pART Two: Realization; A Daughter Finds Her Father’s Roots


On July 28, 2008 my husband and I left The Holiday Inn Express in Owasso.  With our CD of Oklahoma turned up high, we headed North on Hwy. 75 to the E. 146th St. exit.  The sign saying, “Collinsville” pointed to our destination…a destination that would prove to be my destiny.



Even as I sit at my computer, my heart beats faster.  Its rhythm no longer comes from anticipation previously expressed; it comes from knowing I realized a dream beyond my wildest dreams.

This Realization began even before I left home.  Just as The Collinsville News came to my Father’s doorstep in Chicago every week for 70 years, the paper and its modern counterpart, the internet, became my link to his past and key to the present. The impact of Bill Johnston running my story in the paper and Ted Wright posting it on cannot be minimized.

Thanks to them, the descendents of my Father’s kinfolk knew I was coming and started sending me the friendliest emails.  Thanks to Ted’s records, I knew I would see Collinsville the way it is and the way it was.  Thanks to an article he found, I unearthed a cousin in Tulsa who had done extensive genealogy and sent me a photo and address of my Father’s house. While I was afraid of having expectations as high as an elephant’s eye, deep down I knew I had nothing to fear. 

Cousins Ramon and Linda Goldsmith from Tulsa


There were signs along the way that everything I touched would turn to Gold(smith):  I saw five Superior Coffee trucks in a parking lot and a sign for “Pickles Restaurant” (which we passed too quickly on the expressway to photograph). When my Father got out of the service, he drove a truck delivering Superior Coffee.  After a while, he exchanged coffee for pickles and ultimately owned the Company.  He liked to call himself a “pickle typhoon.”



But no sign could compare to the one greeting me as we exited the highway that no longer by passed Collinsville. If I had previously had a beautiful feeling everything was going my way, my expectations went into the stratosphere as my eyes saw: “Welcome Barbara Goldsmith Burkel” on the marquee of the American Bank of Oklahoma.



We stopped for photo ops, went inside, thanked Bank President Joe Landon, and continued driving down Main Street.  I stopped at the stop sign, mentally trying to superimpose the sight in front of me with the photos Ted sent from the days of yore.  My husband pointed out there were cars piling up, and I had to go.  I went.  Right through the red traffic light at the next intersection. Since getting a ticket was not on my wish list of souvenirs, I quickly pulled over and parked in the first spot I found. I was right in front of The Newspaper Museum.



What a pleasure to finally meet Ted Wright.  What a bonus to have him as our personal historian to Collinsville’s past and guide to its present.  I sat in the middle of his time capsule with its huge photos and felt I was standing in the middle of Main Street, seeing it through my Father’s eyes.



There's their store!


I watched Ted’s computer screen as he kept finding stories with my Grandfather’s name and ads my Great Grandfather placed. I practically jumped from my chair when I saw a number of those ads were for hats.  Eight years ago, I unknowingly founded an Organization dedicated to volunteerism and based on my love of hats of all colors. (  (I apparently inherited the "hat gene" from both sides; a few years ago, I learned my maternal Grandmother was known as "The Hat Lady" and dressed according to the motto, "Put it all together.") 


One year after my visit, Ted sent me more hat ads and more articles about the Goldsmiths themselves. He also sent me a copy of a letter written by my Father in 1987 to HIS Father when he learned The Collinsville News had been sold. I am blown away at the things my ancestors did that I am now doing.


As for these new ads, one read:  "Four good lines of good millinery to choose from.  Get your hat at Goldsmith Mercantile Company."  Oh that I could!  Then again look at the photos below, particularly those with red type. It looks as if I DID!


Date is 1929

I just so happen to have something similar.  Date is 2010

 Date:  1929

Once again, my closet holds some things strikingly similar

Date: 2010

Date: 1929

I even have similar hat BOXES!  Date:  2010


(Look at what Ted did to introduce this pART)

Goldsmith Daughter Enjoyed Her Collinsville "Roots" Visit
August 23, 2008
pART 2 Realization



Now it was time to step into the brilliant sunshine, walk a short distance, and stand before the building that was once the B. Goldsmith Dry Goods Store that sold those hats.  One other coincidence should be noted:  I always sign documents with just my initial “B” in front of my last name; I had just learned my Great Grandfather did so as well. 


I have stood before many historic buildings throughout the world.  None elicited the feelings I experienced standing in front of this one.  Only one would ever surpass it, and it would do so shortly.  With Ted at our side, my husband and I looked and looked and imagined. 



Thanks to Ted’s archives, we saw traces of the original storefront and could place it in its historic context. Thanks to his wealth of knowledge, we heard stories of the murder in the adjoining stairwell and rumors of the brothel on the second floor.



Thanks to an old photo I had, we could envision my Grandfather standing inside, next to his clerks.  We would return many times to stand in front of and photograph the B. Goldsmith Building.


Close up of the folks in the previous picture. My Grandfather is the gentleman to the far right, without his coat jacket


page 2