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The Spiker Gazette
 
Oxford, WV Volume  9 Issue  7 November 2015
In this Issue: Making the Connections
Introducing Grace Gurdle Spiker
Fast Facts
Photos of Gracie

 

Making the Connections

    Narratives for the following story contributed by Joan Struzic Cerny (granddaughter of Pearly and Cora Spiker) and Ruth Strauss Stahl (granddaughter of Phillip and Betty Strauss.)

     Photos (below article) submitted by Joan and Ruth, and from the family photo albums belonging to Willa Dean Spiker.

     Also found throughout our house:

     

 

Editor's Notes:

     Not long ago I received an email from Ruth Strauss Stahl stating she had discovered our family website while doing some genealogy research about Grace Spiker. She wrote "I remembered Yetive's name. Finding her last name of Struzik in my mom's phone book led me to you."

     Immediately after I responded to her, she wrote back, "I am beyond words to tell you how exciting it is to hear from you. Aunt Gracie was such an integral part of my father's life and mine. It has been a mission of mine through my genealogy club to find out as much as I could about her. Please tell me how you fit into the Spiker family history." 

     And on it went, sharing photos and stories of how Grace connected us. We still have more research to do and photos to take and memories to share but we want to make our first Introduction to Gracie in our Thanksgiving edition. It's just in time to share with you a recipe Aunt Gracie always made for the Strauss family's Thanksgiving meal -- Sweet Potato Orange Cups.

     Ruth (or "Ruthie", as she said Aunt Gracie called her,) signed off saying, "I hope we can meet up with you sometime (she lives in Phoenix but returns to Baltimore frequently since her parents, ages 90 & 91, have moved into an assisted living facility there,) but in the meantime, I am glad we connected on-line. Please send my regards to the extended Spiker family."

     If you'd like to reach out to Ruth, please let me know and I'll put you in touch. And, of course, if you have any photos or information to share about Aunt Gracie, be sure to forward that to me soon and we'll update our timeline.

     Happy Thanksgiving.

     Bobbi

 
 

 

INTRODUCING: Gracie Gurdle Spiker

Written by:  Bobbi Spiker Conley

 

According to the Census by years:

  • 1900 – she was 8 and living at home with her parents in West Virginia
     
  • 1910 – she was 17, still living at home with her family in West Virginia
     
  • 1920 – she was 27 and living at 3033 Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Maryland with her brothers Pearly and Guy Spiker and Pearly’s wife, Cora.
     
  • 1930 – she was 37 and was living at 2329 Mondawmin Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland where she found employment with Phillip and Betty Strauss as their housekeeper and nanny.
     
  • 1940 – she was 47 and had moved with the Strauss family to 4213 Granada Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland.

 

     That home on Granada Avenue "is where my father grew up and where my fondest memories are,” said Ruth Strauss Stahl, granddaughter of Phillip and Betty Strauss. “Aunt Gracie Spiker worked for my Nana and Pop and she helped raise my father, Nathan Strauss (Nates, or ‘Buddy’ as Aunt Gracie called him.)

     "My grandmother was a buyer in the millinery department at Hochschild Kohn Department Store and my grandfather was an inspector at the Health Department. Aunt Gracie was their housekeeper, but was also more than that; she was a member of our family. She loved us all dearly, as we did her. According to my mom, EVERYONE called her ‘Aunt Gracie’ – my mom, dad, Aunt Adele and Uncle Arnold included, as well as Richard, Ronnie, me and Ronnie’s kids, Anthony and Kevin. My Nana, Betty Strauss, was the only one who called her ‘Grace’ or ‘Gracie’.

     "My brother, our cousin and I still talk about her often. She was such an integral part of our lives. My father, who is now in a memory care unit, recently asked me what Aunt Gracie was doing and I answered, ‘probably baking or cooking one of her delicious meals in the kitchen.’

     "She was an incredible cook and baker. She prepared delicious fried chicken every Friday night for our dinners at my Nana and Pop’s. She baked wonderful pies and cookies, and I LOVED making – and eating – chocolate fudge with her. I still try to replicate her Sweet Potatoes in Orange Cups every Thanksgiving."

 

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     Ruth’s cousin, Ron Gold, added, "She certainly did all of the cooking and cleaning, and she virtually raised me. I can still remember her making brown bag lunches for Ruth’s dad that he would take with him to school. And I remember sitting in the kitchen with Aunt Gracie and listening to the soap operas on the radio. Don’t forget, this was long before TV."    

     And when she wasn’t caring for the Strauss family, she was visiting with the Spiker family that lived nearby.  Pearly Spiker’s granddaughter, Joan Cerny, recalls, "Aunt Gracie was just a sweetheart. She was very tiny and was always smiling and laughing. (My brother) Wayne and I lived with Pearly and Cora during WWII. When Aunt Gracie would arrive by bus to visit with us, she was always carrying a shopping bag. She always had something for Wayne and me. Most of her visit was spent reminiscing with Pearly and Cora, talking about West Virginia and family. Remember, I was only ten at the time so I don’t remember the conversations. But there was always a lot of laughing going on. She was just such a happy person that you were always so excited when she visited."

     Ruth revealed, "After my grandfather died in 1960, Aunt Gracie and my grandmother later moved to apartments on Strathmore Avenue and Slade Avenue, both in Baltimore."

     Joan added, "Aunt Gracie worked and lived with the Strauss family until her stoke (in the 1970s). She lived with Uncle Ray – Pearly Spiker’s son – for a while after her stoke until he could no longer care for her. Then she went into a nursing home where she remained until her death."

     "My parents visited Aunt Gracie weekly at her nursing home," Ruth confirmed. "I visited her whenever I was home from college. I loved her like I did my other grandmothers.

     "Over the years, we celebrated Christmas and Easter with her. And with us being Jewish, she embraced our holidays too.  A Jewish tradition is to acknowledge the anniversary of one’s death, and my family has continued this because of our love for Aunt Gracie. This amazing, sweet, loving and caring woman was just as much a part of our family as she was of yours.

     "We are all very excited about connecting with you and the Spiker family. I feel like I have a whole new family. I know Aunt Gracie would be thrilled. On this Thanksgiving, I will be truly grateful that I have 'met' you and that we are keeping Aunt Gracie’s legacy alive."

 

FAST FACTS

 

 
Full Name:

Gracie Gurdle Spiker
  Known As: Gracie or Aunt Gracie
  Relationship: Grandpa Jake's sister.
     
  Date of Birth: August 6, 1892 - at the family home in Oxford, WV
  Date of Death: November 23, 1979 - at age 87 in Baltimore, MD
  Burial: Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, Towson, MD, next to her brother, Pearly, and his wife, Cora.
     
  Spouse: Never married
  Children: None
  Occupation: Housekeeper & Nanny
     
  Parents: Isaac Monroe Spiker (1859-1919) and Catherine Davis Bradford Spiker (1858-1919)
  Siblings:
Jacob Spiker (1881-1956) 
Laura Ethel Spiker (1885-1943)
Pearly Ray Spiker (1887-1968)
Gracie Gurdle Spiker (1892-1979)
Guy Sylvan Spiker (1895-1951)
 

 

PHOTO GALLERY -  Gracie Spiker

Click on any photo to view full-size images with captions.

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