after he made it in Hollywood.

Interesting aside on the Dane Clark connection.  His grandparents were from the old country and very superstitious.  After losing several children in infancy they came up with a plan designed to fool the angel of death.   When the next baby born turned out to be a girl, to fool the angel of death they named her Bubbie (Yiddish for grandmother) on the theory that when the angel of death came looking for an infant she would only find a grandmother and go away.  It worked.  The baby lived.  So the next time a baby was born and it turned out to be a boy they named it Zadie (grandfather in Yiddish).  This baby also lived.  Zadie or Zadel was Dan Clark’s father.

4.  Hollywood connect (2) – the Hungarian side.

On the Hungarian side, Hilda, Ruth, Marty, Joan had a number of Hungarian relatives on their mother’s side.

One of these was Lazlo Shaffer (brother of Alex Shaffer, proprietor of A la Vielle Russie in NYC.

Lazlo was head cameraman and therefore a big gun in UFA, the German film giant in the 20’s and 30’s.  Among other things, he was head cameraman (or so I was told) when they filmed The Blue Angel with Marlene Dietrich.

He came to the US briefly in 1934 with Max Rheinhart.  My father, at that time, tried to convince him not to go back to Germany as Hitler had already begun his rise to power.  But Lazlo thought he was safe and went back.  Later he came as a refugee in 1939 or 1940.  But he could not regain the status here he had in Europe.  He ended life as a film cutter in Hollywood.  I know that Ruth used to see him occasionally when he was in Hollywood.  Michael, Danny you may remember some of this.

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