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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
S: This is Sylvia Shorstein speaking with Norman Moss about early
days in Jacksonville.
..-.'" .M W I...
S: Norman, how far back, can you recall, that your parents have
talked about their very first day in Jacksonville, when they
first got here? How did they get here?
M: When my dad came from Europe, he stayed with his relatives, the
Richardsons and the Diamonds. -W4i-ttr-diffeT-rert-ones. He lived
with them, he worked at another relative's house, and some of
them lived on Florida Avenue, most of them at that time.
S: About when was this?
M: This was, I think around 1903, 1904. Something like that,
because dad originally went to Savannah, and then came back to
Jacksonville. .hen he brought., I remember he was telling me that
he brought my Uncle Louie over. My Uncle Louie worked for Mr.
Jacobson and Mr. Klepper, Irving Klepper's father. ie --worked for
S: For three dollars a week.
M: They would get, well when dad got over, he was getting three
dollars a week and board.
S: What did they do? What was his business?
M: Some of them had a bar. It was in Savannah or Jacksonville, and
I think the Diamonds had a pawn shop. My dad used to clean the
floors. He would get the clothes, and clean the clothes that
they would take in pawn.
S: Did they live in New York or somewhere up north, before they came
-S: Your parents
M: No. My dad left Romania.
He had to make himself younger to get out of Romania. So he
would not have to go into the army. They went from there to New
York, from New York straight to Savannah, and I know he always
use to kid. They used to it "Savannahga". He did not know that
it was Savannah, Georgia. "Savannah, Ga." He worked for uncles
there. Horovitzes. Eliot Horavitz. It's his father, it's my
S: I see.
M: He was the baby, and O.B. Horovitz's parent, I believe, were here
already. His father was here.
S: Was he.
M S No, Aunt Dora. No, but O.B. Horovitz's father was my
father's uncle. My grandmother was a Horovitz.
S: How many brothers and sisters did your father have?
M: Oh, Joe.....
S: Did they all come to Jacksonville?
M: Yes. They all, they, had the entire family. Dad was the first,
then he saved his money, and they brought Uncle Louie, and Uncle
S: Directly from Europe?
M: Directly from Europe, came here. Then they worked and they
saved, they all saved their money, and they brought the rest of
them. Rudy was an infant, a little fellow, the infant, and Uncle
Leonard, and then Uncle Joe was married, and he married Ann
Hentzel. That was Joseph Mosco- Isadore Moscovitz's father.
Then they also brought Uncle Colman and Aunt Lillie, Beth, they
had one sister, Lillian Leibowitz. So there was one sister, and
S: Is that Lillian that I know, was Lillian Leobowitz here? No?
M: Do you know Morris Leibo?
M: You know Edy Davis?
M: Sylvia Weiss.
M: Well Sylvia Weiss's mother was a sister. We called her "Sister
Lillie," and Uncle Louie Moss's wife we called "Aunt Lillie."
That is how we distinguished between the two sister-in-laws.
S: So eventually the whole family was brought here to Jacksonville?
M: The whole family was brought here to Jacksonville. Most of them
lived around the synagogue. I know, I was born on the 800 block
of Duval Street. We lived there, and then my earliest
recollection, I was about four or five that I remember, was we
lived at 815 West Monroe, next door to us was Rabbi Safer, who
lived in this great big house. On the other side was the Mike
Veder's wife, Lillie.....
M: She lived on the other side, Norman, Sammy, and I forget the
girls' names, right off-hand. They lived right next to us, and
all around was all family.
S: So by the time you were growing up, they already had B'nai Israel
M: Congregation B'nai Israel, was.....
S: ......congregation. Did they have their building already?
M: Yes. They had that. Now, what my dad tells me, they used to
meet above Cunningham's. That is were the first synagogue was
held. They were told either, you jews have to get yourself a
synagogue. They were told by the Gentile community. So there
they built the Congregation B'nai Israel. Then dad got active in
that and then they had they YMHA.
M: My entire group, all of us, myself, Yedi, [E.] Allie Goldstein,
we all grew up at playing ball, basketball, at the old YMHA.
S: Yedi Fletcher?
M: That, that's Yedi Fletcher.
S: O.K. As if, speak as if they do not know.
M: Yes, and we all grew up playing in the old YMHA, and most of the
activities centered around the YMHA. They would have the prum
bull. I have them some different things that they had. This
picture is one I, I gave the Center some write-ups that I had
found among my father's papers, and among my Aunt Lillian Moss's
papers, about these old things back in the early 1920s, where
they had all of these balls. They used to put on big bazaars.
That is one of the big things they had. They would.....
S: What would they do? Like sell things, and have.....
M: They would sell things and here, you can look at this picture.
You can see that, like they, they had different booths.
M: Everything used to center around it, and we were the midget team.
They had the girls' basketball.
S: I did not know they had a girl's team too.
M: Oh yes, they had a girl's basketball team. I will tell you who
one of them was, that did a lot, she was a Naban. Florence.....
M: Grossberg. Speak to Florence, she will tell you about the girls'
basketball teams that they had, and one of the seniors.. Pop
Hertzenberg, he was the one that, this is the, this is him. He
always used to tell "peeva ta vay." He was a coach. We all use
to laugh that he would love to measure the girls for the
uniforms. [Laughter] It used to be a riot. We had a lot of fun
with that. But we would go over to the Y and we would practice.
We would go downstairs to the showers after we got through. We
had our little games. When we would get through, we would walk
around over to Adams Street, between Jefferson and the next
street over, and Safers had their delicatessen there. It would
be our big deal to get a hot dog. Get a hot dog and a drink over
there, from Safers. But all of the kids had such a ball over
there. Now they had a senior team. The Wolfson boys played on
that. Henry Kramer, and a, like they were a little bit older
than our group.
M: We had the midgets, intermediates.....
S: How about, what his name, he's a lawyer and he is very
outstanding, I think, on the basketball team at the University of
S: Trying to think. I cannot think of his name, now.
M: I do not know.
S: He played, yes, he played varsity, I think, at the University of
M: I remember one of the first things when I was going....
S: Let me, Norman, let me ask you one thing. Did any of the Temple
people get involved with the YMHA? Any of the young people from
M: I do not know, I was too young to remember.
S: Like for instance, on these basketball teams, or baseball teams
or whatever you had?
M: They were mostly the Center group.
S: Center people.
M: It was strictly the Center group because we all lived....
S: So actually the synagogue and the YMHA were connected?
M: They were one, they were all connected up.
M: They may have some others in there, but I never will forget when
we used to go, we used to play ball where the fire station is.
That used to an empty lot, and it was..
S: What street?
M: On the corner of Jefferson and Duval.
S: Near a fire station?
M: Yes, there is a fire station there. That fire station used to be
on Broad Street. I do not mean Broad, on Adams Street, where
they have got, when Safers used to have a place that moved there
later on. But that used to be the old fire station, before they
moved over, built the new bright modern one on Jefferson and
Monroe. We used to play ball there. I never will forget Lazer
Becker hit a ball one time, and broke a window. A whole bunch of
us ran out, and down into the synagogue. As we were downstairs
in the basement, and I used to remember, I would go there as a
kid, and, later on, we moved from Monroe Street.. We lived on
Mon. We moved out to Perry Street.
S: Is that La Villa?
M: No. Monroe Street was La Villa area. Then we moved to Perry
Street. Then we used to ride the bus, used to take us from, pick
us up by the houses. I remember exactly where they did pick us
up. I remember we used to ride down, and we used to holler about
the schwartzas at the schwartzas and everything, and we used to
go to Hebrew School down in the basement.
S: That was the beginning of busing? [laughs]
M: That is right. This goes way back. We, we had that, and then I
remember my grandmother used to, my mother, all of the women were
upstairs, we used to be kids downstairs with the, with my father,
and I do not remember my grandfather. He died when I was very
little. I remember him very faintly.
S: Did you go to Hebrew School?
S: How often did you go as a kid? I mean did, every day or a couple
of times a week, or....?
M: When we went, when we moved over to the Center, well I think we
used to go twice a week, or something like that. But after we
moved to the Center, we use to go every day. We would go just
about every day to Hebrew School. My dad started a junior
congregation. The reason you got your junior congregation, he
and I had gone to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and on the way back we
stopped at Birmingham. We spent Shabbas in Birmingham, Alabama.
S: Who was your dad?
M: David Moss, dad, David Moss and I. We stopped over there, and we
went to shul. so while we were there they, after their services,
they had their junior congregation. They started that here, and,
actually, your first junior congregation that was started, if I
remember correctly, your first cantor was Joe Mizrahi, was I
think, the one that did the first singing of the prayers and
everything. He and I think, my cousin Meyer Leibowitz. Meyer
was killed during the war, in World War II.
S: Now did this start at one of the High Holidays? In other words,
this was the junior congregation on Shabbos?
M: No this was the junior cong-on Shabbos. This was the Shabbos
M: Dad brought it back, and they started it up, the idea. I do not
remember who the Rabbi was.
S: What year?
M: It, it was not Benjamin. I was up there, because Joe was already
big enough. It was either Rabbi Cohen.... It could have been
Mar-, it was Margolis. It was Margolis, I believe, or Cohen, I
do not remember who it was.
S: Who were the Hebrew teachers? Were these lay people or was it
the rabbi or .....?
M: You had the Rabbi and then Pearl Becker was a teacher, Jack
Becker's sister, Pearl, was teacher. We had some other old, I do
not remember who they were. I remember our cantor Ishkowitz. He
was the cantor. Aaron Bdgar Ishkowitz. He had a beautiful
voice, too. That was before, that was before the war. Before
they got Margolis.
U: Tell Sylvia what happened in Hebrew School with you, when they
put you in the first grade because of your age or something?
M: Oh, I had been going to Sunday School from the time, time I was
knee high to a grasshopper, and they used to advance you every
year. They would give you an advance. Rabbi Cohen was there, he
started to put them back according. I was in a class with Miriam
Edwards, Rita Zat-Zaslow who's a Falis, now, and I was the
youngest one in the class, and so they gave us an examination to
grade us out, supposedly. Well I made the highest grade in the
class, but I got moved down four grades, because of my age. I
was, I wanted to quit Sunday School. My dad was gone out of town
and the Rabbi and I had a big row, then, I was quitting Sunday
School because they moved me down with all the younger ones. I
mean, they were they were my age....
M: .....but they had started Sunday School after I did. Because I
was going, I think, from the time I was old enough to know.
S: So which do you think started first, the Sunday School or the
Hebrew School? At the, you know, at the, say for instance the
M: They, I know we had Hebrew School way back. I do not remember
Sunday School as much, until we got over to the new place.
S: The Center.
M: I remember when they had the ground breaking, we all sat in the
park around that podium thing they have in the Center.
M: Yes. Well that was in the 1928, and .........
M: Honey, that is thirty fifty, that is forty-eight years ago.
U: That is right, that is right.
M: That is forty-eight years ago.
S: Yes, that is right.
M: I remember we sat around there, and Rabbi Benjamin was a
marvelous speaker. He was marvelous.
S: Why did he leave? Why did Rabbi....did he pass away? Why did he
M: No. Dad was telling me, he made a lot of enemies. He was
rabble-rouser, he was a fabulous speaker. I do not know why
Rabbi... I will check with my dad and find out why Rabbi Benjamin
did leave, but he could, he had all the people. He could talk
and they would all just, he would get them all full of enthusiasm
and everything. He was the one that helped them, or was the
cause of them building....
S: The new....
M: .....the Jacksonville Jewish Center.
S: ......Center? Norman, I understand there were like two factions.
One, a group that wanted to retain more of the Orthodoxy and
then, of course, another group that wanted to become
S: Can you give me a little of the politics?
M: The Safer bunch, the Safer bunch was the Orthodox. As a matter
of fact, in the auditorium, during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur,
they had two services. They had one downstairs for the Orthodox,
talked to Joe P. Safer. Talk to Aba Safer. He will tell you
about it, those things. The Safer boys used to be the choir.
They had a lot of used to sing in the choir. I sang in the
choir, and I got to the point where I would sing and go to, I
went to Hebrew School so my, not to Hebrew School as much as to
the services, but I did not crack a book. I could go through the
entire Service, and I forgot how to read, by just going to
services so much.
S: Listening to it.
M: We always had a very good group. Years ago we use to have our
Sunday School picnic, and then it was called off during the war
and everything. Then later on, when I came, I was a member of
the Center Men's Club, and we started that Center Sunday School
picnic again. Because I knew that, when I was a kid, we enjoyed
it so much.
S: What happened, for instance, now going back, to your growing up
when you were maybe per-bar-mitzvah if you can remember....
S: ..... What did the kids do, say on the weekends? Did any of your
parents have places at the beach, say in the summer time, what
did you do?.....
M: Well, we had a place at the beach. We use to go down to our
place. But in our adolescence stage.
M: Well even before, what? We always to meet at Sandpiper
S: Where was that?
M: In Jacks- we met at Sandpiper Bathhouse at Jacksonville Beach.
All the Jewish kids would congregate there. The Center group,
the Temple group, they all congregated there. Then the boys and
girls would pair off, and then we would go up on the pier and
dance. Then we used to have these dawn dances, too, years ago.
It would start at midnight on the pier, and everybody, and the
whole Jewish crowd use to to go there. This was when we were
college kids, this goes back into the 1930s, 1936, 1937, 1938,
early part like that. All of us used to meet, and go together,
when we were big enough to drive the car. We were sixteen.
U: Sylvia, do you want us ask Norman about the Moonlight Grocery?
M: Oh, Dad and Uncle Louie, my dad and Uncle Louie started, they
called it the Moonlight. That was about 1913, 1914. So my dad
and Uncle Louie I should have a circular somewhere of, about
that, that they started this place at the corner of Riverside and
Jackson. I heard them talking about that, and then they lived
over on Riverside Avenue and Fourth Street. They lived up,
upstairs, and my dad and Uncle Louie were partners, they lived,
they had an apartment, one right across from the other. I have
got pictures of my mother and father's wedding, and.....
S: Were they married here?
M: They were married here, in Jacksonville.
S: In Jacksonville.
M: They got all of the chickens in the backyard, and everything, and
S: Norman, do you......
M: ......Joel Fleet's mother was a bridesmaid at my mother and
S: What was the date of their wedding, do you recall?
M: Yes, November the 16th, 1913.
S: So actually, you mother and father came here singly?
S: Met in Jacksonville and got married?
M: Yes. What?
U: The Finkelsteins.
M: Well, the Finkelsteins were here. They use to, she used to have
a boarding house. Mrs. Neil Finkelstein had the boarding house.
That was, it is still here. The boarding house is right on Adams
Street, right on down from Jefferson. It is like a little treat
store. That is where they all used to live. They used to go
there for food, I think they used to eat there, too. But,
talking about old timers, Margaret Fleet's mother and my father
went to Hebrew School together in Romania. Joel Fleet's mother
was in my mother and father's wedding party, and my mother and
father were groomsmen in Sam Fleets wedding. So I mean, so they,
they were all old...
M: No, they were not related.
S: Yes, I know, but they.....
M: But they were just old friends from way, way back. As kids were
all used to go, once in awhile, not all the time, we use to go up
to Hendersonville, North Carolina. This goes back to the time I
was a little tiny fellow.
S: Do you recall where they went? Was it one particular place?
M: They stayed at Horowitz's place.
S: Was that a kosher?
M: It was, that was the only ko- place, and then a Mrs. Lipschitz
came and opened up a place. One was on one street, and one was
on, they were boarding houses. You used to sit and rock on the
porch. They had a spring over there, and all, and we used to go
S: Well did the families, in other words, they took the kids,
M: Took the kids, yes.
S: For how long did you go, for a whole summer?
M: Yes, you would go for a month, something like that.
M: The people found, instead of going to the beach, we are always at
the beach, they would go up to the mountains of the Carolinas.
We used to meet a lot of people there from Charleston, South
Carolina. Used to come down, I made quite a few good friends,
there a lot of them gone. Now they are my age but we have
drifted apart a bit. But you always had a very good group. I
mean it, it was all just one group, and everybody was always
together. I am talking about the kids, as kids.
S: A Closeness?
M: Yes it was a.....
S: A real comradery.
M: Yes, it was very close, all of us. We all grew up like that.
S: What happened during, well the first World War, you were to
M: I was born.
S: Yes, but do you remember, would, did your dad go into the war, or
did relatives of yours? Were they?
M: No. Oh yes. some of them were.
S: What happened to Jewish life during that period of time?
M: Well they use to take it, see they had Camp Johnson here, where
it is now the Naval Air Station, that was Camp Johnson. They
would get these Jewish......
S: Was that not Navy?
M: No, no. It was an army.....
S: Army base.
M: That is where my mother learned, was trying to learn how to
drive. Because it was flat and they had these brick roads there,
and we all used to go camping and picnicing out to Camp Johnson,
because it use to be on the river. We use to go out there and
take picnic lunches and things. This was one of the very first
ones that I remember.
S: I recall some of the parents, or some of the mothers, young
girls, used, to be hostesses at the U.S.O. Do you know anything
M: During World War II, or World War I?
S: Oh, I am thinking I guess of World War II. Do you...?
M: World War II. Rala was active in that. she use to go to Stark,
and I know when I would come home, well my mother was, was an
instructor in bandages and stuff for the Red Cross.
S: Now was this.....?
M: World War II.
S: ......II? Yes.
M: World War I, I do not remember.
S: If they did anything like that. I am trying to get some
information on what happened during the war.
M: During World War I?
M: I was born, they tell me, during the flu epidemic. My mother had
double pneumonia with me and something happened. The had a
candle to, a citronella candle or something, to get the air, and,
purified or something, and it caught the curtain on fire and my
mother threw herself to get away from the fire, and they claim
that broke this pneumonia. They got a, they had run out, you
could not get a nurse, you had the yellow fever, the flu
epidemic, all of that going. He happened to hit a black nurse.
He did not hit here, I mean he saw here. He was running. He was
going wild, they said, and he saw her and he grabbed her and
said, "Quick, my wife's in real bad shape." He got her, and
brought her up to the house. That was on 800 block of West Duval
Street. But this whole area, I know the Bischoffs lived in the
corner house, over there on Duval Street. The Wilenskys had a
big house. The Safer's were next door, the Laseruses. We had a
lot of family there. Their names were Liebmann, Lillian ,
Liebmamn, that married Mike Revis. They lived next door. They
had Norman, Sammy, and some others. I am trying to remember the
different names of the people there but all we all lived over
there on Monroe Street, on Jefferson...
S: Right around the synagogue.....
M: That was. Yes, everything.
S: .....at that particular time.
M: I know. Never will.
S: So when did people start moving north towards the, where the new
M: Toward the new Springfield? That was in, I was eight, six,
seven, eight years old when we started moving out there. We,
that is when we started moving out, but the whole nucleus. My
grandmother was telling me that, one time, it was on a Yom
Kippur, that some child had convulsions or something, so my
grandmother rushed, grabbed the child and boiled up some water on
Yom Kippur, to put the child in the bathtub. They, at that time,
they put it in hot water, in a bath.
M: I do not know, they, some of the women were fussing about the
Grandma building a fire on Yom Kippur. The asked the rabbi, one
of the, the older men there, and he said, "It is more of a
mitzvah to save a life," he said, that is the Jewish religion."
A life is more important, but that seemed to cause quite a
controversy in, in the community. But my grandmother she would
not put out a light on Shabbos. If I tore a leaf as we walked,
when we lived on Perry Street....
S: Did your grandmother live with you too, Norman?
M: Yes, my mother's mother.
S: Did she, was she a Jacksonville, did she come here?
M: She came from Russia.
S: About the same time your mother did?
M: I think they came over....
S: In other words, she, did she bring her children with her?
S: Yes. Was this before your father came here?
M: No, I think they came after my father. They were up in New York.
Mother worked in a shirt, she did sewing. She worked in the
factory, sewing. She saw, you may have heard about this, years
ago, the Triangle Shirt Factory fire? That was, they made a
Jewish song out of that. "Arvenzy a fire in minahartzah."
[sings a line of the song] They used to sing that song, and Mama
was there, and she saw them jumping out of the windows of the,
that building. My mother's always been deathly afraid of fires
ever since. She was there, but then she came here. But they had
the whole group all stayed in one area there. It was very close
M: You can check when Myrd and Joe Glickstein were first married.
We lived on, all of the Jews moved to, Jewish families moved to
Perry Street. The Mizrahis lived on the corner just about Eighth
and Perry, and I know Joe's father, we were kids, and Joe's
father use to go up to New York. To buy, and he would bring back
barrel, he would bring back a barrel of pistachio nuts. We were
all, all of us grew up together....
S: How old were you then?
M: We were, we were in the Boy Scouts. We were ten, eleven, twelve,
years old and so, Mr. Mizrahi would bring back barrels of
Pistachio nuts, and Mrs. Mizrahi would roast them. Then we
would come there, and she would load our pockets full of
pistachio nuts. Then, he had a turkish pipe there, and Mrs.
Dahan and Mrs. Jacobson, they were, I think, either sisters of
Mrs. Mizrahi or Mr. Mizrahi, would come over to the house and
they would sit, they would be sitting there. They had several,
and they would be smoking the pipe.
S: It was a water pipe.
M: It was a water pipe. I had never seen women, anything like that,
and, well I used to go there, I know them, we, we would all grew
up together. So, but you mentioned Myra Glickstein. When Myra
and Joseph Glickstein were first married, they lived downstairs
from us on Perry Street, right between sixth and seventh, Perry
Street, and something had happened, and Myra Glickstein went and
told my mother about it, and I got a licking. Well, at that
time, Friqidaires or ice boxes, we had ice boxes, and she had the
ice box on the back porch. Well, I got a good licking for that,
so when she went, nobody locked doors, I went ahead and got some
buckets of sand, and I threw it all in her ice box. I did
everything. They tell me I used to get into quite a bit of
trouble. But Myra Glickstein has never let me forget that. If
she will see me, to this day, she will remind me about it. That
was one of the real thing that we got into. We used to have, all
play around, the Dahans lived downstairs, near us. Then the
another Mizrahi group.
M: Yes, it was Joe, Mizrahi's cousin, and we used to raise pigeons
in the backyard. We were going through a setup of pigeons and
the Rosenblatts lived on the corner of Eighth and Perry, the
Berkowitzes lived on the corner of Eighth and Boulevard, the
Weisses lived right next to Ninth and Perry. School, and then
you had the Millers, the wittens, the Sachs family.
M: That was later. Setzers came later. But we had all of the
families grew up around there. The Sloats lived over there on
Silver Street, between Sixth and Seventh. Then the Rothsteins
and the Wolfsons lived on Fourth or Fifth Street.
U: The Margols?
M: Then the Margols, they lived on Perry, on Pearl Street first, the
Fletchers lived on Boulevard, the Blattners lived on Boulevard,
right off of Seventh Street. They used to have movies there in
S: Was this the city recreation thing?
M: It was the city recreation thing, it had a great big swimming
pool. That is where the Laserus boys learned how, the Laserus
twins, Robert and Henry, that is where they learned how to swim.
They went on to the University of Florida swim team. But they
learned how to swim in that pool, and ask any of us in our age
group, they busted their heads diving into that pool. But the
thing ws, we use to at night, they had these, they had the little
stand there, had a projection room. You used to come there, and
they would have drinks and, all outdoors, and it was all Jews
over there. Even at high school half the kids spoke Jewish, I
mean they knew all kinds of Jewish words.
S: Norman, where did you go to high school?
M: I went to, I had a diversified group. I went to Mrs. Jacoby's
school. Supposed to have been a very exclusive kindergarten.
That was on Third Street. As a matter of fact, Rosalie Becker,
now, was my teacher. She was, I think she was just starting,
that was her first job as a teacher, and they tell me, they asked
me what am I, I say "I am a Jewish American." Then from there I
went to Mrs. Bagley's School, and one of the Acron Davis was,
went to that school, and you may have gone into River Garden to
see this boy called Malvern? He was not far. Do you know who I
am talking about? He went to that school. Malvern Wexler.
S: Now what was this a private school?
M: It was a private school. Mrs. Bagley had this private school.
Then I went to Ninth and Perry, elementary school. It is now
Beulah Beal. We all went to school there, and I, remembering on
the other side, the Bonos lived on the other side, on Pearl
Street. They lived on that, they had a big house there, and then
the Wilenskys moved over to Pearl Street, and then the
Leibowitzes moved there. The Margols were further down on, right
off of sixth and Pearl.
U: You went to Kirby.
M: Then I went to Kirby-Smith, then to Andrew Jackson, then to
University of Florida, then to Uncle Sam. Then I came back and
U: In service, most of the boys your age went into the service
during the second World War.
U: Did this interrupt your college?
M: No, I quit college. I was in my junior year, and my dad was hit
by a truck, in 1930. I have got the headlines from the paper.
They had a great big headline, "Prominent Merchant Seriously
Injured." I was in intramural ping-pong manager and I was a ra-
at the University of Florida. It was right before Fall Frolics.
I had a date with Margaret Fleet. I had my roommate, Herbie
Kane, did not have a date, so I had everything all set. I gave
that over to Herb. He was from Miami, and he dated Margaret for
the Fall Frolics that year.
S: Were you fraternity?
M: Yes, I was a Phi B.D. I use to have, I use to eat at Mrs. Mazo's.
In Gainesville, that was the only kosher place. I ate with
Philip Sleber, and he was strictly kosher then, too, and we all
ate there. Joe Mizrahi, I do not know whether Joe ate there or
not, but the, Joel Mendelson, Putt-putt Abrams, who married one
of the Mendelson girls. I was the only Phi B.D., there. All the
rest were TEPs. At that time, here's a good story for you,
Philip was dating Rosalin then and Rosalin Selber was my first
prom date to the Andrew Jackson prom. That, that is high school.
I think my dad had to take us, because I was not driving then and
anyway, so we were the frater at Mrs. Mazos eating, and so Philip
said, "Why don't you ask Rosalin for a date?" I said, "Well I do
not know, I will see about what I am going to do." So I wrote
Rosalin immediately, and Rosalin wrote me back, and said she had
had a date with Philip since the summer. So I wrote Rosalin
another letter back that said, "Please do not tell Philip,
because Philip is the one that told me to ask you, and he knew he
had the date with you." Well Rosalin was furious, so when she
came there, we were sitting over there, sat at one place, I had a
date with Lillian Morris, Seymour Morris's wife,
Lillian, and it was either her or Lillian Fleet, I, I know there
were two Lillian Fleets, I dated both them. So Philips started
giving her a rough time and she was sitting with us, and he moved
to another tables. So, see, I was afraid they were going to
break up, you know, they were going to mess up their weekend, so
I said, "Rosalin, go ahead and sit with Philip." So she got up
and went over and sat with Philip. He said, "Ha, I told you
would do what I wanted." Rosalin blew up and left Philip sitting
there, and came back and we had a time. Then when we moved from
Springfield to Riverside, we moved to the corner of Post and
Barrs and Rosalin lived at the corner of college and Barrs. I
was, that was back in 1938, so when every I would be coming home,
I would come up, I think they had one-way streets then, I would
come up Collage Street, and then I would drive around, and I
would Philip's car parked over thereon the side, on Barrs street,
and I would see his car, put my lights off, pull up behind him,
walk on over, open the door, get in the car and take Rosalin, put
her head, put my arms around Rosalin, and put her head on my
shoulder. Right away Philip said, "Time to go, got to leave, we
got to go." But oh, I thought I would tell you about Yasolo
Rosenblatt. He came to Jacksonville with his accompanist. We
had a piano at the house and he had... Yasoloa Rosenblatt was
this marvelous singer. He sang these Jewish songs, and se he
stayed with us because he had to be in a kosher house and....
S: Did he sing at the Meto? Was he a Met, Metropolitan singer?
M: No, but his son-in-law was Benny Leonard, the boxer. Was a
Jewish, he was a champion boxer. But he sang, and he was
practicing, and I happened to go outside, I had to be very quiet,
and he stayed at our house. We lived on Perry Street. The
concert was either, I think it was held at the Center, and he was
practicing there, and I looked outside at the street. There must
have been about twenty or thirty people standing outside from the
neighborhood. You know, we did not have air-conditioning in
those days, and the windows were open, and they could hear him
singing. There was about twenty or thirty people standing out in
the street, listening to him, sing. This "Alee, Alee" song that
we have got, by Yasolo Rosenblatt is supposed to be autographed
by him. He autographed that and gave it to us.
S: He is world famous, isn't he?
M: Yes, yes. He stayed at the house and....
S: When did he pass away, do you recall?
M: No. I do not.
U: It's been a long time, I think.
M: But, I know it was quite a story.
S: Who else was brought here, either to speak at the Center or, you
know, as a?
M: That, as a kid, I didn't pay too much attention to those.
M: That I would have to find. This speech here, here, this paper
M: This is from 1926. That H. Herman Harris.
S: Does it say anything about him, who he is, or what he .....
S: ....spoke about?
M: No. But I will bring you the, same letters that I have that Dr.
Cyrus Adler had written to my dad.
S: Norman, I know your dad was a Zionist.
S: Was he always strong for to Zionism? How did he get involved and
active in the Zionist movement?
M: Well he's always, he is always had that feeling, as far back as I
can remember. As a matter of fact...
S: Was he the pres-second president.....?
M: He was one of the presidents of the Zoa, here. But I will never
forget, years ago as a kid, he had this old group, this is then,
I, you know they opened up on Sixth Street for the Etz Chaim,
that group. But it was old Mr. Dwoskin, Mr. Fleet,....
S: Now was this a group that was unhappy....
M: ......Mr. Kramer, these were the old men. They was the Orthodox,
S: .......with change?
M: Yes, they were the Orthodox group, part. Well dad was in
business, and he used to ride to Shul every Saturday. They use
fuss that he was a hypocrite, and this and that. So they had
this rabbi come from Palestine. He was suppose to be the head
rabbi, and he stayed, he lived with the Rabbi. Of course none of
them would shabbos, and the rabbi lived close. So we use to, dad
told us, "If he says I am wrong," he says, "I will not come to
Shul, you know, but that is the only way I can go to Shul,
because I have to go back to work." So they asked him, and I
will never forget, they had the, right, after Shul, Mr. Dwoskin,
Pasef Dwoskin, Mr., the old man Kramer, the old man Fleet, and
they asked the rabbi whether it was wrong for Dad to ride to Shul
on Shabbos. This rabbi said "It is more of a mitzvah to ride to
Shul and come there, than not to ride and stay home." That put a
stop to the whole thing. Talking about Mr. Dwoskin, years ago my
cousin Meyer Liebowitz and I use to date, we dated the Fleet
girls, Lillian and her sister Gertrude. Well there both blond
headed girls. So we were, the people were at the, around the
Center, we use to walk, everybody would be up and down the beach.
So one of the old timers came up to my mother, and said, "Oh, the
disgrace that the president of the Shul's son and nephew are
going with two shiksas on the beach. They are walking around."
So then we start walking up, and we saw the folks, so we walked
over, and my mother looked at them. My mother was mortified.
She did not know who I was, she did not know who I was with, and
she sees me walking up. There I am with Gertrude and Lillian, my
cousin Meyer and I, and we Mama said, "Wait a minute." says.
Oh, the man got all all excited. He saw us walking he says,
"Oye, oye, they are coming right to the mother, the disgrace, how
could they do something like that?" So they came over there so,
Lillian and Gertrude says, "Hi, Mrs. Moscovitz, how are you?"
and everything, so Moms says, I want you to meet, this is
Gertrude Fleet, and this is Lillian Fleet. This is Mr., the
Fleets that you go to Shul every Saturday, these are his
granddaughters." See both of these girls were very blond then.
S: They were not from Jacksonville?
M: No, they were from Winter Haven. They would come up and stay.
They Fleet lived right around the corner from us on, they lived
on Boulevard, we lived on Perry. we used to drive.....
U: The grandparents.
M: The grandparents lived there. Yes, the old man Fleet. The girls
use to come visit Grandma Fleet. I use to be over there all the
time with all of the girls. At, we, we just had a lot of fun,
all of us going together all of the time.
S: Norman, when you came out of service, did you just go into the
S: With your family?
M: Well, when I came out of service, my dad had already set it up,
made me a partner in the business, and I signed the papers. I
was the first one to come back from overseas. Our wedding was in
the Center, and was the first wedding after the war. We did not
have time, see, we only had ten days.
S: What was the date of your wedding? This is side two of an
interview with Norman Moss, on August 22, 1976. Norman, you were
very involved with the Jewish troop, was it fourteen.
M: Troop fourteen, yes.
S: With the Boy Scouts?
M: Boy Scouts, yes.
S: When did that get started?
M: Oh that was started a long, long time ago. I do not know what
year ittwas, but Stanley, Alfred Stein was the first scoutmaster
of Troop Fourteen. I believe Sam Witten was, Dr. Sam Witten can
give you information about the Boy Scouts, back then. Because he
goes from way, way back. But when I was in there, we had Joe P.
Safer was my patrol leader, and we went on a hike, and we did not
have our own cabin. We use to go on the truck, we would go out
on Saturday night, and spend Saturday night in the cabin. We use
to use Troop twelves cabin. They had one, we did not.
S: What was Troop Twelve?
M: Troop Twelve was the Temple troop. I never will forget, this was
my first hike, and Joe P. Safer had brought the food and he meant
to get some baked beans, and he opens it up and he looks inside
and there's meat in it. He looks at the can real good, it had
pork in it. He threw the pots, the pans, the food, everything
away. But we, we did beautiful, we had a lovely group there, and
one summer we went for two weeks to the camp, the whole troop,
most of the troop, and we made arrangements for kosher food,
meats to be brought out. I think the parents the mothers cooked
it, and brought it out to the camp. My dad was chairman of the
troop committee then. I am trying to remember when he was in
the, I think 1932. Dad brought, he came out one night to spend
the night with us, and that was the night they came through, and
they..... the cabin that we were in at that time, or tent. They
picked up all of the boys' shoes and they tied the shoelaces
M: We did not know who they were, some guys from the camp, went to
the, got, we woke up in the morning. Nobody had shoes, and in
the middle of the ground, where the flag pole was, was a great
big pile of shoes, of every kid in the camp. My dad woke up and
the boys put their hands over their mouths, and my dad said, "You
will be quiet." He did not say anything, he just picked up his
own shoes and they took every pair of shoes, but dad was there.
They had, but had a little ax, a little small hatchet, and they
had a big post there, that we use to throw with the post. My dad
stood and he set a record out there at the camp for throwing the
little hatchet and sticking it up in the post. Then.....
S: Was this in the summer time, Norman that they went out to the
M: This was in the summer, yes.
S: This was the Temples cabin?
M: No, we use to use it winter or summer, they had a fireplace for
the summertime or the winter, we would use the place. We had a
fireplace and we would go around and pick up wood.
S: Was this Troop twelve, Norman?
M: This was Troop twelves cabin.
S: Where was it?
M: At Camp Pachockatee here in Orange Park. Right down at the oh,
about fifty feet -away from the front, they had a fresh water
spring, that was coming up from the ground. The water was ice
cold, and the first time we went out we wrapped up our meat in
paper, you know, and took some string and find something and
threw it in there. Spring, threw the meat in the spring. We got
there in the morning some wild pigs had come buy and eaten up all
of our meat. We learned that afterwards, when we went there, we
brought jars with us, and we would put our meat in the jars, and
then threw it into the spring. We had a lot of fun, and we were
very interested in passing tests, and I kept active with that all
of us together and again to Joe Mizrahi. We had, Joe had
everything towards, going toward his Eagle Scout. He and Simon
Rothstein both made Eagle Scout. But Joe could not swim, he was
afraid to swim. So we took Joe down to the, to the docks, we had
practiced, but he would not. So a couple of us jumped in the
water, rest of us, some of the others fellows grabbed a hold of
Joe, and threw him into the lake. Said, "Alright, Joe, come on.
I will get you, come on, come on, I got you." He was dog-
paddling trying to get to us, until he finally worked his way to
the step. Then Joe realized what he had done, he climbed back
up, and dove into the water and same like a fish. That helped
him, that is how he needed his swimming and life-saving for Eagle
Scout. That, that started him on the way there, and then, later
on, when my kids started growing up, Harry Yengir was the
scoutmaster, and I was chairman of the cub packs. That was about
two or three years, and then when Harry's boys got older....
S: When were you chairman of the cub pack? When did you get
M: I have got a plaque that they gave me, a little certificate, and
we worked it out. You have got some pictures there for the Boy
Scouts for the Near Tomene awards. Where we got, we set a record
for the most Near Tomene awards and Farn Malinsky worked with the
boys on the Near Tomene. That was about 1967, 1968, 1969.
S: That was recently?
M: Then we set a record out at Boy Scout's Court of Honor. It was
always, used to be held at the Jewish Center. In the Boy Scout
Court of Honor, that one time, we got ninety something merit
badges at one time. All of the kids went to camp from the troop,
for a week, and we told each boy they had better get merit
badges. We set a record for the city of Jacksonville. Troop
fourteen of the, was either ninety something or 108 merit badges
in one court of honor.
S: Was that around that same time?
M: It was around 1969.
S: 1969. How did the Jewish troop get along, or, or intergrate with
the non-Jewish troops?
M: 1959, not 1969, pardon me, 1959. That was 1959, not 1969. They
got, we got along beautifully with the other troops. We worked
nicely with them, we went out on the expositions they had at,
when they first started them, in the Gator Bowl. But we won some
prizes there for what we did. We went ahead and got a gas range,
and set it up, and we made hotcakes. The gas company donated the
gas and the big grill. We got napkins, and all of these things,
we got the syrup, and everything was donated. We made, and we
were the hit of the exposition. The kids, everybody was lined
up, coming and buying and getting the hotcakes that our troop had
made. We entered all of the different contests, and we got along
very well with the, all the different scout troops. Especially
the, the troop, Shawnee District, for......
S: Did you go to any of the leaders' get-togethers, meetings?
M: Yes. I was asked to be oh, one of the big men over there for the
for our area, Ted Freedman, was a leader in that.
S: Silver beawer?
M: I think he may have gotten a Silver Beawer. We tried to get one
for Harry Yergin.
M: Award. I think Harry Yergin should have gotten one, but he did
not get it. I think he would have gotten it, but he passed away,
you know. He still stayed active.
S: Norman, as far back as you can even recall, living in
Jacksonville, has there been any personal incidence of anti-
Semitism, as far as you were concerned?
M: The only thing we had was with Sam Nelson? He use to put out the
Chronicle. He, he had some write-ups, this was right before the
war, he was being paid by the Germans, and he was making a lot of
dirty dig about the Jewish boys taking out the Gentile girls for
what they could get from them.
S: Was he a Jewish man himself?
M: No, he was not.
S: Oh, yes.
M: At, I would gotten a call from some fellows, it must have been
about fifteen of us, we were going to get him, and tar and
feather Sam Nelson? The community, the older men found out about
it, and the big to do. They said "Please." They got together.
It was the AZA group. We sued to have the AZA convention. It
was very, they use to be strictly from the Center, and the
Esquire Club was from the Temple, but.....
U: What kind of clubs were they?
M: They were, AZA is from the B'nai B'rith. I was, I was alufgado
one year. We had the convention here, the Southeastern
Convention, and I have to tell you about a cute incident. These
girls from Savannah and Charleston, Augusta, they all spoke
Jewish, I mean, they, they all came from real Jewish homes. So
we were busy decorating the Center for the dance that afternoon,
and one of the girls said something to me in Jewish, and I
happened to be busy at the moment, and I did not answer. I said,
"What was that you said?" She repeated it, I think the colored
fellow was over there, and she did not want him to understand
what she was saying to me so I did not pay any attention. So she
says, "Don't you understand Jewish?" I said, "I do not
understand a word." So she told the other girls, "We can say
whatever we want to, Norman does not understand a word of
Jewish." So we, these girls started talking Jewish, and they
were saying things they never should have said, they never would
have said, if they knew I understood. So we had the dance that
night. It was at the Roosevelt Hotel. Harvey Bell use to sing
there. So while we were dancing, this, one of the Jewish girls
walks by, she dances by and she says something to me in Jewish,
and I answer her in Jewish. She is Yiddish, so she stopped and
looked at me, she said something real quick to me in Yiddish, and
I gave her a real quick answer back, and she let out a scream,
because these girls were talking things that...
S: They would not have said.
M: ......they would never have said, I mean they, they were just
being cute, you know, because they said this guy, well they could
say whatever they want to. Then they realized that I understood
every word. Oh, everybody was just screaming over that. But
there again, we always use to be together, and on Sundays we use
to meet at the Center.
S: AZA then, was the Center group and Esquire, was there a rivalry
between the two?
M: Esquire was the Temple. a little, yes, there was a little
S: Was this a high school group?
M: High school? No. I was already, I had dropped out of college
before I went to AZA.
U: It was a young adult.
M: It was a young adult group, up, at, it was up until age twenty-
M: Then we had a Masadah group.
S: What was that?
M: That was a Zionist group. I went to this national convention we
had in, in Atlantic City. Think Harold Leitman, when I was
there, Harold Leitman was the president and I was the secretary,
S: Now that was a Zionist group?
S: That was not B'nai B'rith, then?
M: No, AZA was B'nai B'rith.
S: Yes, right.
M: Masadah was part of the Zionist, I think that was part of the
S: Was the Zionist......
M: We had a fabulous convention in Atlantic City. Think myself,
Harold Ezes, and we called him Hickey Freelander, one of the
Freelander boys. We went up there, and then, from Atlantic City
we went to New York City, and then this, was in 1941. Then
Harold had to go back, and Hickey and I stayed, and we stopped
off in Washington. He had a sister working in Washington, D.C.
S: Norman, where did you and Rala meet? Here in Jacksonville, or
did you know each other before?
M: Well this is a long story. They say I married Rala to, to
repent. Rala's, Aunt Lillie Moss and Rala's mother are first
cousins. So they came to Jacksonville and we lived, we had just
moved to Perry Street and we lived upstairs and ......
U: In 1926.
M: My tricycle was upstairs at the landing. This was 1924. I am
not that old.
M: That they came here to visit. Anyway, so she got on my tricycle
and the idea of here daring to get on my tricycle, it was right
at the top of the steps. So I started to shove her and the
tricycle down the steps, and they stopped me. But basically,
when she first came here, she was the, she stayed with Uncle
Louie and Aunt Lillie. That was in 1936, when her family moved
S: Where were they from?
M: They were from, Rala was from the Bronx. So they asked me to
take this little girl out. "Aunt Lillie," I says, "I am not
going to waste my money." So Aunt Lillie gave me the three
dollars that it would cost me to take her out, and so, I took her
and I introduced her to a group, it was Frances Hirshberg, it was
it was mostly a Temple group, and then she got in with Bell
Harris and this other group, you know, over there. But they, I
got paid, but I use to take her under my wing and I would go out
with Joe Mizrahi, Perry Frank, Meyer Leibowitz, Louis Moss,
Harold Ezes and I think Irving Kramer. When we would go to a
ball game, I would take her along with us, and it started way
U: Then the war came.
M: Then the war came and, well we started going together when I
quit, when I dropped out of college I started going a little bit
steady with her. Then the war came and, right after the war,
we got married. We were the first ones, Clarence Galedda I had
Harold Ezes was my best man. I had Perry Frank, Clarence Galedda
who else did I have? Abby, and her brother for my groomsmen.
She had, who would you have?
U: Bell Harris.
M: Bell Harris. Myra Kantor. Lettie Cohen, and she had her
cousins, and Evelyn Laserus. Eudelle, but they could not get
food, and Jack Becker made arrangements to get them cold cuts.
You had to have stamps. But it was, it, it was......
M: They, they got the meats. All of a sudden they needed sugar to,
get a cake. Everything showed up because ev- well everybody
chipped in their, food stamps things to, to get over there.
U: How about shoes.
M: I did not know anything about shoes.
S: Could not get leather shoes unless you had coupon, too.
M: I got my shoes, as a matter of fact.....
M: I got my shoes, I bought my dad some shoes. I went to the PX,
and over there, and....
M: .....in, I was out in Texas, to get shoes. I got it over there
at the PX. But when I went up to enlist, I never got a draft
number, but all of the, a lot of the Jewish boys were going in
already, you know, and I got all excited. I had about the
highest number on my draft board. Yetta Benjamin, Elaine
Benjamin, Frank Benjamin's wife was my cousin. She worked for my
draft board at that time, and she told me I would be one of the
last ones to go. Well not me, I got all excited, I have got to
go in. So, I went up to the post office, and it was before Labor
Day, I, I mean New Year's Eve. I went up there, and as I went up
there, I met Billy Goldstein.
S: What year?
M: That was 19, December 1941. As a matter of fact, we had a
Masadah get together. It was at Miriam.
U: Miriam Rosenthaw's.
M: Miriam Rosenthaw's house, on December the 7th, it was on a
Sunday, and all of a sudden somebody called up on the phone.
Pearl Harbor was attacked, and we all, we all got excited and it
was, we were at a Masadah meeting, getting ready for a Masadah
meeting. We got together, and I had a date with Rala that night.
We went to see Sergant York.
M: Downtown. Everything was all excited. But I picked, I got
Billy, I said "Billy, as long as you are going, we will go in
together." So we signed, I signed up. I said, "I want New
Year's Eve at home." That was on a Saturday. My dad went to
Shul, and Rabbi Margolis was the rabbi. So he came in after
Shul. It was nighttime, he came by the store. I said, "Rabbi,
what am I going to do? I have never eaten any of the pork,
bacon, and stuff." Said, "What am I going to do in the service?"
I quoted this to quite a few of the fellows in the service, what
he told me. He said "Norman, in time of war, your religion takes
a back seat." He says, "I do not mean become an atheist, or
anything like that." He says, "But as far as the food, you have
to eat whatever they give you, so you can be strong and healthy
to fight for your country. When the war is over, you go back to
your kosherism." I quoted that to several fellows during the
war, who were having a brought time with their food. I never will
forget the first time I had pork, it just, I, I could not.
During the war, I, I never could eat the ham, which saved my life
one time because they had a terrible case of ptomaine poisoning.
I just never could eat any of that stuff.
S: Norman, were there any Jewish boys from Jacksonville who were
killed in the war?
M: My cousin Meyer Leibowitz was killed. Isioel Rosenblatt was
killed. Simon Rothstein was just graduating from aerial a pilot
school. He was killed, Sid Burk, was killed, he was Berkowitz.
But I will tell you another cute one. I was at in Italy, during
the war, and it was for Passover. They had these refugees, the
government gave them the matzoh and the stuff, and they made us
matzoh ball soup. I did not care, but it tasted just like
homemade soup. I had gotten some other fellows and we went from,
I got a weapons carrier, and we went to this hanger in
Grottaglie, Italy at the forty-ninth Bomb Group. I was sitting
there, and all of a sudden I moved, and some young fellow walks
up to me. He says, "Aren't you Norman Moskovit" I said, "Yes."
He said, "Don't you remember me?" Well he was a bit younger than
me, he was about, Henry, he's says, "I am Henry Bettman from
Jacksonville, Florida." He had Rala's cousin sitting with him,
and he said, "I have got Rala's cousin. I was with him." So I
went and sat with them. I showed Rala's cousin, I had never met
him. He was from New York. I showed him pictures of Rala and
her mother and her father that I had with me. But it felt so
good that Henry, I mean, I had Passover for, I had a Jewish taste
M: Then I had a boy from home, Henry Bettman, and when he came back
home, he married Mickey, and I use to see, we used to be very
friendly. It was a closeness there, we always discussed how
S: Brought you together.....
M: .....in the, in the hanger in the middle of, middle of nowhere
S: .......over in Italy.
M: .....and you meet somebody from home.
S: Norman, I want to thank you very much for the interview this
evening, and I would like to have your permission to use any of
this material in this history that we are gathering.
M: That is fine, use whatever you need. Anything for the city of
Jacksonville, the Jewish Community, go ahead and use it.
S: Thank you very much.