Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pieces of Irene

Irene with her first husband, Allan Seidcheck

I'm gathering pieces--puzzling them together in order to complete a picture; that picture being the story of my biological mother's life.

Irene Georgia Kosloff was born January 21, 1926 in New York, NY. She was the only child of George Kosloff and Liliane Baratoff Kosloff, both immigrants from Russia who arrived in the U.S. in 1924 and married in New York in 1925. At some point between age 9 and 14 (1935 to 1940), Irene and her parents moved from the East Coast to Los Angeles. They found their new homes at 1823 Garfield Place (1930), 2590 Beachwood Drive (1940) and 2604 Glen Green (1942) in Hollywood Hills. Her father worked as a "Theatrical Agent" and she most likely attended Hollywood High School. It was here that Irene met and fell in love with Allan Seidcheck, a "bad boy" from Chicago who had lived in California since he was about 12 years old. Irene became pregnant with Allan's child when she was 16--practically a baby herself! Interestingly, about the same time period, Irene's parents were having marital issues and they divorced in 1943. All this during World Ward II, a challenging time for the nations as well as the Kosloff family. Allan and Irene's baby boy, Thomas Louis Seidcheck, was born July 6th, 1943 in San Francisco County.
How many women wore slacks in the 1940's?
I don't have much detail about the years that immediately followed; I've tracked down a few photos of Tommy as a baby and small boy. At some point, Allan and Irene divorced. He went on to have several other wives and eventually passed away in Missouri in 1998 still sporting the tattoo on his arm with Irene's name. Thomas attended boarding school from the time he was seven since Irene had to go to work.  Tommy was a rebellious teen and caused his mother a lot of grief. He was into drugs and in and out of jail. Emotionally, it took it's toll on Irene who was a single mother.
Irene Seidcheck with mother-in-law, Laura; nephew, Leonard; and son, Tommy

Irene, Laura, Len, and Tommy (cropped)

Allan and Thomas Seidcheck

In October of 1962 (when Tommy was 19) Irene gave birth to a baby girl, Darlene Kay, in Los Angeles. I was that baby girl. Irene's name at the time was Mrs. Irene Kay. I'm desperately searching to find her "Mr. Kay" and determine if he was my biological father. One source mentioned that her husband left when she became pregnant. I was told that because Irene was in poor health and had no one to help her care for me, she considered giving me up for adoption...a decision she struggled with for months before it happened and for years afterwards.

I have a card Irene sent me when I turned five. She was living in Venice and I was in Mar Vista...just minutes away. She signed it "Irene Herrlinger--your other mommy". I'm convinced she didn't just have the flu, but was suffering from Multiple Sclerosis which caused her handwriting to be quite shaky and her speech to be slurred.

That's where the Herrlinger name comes in. Apparently, Irene later met Richard Herrlinger who was 13 years younger than she was. They had one son, Rich, born in May of 1968. After Rich was born, Irene's health declined severely and she was placed in a nursing home. Her death certificate confirms that she had developed multiple sclerosis. Richard Herrlinger died of an epileptic seizure when baby Rich was only two years old. Since Irene was in a nursing home, Richard Herrlinger's brother (George) and his wife took in baby Rich and raised him as their own.  

Irene died in Los Angeles on April 24, 1977. She was 51; I was 14. Her address at the time was 11620 Washington Blvd. now known as Vista Del Sol Care Center. It's located just blocks from the home I grew up in. She was right there the entire time! Her name on the Certificate of Death is Irene Kay.

I couldn't be more grateful that Irene was unselfish enough to give me up for adoption. She made a vital decision on my behalf that provided me with an ideal life; something she certainly didn't have. My only wish is that I could have been there to take care of her when she was so alone.

Still gathering pieces of Irene.