An Alice B Toklas memento (age 8)

Found - a rare piece of ephemera from the very earliest years of the life of the writer (and cook) Alice B.Toklas. A gilt edged and gold printed card, found in San Francisco from where her American family came. This is an invitation to her grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary at Kempen (Prussia) in Poland. Her grandfather was Simon Wolff Toklass born in  1814 in Kepno, Poznan, Wielkopolskie, Poland and her grandmother born a year later in the same town was Amalie Gnadenfeld. Their son, Ferdinand Toklass, born 1845 in Kepno was by 1880 living at 1880 922 O'Farrell St, San Francisco, California, USA and seems to have dropped one of the s's from his name. He had married one Emma Levinsky in the early 1870s and they had a son (Clarence) in 1872 and a daughter Alice Babette Toklas on 30 April 1877 in San Francisco. The father working for a relation, Max Toklas, as a bookkeeper at Brown & Co, clothing manufacturers of 24 Sansome St, San Francisco. The trip to Poland is mentioned in Linda Simon's well named The Biography of Alice B. Toklas (University of Nebraska 1991.)

Early in 1885, Emma and Ferdinand departed for New York with their eight-year-old daughter, en route to Poland for the Golden wedding anniversary of Ferdinand's parents…they landed in Hamburg…[and] went on to Kempen where the Toklas family was gathered for the celebration. Alice found her grandmother tall, elegant, and poised, and her grandfather quiet and gentle, despite family stories of his escapades in Paris uprisings in 1848.

Linda Simon writes of Alice's grandfather that '…after his escapades on the barricades he was forced home to Poland' where he painted and 'contented himself with excessive patriotic doggerel'- so writing was in the blood.

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