Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Gift from Julia Morgan

Telechron 'Globetrotter" World Time Clock 1937-39

Some of you may have read my blog post about my grandmother, "Bannie," recently passing away. Well, I've had the difficult task of going through her belongings, which include my own items that I've stored at her house since childhood. It's been a hard task, but with some unexpected bittersweet findings.

As we were going through her things, my husband stumbled upon this clock. I hadn't remembered seeing it before. It was certainly handsome, with a wonderful Art Deco look. I turned the clock around, and Bannie had written and attached this note (below) on the back. It was given to my great grandfather (her father) from renown architect Julia Morgan. My great grandfather, Sam Berger, a woodcarver from Romania, collaborated with Julia Morgan on Hearst Castle in San Simeon. In fact, he used to spend entire summers working there. I have fond memories of him. He died when I was 10.

Needless to say, I was in awe thinking that this clock, dating to 1937-39, stayed in the family for all of these years. And, a gift from the late, great Julia Morgan. It was wonderful going through certain items and seeing notes that my grandmother had left. It's as if she was talking to us, telling us what everything was, and where or whom they were from.

A real treasure was this carved table and mirror, given to my grandparents as a wedding gift from my great-grandparents. Entirely hand-carved by my great-grandfather, Sam Berger. I have always admired it since childhood.

Berger as a young man (on right) in his workshop in San Francisco

Samuel Berger emigrated to San Francisco in 1904 from Bucharest, Romania, where he learned his trade as a second generation wood carver. I did a post awhile back about some of Sam's woodcarvings for Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

He carved for California's most beautiful public and private buildings. His works can be found in many churches in San Francisco including, Grace Cathedral, Basilica of Mission Dolores, St. Peter and Paul's, Star of the Sea, St. Cecilia's and St. Brigid's, to name of few.

The table and mirror were one of few items he carved for family and not commercial projects.

This was the first thing you saw when you entered my grandparent's home. Left to me, it's the first thing you see upon entering my house now. When it first arrived I was weeping like a baby. All I could think of is, This shouldn't be here. It's my grandmother's. But, now as I stare at it and touch it, I have fond memories of my grandparents and great-grandparents. Its beautiful detailed carving tells stories of past generations, and I'm honored to have it and will cherish it.

I hope you don't mind me sharing a bit of my family history with you. I miss my grandmother terribly, and hoping that going through these pieces and reading her notes will be comforting.

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