Blog's bait draws another Zimkin cousin

Cousin bait is a term used by genealogists to describe the tendency of public postings to attract family members to come out of the woodwork. In the Rabinowitz-Zimkin matter, we have seen that first Harriet Berkowitz and then Rebe Eisenstein came forward with very valuable Rabinowitz information that would otherwise have been lost to history. In January of this year, another relative of Mark Zimkin, a Warren Safter from Jasper, Ga., left a comment on the blog offering more information about Mark.

Unfortunately, I didn't see the comment for a few months and when I did send Warren email after that he overlooked my message for several months more. But by August we were finally in sync. It turned out that Warren was Mark's first cousin on Mark's mother's side, the Safters. Warren's father Jack Safter was Frieda's brother. There was also another Safter sister Rose, whose two daughters Myra and Marsha also remembered Mark.

The photo is of Mark and Phyllis Zimkin at Warren Safter's wedding on June 26, 1966. Below are Mark's parents Frieda and Arthur Zimkin on the same occasion.

While Warren shared his Safter information with me, I was able to pass along what I had learned from Rebe about the Zimkins. Here are highlights of my summary for Warren.

* Sadie lived apart from David and Arthur Zimkin in a sanitarium in Montclair NJ. She hinted that Sadie may have been abusive to her son and this was the cause of her separation. Sadie died at the sanitarium in 1929 when Arthur was 16. Arthur wrote in a letter to Rebe's mother that the "going home" melody from Dvorak's New World Symphony was stuck in his head on the day of his mother's funeral.

* Rebe was the daughter of David Zimkin's sister Hannah. She knew Arthur well as a boy and stayed in touch with him throughout his life. Arthur introduced Rebe to her husband Alvin, and the two men remained close friends.

* She told a number of stories about Arthur's interests in music, philosophy, photography and politics that are very consistent with your information. She didn't mention philately.

* Rebe received a letter of condolence after the death of her daughter from Frieda sometime after Arthur's death. Frieda was then living in Toronto with Mark and Phyllis. In 1977, when Rebe received news of Frieda's death, she traveled to Toronto to pay a condolence call. She recalls that the house was also a showroom for a business called Jonathan Mark selling scarves and maybe jewelry. She felt she received at cool reception from Phyillis' mother.

* After that, she was not in touch with Mark until he contacted her about 1987. She sent him money and also put him in touch with another cousin Eliot Goldman, a psychiatrist, who evidently referred Mark to a colleague in Toronto. Rebe says that Eliot later received information about Mark through this connection. Rebe says she asked Mark if he had reached out to the Safter family for help, but he said he could not ask them. She also recalled that Arthur had possessed letters from the composer Sebelius and she wondered where those were and if they might be sold.

* Mark also came to New York sometime after that accompanied by a woman (Phyllis was by now out of the picture). Eliot took them and Rebe to dinner at a Swiss hotel. Mark was very enthusiastic about a new business he was starting. After that, Rebe did not hear from him for a while and when she called the number Mark had left for the new business the woman who answered was cold and did not know Mark's whereabouts.

* Rebe does not know what finally happened to Mark but she believes "he is no longer in this world." She said that Eliot probably knows and said that I could contact him directly if I wished to pursue it. So far I have not done so.

At this point, I did what I should have done years before, emailing to Isolde Goldman to ask for contact info for her brother Elliot. Isolde's reply was quick and rather brusque. Elliot had passed away after an accident in December 2011, and whatever information he had about Mark Zimkin was now irretrievably lost. This news left me feeling more guilty than ever about not having followed up on my promise to Rebe to find out what had happened with Mark. The one relief was that Isolde let me know that Rebe, now 93, was still alive and residing independently in her Hackensack apartment.

She gave me the phone number but I waited for further developments before calling.