Title: Harry Haber
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Title: Harry Haber
Series Title: Harry Haber
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Transcribed 11/22/76 C,H.R.
Subject: Harry Haber
Interviewer: Doris Proctor
Location: Jacksonville, Fla.

P: This is Doris Proctor, and I'm.interviewing Mr. Harry Haber at his apartment at

Regent Wood-y Regent Place Apartmants. Good morning Mr, Haber.

H: Good morning.

P: How are you this morning?

H: Fine, thank you.

P: Good. Um, when did you /come to Jacksonville?

H: I came in 1920.

P: And where did you come from?

H: Austria, uh, uh, Vienna.

P: Vienna, Austria. Uh, why did you come to Jacksonville?

H: I had some relatives here.

P: Uh, who were your relatives?

H: Uh, Rose, uh, Jack Rose.

P: Jack Rose?

H: Um hm.

P: Did you go into business when you came here?
I fruit
H: Uh, we was peddling on a, on a wagon, wagon.

P: Oh, you were on a fruit wagon.

H: That's right.

P: That's what you went into when you came to Jackeonvilee.

H: Yes manm.

P: Well, where did you live when you came to Jacksonville?

H: We first lived in Duval treet...

P: Um hm.

H: Tlext to thee' IL To the Max SrCXj and the.,.that's where we lived first.

P: Did you live in an apartment or in a boarding house?

H: n apartment.

P: Apartment on Duval street,

H: 7 hm.

P: Were you with another family, did you move in with another..,

H: No they lived with, me and my brother came here.

P: You and your brother.

H: Um hm.

P: So, uh, Mr. Rose brought both of you over.

H: Yes. 0 6

P: Uh, when you came did you join 4Bgfst Israel Synagogue?

H: Yes mam.

P: And was all of your social life centered around d r.?

H: Yes ma'm.

P: Well, what did you do at the synagogue?

H: Well, we used to go to ) I every Saturday and Friday night. And uh, we was,

could be I wasn't active but you know, as a greenhorn you can't be too active, but

I active as much as I could.

P: How old were you?

H: I was uh, twenty...nine.

P: Was it hard for you \to learn uh, English?

H: Not, not bad. Not, not too hard.

P: Um hm.

H: I}ent to uh, night school a lit-/ a few times.

P: Did you, did you get your citizen's plers here?

H: Yeah.

P: How long did it take you to do that?

H: Five years, exactly jes,.A>C' A..cive years, that's.the what they lowered it


P: 4a1, when .you left Austria, why did you leave Austria?

H: Well, the I had first, the, the, war was, I was in the first World War. When they

came back, things was bad, in uh, in Vienna, Austria, was no food or no nothing, you


P: Was it just bad for the Jews or was it bad for everyone.
H: Well, it was bad for, To most people there.

P: Y/eah. So you fought it would be better to come.

H: That's right, and my uh, aunt, here, this Miss owe, she sent to me money to come

here to, to the United States.

P: How 'bout your parents?

H: My parents they uh, was left in Sgga and they passed in the Holoee&-

P: Oh, did they?

H: Yes.

P: Oh. Well when you came over and you were peddling frui all just had a wagon

that you went up and down the streets...

H: Yes, a hustle wagon. With bananas and all, and all that. Yes.

P: Well, what were most of the businessmen in?

H: What, the businessmen?

P: Yes.

H: Well, the GaC s, and the uh, 6hawet _the f and, uh, I don't

remember, quite a few old Jewish people goes in the, in the produce business here.

P: And that was the main, was that the main business of the Jewish men/f that time?

H: Uh, not the main, there was a lot of, of, dry goods business, you know, L K/A

brothers and uh, some other, you know, some other, other business people)but mostly

the people that came over from Europe the first thing they do, done, is peddle. 4a'

Cer__E.A was peddling and I was uh, well Max Rose was a has a grocery

business at that time.

SHe was a iceman.

H: Yeah, Max Rose was an iceman, but then he went in the grocery business.

P: How uh, how long did you stay here? Peddling, how long were you peddling fruit?
H: Uh, we peddled fruit, must be for about uh, I guess about s- years.

P: And then what did you do?
in /IkuL
H: Then I went into the business the produce business myself. We Ae, supplied the

uh, restuarants, then we supplied the, the railroads. Dining cars.

P: Oh. And how long did that business last?

H: Well that lasted tiy, 'til uh, ti about 1940 well til/ the second war was over.

During the war, you know.

P: Uh huh.

H: 'Til/ 1945, I think.

P: Uh, when you belonged to e Israel, you said you came in 1920, and you know they

built the new synagogue...

H: Um hm. Yes.

P: .A.in 1929. Were you involved ihe development of the new synago-...

H: Yes ma~)we have seats in the, in the new, that synagogue there. The uh, they paid

for the seats.

P: How did it come about that the new synagogue was built?

H: Well, the people was just wanted a new synagogue, and then the the section, the

location start-f get, you know most Jews uh, start move to uh, to uh,

Springfield, that time.

P: Yeah.

H: They moved to Springfield later on too.

P: So it was just they wanted a new synagogue...

H: That's, yeah. Yeah.

P: Did you have a hard time l ing the monyy to build the new synagogue?


H: Uh, yeah, we, we, we had a pretty hard time. I remember was, we had pg,

for the uh,...

P: Wb.- Well uh, was there any objections within the congregation to build a

new synagogue?

H: No. There's no objections,wei just a lot of people didn't want to spend the money,

but no, there's no objections.

P: 4Ja-, when*ym changed from orthodox to gnservativEO ow about the strictly

Ethodox Jews, were they against the move? /

H: Uh, no, I don't think so, not then P:How long did it take for them to adjst to it?

H: I think about fifteen years or so.

P: Oh t t long.

H: Ye h, we all belonged to the same synagogue.

P: Was it a closely-knit group?

H: Yes.

P: Everybody was aF

H: Yes, yes, very. Very closely knit.

P: If you needed help you could depend on anybody?

H: Yes. I, yeah. Yeah, I think so.

Pc How bout erend L f, what can you tell me about him?

H: Well, he was a nice, nice man. That's all I can say about him, I mef he was very

nice, gentle.

P: Yeah, and everybody was pleased with the way he..,

H: Yeah. I think he, they were.

P: Yeah, uh, did you have much to do Iith the emple group the 4eformed...

H: Not too much. I, I had friends but I, I didn't have much to ,-eo.,.

P: Was it a separate group within Jacksonville?

H: Well, there was a little separate group but they used to usually sometimes get

together for say, / certain occasions for you know, to uh, 4tee was not so, not

so badly divided but.,

P: Yeah. What kind of organizations were you in?

H: I was I belonged to the B'nai B'rith.

P: Um hm. And what did they do as a group?
we i
H: Wel, 1 used to have meetings and theypwhatever they had ,h eed some help

Some refugees or something like that.

P: Uh did you help refugees come into Jacksonville?

H: Uh, well if theee's ay donation they came for I sure, I did,
/ 1q5o 0
P: How many, like inm.N~itn, around-a4L how many Jewish people came into Jackson-


H: Uh, quite a few.

P: And what did they do when they came here? Well, so i of them would jobs, and uh,

most of them had jobs-' zrn- wee-a r- frimm..

P: Let me go back a little bit. Do you remember the Fink pt4n boardinghouse?

H: Yeah.

P: Did you ever stay there?

H: No, but my wife did.

P: Oh, what was it like?

H: She'll tell you more than I do, how was the Fink s4)n boardinghouse there?

Mrs. H: I remember VL{ \2,L S but can barely, I remember liveO.L (t i L--

P: Uh, were there any social funct s at the boardinghouse?

H: Not that I know of.

P: Was there, was h a transient group that came in like people just came and stayed

&there until they got on their feet?

Mrs. H: Is that on?

P: Um hm.

H: I don't know. I don't know,

P: You don't reme i.,

Mrs. H: 6I1i J -^Xmi : j V^ oc( -11 o.r A L)

H: I guess.

P: Uh, what other organizations were you in besides B'nai Brrith?

H: Uh, hm? Zionist.

P: Zionist?

H: Zionist Yg_ f'i_,_ _

P: How active was the Zionist movement in Jacksonville?

H: Uh, not too active e-y .,

P: Well this, what year are you talking about, not too active?

H: Well, there was no, uh, no Jewish state so there was no, was not uh, I was more

active in Europe in the Zionist organization in Vienna than I was here.

P: Yeah.

H: They had a very strong Zionist organization there. Which a lot of the Jewish people

from Vienna went to, uh, tried to go to Israel.

P: Yeah.

H: And I was...and I, I remember uh, I seen ah Theo-/ Theodore r myself...

P: Oh really?

H: Yes.

P: Is he uh, very strong about convincing people to go to Israel?

H: Well he was a strong, a strong Zionist...

P: Yeah.

H: He was, he was for the Jews to have their own state. But I remember...

P: Well, what made you decide to come to America instd of Israel?

H: Well, because I had people here, in ti, in the United States and they're t~# ones,
you know, they didn't have no mou they did, they jst send me money to come here.
P: Well, the Zionist organization in .'-n was not active until when?

H: Well, I guess whe he state uh, ti, u..

H: Yeah.

P: 1948

H: Um hm.

P: Well, how about during the war. Like, you know, say early 1940, How did the Jewish

people in Jacksonville react to the war?
H: Well, they didn't know exactly what, what was going on /ecause..

P: qnfun.

H; ...because the didn't know what, how, the holoob&s til/ after the war was ovei(

The holoc-t, they find out about the holoco til then they didn't knowia No-
body knew nothing about it.

P: Nobody knew exactly what was going on.

H: No.

P: Did the Zionist organization start getting larger during the war o you thin.

r was it still afterwards?

H: Still afterwards\ re .

P: Afterwards?

H: Afterwards, yeah.

P: Uh, were, were you in the like the C4 -1. men's 4ub?

H: Yes.

P: And what did that group do?

H: Well, they used to have meetings.,,

P: Um hm.

H: ...talked about different things.

P: Yeah. Like what kind of things?

I:aa I don't know!

P: How bout any other organizations?

H: I was not, I didn't.belong tQ no other except the Jewish organizations here.

P: Yeah. Did you find any antieemitism in Jacksonvylle?

H; No.

P: None at all?

H: No. Uh, we used to peddle in the in, in you know, the screen halls, 'k8y couldn't

speak the language, e used toLtea .atut qpringfield we, mostaentiles thereithey

was very nice to us, there.

P: Yeah.

H: They corrected the language and everything, very nice IV> C 04&,/

P: -N you had no trouble coming into c dieBocn&tYkL/ 7

H: No. Not a bit.

P: What was Jacksonville like when you 4 ke in 1920? What...

H: Like a little old country/ hekes.

P: What was your first impression when you arrived here?

H: Well, the impression was because I came from Vienna which jsst-is a big city, I came

here, looks like a little countryville.

P: at eah.

H: You had the streets eimnot paved, most of them there, j)9 maybe two or three

streets was pave Springfield where te used to go peddlingwas just nothing

but uh, regular country.

P: Yeah.

H: And so it was uh, uh, the railroad/ I mean the streetcars was around thenand, as-

not much.

P: Not much. Uh, how about, were there any big businesses in Jacksonville? What

were some...

H: Well, was 6ete Brothers, FPT&ekItes, that's the two biggest I think we had them.

P: Uh huh.

H: Levy's.

P: Levy's...

H: Yeah.

P: ...was here then?

H: Um hm. Yeah.

P: So uh, mostly it was clothing stores then, dry goods.

H; Right, right,

P: Yeah.

H: Right.

P: Uh, what kind of restaurants were in town, were there :any sher restaurants?

H; Okay, wasas

Mrs. H: I don't know, I don't remember any -

H: Yeah, I think there was a kosher restaurant then. Uh, yeah I think there was one.

I n't think of the name but there was one.

P: Did you keep koshe/n your house?

H: Yeah.

P: Was it hard to get kosher food in Jacks-...

H: No, no.

P: Whaere did you get it.from?

H: Uh, j-r 6ci '

P: a-Y S ? Was that the only one Mr. w~Lr

H: cCke- 'came later but uh, c -( S was the only one. Most Jews uh,

had to buy from r. .

P: And where was this store located?

H: On Adams street.

P: On, that was next door to the boardinghouse?

H: No.

Mrs. H: Yes.

H: Uh, well, no, it was a little further down.

H: Yeah, the sae,he same block,

P: Um hm. Did a lot of people keep kosher in those days?

H: I believe so. I believe those days they, they kept, most of tem kept kosher.
P, -'' 4 4
The one$ elongNo the, to the synagogue kept kosher,

P: Yeah. When did uh, the uh,~'-- Ci begin? Was that around 1945?

H: Later than that.

P: Later than that?

H: Um hm. Yeah.

P: Was there a, a lot of disseni on when they wanted to break off from the enter?

H: Well, they didn't like it because' was sort of uh, you know, uh, but uh, there

was not so much dissension.

P: It was just, it was a nice friendly break, they just wanted to...

H: Yes, that's right.

P: Who, who. _what rabbi was in Jacksonville when you came? Was Reverend Sfl ?

H; Yeah. When I came c_ t- was the rabbi.

P: And how long was he here?

H: He, I guess &etagh he left uh, he was here a long time.

P: Um hm. Who came in after him?

H: I don't remember exactly.

P: You don't remember?

H: There were some several of them that they used to change around,

P: You weren't here when Rabbi Benjamin was here.

H: Yes.

P: He came, did he come after Reverend T ?

H: Yeah. Oh yeah.

P: How was he?
H: He was 7 Vy good to m) I know I liked him.

P: Uh huh.

H: HLe his speeches was tremendous, they 4aee very good, but he, he antagonized a

lot of people.

P: How did he antagonize them?

H: Well he spoke out uh, what he, what he though about. He antagonized I know theR e-inr

P; Oh, what happened with them?

H; They left and they, they're the oneSformed the th uh, -2- O\0W^\Q They gave the

money and they, they faEdu d _0N\ in Springfield,

P; What was the argument about? ,C \ %

H: He, he, I don't know, he just Aee something about, not directly to 4Es, but

against rich people, they time the rich people there and...

P: Were they rich when you came to Jacksonville or did they... S

H: No! No, when I came to Jacksonville they, he used to the Bles used to peddle

AIl the junk.

P: And then how did he get rich?

H: Well, there's a lot of big stories, about it but I don't want to y them...

P: Oh, you can say...

H: Well, when the war broke out they were selling metal, scrap metal to the Japanese.

P: Um hm.

Mrs. H: Before.

H: Well now, before.

P: Before...

H: And then, then when they ~ LY VOfXw l before, then they made the money then.

Then when they build the uhl, the uh, military install on here, they had the con-

tract$ -ah, Bsahe. They made a lot of money on iase contracts,

P: So they were on both saLe. U7 so they were the motivating group to start rZ-C1 f-{

H: Yes. Yes.

P: Uh huh.

H: PBaas were the motivating groua Ihey got mad w+eh""tert Benjamin's Apeeches
then .. "
andhthey 6 t ).

P: When you came over from Vienna, you were a Hassidic Jew?

H: I was, yeah.

P: And dN you miss that when you came into Jacksonville?

H: I missed some of it there, but I already had a little uh, conservative in Vienna,

I started to go to/onservative uh synagogue. But before that}I belonged to a real

Hassidic uh, background, I mean my father and mother were real orthodox.

P: Did you find f new American way strange to you, even thou6 you had a aouch of it

in Austria?

H: No, because Austria was pretty uh, Vienna)particularly)was very uh, progressive.

P: Were a lot of people leaving OmW dox Judaism at that time? Did they find it was
too strict to live in a changing world?

H: Sqo, sv rof them did, yes.

P: Yeah.

H: So~ of them did, Sure did.

P: Because thetBaat Israel was Orthodox...

H: Yes.

P: ...until they changed over to the Center.

H: That's right, t beginning D) 1 5 T rae uS 1 k Rabbi

%a-f~g was an Orthodox rabbi.

P: Uh huh. How did he take to the conservative enter?

H: I guess he didn't like it, because he uh, he left, he left for Israel.

P: Oh, he did leave?

H: Yes, yeah. He, he left for Israel and he, he died,.he passed away there.

P: Oh, so he didn't like it at all...

H: No. No he didn't,

P: Yeah, Do you remember when Olfff HAS was here, was that here when you came?

H: Yes. 1

P: Oh, so you wouldn't remember how that started, with uh, Mr. and Mrs. Warmi .

H: Uh, I don't remember when it started, they started their bakery and everything,

they first started their bakery there.

P: Uh, when did they start their bakery? Was it after you came to, to Jacksonville?

H: Yeah. After I came to Jacksonville.
P: Was xt shortly after or a long time after?

H: Uh, shortly after,

P: Did they open up on Troad Street, have they been there all...

H: Yeah, yeah they been on road streett since they opened.

P: Did uh, were they supported well? I mean did the Jewish people...

H: Yeah. Yeah.

P: They used the bakery a lot.

H: Uh, there was e uh, uh, Qa I think was first uh...
WeA9' 2
P: Oh, Mr. Jae- the baker?

H: Yeah.

P: Yeah. I remember him.

H: Yeah. Um hm.

P: So he had a bakeryjalso.

H: Yes.

Mrs. H: U, that was years later.

P: Oh. Uh)when you first came to Jacksonville uh, what was the monetary situation then

like, was anybody rich or was everybody in the same boat?

H: There was not, as far as I know there was not too many Jewish people to be extra-

P: Yeah.

Mrs.H: What about the FinkJstkeps?

H: Yeah. The FinkWst~ns was the only ones, the,..

P: Is this the Fink st s that have the boarding house or the ones that 4ame the

pawn shop.

H: Uh, the pawn shop a the, the, no *pV the pawn shop, that's right.

P; Yeah.

H: Yeah.

P: Uh, do you remember Mr. Fink)t n from the boardinghouse?

H: Yes.

P: What was he like?

H: He was a very nice person.

P: Did they take care of uh, immigrants that came into Jacksonville ?

H: Yes. Yes, I understand they did,

P: Uh huh.

H: He was very very very....
: he he) 4tV
P: So they .mie-C~,, hnat was the boardinghouse like, was it big?

H: A big old two-story house, and you could see people there all the time, there.

P: The people congregated there?

H: Yes.

P: What year did you get married?
'/93 O,.
H: Ninpt--n thirty..

Mrs.H: I'll kill him.

H: ThLirty- o. Mrs. H; Xep.

p: Did you get married in the synagogue?

Mrs. H: No.

H: No.

P: In, in your home?

H: In uh, *amte uh, brother liaw's home.

P: Your brother-in-law's home? Did you have a big wedding/ a,..

H: Small wedding,

P: Small family wedding? Was that typical of the day, that everybody had small


H: Well, I didn't have too many relatives here then.

P: Um hm.

H: So uh, just me andra brother, and uh, so we didn't have no big wedding.

P: How lout other people when they got married. re there a lot of big weddings?

H: I guess Uere were, er.

P: Uh huh. Were th0 big social affairs or wa aiihy just quiet family affairs?

You know like they are today?

H: No, quiet affairs. Was no big social affairs then.

P: What was your social life like, what did you do? When you first got married what

did you do for entertainment?

H: Well, there was no television then so we just listened to the radio and I'd used

to go out fishing, used to go fishing all the tla

P: Uh huh. Well, what did you, when you went out with your friends, or had friends in

what did you do?

H: We just had social af- you know, gathering to talk differentrd1,&V.e.e

P: Did you, were you at somebody's house or did you go out?

H: Not too much, though, 'cause we worked, I worked pretty hard...

Mrs.H: Used to get up, four and five o'clock.

H: In the produce house, business, you had to get up four o'clock in the morning, if

you wait 'til six, seven o'clockyeu i-ee ruin you,

P: Umm, So then, would you say that uh, a lot of this uh, street businessmen weee Jewish?

H: Yes. A hun-j almost a hundred percent.

P: Uh huh. I had heard that uh, Walter Hawkins had helped a lot of the Jewish business-

men. Is that so?

H: Ah, he didn'thelp a lot of Jewish mei)I was his competitor;

P: Oh.

H: We used to ship,, me and Walter Hawkins, -ran aug Brothers and Walter Hawkins

used to be the main frmit shippers uh, Christman uh, but as far as helping, he did

noth ,.

P: He didn't do anything?

H: No, no.

P: And somebody had told us that before.-S,

Mrs. H: ttI L ks'. h An i)4jA !I* I j ." / ef You know who helped him?

Mr. ,/ ,

H: G ly. "

P: Mr. Ch

H: CC~tE'y.

P: How did he'help you?

H: Well when I came here, uh, I didn't, heI didn't have nothing to do so he, I needed

a horse and wagon to go out peddling, he say, he gave me his horse and wagon, I didn't

even know how to hitch up a horse and wagon. His daughter hitched up the horse and

wagon for me, they lived ,A ast Jacksonville, in the back he had his, his stable in

the back of his house. )

P: Uh huh.

H: And he, I drome down the wagon to his produce place and he gave me a load of

ban anas, I learned how to peddle them, it was the first dollar I made, it was his...

P: How much did you sell bananas for in those days whe ou first started?

H: Uh, fifteen cents a dozen.

,: Fifteen cents'a dozen,

H: Two dozen for a'quarter. And I did, that's all I knew was, fifteen cents a dozen,

two dozen for a quarter. If somebody asked me for three dozen I s know what

that means, only thing I knew was two dozen for a quarter.

P: I bet it didn't take you long to catch on, thoi9.

H: No, it didn't take me long,

P: So p t, you started with the peddling on the wagon and you did that, then you

went into your own business,

H: My own business.

P; Yeah. Had, do you think 1h)fruit business has changed much since those days?

H: Much, very much so.

P: How has it changed?

H: Well, there's bigger, bigger outl ts around the, the produce comes not form dif-

ferent locations so, now they got the Navy gets their, you know, they use a lot of

produce, big, big consumers, Lot of stores...

Mrs. H: It's required now 6o sat down to where the stuff is grown,..

H: Yeah, L-tmg it's a different way they do business now4 then, the/ you had to go

for the produce.

P: You sold mostly local-type fruit then.

H: Yes, yes. No, I sold produce from uh, the state fro uh, used to come, I used to

have a truck ghing down state, I had a truck that used to go out in the state to sell

produce from city, from town to town.
P: -Wr e, I see.

H: To the stores.

S P: Well, what kind of grocery stores wert/ in Jacksonville in the nwei ee?

H: Most of them were just loea ople. AC /

P: Small...

H: ,,,mall rO so...

P: Who were some of the grocerymen th4t you knew? oP4/

H: U was one, I don't.know, it was most of them, uh, was local people.

P: Do you remember how Mr. __ef got started?

H: Yes.

P: How did he get started?

H: Well, he first had a, had a store 4 Silver Street lcrf ofm or )

P: Uh huh.

H: And then he opened another store and another store and then he, he just...

P: This was the Daylight groceryy e tore.

Mrs. H: No.

H: No.

P: No?

H: No.

P: What was this?

H: They were, this was/ Se --2-g e Store.

P: Oh, ( Je( 's, that's right.A

H: Yeah.

P: Who had the Daylight?

-ngFsws-H: Uh, Mr.&WAO)OLfS, and Mr. uh, dnria i

P: Which Mr.4rezars was that?

H: Well he is now in Calif I mean he, he's passed away, but he was a, he went to


P: Oh, so he didn't stay here.

H: He stayed there ti/, til they uh, for a long time.

P: Ti __l/CZ- bought out Baylight? Didn't _etz_ buy...

Mrs. H: No.

H: No. No. _et2_ _J_ never, iy Lto. still ea t d. ,

P: Oh, I thought that y had merged.

H: No.

P: Uh huh. Well, what other types of businesses do you remember, Yrominent people

in business?

H: I really don't know if there was any other prominent, except dry goods stores,

clothing stores.

P: Alright, Let me ask you this/ do you remember when the Jacksonville Community

Council began? Were you active in that?

Mrs. H: No.

H: No.

P: No? Alright. Well, Mr, Haber, it was delightful talking to you this morning

and I really appreciate your time.

H: Thank you, I'm glad to give you the, all the information I can.

P: Okay, good.

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