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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
JEWISH FEDERATION OF PALM BEACH COUNTY
INTERVIEWEE: Cy Schupler
INTERVIEWER: Ann Blicher
DATEe March 18, 1982
PLACE: West Palm Beach, Florida
B: This is Ann Blicher interviewing Mr. Cy Schupler at his home
at 837 Lytle Street, West Palm Beach. Mr. Schupler is one of
the long-time residents of West Palm Beach coming here as a
How old were you when you came here?
S: I had just passed my third birthday, and that was 1915. The
reason we came to Florida was for the health of my sister who
had pneumonia twice. The doctor said to keep her from having
pneumonia the third time, to go south. In 1914, my father
started out in Newark, New Jersey. We first stopped in Jacksonville
because he had a friend there. From there he went to Daytona,
he had a friend there. We stopped in West Palm Beach and we
decided to go on to Miami, and found it friendly, then came back
to West Palm Beach. The rest of the family came down in 1915.
They opened a store in December, 1914, on Narcissus Street. At
that time it was where the Rialto Theater, which is part of what
is now the Greyhound Bus Station.
B: Why did he start his business on Narcissus Street?
S: Well, I guess that's where he found a local store that he could
use at that time. All the businesses were either on Clematis
Street, Narcissus Street. In the winter time when the people
could come across from Palm Beach on the ferry, they would walk
up First Street and turn onto Narcissus Street to get to Clematis
Street. First Street was nothing but bars (in those days they
called them 'saloons'). From that side of the street, he moved
across the street into the Lake Park Hotel Building which is now
where the city parking garage is.
B: Were there many Jewish families in town at that time?
S: I think that when my father came here there were six Jewish
families. Let's see if I can remember their names. There was the
Schrebnick family, they lived on Clematis Street; the Max Serkin
family, they lived on Iris Street; there was the Harry Serkin
family, they lived on Iris Street; there was Mr. and Mrs. Franky,
they were only here in the winter time, they came from Oklahoma.
Then there was another family by the name of Bernstein. If I'm
right, they came from New York, where they lived only in the
winter time, and they lived on Lakeview Avenue. At first, we
lived on Olive Street where Felder and Bell used to have their
appliance business. From Iris Street we moved to Tanglewood
Court, that must have been about 1916 or 1917 and I finally bought
In 1917, on New Year's eve, our colored maid had taken me downtown
to my parent's store there on Narcissus Street. I was standing
out in front of the store and a GI home on leave during the
First World War came up on the sidewalk and ran me over.
B: Were you hurt?
S: Well, I have a few scars to show for it. I remember my father
taking me to the back of the store, and washing the grease off
of me. Then he picked me up and started me towards Dr. Cecil
Peak's office, which was on Narcissus Street between Clematis and
First Street. We went through the drug store called Spears Drug
Store which was on the corner of Narcissus and Clematis. I
asked him to what doctor he was going to take me and he said,
"Dr. Cooney" which was on South Clematis, east of Narcissus. I
said, "No, I want to go to Dr. Peak's office." So, he took me
to Dr. Peak's office and Dr. Peak fixed me up.
The next morning, I had to go back. I wasn't going to ride in the
car, I got on my tricycle and I peddled it to Dr. Peak's office,
which was about 4 or 5 blocks from Tanglewood Court.
B: What means of transportation was the one used most when you were
growing up in West Palm Beach?
S: Well, there was a local bus line that went up and down the
Dixie, which is U. S. 1 today. If you went to Palm Beach you rode
bicycles. There were two bridges, one off Lakeview Avenue called
the Royal Palm Bridge, and there's the one near Fifth Street, a
wooden bridge which Mr. Flagler built. On the side of it were the
railroad tracks, which he used during the winter time to take
the people that were going up to the Royal Poinciana, or the
Breakers, right in the railroad car. Other than that there were
B: And the ferry?
S: Yes, you had the ferry to Palm Beach. They had two. One was a
single deck and one was a double deck, the top deck goes over.
In those days all the men wore straw hats, or what we called
"boaters". When you got into the middle of the lake the wind would
blow it off, the next morning you had to go back into the store
and buy another straw hat, which was good for my dad's business
at that time.
B: That was your dad's business?
S: Yes, ladies' and mens' hats. He was a hatter by trade. We went
to school up on the hill which is now, in those days they called
it Central, and then Palm Beach High and Palm Beach Central
Schools, now, today, they call it Twin Lakes.
B: Did you start school in West Palm Beach?
S: Yes, ma'am. We lived in Tanglewood Court and my sister Minnie
would ride her bicycle and I would be sitting on the handle bars.
That's the way we went to school. In fact, I went to kindergarten
from Tanglewood Court for two yearsthen in 1922, my father built
his home in Prospect Park.
Dixie and Olive Street was at that time, just wide enough for
one car. If a car was coming from each direction, each car would
get half off the road.
B: That was almost like moving to the suburbs at that time.
S: It wasn't suburbs. It was out in the country because after you
left what they called Flamingo District, going south, there was
B: You mean south of Belvedere Road?
S: Oh, this is where the Carefree is.
B: Flamingo Drive?
S: Yes, well, actually this was a little further north of Flamingo
Drive. There was nothing but woods, and this gentleman came down
from New York who developed Prospect Park from the same plan that
Prospect Park in New York was developed. In those days, the
restrictions were high, the property was high. My father, at
that time, paid sixty-five hundred dollars for the lot where he
built his home. That was in 1921. The restrictions were that you
couldn't build a house for less than ten thousand dollars.
B: Was that a lot of money then?
S: Yes. You could build a garage with quarters above, but that
would have to be for servants, or a maid living on the premises,
nothing for rental.
The house is still there. Unfortunately, my father passed away,
and my brother acquired the home through my parents' will. He
is gone now, his wife is living.
B: Tell me about your school days. Did you notice any anti-Semitism
in the town at that time?
S: As far as anti-Semitism towards me, I didn't know what the word
meant because all my friends were friends of the Christian faith.
There wasn't but a handful of Jews. In my family there were
three; in Harry Serkin's family there were two; Max Serkin's
family, there were three. Today there are only two of us left in
my family. Harry Serkin's family, there is one here, Mrs.
Hardwick and her sister; Louise, lives in California. Then, there
was the Schrebnick family, they had four; two girls and two boys.
I think the only one that I know of that's living in the Schrebnick
family would be Joe. I think he lives in Texas.
B: I heard recently that he was still living here in town, but I'm
S: I don't think he's lived here for the last three or four years.
B: Your family was among the founding families of Temple Israel,
S: Yes, the founding families of Temple Israel were Max Serkin,
Harry Serkin, Joseph Mendel, who was mayor of West Palm Beach at
that time, my father, Joseph Schupler, and Joseph Halpern.
B: Was that the father?
S: That's right. They were here too. There was Evelyn Halpern and
Harry Halpern, Benny Halpern, Louis Halpern's parents, and the
father-in-law of Honey Halpern.
At first we only held services mostly on the holidays, and they
were in the Women's Club which was downtown facing the lake.
From there, after so many Jewish families got together, they split.
At that time it was considerable. Some went up on "A" Street
and built what they called the Community Center. Those that
wanted to form the Forum, had services every Friday night on
40th Street in the Northwood School. That went on for quite a
few years and Mr. Franky offered them a lot on Broward Avenue if
they would build the Temple on the property. There were only
about seven or eight families, and they were going to build a
Temple. So, we built that little Temple, and, I think it was in
'23 that it was dedicated, if I remember correctly.
They had two rabbis come to the dedication, one was from Jacksonville
by the name of Kaplan, and the other one was from Miami by the
name of Kaplan. I was the young manwho lit the Everlasting Light
in the Temple. My parents gave them the first torah that Temple
The choir was from the congregation, except for Mrs. Doe, who
played the organ. We had services conducted by a gentleman by
the name of Lachs most of the time. 'If he didn't read, Harry Serkin
would read, or Mr. Joseph Mendel would read the services on
We went that way for a few years. Then on the holidays, we would
have a rabbi. I can remember in 1925, we still didn't have a
permanent rabbi, but we had a doctor, who was a teacher at the
Union Hebrew University in New York, come down for the holidays
in time for my Bar Mitzvah. He wasn't going to be here on the
day of my Bar Mitzvah, so, we had to have it a week earlier. His
name I still remember, was Dr. Salinsky. He stayed an extra week
after Yom Kipper for my Bar Mitzvah. My mother taught me my Bar
As the first Bar Mitzvah of Temple Israel, the Temple gave me an
Elgin watch which I still have to this day. It still runs but it
needs a good cleaning.
After that, about two years later, we started having a permanent
rabbi. We had one, two, three permanent rabbis, whose names I
don't remember. Then, Dr. Carl Herman came, and he stayed for 19
Of course, the town grew and grew, and they started fussing and
fuming with Dr. Carl Herman. Naturally he left, after being here
for 19 years. And Beth El, after the '28 hurricane, was
destroyed here, practically. I don't remember the year they built
their new temple on Fern Street. I remember building it, but I
don't remember the year. I remember when your brother, Barney,
came to town, as a dentist and opened an office.
B: Was that Dr. Barney Blicher?
S: Yes, Dr. Barney Blicher. He opened his office on Clematis Street
in the 200 block right across the street from where my parents
had their store, and his parents had their store upstairs.
B: Were his offices upstairs?
S- Yes. I think I was one of his very first patients. We had a
Jewish doctor here, his name was Dr. Smith.
B: But, he came much later?
S: Not too much later. That was the first Jewish doctor that I can
B: Right, he was the first Jewish doctor.
I would like to have you tell us what the social life was like at
that time for that very small Jewish community.
S: Well, everybody was in the retail business at that time, except
for Mr. Lachs who was in the wholesale plumbing. In the summertime,
at night, after everybody closed their stores, we would go over
to Palm Beach to Gus' Baths and sit there and cool off in the
Maybe Sunday you would go for a ride if you had a car. If you
didn't own a car you maybe went for a walk. Other than that,
there really wasn't any big social life in the real early days.
B: Didn't they have something going on in the park during the season
on Saturday nights?
S: Not at night. You had in the afternoon. You had what they used to
call the City Band that played in the winter time in the band shell,it
was approximately where the north side of the library would be today.
The library way back then was in a wooden building on the north
side of the park. Then they built another library facing the
lake on the north end of the park and that was there for a good
many years until they tore the band shell out and built the present
library, which is an eyesore as you look down Clematis Street.
They had the band there for a good many years and it was mostly
made up of local people that played. Of course, in the winter
time over at the Royal Poinciana during the sixty days that it
was open, they had their own band that would play for tea and
the Cocoanut Grove. Of course, that was for all the millionaires.
Even if they didn't stay at the hotel, they went to the Cocoanut
Grove for tea. That was the big social thing over in Palm Beach.
There was the Washington's Birthday Ball, and the Regatta on the
Lake at the height of the season, which was February the 22nd.
Of course, the downtown today is nothing like it was then. I can
remember first,the cars parked on Clematis Street, either
direction, in the middle of the street. On the end of each block
there were bicycle rentals. On the Narcissus Street end of it,
there was what we used to call "wheelchairs." They were all over
Palm Beach with the wheelchairs. In Palm Beach for their guests
they used to have a trolley that was horse drawn and it would go
from the Poinciana to the Breakers to take the people that wanted
to go swimming up to the Breakers' Beach Club.
In the summertime there was absolutely nothing in Palm Beach. It
was completely closed back in the early days. Now, it's getting
to be a regular city over on Worth Avenue and up in the north end with
the Poinciana Plaza. Of course, in the early days in Palm Beach,
you had the Beaux Arts Theater up there by what they now call the
Spa. It was called the Mayflower Hotel in those days, but there
was the Beaux Arts building with all the New York retail shops
in the winter, and on the second floor was the open air theater.
In the later years they added an arcade to the east of the original
building, and then from there, they moved to Worth Avenue.
Be Main Street is now called Royal Poinciana Way?
S: Yes, but you see, Main Street then was a very narrow street with
few stores on it. It had two barracks, one at the Royal Poinciana
Hotel and one at the Breakers Hotel for their employees. That's
where they lived in those days in a wooden two-story barracks. Of
course, the Poinciana was the largest wood structure in the world.
I remember when the Breakers caught fire in 1925. I was riding
in the car along Flagler Drive, and all of a sudden you could see
all this smoke in the air, and you could see the flames shooting
up. Even though it was on the ocean, and they had firemen on
top of the Poinciana watering it down to keep it from catching,
and the Palm Beach Hotel, at that time, was where the Biltmore
Condo is now, and, sparks from the Breakers set that on fire, so,
they had two bigfires going at one time.
B: What was business like on Clematis Street in the summertime?
S: In the summertime it was very quiet up until World War II.
B: Did the stores stay open all week?
S: Yes. Most of the stores opened at 8:30 in the morning and
stayed open until 6:00 p.m. Saturday nights were open until 10:00.
B: When did the Wednesday afternoon closing start?
St Ever since I can remember, we closed on Wednesday afternoons.
Most of the time the ladies went home. The men and the kids
went over to Palm Beach to watch the baseball game that they
would have on the diamond over at the Breakers on County Road.
Just west of County Road was where the baseball games were and
that's where the men and the kids went. Most of the time, the
ladies went home.
Then all of a sudden after closing on Wednesdays, they changed it
to Thursday. That stayed until Burdines came in and they changed
it. They did away with Thursday afternoon closing. Then a
couple of years later, they went to opening on Monday night and
after that they started on Friday nights, and it appears that
every night they're open. In fact, the grocery stores used to
close all day on Wednesday. Nobody starved. You went and got
your groceries, and they didn't stay open at night after 6:00.
Now the grocery stores are open seven days, and some of them, I
think, are open seven nights a week.
Years ago, if an individual store stayed open a little later, the
big stores would complain, and then when the big stores decided
to stay open, the little stores tried to keep the big stores
from staying open, but it didn't do any good.
I remember when Burdines started staying open on Monday nights,
there was a committee that went to Miami, down to their main
office and said, "We're going to do this, and we're going to do
that, and we'd be glad if you joined us. We'll get along with
you if you realize this is our policyand we'd be glad to have
you join us."
Eventually, everybody joined. On Clematis Street now, everyone
closes up. We were there until May, 1980, and we haven't closed.
We've had ten robberies in 13 years.
B: So, you saw big changes on Clematis Street?
S: Yes. It was a very thriving street until Burdines left and went
out to the Mall, which should never have had happened. It was
one of those things where the politicians tried to do one thing,
and they ran Burdines off, which they should have never done. The
buildings were built, add two stories and a parking garage. If
they had done that, I think Burdines would have stayed, but
B: So, parking made all the difference on Clematis Street?
S: I don't know why people complained about the parking meters. I
don't believe the parking meters had anything to do with it.
B: No, I don't mean the meters. I mean the fact that people couldn't
park on Clematis Street the way they used to.
S: No, no. Because you take for instance when Burdines was there
and Burdines had a sale, there wasn't a space downtown. You
couldn't get into the parking garage, you couldn't get into a
parking lot, you couldn't find a parking space on the street.
They paid, and they didn't complain about it.
But I always said, even years ago, when they first put in the
meters. that they should have made two-hour meters instead of
one-hour meters. Then when the city got the lot on Montgomery
Wards, on the corner of First Street and Olive, they should have
made a three or four story parking garage there, instead of just
parking on the ground, putting the City Hall on top of the park-
ing garage, and made apartments on top of the City Hall. The
apartments would have paid for the building.
B: Let's get back to what Palm Beach was like in days before World
War II. What kind of social life did the young Jewish people have?
S: We had a club here. I don't remember the name of the club. It
seems like before World War II, quite a few more Jewish families
came in. There was the Auerbach family, I couldn't remember
them all. One of the Auerbach boys was going to marry a girl
from Stuart, which I knew. It was through that group that I got
B: You met your wife through the Auerbachs?
S: When the youngest boy got ready to get married, he married a
girl from Stuart. My wife came down to be a maid of honor at that
wedding and that's where I met her. Two months later, we were
married. That was, I think, in '46.
After we were married, first we lived with my parents for a few
years, then we built this little house, that was in '49.
Bt And, you're still living in the same house?
S: Still living in the same place. No intentions of moving.
B: You have a son?
S: Yes, we have one son. He lives in Eaton, Maryland.
B: What does he do there?
S: He is an astronomer. He works for computer science and his office
is in the Guidance Space Center. He's still single. His mother
wishes he were married, but some day he will be I know, but right
now he is still single.
B: How old is Bruce now?
S: Bruce is 28. He owns his own home, thank goodness and is doing
B: Tell me what else you can remember about the early days when you
were a kid here in West Palm Beach.
S: Well, as a kid, once in a while I guess, we used to get together
with the Schrebnick family 'cause there was four there, two girls
and two boys. Joe and Pinky are the boys and Esther and Fanny
the two girls.
Sometimes we would go to Lake Worth. In Lake Worth, Mr. Max
Greenberg had the Pioneer Company, he had one son, George, and
sometimes on Sunday we would go down there and visit with the
Greenbergs and George. Minnie, Moe and I would play with George
upstairs over the paint and hardware store.
B: That would be almost like really going out of town for the day.
S: Oh, yes. Yes, sir, when you went to Lake Worth, you were outside
of West Palm Beach. It was a seven mile journey.
Minnie had her friends from school who lived on the corner of Iris
Street. A girl by the name of Frances lived on the corner of
Iris and Olive, at that time I think it was called the Tree Stump,
I thinks it's still there, on the southwest corner. And, at that
time was the only house in West Palm Beach that had a basement.
I remember going over there, going down in the basement where we
could play. Then of course, when we became school age, we would
go to school and we played with the kids at school.
Onetime I remember when Minnie and I'were living on Olive Street,
on our picket fence, there was a little pepper fence. Minnie
and I picked a bunch of those peppers, and we started out walking.
Of course, we got lost. We ate a bunch of those hot peppers, and
we were on fire, and didn't have anything to drink, or anything,
we didn't know which way to turn to get home. Finally, I think
somebody came along and picked us up and took us home where we
could get a hold of some cold water and chill those hot peppers.
They were little green peppers and they were hot. I'll never
Then from Olive Street we moved to Tanglewood. First we lived in a
bungalow that backed up onto Mr. Anthony's tennis courts (he lived
on the corner of Trinity and Olive). From there we moved across
the street into a two-story house and we lived in that two-story
house until 1922 when we moved to Prospect Park. The house is
B: That was a beautiful house, I remember it,
S: My sister-in-law, Sylvia, still lives in it. Her children come
down and visit her, and she's got room for them.
B: That was a big house as I recall.
S: Oh, yes, it had four bedrooms upstairs. When we were kids we
had more time to play there. There was the family by the name of
Zimmer that lived up on Olive Street with two boys. Around the
corner was Dr. Skip's son, Jack, then north of that was a fellow
by the name of Ed Kirk, we used to play with. Around the corner
was a family by the name of Engel. They had a boat and it had a
big sail on it and we'd go sailing in his boat. The youngest
Engel would turn the boat over and we would have to swim to shore.
Anytime you wanted your dog, all you had to do was go down to the
lake, 'cause the dogs were in the lake. They spent more time
in the lake than they did around your house.
B: Did you swim in the lake at that time?
S: Oh, yes. Even downtown, the lake came up almost to Narcissus
Street and we used to swim in it.
B: Was the water clean for swimming?
S: The sewer ran into it. Of course, back then there was a concrete
city dock at the foot of Clematis Street. I remember one year there
was a great big yacht tied up to it. We came to find out it was a
Presidential yacht. It was Warren G. Harding's. That's where he
spent about three weeks, tied up to the city dock. And, what is
now the Helen Wilkes Hotel was built by a gentleman by the name
of Kennedy who owned the cafeteria that was downtown. He had
them build the hotel and he called it the El Verano. And, then
from being the El Verano --
B: That's Spanish for "summer", isn't it?
S: That I don't know. Then, I think the next name was the George
Washington. Finally, it has ended up as being called the Helen
B: Do you remember anything about the war time days?
S: Well, during the war, I left here in '42.
B: Oh, you were in the service?
S: Oh, yeah. I left in '42. They had Morrison Field here, and
downtown was crowded with airmen from Morrison Field before it
became Palm Beach International Airport. Of course, it wasn't
as big as it is today. On the west end of Morrison Field was the
city golf course, which they took in, and the city built a golf
course in the south end of West Palm. The streets were really
crowded because they didn't have far to go to come to town. If
they couldn't get on a bus or catch a ride, they would walk
because it was only 21 miles from the airbase to downtown.
On the corner of Clematis, on the northwest corner was a hotel
and stores now called the Palms Hotel. Across the street was the
drug store, and on the southeast corner was a theater which was
called the Bijou, later years it became the Ketler after it was
rebuilt, and after the Ketler it was called the Florida, and then
they built the Florida across the street. Now it's not a movie
house, it's a legitimate theater. That's what is there now.
Downtown, before '29 or '30, we had banks on every corner. The
Citizen's Building got it's name from the Citizen's Bank, and
where Belks used to be on the corner was the First American Bank.
When they had the first run on the banks, I had ten dollars that
I was going to put into my savings account, everybody was taking
their money out of the bank, and I was going to put my ten dollars
in. The next day the bank never opened. Across the street where the
Diane Shop is now, was the Farmer's Bank and Trust Company. Up on
the corner where Burdines used to be was the Palm Beach Bank and
Trust Company. Where Morrison's used to be was a bank, but I'm
trying to think of the name of it, if I'm not mistaken it was
called the Commercial Bank.
B: Yes, that's the bank that Tom Cook was connected with.
S: I think so,
B: Did that bank have the honor of being the first to fall?
S: No, no, the first one that went was the Palm Beach Bank and Trust
Company. It was owned by one of the Anthony's. Then,where the
Presbyterian Church is now was the Central Funds Bank, but their
first bank was what used to be called the Saving Arcade, where
Michael's Jewelry is now. That went through to where the arcade
is facing First Street still. The Comeau Building (I believe
it was named for Mr. Comeau in 1923) was a piece of property
bought from my father. He owned a piece over in Palm Beach that
ran from the ocean to the lake. He had a five year mortgage to pay
off the balance. In 1924, he came and said, "Joe, here's the
check paying off the balance." He gathered all his cash money and
said, "I'm going to put up a ten-story building on Clematis Street."
And, he put up a ten-story building, and lost it.
B: Was that just about the time of the crash?
S: Yes, he put the building up I think about '27. He didn't have all
the money to pay for all of the building. There was a mortgage
on it and he couldn't pay off the mortgage so he lost the
The Harvey Building on the corner of Datura and First Street the
property was owned by the original Judge Chillingsworth. Mr.
Harvey was a contractor from Boston that came down and wanted
to put up and buy the property and Mr. Chillingsworth said "No,
I'll lease it to you for 99 years." Then, Mr. Harvey wanted him
to join in the lease and he said "No, I'll lease it to you and you
pay the rent on it." Well, that's the way the Chillingsworths
became the owner of that building because they couldn't pay the
mortgage, so they lost, and Chillingsworths were the owners of
the ground floor, they came first before the mortgaging on the
building. That's the way that became the property of the
Chillingsworths, but, I understand now that they have sold it.
The family is spread out so they sold the property.
B: What do you remember about the 1928 hurricane?
S: They all say the '26 one was the worse one, but that was in Miami.
The '28 hurricane? That morning, we were down on the lake trying
to go out in the sailboat and everytime we would get away from
the dock about 15 feet our boat would be swamped, then we would
have to bring it in, and bail it out, and try again. About
noontime, the winds got so terrific. There was a barge tied up
to an island in the lake that Parris Singer and brought over
with furniture for the Everglades Club. It got cut loose from
the island, and down to where my father's house was was a little
dock. It hit that dock and that was the end of that dock. Then it
went down and hit the Southern Boulevard bridge and knocked part of
it loose, and when the eye of the hurricane passed, some of the
boulders from the wooden bridge were up in my father's front yard.
The barge ended up on the island just south of Southern Boulevard.
The next morning my father and I went to start to town in the car
and we got as far as Fern Street. The National Guard wouldn't let
you any further in a vehicle. You could walk, but you had to get
a permit. The first place we had to go to was the police station,
then when we got onto Clematis Street, there wasn't a store that
wasn't damaged. The glass was out of 'every store, and there wasn't a
front on any of them. The Shehan Building which was on the corner
of Clematis and Olive Street, the whole brick front of the build-
ing was in the street, the second floor was wide open.
We got down to my father's store, which was in the 200 block and
there was no glass. The roof had a great big sky light and that
was gone. Of course, the wind had come into the store and there
wasn't anything in the store that was worth a nickle, except he
had just gotten back the Saturday night before, or the Friday before,
and there had been some merchandise that had come in that was
still in their cartons way in the back of the store and that was
the only thing they had, anything on the shelves was a complete
loss. The wind and rain had gotten in there and it was a complete
loss. There wasn't a building on Clematis Street that wasn't a
wreck. If it wasn't a wreck the fire department came by and
all they did was touch it with their big hooks and it came down.
Of course, Lake Okeechobee was coming in Belvedere Road. That was
all flooded down there, and you didn't have all the roads going
out west to the Glades you have today. There was only two from
West Palm Beach, that was Belvedere, it only went to Military, and
if you wanted to get to Clewiston out in the Glades, you had to go
Mr. Connor of Buffalo, he built a stretch of it in there, which is
really twenty-mile bend. He built that stretch, of course, he was
only down here in the winter time, he was a newspaper publisher
from Buffalo. He had a young wife who was a boat racer. She
would race in the Washington Birthday Regatta. She would turn
them over every once in a while. In those days a hundred, thousand
dollars was a lot of money and everytime you turned one over, it
was a hundred, thousand dollars gone.
He had a big home there in Palm Beach on one of the curves that have
the high wall. You never saw the house. And, I think that was
where King Hussein was going to build his home a few years ago,
he started with it but never finished.
Then there was Temple Israel. It went from Broward Avenue to where
the present one is now on the property that they bought. Mrs. Fine
wanted to give them some property over in Palm Beach, but the
restrictions that she had on it, they couldn't agree to, so, they
built the Temple where it is now and it's expanded. The original
Schwartzberg Hall was behind the original Temple Israel on
Broward Avenue, and it was built in memory of a lady who lived in
Palm Beach, to her parents. She was the money raiser for
Schwartzberg Hall. I believe that was in memory of her parents.
When they built the new one they carried the name over.
She was a lady who raised a lot of money in Palm Beach for any
worthwhile cause. She would put her whole heart and soul into it.
Then when Rabbi Herman left, Rabbi Singer came and he finished the
Then, that's when they finished getting Temple Israel built on it's
present location. When he left, Rabbi Cohen came and Rabbi Cohen
stayed for 25 years. Now we have a new rabbi who, I hope, stays
for another 25 years.
Now, if you have some more questions that you want to ask, 'cause
I didn't say anything about me, but you can remind me of things.
B: Well, you've certainly given us a very, very full resume. I wish
you had stayed because I thought I knew a lot about this town
and I have learned a lot just listening to you. It will be a
wonderful addition to our oral history.
S: Now, I can take you up and down Clematis Street if you want to know
who has been and who hasn't.
B: Well, why don't you do that.
S: Okay. First there was Mr. and Mrs. Fine who had Fine's Department
Store where Copley's Uniform is now, then in later years, I don't
know what but something happened, they moved up to where McCrory's
is now, then later they moved down on the corner of Clematis and
Narcissus in a building which was originally built for Manny's
Restaurant which was the first of the fast food restaurants. Of
course then, across the street from, as you look up there it was
in the 300 block, there was Kerman's and Myer's Luggage, and Mr.
Gooder had a store on west Clematis and then he moved down on the
corner of Clematis and Dixie.
B: That was 0. P. Gruner who was also one of the pioneers.
S: That's right. And, or course, Harry Serkin had his store way up
on west Clematis. Greenberg had his place in Lake Worth. He went
from the little building that you see in the paper, to the wooden
building he went into a two-story building in Lake Worth until
later years and then he moved up onto west Clematis.
B: That's almost the location where your folks had their store.
S: No, he was west of that.
B: I mean now.
S: No, no, he was on west Clematis, west of the railroad.
B: I mean, where the Pioneer Store is now.
S: Oh, where the Pioneer Company is now. ,No, first they were on
west Clematis, west of the Florida East Coast Railroad, then they
moved down -- the beauty school was in the 200 block, and he was
there during the war. He had the whole second floor of that build-
ing. Then in '42, my parents moved from the 200 block, they were
in two different locations in the 200 block. First one is part of
the Pioneer on the west side; it was two stories. My father had
the west side, and the Blanche Shop which was Mr. and Mrs. Blicher,
had their Corset and Lingerie Shop, and my parents moved into what
is now the Pioneer Company, the west half of their present store.
Where they used to be, there was the Darling Shop, when they
moved out the Darling Shop went in there, which the Pioneer uses
the windows. Next to that was Mrs. Simon and before that, up in
the 300 block was Sam Sherr with the Waldorf Shop, then he moved
down to where before Mrs. Simon went in there. Now the Waldorf
Shop went in there and he had a store in Palm Beach also on
Main Street. He used to have a sign out in front of his store
"Sale! Going north." A going north sale, so we used to kid him,
"Who is going north?" "The tourist are going north."
Then, in later years the Goldsmith brothers came and they opened
up in the arcade by the alley, then they moved west. They were
right across from the Arcade Theater before they moved over on
Clematis Street. Then there was the Walton Shop.
B: That was the Moss brothers?
S: The Moss brothers, yes. They had their store there before they
moved to Palm Beach. For a while they had it in Palm Beach on
Worth Avenue and in West Palm. Then there was Myers Luggage,
they were in another location before they were where they are now.
B: They were on west Clematis.
S: Yes, and of course, Mrs. Simon, they had their first store which
is part of the old Burdine's location now, then, let's see, they moved
down to the 200 block.
Oh, yes. Jack Barrish had a store on the corner of -- his first
store was on the corner of First and Dixie which is now a bar. Then
he moved on the corner of Clematis and Dixie before Mr. Gruner
moved to west Clematis, to where he moved to now on that same
I think that takes care of about all of the Jewish families on
B: Well, you certainly have given us an excellent history.
S: Oh, my Uncle Lou had a shoe store in the 400 block, he opened that
up in '27.
B: That was Lou Schutzer?
S: Yeah. And, my Uncle Sam had a little military store right across
the street from them. My father brought them down here in 1924.
B: And, then your Uncle Sam started the little newspaper "Our Voice"?
S: Yes, and he's still living. He's a young man of 93. Yeah, he's
B: Well, thank you, Cy, thank you very much for an extremely interesting
S: I hope I gave you something, some helpful information.
B: You certainly did.