Title: Interview with Sam Schutzer (February 15, 1982)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006658/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Sam Schutzer (February 15, 1982)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: February 15, 1982
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: UF00006658
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 34

Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
Full Text

This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.

This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limits the amount of materials that may be

For all other permissions and requests, contacat the
the University of Florida.




DATE: February 15, 1982

B: Mr. Schutzer, I'm delighted to see you today and we're
.going to get started on your history which I know will
take a long time.

When were you born?

S: I was born July 4, 1888.

B: Where were you born?

S: I was born in a little Hassidic town called Chelkov.

B: Where was that?

S: In Galitzia, a province of Austria at that time, now
it's Ukrania or Poland, or some name.

B: How long did you live in Galitzia?

S: Until I was twelve years old.

B: And then what happened?

S: My father came to America in 1895.

B: Did your father go to America alone?

S: The first time, alone. Then,the second time, when he
went back, he took my sister with him, and left us. We
were three boys and my mother left alone. About six
months later he took the whole family to New York. This
is in 1900.

B: Where did you settle?

S: In New York, the East Side, on East 7th Street. East 7th
Street was a German section with German and Irish, and my
mother couldn't get used to that kind of living. She
was a real Yiddisheh woman. She had to get back to her
own landsman. So, we moved to the Lower East Side to
Suffolk Street. There she had her landsleit. She said
everybody's in there. Then we settled for quite a few

B: Did you go to school on the Lower East Side?

S: Yeah.

B: Do you remember what school?

S: We got into the Suffolk Street house. A cousin came from
Europe and wanted to learn with us. In the four-room
apartment we had a father and mother and four boys. For
all that a boarder paid a dollar and a half a week, for
meals, for everything yet.


That was a nice time to go into school. I lived on
Seventh Street and I went to East Fourth Street school.
Well, it was fortunate that when I got in there, they
put me in the third grade. I was already 12 years old.
My sister was already here. She came with my father
earlier. My sister was already working. The two
brothers were too young, they started in the first grade.

B: Did you speak English?

S: Yeah, I think so. They put me in the third grade because
I was older and they were ashamed to put me in the
A,B,C class there. So, I got in the third grade. The
teacher realizing that I was a greenhorn (I'll never
forget these incidents), put me in among some boys at the
desk, and usually in school they asked how you can read.
Well, I could read Polish, I could read German, a little
Russian, a little Yiddish, but English I didn't know.
She was very understanding and very considerate. She
wouldn't let me read out loud. So, she called me over to
her desk and I read privately to her.

I understand that English was not Polish and that Polish
was not English. So what did I do? I corrupted the
Polish. Instead of saying "paw" I would say "pa".

I was right. After a week or so she said, "You can
read already, you can read." Then we had arithmetic
examples onthe board. She would ask the children, "What
is the answer to this?" I heard it too, but I couldn't
talk. So, she tried all the children to give the
answer to the example, and everybody was wrong. She had
no alternative, because I still insisted about it.

"All right, Sammy, come on." So, I took a piece of chalk
and wrote down one, two, three. She didn't know that I
knew more than she knew, because in Europe already I was
ready to go to high school. Actually, changing countries,
I could count up to 100 when I canehere.

This I learned from a fellow that used to be the
"meshuganeh", we used to call him the crazy one. We
used to call him "Isaac the Meshugeneh." We lived across
the street from a church on Main Street, and on Saturday
he used to come and sit by the steps of the church. I
used to go over there and sit with him. And, he was no
fool that guy. I think he knew too much for the town.
That's why they called him crazy.

He was a man who travelled all over the world. He came
down here and sat,maybe he had family troubles or whatever.


That was a nice time to go into school. I lived on
Seventh Street and I went to East Fourth Streel school.
Well, it was fortunate that when I got in there, they
put me in the third grade. I was already 12 years old.
My sister was already here. She came with my father
earlier. My sister was already working. The two
brothers were too young, they started in the first grade.

B: Did you speak English?

S: Yeah, I think so. They put me in the third grade because
I .was older and they were ashamed to put me in the
A,B,C class there. So, I got in the third grade. The
teacher realizing that I was a greenhorn (I'll never
forget these incidents), put me in among some boys at the
desk, and usually in school they asked how you can read.
Well, I could read Polish, I could read German, a little
Russian, a little Yiddish, but English I didn't know.
She was very understanding and very considerate. She
wouldn't let me read out loud. So, she called me over to
her desk and I read privately to her.

I understand that English was not Polish and that Polish
was not English. So what did I do? I corrupted the
Polish. Instead of saying "paw" I would say "pa".

I was right. After a week or so she said, "You can
read already, you can read." Then we had arithmetic
examples onthe board. She would ask the children, "What
is the answer to this?" I heard it too, but I couldn't
talk. So, she tried all the children to give the
answer to the example, and everybody was wrong. She had
no alternative, because I still insisted about it.

"All right, Sammy, come on." So, I took a piece of chalk
and wrote down one, two, three. She didn't know that I
knew more than she knew, because in Europe already I was
ready to go to high school. Actually, changing countries,
I could count up to 100 when I canehere.

This I learned from a fellow that used to be the
"meshuganeh", we used to call him the crazy one. We
used to call him "Isaac the Meshugeneh." We lived across
the street from a church on Main Street, and on Saturday
he used to come and sit by the steps of the church. I
used to go over there and sit with him. And, he was no
fool that guy. I think he knew too much for the town.
That's why they called him crazy.

He was a man who travelled all over the world. He came
down here and sat,maybe he had family troubles or whatever.


about it. Well, to do that you had to ask the teacher
for permission. Jews didn't.drop out of school and go
to work. So,.I told the teacher I had to go to work.

-She said, "Sammy, no, I wouldn't let you. I wouldn't
do it, I wouldn't let you."

I said, "What do you mean?"

"She said, "I want to see your mother."

My mother came and we told her that "We need a piece of
bread in the house. I know I can't make much, I make
two dollars. I need a piece of bread in the house."

So, she says to Mrs. Schutzer, "I know how you feel. I
know how you feel. Eer derharget ayer zin." She
started crying. I started crying.

My mother said, "I can't help it."

So finally I went to work, I went out of there and
went to work.

B: Did you leave school altogether?

S: I went to work, I started working, I worked all my life
at anything, you name it, I worked at it. I went to
Western Union and got a job for two dollars a week.
Didn't last long there.

B: Why didn't it last long?

S: In cold weather you had to go do deliveries. I worked
in electric supplies that they made for lamps. Then I
worked at shirts. Then I worked at just the loops, loops
for shirts. Then I worked where they made caps. Then
I worked for a place that made just the bills for caps.
Anything in retail I worked on ladies' waists, ladies'

I worked in a factory that made boy's pants for two cents
a pair of pants. I worked in a shop. I used to come into
the factory at eight o'clock in the morning and quit at
five o'clock. When I came in at eight o'clock people
had been working for three hours. When I left at five
o'clock, they worked three more hours till eight o'clock.
I was a young boy. Then we moved.

* You are killing your son.


I worked in a jewelry factory. My uncle was an artist's
jeweler. So, he took me in as an errand boy. I didn't
last long there. They had another boy, a goyisha boy,
who was very jealous of me. He made it impossible, so,
I left.

B: What work did your father do?

S: My father was also there in the factory. He was called
a specialist. He knew how to make pockets in the back
of a pair of pants. That was a specialty.

When I moved to Newark, I went back to the jewelry business
in another factory for two and a half dollars a week. I
was already 17 or 18 years old at that time.

While we lived in Newark, my sister was married to another
cousin who came from Europe. He came from Vienna, and
he was an expert hat maker, not just an ordinary hat maker.
He graduated from a school where they make the hats in
Vienna. He came with a diploma. Then he took sick and
he had to go back to Vienna for an operation. So, when
he landed in Newark, New Jersey,he opened a little dairy
store. He didn't make out though. So, he decided to go
back to the hat business. He got the hat business and
said to my father and mother, "You come out and take care
of the little store. So, we moved down and took over
the store.

It was in a Yiddisheh neighborhood. Saturday was closed.
They wouldn't handle the store. Anything that was trafe
they wouldn't touch, even cans they wouldn't keep. So,
I went back into te jewelry business, two and a half
dollars a week.

Then I said to myself one day, "Sam, you got togo back
to school and get a little education." So I found a
school there in the neighborhood. I went there one
evening to register in night school. I was working

The principal, a big fellow, asked me, "What grade were
you in in New York?"

I told him, "I was in 3A."

"Come Monday, in school." He gave me a number.

Monday I came and the room there was old classes. You
sat at the table with 10 or 12 children at one table.
At a long bench they sat. No single benches there. Then
the teacher comes in and she starts teaching cat, bat,


I say, "What the hell. That two and two is four. What
is this?" I went two nights. "That's not for me. That's
not for me." So, i went home, stayed home another week'
or so. Then I said, "This isn't right. I have to get
something, somewhere."

I found out there's another school in the neighborhood.
I went there. There is a young gentleman, a principal,
a Mr. Dougherty. I remember him well.

He asked me the same questions. "Did you go to school
in New York?"

I said,"Yeah."

"What grade were you?"

I said, "3A."

He gives me a ticket, says, "Come back."

Monday I come back to school and I come into the room -
there is a modern room, with single benches, a beautiful
room. We sit down, with everything at his desk. I'm
sitting there, just as I was supposed to in the other
room. I was more disappointed in this one.

I didn't begin to understand what was going on there.
There they had a class: a business course, grammar,
arithmetic, English.

"What is this? What is the sence of wasting time?" I
said. So, I went to talk to Mr. Dougherty.

He said to me, "What do you want?"

I said, "Mr. Dougherty, something is wrong. When I
came here you asked me what grade I was in in New York.
You made some mistake. I said I was in 3A. That's
the mistake the first principal made." They thought
that 3A was the lowest grade and this fellow thought it
was the highest grade.

"So, what do you want me to do?"

I said, "I want you to put me in the lower grade."

He said, "What!! You are crazy. In all my years, and
I'm already an old man, I never had anybody come to me
and ask for a lower grade. Everybody wants a higher
grade. I never heard of anything like this." He says,
"You're out of luck. We have no room for you. All
the schools are filled up. So, you better go back to
that room there, and I'll go upstairs and talk to
your teacher."

S So', I told him, "Come up the next day and talk to the
*teacher.", So; I go back, a dumbbell I wasn't. Actually,
a little English I.improved a little already, arithmetic
I knew,.bookkeeping, now they have simplified bookkeeping,
they had double entry, journal, and what not. Sure I
grasped'the situation, a little bit of this, a little bit
'of.grammar. It took about two or three weeks.

The principal.came up one night, comes in there and talks
to .the teacher. He points at me., "Blah, blah, blah.
Don't tell me what."

After school I go down again. "Mr. Dougherty," I says,

He says, "You're crazy. You go back to school, the teacher
tells me you're the best boy he's got. He tells me that
you're the best pupil he's got in the room there. Get
back there."

I went three more weeks and graduated Evening High School!

B: You graduated high school?

S: EveningHigh, Evening High! Well, that school gave me
what I had to know about the Federation, here, to handle
the books here. When I took over in the Federation here,
I was the whole thing that you see here on the floor. It
was all in my hands. I was the Executive Director,the
secretary, the collector, the solicitor, the publishers.
Everything that you have on this floor was in my hands.

B: Sam, we'll come to that later. I want to talk about when
you graduated.

S: So, I had to go to work.

B: How old were you when you graduated this high school?

S: I must have been about 20 years.old when I got out.

B: Did you have time to go out with girls?

S: No, no. Well, the girls came later. Then I continued
working in the factory.

B: You continued to live in New Jersey?

S: We lived in Newark, New Jersey until 1924. I lived there
until then, my parents lived a year later. So, when I got
to be 20 years old, I became active in Jewish life.

B: What made you become active in Jewish life?


S: First of all,..I became active in Jewish life when I lived
.in Newark. I told you I worked in a jeweler's factory.
Then I graduated. I went from $2.50, and then I got
$8.00, $10.00. I became interested in the labor move-
ment. At that time I was about 22 years old when I
*became interested in the labor role. And they organized
the international union. I skipped about four years, I
was already married.

Before I got married, when I was about 20, I got interested
in Jewish activities., So, I belonged to a dramatic club;
we had young men and young women there. We used to travel
Sunday from town to town to give performances for $25
for travelling expenses.

I belonged to the Singing Society, a ladies singing society.
That organization was a more classified, a more distinct
group already not the Yiddisheh groups and dramatic
clubs. These people were interested in music. We had a
teacher brought from New York. I think the teacher got
about $10 to come from New York to spend the evening
with us.

Well, I was about 22 or 23 years old at the time Mischa
Elman came to America. In the organization we had the
singing society, young men and young women, college
students, doctors and young lawyers were in that group.
We had an elderly guy by the name of Wassar. He was a
pharmacist. This pharmacist had an idea that everybody
could be a Caruso. So, at the back of this pharmacy,
he used to sit with a foot organ. Pump the organ,
singing "oh, oh, ah, ah, ah, ah."

When Mischa Elman came to town, he had an idea to bring
him for a concert with our group. Some had good voices,
some not. That's where I got "the voice" in the paper,
I called it "The Voice."

B: Is that really why?

S: Nah. Most of the time when I was young, I worked in
the factory and I was on and off for the season.

He says to me, "You know, I got an idea to go to Newark
for a concert with our group."

I said, "Who's going to finance it? We can't, because
we paid about 25 a week to go there."

He says, "If you promise me that you want to be the
manager, I'll sponsor. I wouldn't take anybody else.
If you'll promise me you'll do it, I'll take you."

So it was. He brought Mischa Elman down for a concert
and that night, we worked like a beaver to get things

' done. That night of the concert, I hoped to get the
Best .results by the box.office, it rained like never
,before, we just about.broke even. I have a picture of
Mischa Elman with me at.the concert in the hall,there.

Talk about the girls!. You met people around there.
When.they.had'the dramatic clubs in Yiddish, I had to
write out the'parts from the play, each one of them.
SThe girls used to call me up to her house to write out
her part.

""Then as I got'to be about 22 years old, my father and
mother said, "Sam, you go get yourself a tachlis *, get
married." Then, "You.know Shadchanim ** in town they
get around."

"There's a nice boy walking around there why do you
let him go?"

My mother says, "Sam, why don't you do something?"

"I don't want to, I don't want no person. I don't want."

So, one day comes in a man with a young woman, a young
girl, "Why don't you go see her?" They insisted so much.

So, I said, "All right. I'll go to see her." I came
around, they lived on Prince Street, I remember the
street. They lived on Prince Street. From the first
look I said, "This is nothing." So I came home. Nothing.
Forget about it. This thing developed.

In the Singing Society you made friends among boys of
my age, you know? So, oneSunday I had nothing to do.
He says, "Let's go up to an amusement park." So, he and
I went to the amusement park. In the amusement park we
strolled around there, walking around, he says to me
that he saw two young girls walking around there. One
of the girls he knew, the other girl he didn't know. So,
we stopped at the bandstand.

One of the girls, her brother-in-law was playing in the
band. So, the two girls sat down there, and we walked
over. He knew her, started talking. He had an
acquaintance, so, he started to talk to her. The other
girl they left for me.

That was the beginning and that was the end of my girls.
We made a date to meet them again, they were Jewish girls.

* Purpose
"** Matchmakers


During the week I met her and went out.

B: Did she like you?

S: Yeah, she liked me, too. So, one time, I don't.
remember whether it was before or after, I took her
out to another amusement park. Money? I had counted
pennies in my pocket, you know.

B: How much were.you making then?

S: I already made about $10 a week, if I worked.

B: And youth mother wanted you to get married even if you
were only making $10 a week?

S: Listen. I took her out to that amusement park and we
got around there. Here's the story. After a while, when
we had that dairy store, the neighborhood was to be
demolished the entire neighborhood. Prudential
Insurance Company was putting up a new development there,
so we had to get out. To get out of there, what did
they do? So, some business broker came to sell a
grocery store like yours, to sell, people want to sell.
So, they went there.

Not only did they buy the store, they bought the house.
They bought the house, and where did they buy the house,
just across the street from where the girl lived. Just
right opposite, just across the street.

One Sunday (I had a room upstairs), I was looking out
the window, the girl's going out. So, I was after her.
I followed her to the corner. I said, "Where are you

She said she's got a date. She was in the company
already with another man. She's got a date with him. So,
I talked and talked there, and she went with me. I
took her to that amusement park.and they had the
Japanese things, the pinball. I played bingo, I played
so much that I forgot that I had to have carfare to go
home yet. I had no fare to go home.

B: That's funny, Sam.

S: She put out about 20 or 30 cents fare to go home. She
was a beautiful girl, she was a doll. We'd sit around.
I used to come into the house every day. I used to help
her pluck feathers for pillows. The mother was a midwife.


The mother, as a midwife, couldn't read or write, but
if the doctors had a difficult case, they called her
for consultation. She had a following among Shvartzeh *,
Italian and Polish people in that area. In time, I
used to have to go with my girl (she was my girl already)
to go and pick her up. The father was in the same shul
as my father. A business deal.

B: Were your mother and father religious in the house? Did
your mother observe all the customs?

S: We had an apartment upstairs, and another apartment, and
they lived in the back of the store.

B: Did they observe the holidays?

S: Sure. Passover you couldn't find anything chometzdig.
They told all the customers, "You want anything chometzdid,
get it now. Closed for the rest of the week." Yes,
everything was kosher.

Then after that, I got married in 1912 and still worked
in the factory. Now I made $12 a week. I paid $10 a
month for four rooms rent at that time. You know that
you're doing the same thing now, the very same thing.
What you make a week is what you pay for a month's rent.
You make $300 a week, you're paying $300 a month rent.
You make $200 a week, you live accordingly. But you can
afford it. This is the way it is. At that time you
couldn't afford it, that $10, $12, $14 was big.

B: What was your wife's name?

S: Tina. She was a wonderful girl. As a matter of fact,
on day we got into our love affair so much that her
father and mother and sister, "What are you going to do
with her? You can't make a living for her."

I said, "That's all right. If you give me her, I'm
going to work for her." She was a good girl.

B: Did she work?

S: No. But that's the answer she gave them, "If I have to
I'll go to work."

Then I got busy and started in with the union. I started
working for union to organize the Jewelry Worker's
Union in our city. New York already had organization. I



became the secretary of the organization. There were
many Jewish jewelers in town, but they didn't belong
to the union. I was interested later on. So, I became
the secretary there. They had a man who became the
business agent of the union and in the midst of his
term, he resigned and went back to work. So, we had
another fellow. They made him the business agent. I
became so interested in the work there,and I showed them
the results of what I'm doing there.

By the next election (we were only six Jews in the
organization,at that time they had about 150 members),
of the six Jews, they elected me as the Business Agent
of the Union.

B: How old were you then?

S: At that time I was about 26, something like that. I
was elected the Business Agent of the Union. Well, the
business agent got paid $35 a week. But, I already
made $35 a week in the factory. My boss heard about it,
but he was the stubbornist guy. He used to come over to
talk to me and say he heard about it and he advised me
not to do it. "I'll do this for you ... you know ..."

He waited for the last minute, when I decided on a
Saturday to leave. He came over to me and said, "Schutzer,
I don't want you to leave."

This fellow, also a Jewish boy about my age, lived about
a block away. We used to go to work together and talk
together, and belonged to a Jewish organization together.
He had been working with them for a number of years
already. He used to confide in me. I was very
confidential with him.

So, I says to Lou, "What are you doing here? How much
are you making here? Listen, I came here I made $12 a
week. Every couple of weeks I used to go for a raise.
Another dollar, a dollar or two."

He said, "I have people working for me for 30 years who
never bother me like you do."

I says, "What I'm doing proves to you I'm worthy. I
give you results." I said, "Lou, what are you doing?"

The boss promised him if he dies, he'll remember him
in his will and he'll take over the business.

"Don't be a fool," I said. "The boss has got a son, a
son-in-law in the business. You look out for yourself."


i. .

S Finally'he realiZed what I'm telling him-has sense,
so.he decided-to go for himself. How did he go? He
Sued to bring: in -all the business, I used to be-the
manager, the assistant manager, the salesman, the
-bookkeeper, everybody. So, he decided to go for himself.
He.decided to"leave the same.day I was.

The bos' said, "Sam", what heldid was the last minute,
* I packed'my tools, he said, "what are you doing? Where
are you. going?"

S .I said,' "You know all about it."

"Well, I figured I knew you'd take over the other
fellow's place there. You'd be the manager, the bookkeeper."

I said, "No. If you would have told me that a month ago,
I could go to these people and say 'I'm sorry gentlemen',
your offer is good, I like the work", but I can't go.
So, I could get out of it, but I didn't want the goyim
to say that the Jews held out.

I went in there and I started organizing that group, like
I organized the Federation here from scratch. When I
took over we had 150 members, when I left them they had
3,200 members in the organization.

B: How long?

S: I lasted one year with them.

B: That's all?

S: In that time they used to work 59 hours a week. When I
took over, we started in for 54 hours a week. When we
reduced the hours, I gave them 20% increase in salary in
wages. So, then we got 48 hours, and another 20% increase.
I stayed at 35. So, when it came about 42nd, I said,
"Boys, see what I done for you and everything in there?
You worked 59 hours a week, now you're working 44. You
made $20 a week, you're making $40 and $50 now. Why
don't you consider me and realize that I'm entitled to

They said, "Oh, you think you want the whole thing?"

I said, "My time is up, sir. I'm through. You can have
all you want, I don't want any part of it anymore and
I quit." It's difficult once you work for the union for
a year to go get a job in the factory now.

I struggled, I had a different job. So, when I left him,
he nearly busted. Finally I landed in a place for a


Jewish man. He was a German Jew. He was sympathetic
towards me. He knew my problem. "That's my trouble
too, with the union too."

I did not only consider the workmen, I also considered
the employer. I had one time with these people there,
where we had one factory. Most of the factories worked
piece work. A lot of factories worked piece work. So,
the union decided that they would abolish piece work.
They took.the one factory that the Jewish boys owned and
operated. There was a dentist who didn't practice and I
used to communicate with him and go out with the boys.
So I decided that this is a shop to tackle. This is
all right. I go up and tell the boys about it.

So, he said to me, "Sam, if that's what the union wants,
all right with us."

At that time a new idea for making rings came out. It
wasn't a large place. He only employed about eight
people. But remember, this is going back to 1924 or the
20's. Men made it with $300 a week in that place.

B: That's a lot of money.

S: Unheard of. I'm telling you other people worked in the
other factories and made about $30 a week, $40, but
$300 a week in that shop! So, how are they going to
strike an average. So, I said, "What would you suggest?"

He says, "Give me about six weeks. We'll checkthe
records and the books, how they produce, and all that.
Then we'll talk."

So, I reported it back. We had to wait six weeks. Six
weeks came around, I came back. "Well, if the union
wants it, we'll give it to them, they can have it,
$225 a week. I think that's a fair rate."

Good enough. I go back Saturday and call the men in for
a shop meeting. "Well, what's the good word?"

I said, "I got good news and bad news."

"What's the good news?"

"I talked to the man, and the man is willing to satisfy
and we struck an average. Instead of making $300 a
week, he'll give you $225 a week."

Well, we start talking. "If that's the way it is, we're


I said, "If you are, I'm not."

"What have you got to say about .this? You don't work
in that shop."

I said, "Yes, I'm trying to protect your job. You're
only interested in yourself. You don't care about the
boss, whether he'll go broke on account of you."

"What are'you talking about?"

I said, "Listen, when you're working piece work, you sit
there. You don't smoke a cigarette. You don't talk to
your neighbor. Now, you go to wash your hands 15 times
a day. You go the restroom 10 times a day. You don't
go, you don't smoke, you don't talk when you have piece
work. Why? Because you want to produce. If you didn't
produce, you couldn't even produce $300 a week. But, if
you're going to work time-work, you wouldn't goof like
this. Like this you talk to your neighbors 'how is
your wife?' and you go to wash your hands 15 times a
day, you go to the restroom 5 times a day. You take a
cup of coffee, and whatever it is. You wouldn't produce.
How long do you think the boss is going to stand for
this? One week, two weeks? Going on like this you don't
produce. Out of a job, he doesn't need you. If you go
back for $125 a week you will have a steady job."

They wanted to murder me. Then I had to leave them.
The factory went out of business, and they were without
a job. So, that's the story over there.

B: So, you were out of a job. Then what did you do? Where
did you go?

S: I told you, I went to this fellow, this Jewish manu-
facturer, the German Jew. I went to his factory, and in
this factory I met people. Most of them belonged to
the union. And I was a specialty man in there. Special
orders, special jobs. I realized that in the special
order job, the man obligated himself to do certain things
for customers and it had to be on time.

So, it came Saturday. We worked a half a day until
twelve o'clock. When I couldn't finish that particular
thing there, I had to take another 15 minutes or another
half hour to do it. I'd stay in after twelve o'clock.

Usually the fellow would holler, "What kind of a business
agent are you?"


They didn't realize t was protecting my job. At that
time I didn't.care what they said because I had to
try to make a living'the best way I knew.

One day I had come in there,.and three young men came
in the shop. The foreman showed them this and that.
Word got passed around, 'blah, blah, blah'. As days and
weeks went by we heard these three boys were brothers,
young fellows, and they.were buying the business.

I said one day, "Are they Jews?"

"No, the father has a second-hand clothing shop in
Paterson, New Jersey."

I said, "Paterson: rags, rags, and gold and diamonds."
Couldn't figure it. So, one day when I had to finish
a job after twelve o'clock, I stayed in. I stayed there,
got it finished. I went into the office. Nobody was
there except the owner, Mr. Striker. I was talking to
him, I said, "Striker, is it true what I heard,the

He said, "What?"

I says, "These three boys that are around here. The
rumor is they're buying out the business."

He says, "Yes."

"I understand that their father has a second-hand clothing


"How come the connection between rags and diamonds?"

He says, "Well, you don't understand. They got the money.
You got the brains. They have the money, they're buying
the business, brains they'll learn in time. Right now,
we had you."

And that's how it was. They went into the business and
naturally, I moved out. I moved to Florida. I came to

B: In 1924, you quit the job you had, because these three
boys were taking over the business. Why did you come to
West Palm Beach?

S: I told you my brother-in-law was an expert hat maker. My
sister was wonderful with a needle. She is a good
needle worker. My brother-in-law had a hat shop on
Narcissus Street. Narcissus Street was then the main
street, the business street.


B: How come your brother-in-law came to Florida?

S; He heard from.a friend (they.were hatters).. He was around
here looking for something to do. He heard about, he
*said there is a possibility, a chance there for.someone
.like that. So he came.

He left-his wife. My sister remained with us for
* awhile and he went.to Florida and he settled there. He
opened a little hat shop there. He developed a.little
hat shop so good that he had a following. If the Prince
of Wales would come to West Palm Beach, he would stop
in that store to buy a hat. Every politician, everybody
who had a name, national or international would come, and
they liked him. They likedthis fellow. My brother-in-law
was a good guy.

B: What was his name?

S: Joe Schupler. One year they came to visit us in Newark,
he was already married with children. He came with a
Buick car. My mother never saw a car before. At that
time I was already out of work. My younger brother was
working as a trolley car, conductor.

For a year or two he was already also in the season. My
younger brother came to help him in the hat business. So,
my brother-in-law came down here, he said he decided to
retire. That was in 1924, he decided to retire. And,
he suggested that that brother, Lou, and I would come
and take over his business. So, how will we take over
the business? We would come here, get a small weekly
salary, and the balance of the salary would go into
the profits, so at the end of the year we would pay out.

Well, we came in 1924. My brother-in-law and my brother
were already here. I came on Wednesday, November 24th,
the day before Thanksgiving. So, I stayed there with my
sister and we got into the business.

B: Wasit just you and Tina, or did you have a family?

S: I already had two children at that time.

B: How old were they when you came to Florida?

S: When I came to Florida my son was already 12 years old.
When I bring up that matter there it breaks my heart.
And I came here in November and I left two boys and a
girl. Not too long before that I bought a new home
there, and I came here. My younger boy was such a
sweet child, such an angel. I tell you when I think of
him I cry. He took sick. The two boys went through an
illness a year before. The doctor told me he had heart
trouble, whatever it was there, but he didn't tell us.


While I was away he was so lonesome for me, that he took
sick and they .put him in the hospital. He wanted his
daddy. So, -I.had to leave, I had to go back. I came
back to see him, and the day after I saw him he passed

"Poppa, I.want a wristwatch." I had to go out and buy
him a wristwatch. That's how that little boy talked
about the.schools, I tell you. He went to school in
Newark. One day he came home, he was already at that
time, must have been about dix or seven years old. First
grade school.

He comes back and says to me, "Daddy; I'm not going back
to school."

I said, "Sonny, what's the matter? You've got to go to
school, you've got to learn something."

He said, "I can't go back to school, I can't."

I said, "What's the matter?"

He says, "I've got a teacher, a dumb-bell."

I said, "You musn't talk about your teacher like that.
She's there to teach you."

"How can she teach me, if she doesn't know anything?
She asked me how much two and two is. Doesn't she know

He was an angel I tell you.

B: Was he the youngest?

S: He was the middle one. She, he didn't come here at all.
After I went back, I wanted to take my wife and my
children back there. I had to take a terrific loss on
the house that I bought there. .Here we struggled along,
thinking my wife sold the house already. I decided to
come, I had to find a house. So, I looked out, everywhere
the boom was beginning. Everywhere you went it's
$20,000, $30,000. Finally, I came to an H W house for
$8,500. With two grapefruit trees in front of the
house. I fell in love with the trees. The rest of the
house was jungle. You couldn't see out cf the kitchen.
We didn't even have gas in the house. Karosene heat or so.

B: Where was that? What street was that?

,: : ', ,:'. 'i : ..... ... .

, S: .On' Aon Road'. I bought the house. My wife.came. I had
S.. a home I had. a beautiful home I had a tenant upstairs .
'.. So, when we',went into that house she gave me the devil.
"Where did you bring me? What jungle, what dump, what
S is this?".

,- :When I told ,my brother-in-law that I bought the house,
S. he..said "What $8 ,500 for this? You come with me

Sunday we .took the.car,.and rode around town. Through
.all the streets, Lake Avenue, this, that. Some of the
streets were just beginning to come up.

I said, "I don't know what's going on here. I thoughtI
knew the town. I don't know, I don't know. It's

So, I said to my wife, "We bought the house, I couldn't get
anything else. But I didn't marry the house. We'll sell
it and we'll go somewhere else."

Try and sell when you want to sell, So, one day we
were sitting having lunch. A knock at the door, someone
comes in. "You own this house?"

I said, "Yes."

"Would you care to sell it?"

Oy, Oy, Oy. I'm satisfied, but my wife she didn't feel
to good about it. She would like to sell it. But, I
want to sell it no commission. If you have commission,
get it from the party who buys it. With me it's a
different story, no commission at all. I said, "I paid

He said he thinks he has a party. He'll let me know next

Good. "Remember next Sunday," I said.

In the meantime, I already bought a lot in Lake Worth
near the lake. I paid $3,000 for the lot there. I
waited already for next Sunday for this guy to come
around. Around three Sundays later he comes around.

He says, "Good morning. The other party is willing to
take it for $8,500."

I said, "I'm sorry."

S. 20

SHe..said, "What's the matter?."

I. said, "You said next Sunday, one week. I told you
-I .next week, only one week. Now it's $10,000."

". .He says, "You don't want to sell."

"."Give me the' $10,000.and you can walk right in."

'* He. said he can't say yes, and he can't say no. He'll
.htve to-talk' to his party.

SI 'said, "When?"

He said, "Next Sunday."

I said, "Remember! Next Sunday."

Next Sunday, nisht du. Goes away another three, four
weeks, he's here again. He comes around, and I said,
"Where were you? I told you next week. It's $12,000

He said, "Impossible. You're not going to sell."

I said, "Forget about it. If your man wants it, tell
him next Sunday."

Next Sunday, nobody there. We were in the business on
Narcissus Street. One afternoon he comes in, he says
he's got the party here that wants it. He said he's
willing to take it for $12,000.

I said, "Listen, Mr. Man, you've bothered me too many
times. You said 'next Sunday' but you forget when next
Sunday is. If your party is interested and wants this
house, it's $12,000. You give me a $2,000 check within
five minutes."

Within five minutes he brings me in $2,000 in cash.
He's buying the house. In the meantime, I already had
bought the lot. And I bought a two story house, I had
three bedrooms, a laundry room, a two car garage.

B: Was that near the lake?

S: East of Olive Avenue. The block of the lake in Lake
Worth called Harvard Drive. The builder that built it
for me, took the money that I paid and speculated in
land, and he didn't pay his workers. So, when the
building was almost completed, he came to me for final
payment. I said, "Bring me a settled account." He
couldn't do it, so I went to my lawyer.

i. 2 21

.He says, "You.'re in trouble.. You have a home there,
She couldn't pay his bills ."

S\ .In'the tneantime, I movedd in already. In the meantime,he
: couldn't settle the bill. He meant well, he thought
.he'll make a killing in. the lots:.

"" B: B .What year'was that? ..

.S: -:I.t was in.1927. ..So, it was a beautiful house at that
..time, a music:'room, a porch;,what was not'in there.

B: And were the' two children raised here in West Palm Beach?

S: Yes, my daughter and my son.

B: Where did they go to school?

S: They went to Palm Beach High School. They both graduated

I lived there for awhile, and I couldn't get any clearing
papers for the house. Then came along 1928.

In 1928 we had a hurricane. I couldn't settle with the
house. Along came the hurricane and wrecked half of the
house. We thought if the rain comes in it would come on
top. So, we moved the furniture from downstairs and
moved it upstairs. Lo and behold, the rain came in on
top and we had to move downstairs. It wrecked half of the

B: Did you stay in your house during the hurricane?

S: Yes, sure. I stayed in the house for awhile.

B: Wasthat the first hurricane you ever experienced?

S: The first real hurricane we had in 1928. In 1926, it
was in Miami. In 1928 that one was a corker.

B: Did you stay in your house?

S: I stayed in the house. For three days we didn't see a
soul, boarded up, locked up there. Until the fourth
day, someone came and knocked on the door to see if
someone was alive there.

B: Who helped you board up your house?

S: Myself, I had to board it up. It had Spanish windows --
French style windows that opened outside. So, the wind
pushed out the doors, out the windows. So, I lost half


of the house.* What am I gonna do? In the meantime, I
had this half of the house, I bought another house. I
bought a little house.

SB: .In Lake .Worth?

SS: No, it's herein West Palm Beach. It's a few blocks
south of Belvedere Road at Lake 'Avenue. It was a little
four room'house. I decided now that I can't keep this
house on Lake'Avenue. I moved to the little house. I
bought it for $100. I don't know if you remember a
fella by the name of Sam Karp (had a cleaning place years
ago), he moved to Miami. So, for $100 he gave me his

B: Was Tina happy to be in that house? Was she happy to be
there, to live in a small house?

S: Yeah. I wanted to keep thebig house. b, I went to the
mortgagee and I explained and I showed him. He knew
what happened. He says, "You know the value is reduced."

"Well, if you can't make a deal with me, maybe we can
come to terms."

"The house is almost wrecked now. If you want to make a
reduction on the mortgage, I'll offer you $4,000 on the

I had a $10,000 mortgage on it. I had $6,000 already
sunk in it. No, no, no, no.

"One thing we can do for you, we'll fix it up for you."

I said, "How?"

"We'll increase the mortgage."

So instead of having a $10,000 mortgage that I couldn't
pay already, it went down to nothing. I had a $15,000
or $16,000 mortgage. I says, "Tomorrow you'll have the

In the little house the roof needs repair, immediate
fixing. The mortgagee, the owner of the house, lived in
California. So, I sent him a telegram to tell him what
the house is. I would take it over for him if he
would agree to fix up the house there. He was smarter
than I was. He said to go and fix up the house, what-
ever is needed there and we'll adjust it for you.

So, when I fixed up the house, he says, "No. You want,
you pay." So, if you want it, you pay. I bought that


house for $100. If you had $1,000 you could own the
whole block.

B: Why was that? Because of the bust?

S: Everything then was busted.

B: What happened in this community that made everything
go down?

S: Money has no value no more.

B: Why?

S: Nobody has any money.

B: Why did they have money before and now they don't?
What happened?

S: It was inflated, when nobody had any money to back it up.
You see, during the days of inflation, we also dabbled in
real estate. I have a brother and we owned corner lots.
Three hundred dollars they paid down here almost all
the way to Hollywood for the corner lots. And corner
lots, they're building a new highway, Route One, you
know. You figured there would be filling stations and
all that stuff. He bought 40 acres. I had 20 acres in
loxahatchee. The papers came out saying that Loxahatchee
is opening up 20 acre plotsselling for $300 an acre.
Judge so and so bought 20 acres, Judge so and so bought
20 acres, so you bought at $300 an acre and they gave
you two acres of citrus fruit.

We kept it and paid $300 a year on the mortgage, but when the
values dropped, you couldn't dispose of it. Nobody had
any money. The banks wouldn't buy it back up, the banks
closed up and didn't have anything. So, we lost the
40 acres. For three years they charged you $300 for
taking care of the two acres of citrus, then you had to
pay taxes and all that stuff. .When another man that had
20 acres near the road wanted to sell it to me for

B: This was in 1927?

S: Let's see, yeah, 1927.

B: How about your kids, they were going to school here
right? Were they happy going to school?

S: Sure, why not?

B: Did you have any anti-Semitism at that time? Were there
people here that felt that maybe Jews were not welcomed?
Did you experience any of that?


S: That was not what I wanted, I stayed away from that.

B: How about your kids?

S: They had no trouble at school, no trouble. They went
both to the same school, we didn't have all the schools
they have now. We had to take it from where we lived,
they went to West Palm Beach schools, they graduated.

B: Did they go out with non-Jewish kids?

S: Yeah, my son is invited to the 50-year reunion this year.
The 50th reunion. George Greenberg is sponsoring the
50th reunion, he was in the same class.

B: Did George Greenberg go to the same class as your son?

S: Yeah, sure. But, I lived in Lake Worth and Greenberg
lived around the corner from me.

B: I see.

S: I went to his Bar Mitzvah in that house.

B: Were you ever Bar Mitzvah'd?

S: Who?

B: You.

S: You mean what year?

B: No. In New Jersey?

S: In my day there was no such thing as having Bar Mitzvah.
They just went home and hadabitof wine, that's all.
That was the Bar Mitzvah. My son the same thing.

B: Do you remember who the rabbi wasat the time?

S: At that time we didn't have a rabbi. So, when my
father-in-law came and took us out here, he decided to
retire, so me and my brother went into business.

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs