This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.
This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limits the amount of materials that may be
For all other permissions and requests, contacat the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEE: Mrs. Anna Bono
INTERVIEWER: Phyllis Lewis
DATE: January 13, 1976
L: This is Phyllis Lewis interviewing Anna Bono, Mrs. Mesod Bono, on Jan-
uary 13. And we're going to listen to Anna tell us about the Joel fam-
B: The Joel family came to the United States from Brighton, England, in
the late 1890s. The mother and father were Judah Joel and Esther Joel.
L: You don't know her maiden name by any chance?
L: Goldsmith. And her family was from England also.
B: From England also.
L: And they married in England. You don't know the year?
B: Yes. No, I don't know the year. I don't remember that.
L: That's okay, it's not important.
B: And from this union there were five, six children. Katherine Joel,
Louis Joel, that's the wrong order.
L: What's the order?
B: Katherine Joel, Lionel Joel, Louis Joel, Ethel, Florence, and Hymie
L: Uh huh. In other words when they came to the United States they came by
B: I would say so. Because they shipped all their things, and most of their
L: Uh huh. So they probably came, by the time they came....
B: By ship, by ship.
L: Into New York, do you think, at that time?
B: They may have landed in New York, but they basically landed in Savannah.
L: You say in Savannah. Now, part of the family did not stay there, is that
B: No, Louis Joel migrated to Louisville for a few years, Louisville, Georgia.
Lionel Joel travelled as a salesman through South Carolina and Georgia.
Basically Savannah was their home.
L: And they lived there for several years, is that correct?
B: Several years, I'd say about fifteen, twenty years. Then they moved to
L: Why do you think they came to Jacksonville?
B: Just pioneering.
L: And what were they doing in Savannah? Did they farm?
B: Merchants. Just merchants.
L: In dry goods, or did they...?
B: Dry goods and jewelry. When they came to Jacksonville, Judah Joel,
Lionel Joel and Louis Joel, that is the older Louis Joel, went into
the pawn shop and jewelry business on State Street, 901 West State Street.
The two sisters, Katherine and Ethel, were unmarried, but they never did
marry during their lifetime.
L: No. So they probably just stayed home, the parents?
B: They kept house.
L: And the parents both worked in the store, do you think?
B: Esther Joel, the wife of Judah, died while she was in Savannah. She is
buried in Savannah.
L: Then she never came here?
B: She never came to Jacksonville.
L: So what of the other children then? None of the children were born here?
B: No, no. They were all, they were all....
L: Born in Savannah?
B: No, they were all born in Brighton, England.
B: They were all brought over.
L: When they were small children?
L: And did they bring other members of the family? This was the whole fam-
ily who came with them?
B: This was the family complete. The Joel family complete.
L: Well, none of the other, there may have been other brothers.
B: There were other relatives left behind. Some in South Africa, some in
England. The Goldsmiths were left behind and some of the Joels were left
in South Africa.
L: So they never brought any of them?
B: No, no.
L: This was the basic kind of family. And they were in the jewelry business
when they came to Jacksonville.
B: Jewelry and pawn shop business.
L: And stayed in that State Street location?
B: For awhile. Then they moved further uptown to another location. That was
about the 21003 or 300 block.
L: And they were successful in business then? It was a rewarding business?
B: Yes. They held their own. They got along beautifully.
L: You said they were maybe middle to upper class at that time?
B: Yes. Yes. I would say more or less of the upper class.
L: And when they first came, where did they live?
B: On about the 600 block on Monroe Street. And in later years, when Spring-
field was more or less popular, they moved to Ninth and Terrace..
L: And lived there for years and years.
B: Yes, 'til expiration.
L: Do you remember about the year? Was Ethel the last?
B: Ethel was the last. She was the last. I would say, if she's seventy-five,
I'd say into the '60s. At least fifteen years ago.
L: She lived there all that time. And as far as their religious affiliation
when they came, they, they....
B: Uncle, grandpa Judah Joel and Lionel Joel were charter members of the
B'nai Israel, which was on Duval and Jefferson, and they stayed with the
congregation all through their lifetime. Lionel Joel also was affiliated
with the Temple, and Kathy was affiliated with the Temple. But the rest
of the family belonged to B'nai Israel.
L: Do you know if they held any particular office at that time in the organ-
B: Yes. Grandpa held an office, and I think Uncle Lionel held an office.
And Florence, who was the daughter of Judah, was president of, at that
time, Cof] the Daughters of Israel.
L: You don't know what the men, what offices they held?
B: No. I think Lionel was president. I think he was president. I'm not
certain about that.
L: Well, then, the children were perhaps married in the synagogue there?
B: No, they were all married more or less in South Carolina and Savannah.
L: Before they came here, then?
B: Before they came. Except Hymie. Hymie was married in Jacksonville.
L: And any other organizational work that you can think of, other than the
synagogue? Were they active in any, in politics perhaps, or anything to
do with the city?
L: Just mostly the religious.
B: Jewish, right.
L: And did they really have much of a Jewish home life? It was very close?
B: Yes. It was a very good Jewish home life.
L: They were all together for important occasions and holidays, and cele-
brated at home. And let's see, were they interested in any arts, painting,
drama, or crafts?
L: Not that you know of, or any educational movement?
L: The schools or nothing?
B: Except that Florence had held various offices in the public schools, such
as president of PTA and things like that.
L: And the education status of members of the family?
B: Well, the children that were in England were under a special governess
and they got their schooling through the governess.
L: That was in England?
B: In England.
L: The governess did not come here? They attended schools here?
B: No, no, they attended schools here. I don't believe there was anyone that
went beyond high school.
L: Um hum. Until the generation of the six children. Then their children
B: To further their education.
L: Right. Louis Joel, the attorney, was the first perhaps who attended
college at that point and then, when you got down to Florence's children,
B: Went to college. Some of them went to college, and other didn't.
L: Right, they were on, perhaps, football and sports in the athletics, where
they won scholarships, perhaps?
B: Yes, they were on...no, no. They went on their own.
L: Because they were very active....
B: In athletics in the school and college.
L: Now of those, who were the ones who you can remember that perhaps went
on with their athletics?
B: All right, Louis Bono played football in high school in Florida and played
professional football with the Ironton Tanks, and was one of the All-Am-
L: And the Ironton Tanks were...?
B: In Ironton, Ohio. Played with the high school here, Duval High School.
David played with the high school.
L: Jackson, well, Duval High.
B: Duval. And Louis was at Duval High and then he went on to Florida and then
to professional. They, Moe, played [at] Jackson and Florida.
L: And Louis was chosen All-American about...?
B: 1928. 1928 to 1935.
L: And these boys were all the children of Florence and Samuel Bono?
B: And Samuel Bono, um hum.
L: That was right, they were very active in athletics? Is there anything
else you can think of about the Joel family that might be of interest?
B: Well, the only other thing I can think of is the rumors that have been
told through the family, that the Joels originally came from South Africa.
Part of the family stayed there. They were in the gold mining and diamond
mining business. And that one of the uncles, both of whom are Joels, at
one time discovered the Hope Diamond.
L: He was the one who found it originally, is that right?
B: Yes, in one of their mines. And this is the profession that they followed
while they were in South Africa.
L: That you. That's very interesting. In addition, we wanted to talk about,
was it Louis Joel?
B: No, it was Lionel.
L: Lionel, who....
B: Who went into the theater business.
L: About what year? Do you have any idea?
B: I have no idea, but it had to be in the '20s. He and Joe Hackel opened
a theater where the old Citizen's Bank used to be, hear it, on Broad
Street. Then they expanded to another location on Ashley and Broad,
which was a colored theater. They later, they kept those two theaters
running and then Lionel opened up, by himself, sole owner, a theater on
Bay Street, which was known as the--originally the Pasttime and then they
named it Casino.
L: Do you think that their theaters perhaps were one of the first in Jackson-
B: Very much so. Very much so. Because there was only about two other
theaters here at that time, and that was the Realto and the Imperial.
L: They were the pioneers in the theaters?
L: And did they spread out?
B: No, they kept to the Casino. They never got anywhere else after they
opened the Casino, which was in the lower class area of theaters.
L: Uh huh, and how long did he own that?
B: I would say about thirty-eight, thirty-nine, a good many years.
L: Did he sell at that time and did they tear those buildings down?
B: He sold it and then they destroyed it.
L: Very good. Anything else you can remember?
L: And now we're going to hear about Florence, Florence Joel, who married
B: They were married September 16, either 1903 or 1904.
L: Florence had come from England with her family, but Samuel had...?
B: Had come here because he had some brothers in Savannah.
L: They had preceded him?
B: They had preceded him. And they met and were married. That is Florence
and Sam. And from this marriage came seven children: Mesod Bono,
Louis, Esther, David, Judah, Moe, and Sylvia.
L: Now when they met probably, Samuel Bono was in business and....
B: With his brother.
L: And what was the business?
B: Tailoring and haberdashery.
L: Arid they lived there for sometime then because of the children.
B: Yes. Sylvia was the only one born in Jacksonville.
L: And you think they came to Jacksonville because....
B: Because Florence Bono's family were, I mean, sent them to come here. That
is the Joel family. They were all here.
L: They wanted to be close to them?
B: That's right.
L: And when they moved here, they went into the tailoring and haberdashery
B: Haberdashery business.
L: And the shop was...?
B: The tailoring shop was located at 415 North State.
L: And then they lived in?
B: For many years. Between twenty and twenty-five years.
L: And when they moved here, they lived...?
B: They originally lived in the 600 block on Monroe Street, and then moved
to Springfield on Pearl Street.
L: They moved here simply because family was here?
L: And they figured they were in about the middle class.
B: The middle class.
L: And as far as their religious affiliation?
B: They were members of the B'nai Israel.
L: And active. Florence....
B: Florence was very active as a president and as a member of the Daughters
L: And as far as their Jewish home life?
B: They had a very Jewish family, practical Jewish home.
L: And the children went to Sunday school and went to all the activities
B: Went to Hebrew school and all of them were bar mitzvah.
L: And as far as any of the civic activities, other than the synagogue?
B: No. Not the parents, but the children were active in school athletics.
L: Yes. Now there again, the same that we talked about before, the boys who
played football and professional ball and at Florida also.
B: Yes. That's right.
L: Now I think that probably takes care of the Bono family, unless there is
anything else you could think of that might be of interest?
B: I don't know. I can't think of anything.
L: All right, how you had come from Baltimore?
B: I come from Baltimore. I came here in 1915, and stayed here and had my
L: Why did you come down to Jacksonville?
B: Because my sister, Freda Paul, was getting married.
L: Why did she come?
B: She came here as a visitor to a cousin who lived here.
L: Who was that?
B: Sarah Witten and Fanny Witten.
L: That was Freda Goldstein's cousin? Sarah Witten.
B: That's right.
L: That's not a first cousin, was it?
B: First cousin. My mother's niece.
L: Is that right? Didn't realize that. What was Sarah Witten's maiden
L: Uh huh. And Freda Goldstein came down.
B: To visit.
L: And what year was that?
B: That was in 1914. And she met Nathan Paul.
L: Who had come....
B: Was in business here, in Jacksonville,at that time.
L: How long had he been here?
B: Approximately five years. He came, originally, from New York. And she went
home, and came back with a definite motive, and the family followed.
B: And I remained here to stay with her and her....
L: You were her chaperone Claughs]?
B: Yes. And I had my education here, went to school, Sunday school, and
my classmate was Mesod Bono.
L: So that...?
B: Later developed into a marriage.
L: And what year was that?
L: Um hum. Somebody told Tony, my brother Tony, that he thought Aunt
Freda and Uncle...was the first marriage in the YMHA.
B: In the YMHA, yes.
L: What year was that?
B: 1915. March 15, 1915.
L: And that was the first wedding in the YMHA?
L: Now that was part of the synagogue or not, really?
B: No, that was not part of the synagogue. It was directly across the
street, but it was the athletic part of the Jewish life.
L: And that's where....
B: They married.
L: Rather than the synagogue. Is that right?
B: That's right.
L: Did they have any marriages at the time in the syn...I wonder why
they were married there, and not...?
B: I don't know whether they were or not, butthe place was possibly too
small. So they had it all at the one place.
L: Can you think of anything else along those lines that might be of
B: No, I can't.
L: Nathan Paul's grocery store was in LaVilla? Is that...?
B: It was named LaVilla Grocery. It was at 814 Davis Street, 812 and
814 Davis Street.
L: Right, and he had come...Louis Paul was with him.
B: Louis came from New York, and so did Nathan.
L: Nathan came about what year?
B: Oh, I would say around 1910. He was here five years before they got
married, so it would have to be around 1910.
L: All right. Is there anything else you can think of that might be of
interest? Do you recall anything else?
B: I don't know of anything else.