Tag Archives: New York City

Trouble with the Office: An American Bialystoker Story

21 Mar

The following is a report my Great Grandfather, Louis Goldman, made in a 1937 issue of the Bialystoker Stimme. It explains the reason why the Bialystoker Bikur Cholim decided that the organization needed its own offices. It seems asking for help from the community was just not working out. It gives the history of the decision to rent its own office. I think this might have be the precursor of the Bialystoker Home for the Aged, which was built over two years in 1929-1931.

Here is his article, as translated by my friend Blumah and edited a bit by me for clarity.

“The Bialystoker landsman in that time mostly lived in the East side (of New York City). The Bikur Cholim decided to put in that neighborhood a place for the sick people to receive help without difficulty. So they would be close to their neighborhood.

They arranged for a doctor and arranged for a pharmacist to get them medicine.

It was decided to give to the poor sick people a free pass to see the doctor and also pay for the medicine.

A certain landsman, who had a hot dog /salami store on Essex Street, gave his store for the sick people to come to receive these passes and papers. This became the office where they could get the papers. But there was a problem: The store keeper would give out these free passes like a prize to his own customers who would buy meat from him. (This was not what was intended so,) It was decided to rent a place somewhere else.

Next they found a butcher store from one of the landsman, Philip T. However there was not very convenient for several reasons.

They moved the office again to a new place. To “Fisher” who had a printing shop on Clinton Street. But Fisher started asking every month for new ‘additions’. (Not sure if he wanted more money or what he is wanting. Probably more money.)

So the Bikur Cholim decided once and for all to rent a permanent office for themselves. It was decided that this office could also act as a club for the active members. Also there would always be a secretary who would be paid and who would take care all of the cases for the Bikur Cholim.”

As my great grandfather, or the editor of the Bialystoker Stimme, entitled the article, “Trouble with the Office,” I think that was a fine assessment.  Personally I loved how the store owner gave out free medical passes to his customers.  One way to build a clientele, even though it was not ‘kosher.’  I know that they were trying their best to help their landsmen in need, without using the money needlessly.  Building an office might have seemed that way to them.  But eventually, having a paid secretary made more sense.

The history of the Bialystoker Home For the Aged and the Bialysotker landsmanshaft, immigrant organization, can be found in the NY Landmarks Preservation Commission Report of May 21, 2012. See link below:

http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/reports/2529.pdf

The part of this story that impacts my great grandfather’s article, is this small section from the report:

“In its first year of existence the Bialystoker Center was located in an old building at 228 East Broadway just few houses down from the basement location of the Bikur Cholim. In 1922-23 it replaced the aging structure with a new five-story headquarters, which included office space not just for its own use but also provided meeting rooms for affiliated associations.”

So I assume the offices that my great grandfather is writing about was this office on 228 East Broadway. Eventually, definitely by 1937 when his article was written, the Bikur Cholim offices were included in the beautiful building that was finished in 1931.

As I have said in earlier articles about my great grandfather,  I am so proud to be his descendant.  Each of these articles brings him to life.

 

Finding The Nina’s Starts A Perfect New York City Day

3 Jan
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My Al Hirschfeld Collection, including the article that appeared in the NY Times a few days after his death.

Like many who grew up in the New Jersey/New York City area in the 50s, 60s and 70s, my Sunday morning routine included one important item, I had to open the New York Times and find the Nina’s in the newest Al Hirschfeld drawing!

My Dad started me on the search for Nina’s. Little did he know what would happen to me. I became obsessed.   I loved looking at the newest entertainment stars Hirschfeld had rendered in ink. They often were stars of Broadway musicals, another passion I developed. I especially loved when he did a complicated drawing that had more than one Nina! Heaven!

Thus it is not surprising that over the years, I purchased books of Hirschfeld’s drawings so that I could look for Nina’s even when I was not getting the “New York Times.” Especially when he passed away at age 99 and his long run of drawings for the paper and the world ended. I was saddened when he passed away close to my birthday in January of 2003.

I even saved the article that appeared in the New York Times on January 26, 2003, six days after his death. He was that important to me.

When I was older and moved to the Midwest, I was glad he was born in St. Louis, the same city where my husband was born.  Another connection!

There is something about his drawings that are so free and moving. He captured the essence of each person with such simple lines; it is deceiving. And so many of his drawings are just joyful.

I have been to the Al Hirschfeld Theater in NYC, (last time to see Kinky Boots) where a permanent display of replicas his works adorn the second floor walls. I made my daughter look at each drawing with me to find the Nina’s. A tradition she had to share!

This past summer, in July 2015, when I visited my family, I enticed my sister to go with me to the New York Historical Society to see the exhibition: “The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld.”

To be honest, it did not take too much enticing the get my sister to leave New Jersey with me to see the exhibition. She knew how much I loved his drawings. In fact she and her husband purchased the book, Hirschfeld on Hirschfeld for me as a gift many years ago!

And, of course, she also grew up looking for the Nina’s. We might have had one or two arguments over his drawings through the years. Who would find the Nina’s first was a big deal!

The exhibit was wonderful. My sister and I went from drawing to drawing, checking the number by his name to see how many Nina’s we needed to find. And then the search was on.   We looked at every sketch, drawing and film.  It was delightful.

I wanted to take a photo at the art table that was set up. But the guard would not let me. Sigh.   I could almost imagine myself as Hirschfeld, but no such luck. I am not a good artist. But I was disappointed not to have the photo at the replica of his desk.

The gift shop lured us in. Luckily they would ship my purchases home! A book, a mug, a t-shirt and some gift cards went to the Midwest. My sister’s purchases spent the rest of the day in Manhattan with us, even attending a show with our Aunt and cousin.

It was a glorious New York City type of day: subway ride, taxi, show, lunch, ice tea at Bryant Park, dinner at the Bryant Park Grill in the City, hanging out with family, and Finding the Nina’s!