Frank Brunwasser (1864-1953) and Bertha Friedman (1869-1939) emigrated separately from Austria-Hungary. They met in Pittsburgh and married about 1888. He worked as a tailor and later as a clerk for the Friedman Brothers dry goods store and eventually became a textile engineer. The family first lived in the Strip District and then in old Allegheny City and downtown, before settling in Uptown, at 19 Pride Street, a house they purchased from the children of community matriarch “Grandma” Helene Hirsch.
They had six children. The oldest were twins, May and Mollie, followed by Joseph, Isadore, Alexander and Sidney. The family attended Congregation Poale Zedeck, where Frank was a founder and a director, and Bertha was a member of the Sisterhood.
Mollie Brunwasser (1889-1989) worked for the Fifth Avenue leather wholesaler Solomon Caplan until 1915, when she went to work at the Frank & Seder Department Store. At her retirement, in April 1945, the management of the store rewarded her loyalty with a government bond, a lifelong store discount and a $50 monthly pension.
From the early 1950s until her death, Mollie Bruwasser wrote what eventually became a 57-volume memoir, diary and commonplace book titled Memories of Yesteryears.
“My dear mother would often sing about her six little chickadees sitting in a row and one by one each flew away and then there left one,” she wrote on page 3,449 of her memoirs. “And by and by they all, all will fly away, leaving none; and so the generation goes on and on with only history handed down from one generation to another to carry on.”
Her sister May worked as a bookkeeper for a clothing store until she married and moved to Philadelphia. Her brothers Joseph, Isadore and Alexander all served in World War I before becoming machinists or engineers. Her brother Sidney began his career as an inspector for the Allegheny County Department of Public Works. He later was elected constable of the 3rd Ward and worked for the county sheriff’s department and tax board.
Her uncle, Adolph Brunwasser, a Spanish-American War veteran, died at 19 Pride Street. Albert H. Brunwasser, her nephew, was Allegheny County Health Director.