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.


  1. Wow! I love what you've found out so far! I can see the resemblance in the picture. That is so cool! She didn't live a charmed life, for sure. It will be interesting to find out the "rest of the story" some day.

  2. So cool that you have these pictures and are learning more and more about Irene. Do you know more about Rich and Tommy? I love that she sent you the card when you were 5. I'm sure she thought about you a lot.

  3. I do!

    Rich lives in Wisconsin and is married with no children. He has no memory of our letters, no photos, no documents, nothing! I'm not sure that his aunt and uncle even legally adopted him. They just took him in because he had no where else to go.

    Thomas died at age 51; same age as our mother, Irene. I wish I had found him while he was still living--even if he was probably in prison. He was married once for a short time and had two children. I spoke with his ex-wife and kind of tugged at her memory for any details she could recall about her mother-in-law. She left Thomas over FORTY YEARS AGO!!! She did remember Irene being pregnant with me and had wondered what ever happened to that baby.

  4. Thanks Colleen for sharing your family history. It is so interesting. I can sure see the resemblance between you and your birth mother. It must have been painful for her to give you up but her sacrifice was best for you and you mother and father Cheney raised you so well and you had such a loving family to be a part of. So sad that she was just down the street. I know that nursing home too there on Grand View.

  5. Wow Colleen! This is so interesting and thank you for sharing! Giving a child up for adoption, in my opinion, is the most selfless thing a person can do. I can see why you are so grateful, and these puzzle pieces that you are putting together must be so important ot you!

  6. Hi Colleen~
    I am visiting from my Dear Bloggy friend Brooke (Brookies Cookie Jar).
    What an amazing post! You have me hooked. You have such a gift of writing. I can't wait to read more.
    Love to you~
    Janis ~ a new follower :)

  7. I found something new today: Irene and her parents listed on the 1940 United States Census. She was 14 years old. They evidently were renting a home at 2590 Beachwood Drive in Hollywood Hills. (The census reports that as of 1935 they were till in New York.) Irene's father, George Kosloff is listed as a salesman of men's clothing although he had been unemployed for 60 months. These must have been very difficult times. Their divorce was final three years later.