That quiet, breathtaking moment when a rare photo reveals its true significance

It was several months ago that my cousin Jillian emailed a series of wonderful photos from her branch of the family. I admired them individually, as I do, spending time zooming in and out, wondering about each occasion and person captured for posterity. But for whatever reason, I didn’t get the specific importance of one of the photos until yesterday morning.

I was hunting around for a family pic to share on my Facebook page, when somehow I realized this celebratory photo below is the only one we have showing three of the Mayer children together as adults: Ida, Louis, and Jerry. The occasion is the 25th wedding anniversary of Jerry and his wife Rheba (née Gilinsky). They had one son, Gerald, who was Jillian’s step-father.

Shown in the photo are my great-grandmother Ida Mayer Cummings (far left), her younger brother, Louis B. Mayer, next to her, then Rheba and Jerry at the cake, and Margaret Mayer, L.B.’s wife. Unfortunately, I don’t know who the other couple is. Perhaps a sister of Rheba’s and her husband? The facial features seem very similar.

And next to that happy photo, rewind half a century, and you can see the three of them as little children in the earliest family photo we have, which I think was taken in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada in the 1890s. Ida is the little girl on the right, and Louis (as the oldest boy) is standing just above her and below their much older, stern-looking sister, Yetta. Standing sweetly against their mother Sarah’s knee is Jerry (his birth name was Gershon), who was the youngest of her five surviving children. The boy in between is Rudolph (given the birth name Rubin) – he would become the black sheep of the family.

Here’s another terrific snap from the anniversary party. If anyone recognizes the interior of the restaurant, please contact me via my official Facebook page.

Jerry and Rheba Mayer w Louis and Margaret Mayer K Jillian Richman watermark
Jerry and Rheba Mayer with older brother, Louis B. Mayer, and his wife, Margaret Mayer.

As these photos document Jerry and Rheba’s 25th anniversary, that helps date the occasion as June 1943, as you can see from their fabulous wedding reception photo from June of 1918, which Jillian also generously shared with me. It’s a real treat to be able to share this with you.

Wedding reception of Mr and Mrs JG Mayer Mon June 3 1918 The Lexington watermark
Jerry Mayer takes a wife and marries the lovely Rheba Gilinksy. This wonderful photo is of their grand wedding reception at the Lexington Hotel in New York City, on Monday June 3rd, 1918.

Can you see the proud young couple sitting in the middle? It is a sensational photograph and I could spend all day examining every detail, from what’s on the tables, to what the bride and groom and their guests are wearing – men with top hats! – and those expressions… wow!

And it’s actually quite a do. I wonder if Jerry’s older brother, Louis B. Mayer, by then an up and coming theatre owner and film producer with Metro Pictures, helped pay for it?

Jerry Mayer MGM studio manager office watermark
Jerry Mayer would be appointed general manager of M-G-M. This is his grand office.

It looks like everyone had a grand time at the anniversary dinner. Sadly, Jerry Mayer would die far too young just four years later in 1947, but I am glad for all of them that they had these happy celebratory times, especially as a family.

Copyright 2017 Alicia Mayer. All rights reserved.