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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
Interview with Rose Tisnower
Date of Interview: 19, December, 1981; West Palm Beach
Interviewer: Mollie Fitterman
Transcriber: Evelyn Berman
Begin Tape 1, Side 1.
SMF: Interview of Mrs. Rose
Tisnower, 240 West Indies
"Drive, Palm Beach, Florida,
Sat her homee, -2 0t.
Can you tell us when and
where you were born and why
"and when you came to Palm
Tisnower: Yes. I was born in Manhattan
of New York City. My
husband David was born in
South Hampton, Long Island.
I came to Florida as a bride.
We were married in New York,
and then came down on our
honeymoon on the Clyde
Mallory line as far as
We had the car on the boat
and we went sightseeing the
rest of the way.
"I saw St. Augustine fort and
many, many interesting things
along the way. ArL-4 came to
our home on Sunset Avenue,
We were greeted by many friends,
ad Tt was a royal welcome.
SOur home was an old house,
antiquated plumbing. -We washed
laundry outside on hot tubs and
hung t-bem outside. There were
no set tubs either inside.
was an ordinary ice box.
We didn't get an electric
refrigerator until our 'baby girl
was born and then convinced my
husband that we ought to have it
for sanitary reasons and also
4 The back of the store faced the
back of the home and there was f:
this big yard in between on
which was placed a bungalow
where the store help lived. They
had their meals with us, so that
Dave employed a cook, a cleaning
woman and a laundress. The
help ate in one dinning room
and the family"ate in the other.
MF: What kind of a store did you
Tisnower: -. We.had a food store. At that
time it was just fruit and
vegetables. His parents had the
same type business in South
Hampton, Long Island. Anu Dave
"migrated to Palm Beach after his
mother died and his brother was
killed in the first World War.
He was the youngest.
He came here, I think, in '22
and first went to Winter Park
near Orlando. And then the next
"year he migrated to Palm Beach
where he worked.for the Palm
1And the following year, iv
1. 923, he opened his own little
store on Main Street which is
).n4W Royal Poinciana Way.
From that time on, he enlarged
eventually into groceries and
meats. A- e only stayed here
in the winter time and then went
to Newport and South Hampton in
the summer, for the summer season.
MF: Did you have business there too?
MF: Your business was a grocery
business. Did your customers
come to you? How did you handle
Tisnower: It costly was charge and delivery.
Mostly the help telephoned
orders. Vpry few came to the
-store in those days.
When we built our new store a-nT
iL was more -- then, of course,
we had the wheel baskets and
things like that. We found as
the influx of new people came
into this area. why-t4ea it
became a real large market.
MF: e-l-.e-, iat kind of transportation
was available at the.time that
you came to Palm .Beach?'
Tisnower: Automobile travel. Amn. Of
course, there was a ferry at the''
end of the, street where the
Flag-ler Bridge is now, and or
a nickle you would go across the
lake to the foot of Clematis, -
S'aftS rai lroad travel if you went
--' We traveled, for instance, up
north and back and we made vJJ
sightseeing.trips when we would
"go to Newport or South Hampton.
It was really interesting because
in those days there were no
motelsaft ere were beautiful
"tourists homes where you stayedAv'
"WA- r C-lean and lovely rooms and
"beautiful bathrooms. Aftdl e
lady of the house was always so
helpful with the children's
formulas and things like that.
MF: If you traveled mostly by
automobile, wa- there such things
"as street cars?
Tisnower: No, not here. There might be
buses but that came much later.
MF: What kind of Jewish life did you
find here? Were there
synagogues,. Jewish organizations?
Tisnower: Oh, yes. There certainly was a
very nice Jewish life, very
"I joined the emple when I came
here in '281 and we were just
"like one happy family. It was
very nice. We had lots of
affairs and the men played cards
atd that way the men would
c tribute to the building of the
Temple or toward some funds, or
whatever they needed. AInd I
learned to play bridge and Mah
Jongg, and we had our thirteen
"0;l ubA thirteen couples.
Once a month each couple would be
S-host and hostess and plan the
meal and plan the fun. We had a
.. There's so much more I'd like to
say about the beginning ,of Palm
For instance, there was only
one bank, The First National
Bank, at that time and it was
S' Later, there was Palm Beach
Bank and Trust- muanh later,
fe c n o o tg hi r i
"Then.th shopping area in Palm
Se t that time <* Worth
Avenue was not in blood te- --
r w as at the
SBeaux Arts which was near
Everglades Avenuep t: ha .
SAnd w be tw een the Lak e and
Bradley Place. It was a
beautiful building. It was a
few steps up on a big stone
foundation and lovely stores.
I can remember Best and Cqmpany
and Peck and Peck many stores
Above that was the Beaux Arts
'You could go to a movie and the
doors would be open, n a
moonlight night you could look
out right over the lake. It is
a pity that that is gone.
< Then, of.course, the Paramount
Theater was beautiful and movies
were available. Anri/any times
notables from New York heater
or from the film colony or
someone would give a performance
.and I assureL:you the theater was
"a sell-out. It was well welcome.
Now, as far as entertainment,
my husband worked long.hours so
he would go to bed early. I
found my entertainment in the
evenings I belonged to the
Norton Gallery Players. Aome
talent but they were good. -And-
he thrill of seeing a lovely
play and going out:on tfre patioSi)
.those beautiful evenings, thtr
r dutiful patio--4, was just
"/ Then he Palm Beach High School
Auditorium, there was the civic
music I had season tickets
for that. Also there were
lectures occasionally. I heard
"Helen Keller and her teacher and
:that was a thrill to me especially
because I had written an essay
about her and won a prize.
The rest of our good times I
think centered around our
SNow, the hotels -there was
Whitehall Hotel, there was Palm
Beach Hotel -- Ialr Bla.h iouLer
",L L was Seidens, hey were wonderful
People. In fact our first
Hadassah luncheon was held there
S_____ _and it was just magnificent.
t quab luncheon with all the
trimings. It was really very
nice and quite a thrill too.
4wd-;Mr. Seiden was a wonderful
hotel man. He fought the town
to build another story on his'
hotel and he needed to fix it
up but the town would not let
him do it.
4j At that time the Ambassador
Hotel was just about coming
into bloom and they had fabulous
people there Hal Rosenbloom
and his wife one-ef our
customers, people lik that.-
_ome very wealthy Chicago people.
Of course, you know, it's easy
to say now, instead of spending
all that money to fight the town
had he built in that area I
think he would have continued as
a fabulous hotel.
haveeen a w"ndrfu
SThe Whitehall was excellent and
then that was torn down because
the town condemned it and
Mrs. Flagler Mathews bought TP
the original, he was the daughter
of *7 in fact she was a customer
of ours too. And thbA was
A- -The opening of that Flagler
Museum was something:to see.
We were very fortunate because
Robert DAy was the auctioneer
and Billy Salkih whoiwas a
personal friend of ours from
California, trerwas the orchestra
leader,, had played at the
"wedding of George Mathews and
Robert Day had ordered from Dave)
all the perishable foods the
Belgian grapes, and it was all
decorated in fruits and it was
So we had the pleasure of going
through there and seeing it
before the actual party took
place. And I have the restoration
ball music on a record that was
played that night.
\ Then there was the Dryer Hotel,
the Mayflower. I can't remember
whether it was B'nai B'rith or
our temple that e occasionally
had dances there.
S8 I think that pretty well take,
care of the hotels.
SThere were r an famous
restaurants here, very good ones.
There was Patio-LeMays which was
famous all over the United States,
later called The Patio. And
there was Monmarte. And there
was a wonderful restaurant on
Worth AVenue, a Vrench restaurant,
I can't remember the name and
MF: Was there just one synagogue,
the one that you joined, or was
there more than one synagogue?
Tisnower: There were two synagogues here;
Beth El and Temple Israel.
"MF: .Were there many Jewish
Tisnower: Yes.'' Ijoined B'nai B'rith and
later Hadassah when it was former'
and then Brandeis. LCity of Hope
is not. really a Jewish
organization, but mostly Jewish
Women belonged. The Council.
of Jewish Women ow. ,
MF: Isn't that more recent, the
Council of Jewish Women?
MF: Were you involved with your
synagogue? Did you have a lot
of functions through your
synagogue in which you participated?
Tisnower: Yes, a lot of functions. am+en
ei f .e?- I'd like to start
from the beginning.
&n Broward AVenue the Halpern
weddinqae attend'edcwhen the
daughter was married. And there
were many functions.
And then, i-eukt-e .e wa --
every Hanukkah 'Se gifts were
brought into Schwartzberg Hall
and given to the children. I
never liked that procedure and
that was done away with when
Dr. Herman left.
fu hen personal card parties
for the men, and they raised
money that way.
The women had card parties and
meetings,of course, t.inj---a li
S Functions, son was Bar Mitzvahed
and a party in the hall. Ilene
taught Sunday school.
Our grandson was Bar Mitvah. Ou
niece Abbie was Bas Mitvah and
Confirmed and the were ad:-
parties in the hall.
Ilene, our daughter, and son-in-
law Dooley were married in
Temple Israei(in the new temple)
and the reception was in the
'At that time, the congregation
was our family, was 350 people.
"--d hen when our son was
married he was married in New
York because.it was a New York
girl fhey had met at camp up
north. I had a receptionhere
for all our friendsat the jNall.
We had a 50th anniversary two
years ago and we celebrated in
the temple and Rabbi Cohen gave
us a blessing, gave the children
a blessings It really was
beautiful, was beautifully
decorated with palms with little
lights and very festive and a
very happy occasion
AT-fW asked our friends to donatB
to the mple, instead ofgift .
And the temple received $800
which was placed toward sound
equipment for the building.
SI think that really leads us up
to the present, nw vU that.
MF: : Well, I want to go back a little
bit, if I may.
When you came, were the Jewish
people that were already living
in the community -weveth -4
friendly, Did they accept
Tisnower: Yes, very. Gert Feldman took
me under her wing. 5he was a
wonderful friend. And all the
other women were the same way.
We hada thirteen Club that was
marvelous. Thirteen couples.
rd ach month we had a party an
it was great.
MF: Well, LTll e, w did you get
along with:your non-Jewish
Tisnower: Very well, Vever had any trouble#
MF: Were there any restrictions for
minority groups "such as the
"Jews and the blacks? Both for
jobs and socially, were there
S restrictions in that way?
Tisnower: I don't know about jobs because
we.were in our own business, but
certainly there was restrictions
We could not belong to the Beach
Club or the Sailfish Club or
the Everglades Club or the Bath
and Tennis.C /Ab
However, it never bothered me.
It bothered some people.
I think some people felt they
.would like to see that done away
with especially at the Sailfish
Club up here and Beach Club.-
They do not accept Jewish members
to my knowledge even to this
MF: What kind of schools did we have .
here in those days?
Tisnower: Oh, Palm Beach School was
"wonderful. It was like a private
Ilene went through school without
a Jewish friend, eight years but
when she. graduated she received
the American Legion'Award which
is voted on by her classmates
and teachers a hat was really
a wonderful tribute. A.ad er
name appears somewhere on a plaque
in the school.
She went to Palm Beach High and
in those days it was fine and so
MF: Edward is your son, isn't he?
Tisnower: Edward is our son*, I'm 1--aEr.
MF: What does your son do?
Tisnower: He's in the insurance business
in West Palm Beach on Dixie with
Jerry Tishman on the 3rd Street.
MF: I want to ask you, ;iL' "r'^
-tb the time of World War It.
Were you affected by it and did
your business change in any way
because of it?
Tisnower: Oh, yes. First of all we closed
our business in Newport. South
Hampton had been closed a little
before then and we remained here
because we needed the meat points
and sugar points and things like
Also the children were older and
needed to be in school the full
'The business increased$ people
came to Florida to visit their
loved ones stationed here. ,*.The -
Biltmore Hotel housed the
"SPARS, the Women Coast Guard,
and it was very nice to see them
parade along Royal Poinciana
4 At that time our new bridge was
finished, hat was 1938 we got
the new.bridge and Main Street
had become a wide street so it
-was a beautiful sight.
___Air conditioning helped too, but
I also think it was the fact that
people became acquainted with
Florida all over Florida where
their loved ones was stationed.
"": d here was a great influx of
people and I think a great
influx of our people too that
came here to Palm Beach and love
MF: Did you stay in the same business
all the year or did your
Tisnower: Oh, it expanded but it was the
same business. As I said before
it was originally just fruits
and vegetables hat's the way
of the times at that time, but
then we became a full grown
market, + d 've been that for
many, many years. I just can't
remember now, but it's a long
MF: nte o yw, Are there ary
interesting tales about some of
Sthe famous people that you may
Tisnower: Yes, TvM y
I'd like to say .that we served
"Otto Kahn, Jules Bache, Henry
I We served people like Mrs. Harold
Vanderbilt and James Kimberly,
he entertained Huseinr Mrs.
James P. Donahue hej, vt rm
ent"e)_' ra nr entertained
"lavishly for the Duke and
Duchess of Windsor.6
"Mrs, Estee Lauder, ;e- entertained
the Duke and Duchess of Windsor
as well as many other notables.
Whe we had our first influx of
people, there was a Mr. and Mrs.
Tobias. They came from Lawrence,
Long Islandana -'rr-,,"u"l, here
she was in a small community and
she had shopped in a small
market of some kind and she
shoppedwith us ra&d evidently 46
hadn't been accustomed to charging
and delivery. So she said to me
one day, teasingly, Oh, I'm going
to have a headache when I see
your bill. So when I mailed her
her invoice I enclosed two
She loved that and she remained
a loyal and a good friend of the
store for many, many, mney years.
After she passed away, Mr. and
Mrs. Lawrence Leeds, Manhattan
Shirts, tTrey purchased a home and
they traded with us.
The Gersonsangs traded with us,
they were the Q-Tip people.
The Radvills, they were the
Oh, I could go on and on.
Charles Munn, Mr. Palm Beach,
well-known by that name, traded
for many years.
____ President Kennedy, when he visited
his mother, ti'y lived in a
private home on the beach. They
didn't stay with the f6lks. nd
hey. would send secret service
men into shop. The men had a
clipboard and they shopped. And
then when the boy would deliver
they'd check the order. You were
never permitted to send Piiaw
had unusual strawberries, the
size of.your thumb, sH-mo uneuz.
4 4tae, but you were not permitted
"to. send/anything unusual to
President Kennedy. f,
We served Mr. and Mr. Jack
And then Palm Beach Towerso I
believeAwas our first apartment
house that I can remember. When
they would come to the beautiful
playhouse and stay a week or two
they traded with us.
"/ 'We had Betsy Palmer. In my guest
-book she writes, "You bettcha.I'
coming back to you." And Vincen
Price came in all the time and
Fred'Waring and his group when
they entertained. Oh, there were
IBing Crosby came in. He was a
guest in one of the hotels. Joan
Fontaine,J any, many of them. I
can't remember them all right
MF: I wonder whether you would tell
me whether you lived in an area
that was primarily Jewish or
whether you lived amongst
Christians as well?
Tisnower: No, we lived -- all of us lived
among Christians. There was no
set area that I can remember in
any part of Palm Beach or West
I lived with gentile neighbors
around me all the time. In fact
I have more Jewish neighbors now
than I ever had before. We got
along fine, not with the children
in any way, shape, manner or
MF: Did you form any close friends
outside of your own Jewish
"community of:non-Jews, I mean?
Tisnower: Not many, no. -I knew many nice
people, but we worked very hard
and so I really didn't socialize
that much,- w I would meet many
people on occasions, theater and
MF: Do you know whether there were
many Jewish people in public
life, you know, in important job?
Tisnower: I can'-t remember that, -*7-r-
Scanr t. I:don't think so.
MF: Of course, now, there's a'good
Tisnower: .Oh, yes.
.IMF: I'm sure there are friends and
relations of yours that are in
"public life now?
MF: Mrs. Tisnower, you want to tell
us something about some of the
"people who were prominent in youz
Tisnower: Yes, I certainly would like to.
And I would like to point out
that the people I am mentioning
I think have no relations left.
These people, most of them, have
passed on and I think it would
be nice to remember them at this
time, but I want to be forgiven
Sif I 've fo rgo tten som eone or if
I haven't mentioned anyone who
have relatives living here, I
feel that they would like to
At the beginning there was Jacob
and Ethel Fine. They owned that
whole property facing the park
down in West Palm Beach where
the library is, they were one of
After we got here, we were changing
from Dr. Herman to a new Rabbi
and Dr. Singer came.-- 'RaEr_
S.iner hen all these people
Sgot together-and they worked
wonderfully well, ably devoted
and did a marvelous job of making
this wonderful emple come to
There w Abe and Hattie Kominers,
they had a store on Clematis
There was Norman and Sadie Mirsky,
also a store.
Max Greenberg, of course, s
son is still running the store.
Max and Elsie Greenberg, but
whether he's associated in any
way or whether he would be
contacted, I don't know, but I'.d
like to mention tr&e- Max because
he worked for this wonderful
And Sarah and Abe Kerman, bce
had a dress shop.
Then there was Nat and Helen
Goldman, he was a retired
electrical company from Ohio. He
was a dynamic man.
Also Isadore Hammer and Ann. He
was a wonderful worker and gave
a lot of his time and money.,
One of the early ones was Gert
and David Feldman, he was a
wonderful friend to me.
Joe and Eleanor Drucker. And
then the Meyers family, they
gave that beautiful Ark, you
know, the Torah.
They all contributed in great
way, we all worked with Rabbi
Singer who was a very ambitious
and clever young man.
And he came to Palm Beach and
they solicited funds and we had
big dinners and we had raffles
and we had card parties. Q.'
Grunner who loved to play cards
arranged many wonderful card
partiess, The men always played
once a week. And so -in that way
the temple was helped financially.
A nrhese men.thht I mentioned
qave a qood deal of money as well
as their time and they were very
able and very devoted. I'm sure.
there were many others, but, I
just can't remember them all.
,David was Vice-President under
Joe Drucker, and all these men
were just great and worked hard.
SThen, I also want to remember,-
T Lhink I-. didi' L ait e is. llTut" ,, :.:
wasa FlaglertBridge at that time,
was a railroad bridge in 1928.
'twas a hazardous "eg to
go over in wet weather, driving.
The rails were slippery.
And at the foot of that bridge
was a ferry, and as I said before,
you could go over -at the foot of
Well, when my parents visited us
during the winter season, my
mother and I would have a great
time because she loved the beach*
.Sd Vo day was cool, t was
always warm enough for her to go
into the water. ARWF n the
afternoon we'd knit, sew or do
somethingon the veranda, -shop.
But my father would get bored,
ge would take that ferry for a
nickle and go to the courthouse
and listen to the cases. He
loved that and he enjoyed himself
in that way.
S I wanted to mention, also, that
-we were very fortunate, we had
Gus's Bath on Worth Avenue and
A Pierr e used to bath there
and they had lockers where you
could change and swim and have a
good time, a big pool, and then
playeF- handball. It was wonder 1.
And the Worth Avenue Pier there,
we had sandwiches and fried
chicken and all. We had a great
time on Sundays and leisure time.
4 TPen4 en that was torn down to
make way for the future, I guess,
we belonged to the Sun and Surf
The Sun and Surf was a small
hotel and they had a beautiful
beach club and a beautiful house.
The cabanas were spacious and
lovely and they were right on
"After that was torn down to make
""way for the Sun and Surf
Apartments, then the Palm Beach
Hotel welcomed the winter
residentsTor the summer months.
and we used their facilities.
"After that fhe Breakers opened
up for summer residents for the
summer season which we still
"belong to. In that way it made
it very nice for us.
MF:-__ Mrs. Tisnower, would you tell us
ye1tIer- if either you or members
of your family were honored in
any way by your community here?
Tisnower: Well, I think I mentioned before
that Ilene was given the Americar
Legion Award when she graduated
public school and that award
was voted on.by her teachers
and classmates. That was given
for scholarship, character and
It was a special honor to.us because
she was the only Jewish girl in
her class and that was just a
wonderful thing to happen to us.
Ard th-en any years later, just
recently, three years ago in
fact, we were at a Chamber.of
Commerce meeting when the
President said, I would-I
-hra today, it'-s our fiftieth
year of our Chamber of Commerce
-iL-existence and I would like to
Honor Dav id and Ro se T isnow er
who have been members that long.
And we were called to' the i-its
and given pins and presented
with a huge cake with "Happy
Anniversary". And we cut that
cake; and all the members who
wanted i t got a piece and the
rest we gave to the Palm Beach
"." And-then our emple honored us
for long time members and for
"what David had done'"whatever
little. And we were honored for
the sale of Israel Bonds and he
was so inspired by it that he
became chairman and worked very
hard with the others,ard-&
really outdid ourselves that
"year. It was wonderful, the
amount of bonds we did sell. And
he was chairman last year too
and tried very hard to make good
I think that's about it.
C. I just remembered that you asked
a question at the beginning, were
our customers friendly? And
I remember now that Mrs. Styvesart
Pierpont was:'helpful in getting
Penicillin awarded to Dave, and
this was during the second World
War when no civilian could get
it. He had fallen off a bike
and had osteomyelitis of the
jawbone, and this saved his life.
She is very prominent in St.
Mary's hospital and her portrait
is hanging there somewhere in on
of the lobbies. SACe iRS
wonderful, wonderful customer
and proved to be a very good
And many, many of the people that
I meet now even to this day, oh,
how we miss you and like you.
Dr. Joseph WunrfCis one of them.
He says.he passes the store and,
S cnull ry_"
Anid when he sees me he always
greets me so cordially. It's a
very rewarding feeling) fcour e,
I know you can.'.t always please
everybody in business, but we