Interview with Rose Tisnower, December 19, 1981

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Interview with Rose Tisnower, December 19, 1981
Tisnower, Rose ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Palm Beach County Oral History Collection ( local )
Spatial Coverage:
Palm Beach (Fla.) -- History.


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.

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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
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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

Asset tubs.

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

Beach stores.

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?

Tisnower: Yes.

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

good time.

.. 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

very small.

S' Later, there was Palm Beach

Bank and Trust- muanh later,

fe c n o o tg hi r i

" 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.

I t

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

The Alibi.

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

organizations here?

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?

Tisnower: Yes.

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

social hall.

'At that time, the congregation

was our family, was 350 people.

"--d hen when our son was

married he was married in New

York 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. 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

did Edward.

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

Sit .

MF: Did you stay in the same business

all the year or did your

business expand?

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

2 1

Sthe famous people that you may

have known?

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

Renuzit people.

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

Chrysler too.

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

so many.

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

Palm Beach.

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

so forth.

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

many .'

Tisnower: .Oh, yes.

.IMF: I'm sure there are friends and

relations of yours that are in

"public life now?

S.Tisnower: Yes.


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

honor them.

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

the founders.

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

Temple too.

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

Clematis Street.

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

the beach.

"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 her teachers

and classmates. That was given

for scholarship, character and

so forth.

It was a special honor 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

Public School.

"." 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