Frederick Martin Baumbach
(A Biography)

Born May 1, 1868
Died June 2, 1937

by Edward F. Baumbach
Huntington, N.Y. May 7, 1964

Frederick Martin Baumbach
(A Biography)

With extreme gratitude to my brothers and sisters, without whose help this biography
might never have been written

Edward F. Baumbach
Huntington, N.Y. May 7, 1964

My Father (A Biography)

On the lower East side of Manhattan, on May 1, 1868 one of the finest and noblest men of that era was born: my Father! My Father’s early life was one of sadness, in that when he was only four years old, his beloved mother died. He was one of four children, namely Frederick Martin (Pop), Charles, George, and Carolyn Margaret (Aunt Carrie).

Because of intraquillity and unhappy home home conditions, Pop left home at the age of 13 to fend for himself. He took a job in Snyder’s Grocery Store and rented a room nearby. However, he loved his father very dearly and every Saturday would visit with him in his cabinet shop and also to give him a few dollars. Pop never forgot his own Father. On occasion he would take his Father buggy riding and provide any other type of entertainment which his meager salary would allow. Grandpa died at age 54 of Bright's Disease (of the kidneys).

Pop was the extremely studious type and for 14 or more years attended night school. His aim in life was to become a doctor- a dream which he had cherished since childhood. Unhappily, however, because of his stepmother’s interference and reluctance to further his dream along this line which necessitated borrowing funds from a doctor friend who had offered to pay Pa’s way, he was unable to satisfy his ambition. All that was required of his step-mother was to sign a paper for the doctor who volunteered the funds and Pa would have purchased the necessary medical books, encyclopedias, instruments, office furniture, etc. I can picture what Pa’s immediate reaction to her reluctance might have been. Of course, his step-mother didn’t refuse his request without reason. She felt that since he was not really her own flesh and blood that had she acceded to his request, there would always be that tendency on Pop’s part to lord it over the rest of the children. Of course, knowing Pa as I did, he would have never boasted to anyone of his attainment in the social world, for his heart was ever full of love and charity for all. He had all the makings of a fine doctor and, pitifully, could not follow through because of his step-mother’s stubbornness, lack of foresight and ingenuity. Because Pa was an honest man, any money he ever borrowed would have been paid back in time and his family as a whole would have greatly benefited thereby.

At or around 21 years of age, Pop married for the first time. He married a young girl named Rose, and their first child, had it been a girl and lived, would have also been called Rose. However, because of complications which set in toward the end of her period of pregnancy, the child was born dead and soon thereafter, the mother died. I have always believed, upon learning of this phase of Pa’s first marriage, that had he at least been an intern at that time, that both lives might have been saved. Of course, not being fully cognizant of all the events that transpired at or around that time, I am unable to make this episode of Pa’s life more comprehensive. But suffice it to say, this was the second and even more disheartening event to cross Pa’s path. With two strikes of such magnitude already against him, it is really amazing when one reflects on his background, that he had the forbearance, endurance and spirit to face the ensuing years with such great aplomb.

Pa suffered through his deep grief like a soldier on the battlefield. He worked and sweated - and studied and sweated - and studied and worked and sweated some more. This thing called sorrow was not going to lick him, for he still possessed the greatest of all human blessings - YOUTH and HEALTH! So for about 7 years, with his nose to the grindstone, he pinched and saved, worked and prayed, and sought the companionship of others who were able to help him forget the past and start a new life. Under good advisement, he met and courted another young woman with whom he could eventually share his love and affection, one who was understanding, sympathetic, soft and gentle spoken and downright wonderful. His second wife became my mother and I had to agree with Pop when I reached the age of reason, what a marvelous choice of wife he had made. But I was one child of eleven. My oldest brother, called George, was born a year or so after my parents wed. A year or so later, my oldest sister, Rose, was born. Naturally, both children added immeasurably to the happiness of our poor parents.

Ma and Pa went to Boston on their honeymoon. They liked Boston so much that they stayed there for four years, during which time the two aforementioned children were born. Pa landed a job with Charlie Lynch, selling lamp chimneys, and to add a little spice to his work, on occasion he took Ma buggy riding while selling these lamp chimneys. When the two children came along, George the older sat on Ma’s lap and Rose was well covered on the floor in a box which could pass for an improvised crib. They then decided it was time to do some housekeeping, so they blew the works - buying 2 cups, 2 saucers, 2 chairs, etc. They lived in a lonely spot near a bridge which was all they could afford at the time. During that particular period, there were a lot of holdups and crime was rampant. Pop was advised by his employer, Mr. Lynch, not to carry his wages in his wallet on the way home from work, so Pop put his pay in his shoe. The advice was well worth taking, for this one payday, as Pop approached the bridge, 2 men held him up and could find only a dime on him. They were going to take his gold watch, but Pop said, his Father had just died, and it was the only keepsake he had. The robbers gave it back with the 10 saying, you need it more than we do, after listening to Pop’s story about a sick wife.

In the foregoing, an earlier period of Pa’s life was inadvertently omitted. When he was only 18 years of age, he opened his own delicatessen store on Central Ave. in Albany, N.Y. Soon after opening the store and being somewhat low on capitol, he found someone he felt he could trust, to furnish the additional money necessary to operate the business successfully, and at the same time he became Pa’s partner. My recollection of the events which followed, as explained to me by my mother, goes something like this: Business at the delicatessen had been good and Pop was quite satisfied with the returns and felt that soon he might be on Easy Street. However, not very long after this partnership began to unfold, and the first day Pa felt he could take off for a rest, the partner absconded with the day’s receipts and the reserve they kept in a tin box in the back of the store. Next day when Pa went to open up the store and after realizing that they had been robbed, he immediately attempted to contact his partner and, this having failed, he notified the police. But it was too late, the thief had made a successful getaway and was never heard from since. The writer assumes that all the foodstuffs, counters, equipment, etc. were sold to satisfy the creditors, if any.

Pop was subject to malarial fever and the Boston climate no longer agreed with him, so he and Mom and the kids sold everything and came back to New York City. In the interim, however, Pop’s brother, Charlie, died and Pop came to N.Y. to attend his funeral. At that time he met and spoke to his sister, Carrie (Aunt Carrie). Aunt Carrie persuaded Pop to work for her and our Uncle “Pop” Muller as their clerk had left them and they needed someone they could trust. Pop Muller was a difficult man to work for and couldn’t keep any good man for long. Ma helped out Aunt Carrie in many ways and after 3 months, Aunt Carrie helped them to start housekeeping again. Georgie and Rose were put in a boarding home for a while until everything was settled. My parents found and rented a small house in Winfield, where sister Mabel’s birth was recorded.

Mother truly liked Boston very much and regretted to have to leave it, but opportunity beckoned elsewhere and Pa did what he felt was right, and their two children had to be considered. Working for his sister, however, wasn’t all milk and honey, as the saying goes. The fact that Pa was a relative, presumably gainfully employed, meant that he was subject to working many hours a day, performing all kinds of chores, some possibly pleasant, but for the most part quite onerous. Having already had a taste for being in business for himself, of course, simplified matters somewhat for him when ha acceded to his sister’s request for his services. Pop, however, didn’t work for his sister for very long. While his association had been relatively a satisfactory one, Mother could not quite cotton to it and, after several pleadings and careful analysis of all her underlying reasons, she was able to convince Pa that he could do so much better on his own. Pa’s invaluable experience in the food line was something that could not readily be taken for granted. He read and knew every label, the percentage wise ingredients in the contents of every can, the weight by feel of the various standard commodities, whether vegetable, mineral or animal. He made displays that received and deserved the plaudits of the experts and, on occasion, he won bonuses from the Bohack Company where he had aligned himself as manager, after severing business relations with his sister. He was with this company for over 25 years prior to his retirement.

My affluent aunt continued to remain on loving and friendly terms with her brother and his family. She was very kind-hearted, generous and charitable to our family on all holidays and other occasions throughout the year. She showered us with gifts every time we went to see her or she came to visit us in her chauffer-driven limousine. She rented a bungalow for the summer season every year, and we were always welcome. Sea Cliff, L.I. was the last place she had her bungalow. Her chauffeur would come to our house to pick us up and we kids and she would pile in and take off for her bungalow located right on the beach. Normally her daughter, Mabel and son-in-law Frank Harte, would already be at the bungalow when we got there and, once in a while, he would take us clamming when the tide was out. He really was a good skate and also quite humorous. We enjoyed his company so much. On other occasions this aunt would take us to see Broadway plays, after which we would have ice cream at one of her favorite haunts. Her chauffeur was told when and where to pick us up and he knew better than to disobey her instructions.

It was not difficult to understand the strong attachment and deep affection my Father and Aunt had for one another. Her “Fred” meant the world to her and she didn’t mince words over it. Pa would make it up to his sister in his own inimitable way, for all the favors she did for us and for him, but it seemed that just by having the love, respect and affection of her favorite nephews and nieces was compensation enough for her. She was a very obese person with an equally stout heart - filled with charity, love and understanding. After Pop died, she felt miserably alone in the world because she knew his frequent visitations had come to an end, and she didn’t know how to face the future alone, without her dear brother. However, she called my mother several times after Pop died, but it was never quite the same, and naturally Pa’s death brought with it many changes in the affairs of my mother and all her children.

Uncannily, and without pretext or aforethought, the strong family ties that had existed for so long between our respective families, seemingly came to an abrupt end and much, if not all, of the beauty, love, peaceful coexistence and ardor were no longer in evidence. As Winston Churchill once said: ‘Truth is but one step from Oblivion.’

Pop liked to travel, but never alone. On each excursion that he planned, he took with him one or two of his children. Many times I was both privileged and honored to be chosen to go with him on some of his trips. I recall quite vividly one trip we both took to Paterson, N.J. As a child of 9 or 10 years of age I had a rather nervous stomach, in that I just couldn’t eat everything that restaurants’ waiters placed before me. Poor pop wanted to be so good to me on this particular occasion that he ordered for me a complete course consisting of soup, roast beef with gravy, mashed potatoes and either beets or string beans, apple pie and milk. Well, the “gravy” turned the tables on me, but not until we had left the restaurant and go aboard a street car. Papa saw me turning all colors and asked: “Don’t you feel well, Eddie?” I told him I felt like puking and he tried to assure me that we would be at our destination shortly, not to worry -”just try to keep it down.” This was like telling to move the Rock of Gibraltar. The acrid fumes from the motor if the trolley had permeated the atmosphere of the interior of the car and this, coupled with the heavy gravy one could stand a knife up in, made my stomach do double somersaults. The next stop the car made would be cue to “let ‘er rip” which I did the moment the trolley doors swung open. Of course, I had no way of knowing that at that particular moment a man dressed in a tuxedo (apparently ready to attend a wedding or some other social event) was about to “get aboard.” You guessed it, he received everything I had to offer and hurled some strange epithets at me which at the time I didn’t quite savvy (one of Pa’s favorite words meaning to know, or understand, Sp. saber). The motorman asked him if he were getting on or not. “How can I”, expostulated the nattily attired man “after what that G.D. kid did to me.”

Naturally, my Father was quite embarrassed by this unfortunate circumstance, since it had all the earmarks of having spoiled his day. However, in a short while he cooled off and having arrived at our destination and after thinking it over, he got a sudden fit of laughter and could not wait to get home to tell the folks who enjoyed hearing the tale of our outing. My Father went in a lot for dry humor, but this was far from “dry.”

At the time of Pop’s birth, Andrew Johnson was our 17th President (1865-1869). He was called the “Father of the Homestead Act.” He was vice-president to Abraham Lincoln, and succeeded him after Lincoln’s assassination. Andrew Johnson was succeeded by Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877) and we was called “The Hero Appomattox,” and received General Lee’s surrender in the Civil War, which had started during Abraham Lincoln’s term. I mention this bit of history to acquaint the reader with the political picture at the time of Pop's birth and early life when he was a young boy just old enough to remember Grant. Pop lived until part of Pres. Franklin D Roosevelt’s second term in office. Pop was always a democrat, assuming the democrats were the poor man’s best friends. He was very opinionated about this and had quite a little political strategy to boot. He knew and could lecture on the pros and cons of every candidate and gave plausible reasons to those of us of voting age, why not to vote for the other candidates. None of us in our right minds would even unwittingly censure him for possibly making the wrong choice of candidates. By and large Pop knew precisely what he was doing at all times and had the innate ability to see every situation through to a satisfactory conclusion. Naturally, Pa wanted to see all of his children have the best things in life and he was happy to see some of us obtain our goals and succeed before he passed away. He was an exceptionally good Father and saw to it that we started off in life with the proper perspective, never believing the world owes, standing on our own two feet, and never looking backward. This bit of wisdom was clearly defined to us when he felt we were reaching young manhood and young lady hood, and he watched our progress with great concern in all things, helping, doing and suggesting what courses to pursue for a better way of life. He never discussed with any of his children any of the sadness he endured in his early life or any of the heartbreaks he suffered which might directly or indirectly affect the moral, physical, psychological or religious upbringing of his children. He spoke only of the good times and places he and Mother had together and what they had shared on different occasions with their children.

Pop joined the local Volunteer Fire Department in Elmhurst. He was very proud of his uniform and we have many pictures showing him wearing it, some of which can be seen in the family album. He performed some very heroic deeds like rescuing women and children from burning houses and buildings. It wasn’t seldom that he would save the life of a cat or a dog who was entrapped in the burning timbers. For all of this he received no compensation. He did it primarily in the interest of humanity. In those days, of course, fire wagons were either hand-drawn or horse-drawn and replicas of the original wagons that my Pop helped pull can now be seen in the Fireman’s Home at Hudson, N.Y. He was a member of Newtown’s #11 Exempt Fireman’s Ass’n. Papa spend many delightful hours with the boys at the firehouse. With the advent of the machine age, hand-drawn wagons and vehicles gradually became extinct. Pa also realized he had no more time to give to this worthwhile cause because of additional duties at home. However, as an alternative, he did join the Royal Arcanum, a fraternal organization, also located in Elmhurst, N.Y. and he attended meetings once a month. This afforded him a little relaxation after his normal working day. Every Christmas the Royal Arcanum threw a party and members could bring their wives and children to see Santa Clause and receive some nice gifts. Members’ wives would receive baskets of fruit, candy, etc. Every year we looked forward to this party when we were kids, and always had a wonderful time.

Being the parents of 11 children, of course, meant that they were besieged with problems of varying degrees and magnitudes, all of which had particular significance in the proper upbringing, feeding and clothing for this family.

Both my parents had a very potent sense of independence, which they retained until they died. Over the years this proved to me to be a very admirable quality. They would have sooner gone without then go into debt for anything. Some debts they did incur, however, were for very worthwhile purposes, such as borrowing money for payment of taxes, interest mortgage, doctors’ bills, etc. These items were honorably discharged just as quickly as funds became available. During this time, however, they deprived themselves of many things in order to could ever point a finger at them. In the normal course of events, with their children grown up and joining the ranks of the proletariat, this had substantially alleviated the financial strain on the family budget, and the worries and cares, anxieties and pain that had been an integral part of my parents’ life during our infancies and adolescences, were at an end. True love, devotion and a high degree of fidelity were the characteristics cherished, deeper and stronger all through the years, and with each and every wedding anniversary the bond of perfect marital bliss and harmony was renewed. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, theirs was a life of achievement. This biography was written in the interest of preserving in the family some historical background of the life of my Father for the benefit of the present and future generations.

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