Blinded By a Seltzer Explosion

Lisa, from Seattle, Washington, recalls the family story about how her great-grandfather was permanently blinded by an exploding seltzer bottle.

      My paternal grandmother’s father, Charles Weiner, immigrated to the States circa 1900-1901 from “Poland” (I’m in the process of waiting for his naturalization papers), and he worked in the seltzer business as a deliveryman.
    I was told that it was a delivery “truck”, but I’m sure the term was used loosely…he died in 1925 so that’s your frame of reference. Anyway, a bottle of seltzer exploded in his face, permanently blinding him. The only picture I’ve ever seen of him has the dark spectacles covering his eyes. My hope is to find documentation of his accident so I would be happy to share anything “official” that I uncover if you’re looking for anecdotal input.

After writing to request more information, Lisa told me:

      All of my family lived in Brooklyn (until my generation!). My great-grandfather married in 1909 while residing at 360 Sackman St., Brooklyn.
      I’m not sure if his accident occurred prior to marriage, but I’m inclined to believe so. His only living child (my great-aunt) said the accident occurred when he was 15, but that’s just not possible when he didn’t arrive in the States until the age of 20-21.
    When he died in 1925 while living at 181 Powell St., Brooklyn, he was a newspaper peddler. My Grandma and her siblings were placed in the Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum upon their father’s passing because their mother couldn’t support them…I’ve requested a summary of my Grandma’s file from the modern-day equivalent of the BHOA so I’m hoping her father’s blindness was mentioned in it.

When I asked her for permission to reprint her tale her she told me:

      You’re certainly welcome to use my story, but I do want to say that I’ve heard more than one version since trying to research this particular event in my family… My gr-aunt really believes that her father was blind before marrying…which seems possible given that his occupation on the marriage certificate was listed as “peddler”.
    If you don’t mind the “lore” aspect to my story until proven fact is found, then by all means, use it for your site.

I wrote her back that sometimes lore is sometime much more interesting than cold hard fact.

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