Title: Interview with Dr. Benjamin Seidler (September 19, 1981)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006642/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Dr. Benjamin Seidler (September 19, 1981)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: September 19, 1981
Spatial Coverage: 12099
Palm Beach (Fla.) -- History.
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00006642
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Palm Beach' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: PBC 17

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INTERVIEWEE: Dr. Benjamin Seidler


DATE: September 19, 1981


LS: I would like to thank you for agreeing to do this interview. To start with,
would you please tell me where and when you were born.

BS: I was born in New York City on June 7th, 1916.

LS: Where? In a house? In a hospital?

BS: I was born in a hospital. The hospital was on 7th Street. I don't remember
the name. I think it was Beth Israel. It is interesting because my brother,
who is 3 years younger than me, was born in the apartment.

LS: Then your early years were spent on the East Side?

BS: Yes. We moved. Originally, when I was born, I think we lived on 8th Street,
somewhere around Avenues C or D, very near the East River. Then, when I was
about two or three, we moved to 12th Street, which was a considerably better
neighborhood. Better than where we lived, but nevertheless it was a pretty
crummy place. I remember that on the side where we lived there were a whole
row of tenements. The Jews lived on the south side and the Polacks lived on
the north side. Then there was a great deal of anti-Semitism. The Polacks
used to catch rats. They would catch them in a trap, and let them loose on
the streets so they would run over to our side. There were a lot of things
like that, but we'll go on a little later.

LS: Then these were your earliest memories?

BS: Well, you're asking me what my earliest memories are. It's difficult for me
to tell you. I'll just go at random. For example, you know that 1916
was the the middle of World War I. The war ended in 1918, so that in those
first couple of years there was an activity which I was not aware of about
the war. Later, at the end of the war, when I was probably about three, in
1919, I remember someone giving me a gift of a toy army tank. It looked
like a tank, and-I rode it and was very proud of it. That was one of the

Then I would also tell you, you probably would find it interesting, that when
I was about four I was enrolled with a Hebrew teacher. The Hebrew teacher
was an old smelly Jew, with a white beard, whose school was in a basement.
You had to go down the steps right across the street on the Polack side of
our block. It was a dark, dingy little store and there were a number of us
who sat around the table. He, the rabbi, smelled of some kind of tobacco.
Actually, I remember our first learning. It was the Bible, and he was
teaching us Hebrew by translating the Hebrew into Yiddish rather than English
(he didn't know English). That was the standard way of teaching in Europe,
and that was the way he was following. We would sing "B'rashees, un unfang".
You see "B'rashees" meaning, "the beginning" and translated into Yiddish.
That was one of the memories. There are so many.

I know that I am wandering around, but that's perfectly okay. I would tell
you something funny in connection with Hebrew, and in connection with the
religious aspects, and I was a.very religious boy. We would have bonfires
in the streets very frequently. One of the things that I remember in


conversation with my friends, they picked up The Daily News, or the Graphic
or whatever newspapers, and they were burning them. I found an old copy of
The Daily Forward, which I threw into the fire, and one of my friends said
to me that I had just committed a terrible sin, because I was burning a
Yiddish newspaper. Of course, my heart dropped, that here I was committing
sins, and I was committing sins all the time of that kind.

There are so many memories I can tell you. I can tell you a little story
about before I was born. My father and mother were actually second or third
cousins by marriage, because my grandfather, my mother's father, when he
became a widower, remarried. He married a lady who was an aunt of my father.
When my father came to this country he was a boy of only about 16 or 17, and
my mother was 16 at the time. The only relative they had in common was an
aunt, who was a sister of my mother's stepmother. My aunt had a little res-
taurant on Tenth Street, and my father used to go to eat there as well.
That's where my father and mother met. I would also tell you, parentheti-
cally, that my father had an older brother who was, I think, four years
older than he, Uncle Charlie. Uncle Charlie kind of took a shine to my
mother as well, but my mother liked my father, and when my father proposed
to my mother and she accepted. My father had to go and get permission from
his older brother. He was. the only other close relative. My Uncle Charlie
said, "No, you can't marry her because I'm not married yet, and you're going
to have to wait until I get married first". However, Uncle Charlie found my
Aunt Fannie pretty quickly and got married. It's interesting how these
things stay with one all one's life, because later, when my father died and
my mother was a widow, my Uncle Charlie was a widower (Aunt Fanny had also
died), and the two of them began to go out one with the other. I myself
wasn't too keen on this match. I didn't think that Uncle Charlie was a
particularly nice guy, and I tried to dissuade my mother, and my mother said,
yes, but she knows him so well. It's really a kind of continuum, and even
though so many years go by, the original emotions are still there. I'm
wandering, I know, but perhaps if you ask me a few more questions, maybe I
can get to something.

LS: Well, Let's go back to your early years, because we're very interested in
knowing what the streets were like on the East Side.

BS: You just asked me a question that right away gave me a memory picture. First
of all, I remember that we lived on the south side, and on the north side of
the street,somewhere towards the middle of the block was a wooden building.
It was a stable where they kept horses, and you know in those years, horse
and wagons was the commercial kind of vehicle. I remember that that building
went on fire, and it was early evening. I looked out the window, and I saw
the fires and I would hear the horses screaming. It was a terrible, terrible
experience. I would also tell you that when it comes to horses, very fre-
quently a horse would die right in the street, and you would find a horse
lying in the gutter, and he would begin to swell up and stink like the very
devil. They would leave the horse there for three, four, five days sometimes,
and then a special wagon came with a hoist that pulled the dead horse up on
the truck. Many times I saw dead horses in the street in the wintertime, in
the snow, and then it wasn't too bad, because they didn't smell so bad.

The streets, that was where you lived, that was where everything went on;
you didn't stay in your apartment. The kids went out into the street and
they played. I was a fat kid, and so was my brother, and I remember once
my mother had nothing for us to eat, so she gave me a note to bring to the
grocer, and the note said that he should give us each a roll, and divide up
an eighth of a pound of butter (because that was the smallest quantity you
could buy), and he should put the eighth of a pound of butter on the two
rolls. Well, I was eating the roll in the street, and one of my kids in
the gang saw me with the roll, and he looked inside and saw how it was
smeared with butter, and he was crying, "No wonder he's so fat. Look what
he's eating".

I would tell you an interesting little thing about where we lived. We lived
on the fourth or fifth floor of this tenement. We had milk delivered to us
every day or every other day, it doesn't matter, but what does matter is
that all of a sudden we found that the milk was not at the door anymore. My
father made inquiries and the milkman said that he had delivered it, and
obviously someone was stealing it. So my father woke up very early, and he
tied a string around the bottle and slipped it under the transom of the door
and waited. Within a short time the string moved. He opened the door, and
it was a neighbor from upstairs. We all called him "Jake, the Bottle Crook",
and it was a terrible thing, but that's the kind of thing that happened in
that area.

LS: Those were bad years, though, during the depression.

BS: No, no, not really. They were post-war years. I don't know that it was so
bad. You know, my father was a worker. My father was a member of the ILGWU.
You're thinking in terms of depression, like 1929. I don't believe that
that was true. I remember that in the early period we did not have elec-
tricity. Instead we had gas, and I remember those gas mantels, that white
device that was put over the gas pipe, that would light up and light the
room. In the kitchen was a large box, something like 2' by 1'. It was the
gas meter, and then you dropped a quarter into it, and the thing would light
up. When the gas would stop and you had no light, then you dropped a quarter
again, and that's how it worked. Subsequent to that, the buildings became
electrified, but it was not, you asked me, whether those were hard times.
They were hard times for us because we were first generation immigrants.
Everybody was in the same boat, but I don't think that it was like a depres-
sion year, because most people were employed. My father had a job. I don't
know what he was making in those early years. Maybe he was making twelve
dollars a week. But that's about the going wage for the average worker. We
thought we lived kind of well. It's interesting, because subsequent to that
Hebrew teacher fiasco my mother thought that I should enroll into a kind of
Talmud Torah, which was much more assimilated, much more American, kind of
thing. There was a Talmud Torah on Fourth Street, and I liked it very much.
These were school kids like me, and it was after school. I was already
older. They had a break somewhere about four o'clock, I guess. You went
into the lunchroom and they gave you a sandwich. One sandwich was a salmon
sandwich and I loved it, and I came home and told my mother, "Mom, I got
this great sandwich". She said, "Oh, you mustn't eat that; that's only for


poor children". She considered that we were not poor, that we were very
rich, in comparison to people that she knew, so there was a sense of pride
about that.

LS: The children that you went to school with then were all immigrants?

BS: Most of them. I would say, yes, in a large measure. I would say those
kids who were not Jewish were either Russian-Ukranians, because that whole
area was a Russian-Jewish area. I dare say that that was so. I would tell
you something very interesting. You know, I was big for my age, and so was
my brother. My mother enrolled me in school, and she lied about my age. She
said that I was five when actually I was only four. They put me into kinder-
garten. I spoke Yiddish, I was very fluent in Yiddish because that was the
language we spoke at home. There was a day set aside when parents could come
and speak with the teacher about their children. Because of the fact that
most of the parents spoke hardly any English, and Yiddish was their language,
the teachers used me as an interpreter for them, and I would interpret what
the parents would say to the teacher and vice versa. This success that I
felt was an important thing, a very important motivating factor in my main-
taining an interest in Yiddish, and I'm rather literate in Yiddish. I speak
and read all kinds of Yiddish literary novels and writings and so on. It
is something that is very close to my heart, and has been for a long time.
As a matter of fact, if I could wander, I might tell you that later as an
adult, a friend of mine and I formed a society which consisted of a great
many professionals, and it was a group that got together on Jewish cultural
things. It was a non-secular organization, and we had some very instructive,
very good times. We really learned a lot.

LS: Were you responsible for the care of your brother?

BS: That's a big, psychological story. I was responsible for his care. My
mother had to go down and shop, and she would leave me in charge of my
little brother.

LS: Did you have any other brothers or sisters?

BS: I had a sister. Well, you see, actually as I told you, my brother was four
years younger than I, and then we started to move. Once we moved out of
Twelfth Street; we moved up to the lower East Bronx, and then we moved to
Brooklyn; then we moved to 116th Street, and we had a candy store and lived
in the back of the candy store. Hy father was objecting to working. He was
a presser of ladies' dresses, and he objected to the work. He said that it
was a nowhere street, and he preferred to be independent and work in a candy
store. So he enslaved the entire family, his wife and children. We were
there seven days a week. We never had a holiday. The only time the store
was closed was on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and there was no life at all.
Later, when we got older and he could put a few responsibilities on us, my
mother and father would go out for a few hours and visit some friends and
leave the store to me or to my brother. It was really no life, but I'm
wandering because you asked me. I'm trying to recall exactly when. I must
have been eleven or twelve when my mother gave birth in the apartment right
in back of the store, and it was a still-birth, and it was a boy. You know

the guilt that one feels, and I remember crying at the still-birth of this
kid, my sibling, and I kept screaming and crying to myself that it was my
fault, I had done this because I was a bad boy. Then, subsequent to that,
my mother gave birth to my sister, and my sister was thirteen years younger,
my junior. She was like my daughter, and I really treated her like my

LS: Let's go back to the East Side. Most apartments then did not have bathroom
facilities. You did not have bathtubs. Did you go to public baths to bathe?

BS: Yes, but I beg your pardon, we really were upper class, because we had our
own toilet. My father was very ingenious. We had a washstand which was
divided up into two compartments in the kitchen. My father went and cut out
the middle panel which separated the washstand, and that was our bathtub.
It was a little rough in between,' and you had to be careful where you put
your rear end, but that was our bathtub, and we were upper class. No question.

LS: You must have had favorite vendors, those years, with their pushcarts.

BS: I know what you are leading up to. I remember especially in the wintertime
when it was cold, and that was the time of the year when you had those
galvanized tin carts with drawers inside and a charcoal fire. It was usually
a Jewish lady selling hot sweet potatoes. But the ices, the chipped ices,
the man usually was an Italian. He had this cake of ice and a scraper. I
don't know how you can describe it, but you rub the ice and you get little
flakes, and then you collect the flakes, put them into a little paper dish,
and then you put on some kind of colored syrup. He put red and green and
orange, all different colors. That was for a penny. I would tell you there
was a big mob that collected on Delancey Street. It was the first time that
popsicles (someone had invented the making of popsicles), and I remember
this tremendous mob of people waiting in line to buy popsicles. Also in the
Twelfth Street apartment was a very educated and advanced family who lived on
the top floor. They had the first radio. It was a radio that you could
listen to with ear phones. The whole house lined up, and we all took turns.
They let us listen on the ear phones and we heard this magical thing that
made music. I'm just remembering those things now. I had completely forgot-
ten about.

LS: You haven't talked too much about your parents. I'd like to know what they
were like. Were they happy, were they superstitious?

BS: Well, happiness doesn't mean that they're not superstitious or vice versa,
one has nothing to do with the other. My father and mother were hard-working
people, and my mother was full of superstitions. She really carried all of
the eastern European ideas with her. I would tell you a funny thing about my
mother and superstitions. I don't know if you know what "verenikas" is. It
is a food made by first taking some dough, rolling it out fairly thin, and
then you take a glass and you create small circles (you know, the size of
the glass). My mother would take mashed potatoes mixed with greavenes, with
some onion and even bits of beef liver. A spoonful of this mixture would be
placed in the center of the dough, the edges were brought together so that it
would become a kind of a half-moon, a pocket. Now what she would do with


this is boil them, because the dough was raw. It would be boiled, then
taken out, shmaltz placed on top of these. For me this was heaven. As a
matter of fact, through the years I loved verenikas so much that every time
my mother wanted a special favor from me, she would serve me verenikas, and
I knew that she wanted something. When I was very small my mother said to
me, "You must never count the verenikas, because if you do and you throw
them into the pot of boiling water, the verenikas would open up". So I was
kind of skeptical about what she said, and without her knowing it, I counted
them to myself and of course they did not open up, so I knew it was not so.
But I said to her, "Mama, when you throw these into the pot, and you have
guests, you have to have some idea of how many verenikas you are cooking,
how do you know? She said, "Well, I counted really, but I count it this way -
nisht aince, nisht tzvai, nisht drei (not one, not two, not three)". That was
one of the ideas my mother had she had so many. I'm sure that this is
common to a great many because this was a superstition which I think was
throughout the Jewish Pale, that if you were sewing something onto a person
and the person is wearing the garment directly, they had to have some string
in their mouth which they would chew on. Otherwise, you would sew away their
brains. You see, you would make them stupid. There were many, but I haven't
really answered that question about my mother and my father, because it's a
complicated one, and I would say that they were both extremely hard-working
people. I would rather not answer that question.

LS: Did you go to synagogue with your father?

BS: This brings us to another chapter. I was a very religious boy, as I told you,
and I wore tzitzes. As a matter of fact, someone found the tzitzes that I
wore when I was four or five, and returned it to me only fairly recently.
The whole sense of God and angels was very close to me. But later, when we
lived in Brooklyn, and I got to be somewhere around twelve, and I began to
speak to boys, we had different ideas. There was a kind of free thinking
idea of anti-religion. That year, when I was about twelve, or twelve and a
half, it was Rosh Hashanah, and the Shul was a small one on Ocean Parkway in
Brooklyn. The Shamos of the Shul was my next door neighbor. My father had
a candy store, and the Shamos had a grocery store next door. I'll never
forget there was one time when they were auctioning off passages, and it was
an honor to read them. This was really during the depression years, this had
to be somewhere about 1929 or so. They were auctioning off the passages and
for Shes Hashleshee nobody would give, would offer, more than five dollars.
The Shamos of the Shul got up and he was very angry. He said, "For five
dollars nobody is going to read it". And he banged the table, and that upset
me a great deal, and I thought that that was such a crass commercial thing.
In spiritual matters one doesn't equate dollars with religion. I was so upset,
and coupled with the fact that already I had had discussions with my friends
in the street about the Bible being untrue, that they were saying such things
as Joshua stopping the sun, and that religion was a lot of baloney. So,
coupled with my prior doubts that had already been instilled, and the occur-
rence with the Shamos, I went to my father and I told him that I did not
believe in God. Naturally, that upset my father a great deal, and he didn't
know how to handle it. My father always had a kind of sense of inadequacy
about me because I used to read a great deal, and he never could argue with
me because every time he would I would quote some kind of a book, and he'd


say, "Books! That's all he knows!" But in this instance he felt inadequate,
so he did the worst thing that he could have done, in my opinion, but it was
a matter of convenience. The Shamos was actually the grocer who lived next
door to us and his store was right alongside. My father went to the Shamos
and asked him to speak to me about this new turn of events. So the Shamos
spoke to me at great length, and he did not convince me. I didn't convince
him, but he certainly didn't convince me, and the result was that I stopped
going to synagogue, and I began to feel a kind of antipathy to religion.
Despite that, I maintained a very strong feeling of identification with the
Jewish people, a very warm strong feeling about Yiddishkeit, and, as I had
said before, I was instrumental in forming an important organization at one
time for professionals who were interested in Jewish culture. This is some-
thing that has stayed with me. For example, I recall being in Paris and
passing a newsstand. There was a Yiddish newspaper printed in France, but
had advertisements about vacation spots in Germany, and I thought that that
was very curious. And I've been always interested in Yiddish, the press, the

LS: But did this occur before Bar Mitzvah or after Bar Mitzvah?

BS: No, it occurred before my Bar Mitzvah, and that too is funny because I was
big for my age thirteen. I was already in the second year of high school
and was one of the biggest kids in the class. When I announced that I would
become a Bar Mitavah, I did comply with my father's wishes, because we had
already engaged a rabbi to prepare me for the Bar Mitzvah, and it was diffi-
cult for me to refuse to go through with the Bar Mitzvah. It never occurred
to me to be that defiant of my father. So I went through with it. The rabbi
my father had was a very modern rabbi, who taught me to read the Haftorah not
in the usual chanting, but by reading it in a straightforward way. When I
did read the Haftorah in the Shul, and this was the very same Shul where I
developed my rebellion against religion, there was a considerable discussion
afterwards, and disagreeing with the rabbi, and the feeling that in reading
it I had violated one of the traditional, important aspects of the reading
of the Haftorah. But I did have a Bar Mitzvah, and the ceremony itself was
held in our house. We just had a few people. My father had a store, and it
was a difficult thing for him to get away too long. So we did whatever we

LS: So there was some sort of a celebration, and that was the usual kind of cele-
bration, it was very simple.

BS: Yes.

LS: And speaking of celebrations, can we bring you back to about the time your
brother was born, and talk about his Bris.

BS: I didn't tell you about that. You know my brother was born in the apartment,
in the house, in that tenement. I remember a little bit about that Bris. My
mother and father never could believe that I had that memory of it. But I
remember we had boarders who lived in our apartment, and the main dining room-
living room had a lot of people there. I remember my mother was in the bed-
room lying in bed with my brother, and the living room was full of people. One


of the people whom I remember so vividly was a Mr. Berliner. Mr. Berliner
was the grocer who had a little grocery down understood across the street
from us. He was a little, stocky man with a white beard and blue, shiny eyes,
and he got a little drunk, and he was doing the Kazatski. I remember my
cousin, Rose, who was older than I, and cousin Rose and I were looking out
the window, and I pointed out Jake, the bottle crook, to her; he was looking
out the window. An uncle of hers, who had just come back from the army, and
who was still wearing a uniform from World War I, gave us each a nickel, and
we ran down and bought a box of Necco wafers or Necco chocolate, or something
like that. That's what I remember about the Bris.

LS: The summers in New York must have been very, very hot. Did you go to camp?

BS: Madam, you make me laugh. Camp what's camp? We lived on Twelfth Street,
and my father rented a room in Coney Island (it was on Mermaid Avenue) for a
week. We went to this one-room thing, and I remember the sun was very strong
and I got all sunburned and had blisters (I was one, big blister across my
shoulders). Then at the end of the week we came home by subway, but the
subway was on Lexington Avenue, and we were far east (and usually we walked
that), but my father took a cab and we came home by cab. We told everybody,
or he did, or my mother did, that we were in the country, because it wasn't
nice that we should just be in Coney Island. We had to lord it over every-
body how great we were that we were somewhere in the Catskills. Then some
of the kids saw that I was full of blisters, and they knew that I couldn't
have had those blisters in the Catskills. It had to be in the seashore, and
it had to be in Coney Island. So, the truth came out, but it was interesting
to me, why the need to put on airs; I really could not understand it. I'm
going to say that it was hot in the summer. Of course, it was hot! On par-
ticularly hot nights, I remember going up on the roof, and we would sleep the
night on the roof. Also, I remember my mother put down blankets on the fire-
escape, and we slept right out on the fire-escape. The reason for it is that
up on the roof you would smell the tar, which was unpleasant. Talking about
smells and superstition, I had whooping cough, or my brother had whooping
cough. At the time my father took me to the East River, and at the East River
there were boats, you know it was a shipping kind of a place. He got a milk
bottle full of some water with oil in it, which he kept near my brother,
thinking that that oily smell would help his whooping cough. There is some-
thing else which is escaping me, because it has to do with my father and me.
I had some major illnesses when I was a kid. When I was six years old, I had
mastoid, and the mastoid was a double mastoid. My father took me to the
surgeon, and apparently I was very sick and very close to death. I was
operated bilaterally, which is a kind of a rare thing. When I went home from
the hospital, I remember this, my father took me home in a taxi. When we got
out there was a candy store that was part of our tenement. My father went
and bought a lot of candy and some little paper bags, and he put a mixture of
different candies in the bags and gave them to all the children in the neigh-
borhood. I guess that was his way of thanking God that I had returned.

LS: That's a wonderful story. Let's continue now. Where did you go to high


BS: At that time we had moved to Brooklyn, and we had a store in Sheepshead Bay,
and I went to junior high school quite a distance away. It was in Flatbush,
and in order to get to the school by train, you had to take two trains. You
went to Coney Island, and then you took the Culver Line, and it was quite a
distance.' There were a group of us who together went to the same junior
high school, and we devised various systems of swindling and cheating the
subway lines. It was a very rural area of Sheepshead Bay, and you could
climb up an embankment and-get on to the station without paying. Then a
gate was put up there, making that impossible. Also, there was a turnstile,
and when nobody was present at the station to watch, and with the same nickel,
three or four of us, and sometimes five (one would climb on the other one's
shoulders), would go through the turnstile for the same nickel. Then we
learned a wonderful trick, and that was that if you took a penny and you put
the penny on the trolley car tracks, the trolley would go over it, flatten
out the penny, and it would be about the size of a nickel. We could use that
flattened penny for the train. So, not only that, but we took turns. We were
very careful about whose penny was going to be used on a particular day. So
we got to go to school for a fifth of a penny each, and a fifth of a penny
returning, and that was in junior high school.

I went to James Madison High School, which was about a ten-minute ride by
bicycle, or you could hitch a ride, and we frequently tried to do that. I
had finished high school practically, I had only six months more to go, when
my father sold the candy store and bought a stand on 116th Street. So we
moved from Brooklyn, I had not finished high school, and we were now living
on 116th Street, or it might be even 102nd (I have a feeling it was 102nd).
We had this stand. (Yep, it was 102nd.) So I then commuted to high school
every day by subway. I took the IRT, and then I took the BMT, and it was
quite a ride to get to school, and I finally finished high school that way.
Then I enrolled in City College. I would tell you on my street, on 102nd
Street in those years, was mostly Puerto Rican, Italian and Blacks. There
were just a few Jews who were still there. I was only one in my whole block
who was going to college, and they used to call me the professor for that
reason. It was interesting. There was a man, Joe, a little Italian guy,
wiry, and he would stop at the stand and buy a De Nobile cigar, one of those
guinea stinkers. And I had know him for a number of years. And one day he
came to me and said he would like me to come to his apartment, he had some-
thing to show me, and he needed my advice. So I went, and there in a crib
was lying a six-year-old boy, naked, and who was obviously a congenital
idiot, was blind and deaf. And he touched the child and tickled it, and it
made some kind of a smile. He had four or five older children, and his wife,
in a small apartment, and he wanted to know what I though he ought to do. I
encouraged him to put the child in a special home for such cases. He took my
advice. But again, indicating the respect that people felt for someone who
was going to college despite the fact that I was really only a kid at the
time. And then when I finished I only went to college for three years,
that was the minimum requirement for entrance to dental school. I went to
dental school. We continued to live at 102nd Street until after I graduated
from dental school. My father, of course, was quite proud of me. From that
point, from the moment I entered dental school, he kept calling me Doc. I
no longer was Ben, but only Doc. In all of this I only relate about myself,
which, of course, is what you want, but would tell you that here was this

terrible, tough neighborhood, and people were stabbed all the time on our
block. And the block was full of prostitutes and all kinds of things. And
fighting went on. My sister, when I graduated dental school, was only ten,
and it was a dangerous time for my sister to still be living in such a
nieghborhood. Shortly after I graduated, the neighborhood kept getting
worse and worse, my father finally closed the stand down. He just boarded
it up and left. They moved to the Bronx. My father went back to working
in a shop.

LS: And you practiced in New York for how long?

BS: I practiced well, the first three years I didn't practice, I was given a
special appointment. I was the research associate for New York University
Dental School, and then went into practice after that. I practiced for
roughly from 1942 until 1969, for more than 25 years, and practiced there.
Then I was given an invitation to teach and chair the Department of
Endodontics in Atlanta at Emory, and accepted that. I taught there in
Atlanta for a number of years. And then from Atlanta, at Emory, we came to
Florida, where I practiced here. -I practiced here, however, on a more or
less part-time basis, and which I'm continuing to do up to the present. I'm
practicing part-time and part-time retirement, and loving it. The oppor-
tunities in terms of weather and terms of sport, in terms of things that I
love, like bicycle-riding and swimming, are all here. And there's quite a
relaxed atmosphere which I enjoy. I wish, however, that there were some of
the wonderful things that are in New York; for example, last Sunday I looked
in the New York Times, and there were announcements of all kinds of courses
being given at the new school and at New York University. And the art things
that are going on, and the music and the things that are going on at the "Y".
And I just kind of feel awfully sorry that we're here in Florida and not in
New York City.

However, all in all, I would say we do have the best of all possible worlds,
being here. And'I'm glad to be living in Florida and to be speaking today.

LS: Thank you very much, Dr. Seidler, for a most enjoyable and informative visit.
I wish you many more years of good health and much pleasure. Shalom.

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