As anyone who’s followed the Eden Ahbez story knows, his origins are quite the mystery. Alas, these many years later, many gaps still remain. There has, however, been a recent breakthrough.
In November, I was contacted by a Pat Gulino of Santa Fe, NM, who claims to be the great-granddaughter on his mother’s side of Gretchen Aberle Palmer (shown below). The late Ms. Aberle-Palmer was the sister of Eden Ahbez’s father, George P. Aberle. (NOTE: George Alexander Aberle was the birth name of Eden Ahbez.)
“I am a first cousin twice removed of eden (Nature Boy) ahbez,” Gulino wrote in an introductory email. “When I was young, my grandmother used to randomly say, ‘My cousin wrote “Nature Boy.”’ It seems then that the Aberle family of Brooklyn kept tabs on Ahbez, despite his being orphaned by them in 1917 at the age of 9.
Gulino, now 65, remembers watching Nat King Cole on television when her family still lived in the NYC borough. She later worked in the music business, including for RSO (the Robert Stigwood Organization), whose most famous act was the Bee Gees.
The photograph sent by Gulino of her great-grandmother Gretchen (Ahbez’s aunt) dates from 1951. The resemblance between Ahbez and her is uncanny. According to Gulino, the Aberle family has a number of other musically-inclined relatives.
Songwriter Harry Warren, who wrote “That’s Amore,” “I Only Have Eyes for You” and “Jeepers Creepers,” was also related on Gulino’s mother’s side of the family. Her grandmother (Lillian) auditioned for the Tommy Dorsey Band in the 1940s, as well.
“I have a niece,” continues Gulino, “in San Francisco who is a musician (contemporary music), and she has a picture of ahbez riding a bicycle hanging over her piano.”
Gulino says that she has an uncle in Phoenix that has additional family photos and a family tree. Gretchen, her great-grandmother (and Gulino’s great-grandfather), apparently died young, leaving her grandmother and siblings without parents.
“Therefore,” she concludes, “my mother never knew her grandparents.” It seems the Aberle family history remains a mystery even to its own bloodline. Hopefully things become more clear as time goes by.
Stay tuned for updates.