Whose Wedding?

Posted on November 28th, 2016 by

In our Hendler family collection we have two nearly identical photo albums, each containing a series of images taken at a wedding; there is also a set of loose wedding photographs.  As is often the way – even with carefully prepared albums and scrapbooks – the original album creators left no identifications, dates, or notes to help later historians figure out what’s going on.  We presumed that the people pictured were related in some way to the Hendlers, and I could tell by the clothing and styles that these were 1930s events, but the question remained: whose weddings are they, anyway?

Two albums, two weddings. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.63-.85 and 1998.47.4.37-62

Two albums, two weddings. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.63-.85 and 1998.47.4.37-62

Happily, there were enough clues for yours truly to tackle the issue. First, it was necessary to sort out which photos went with which event, and how many weddings were actually shown (after all, the Hendlers had four children, three of whom married in the 1930s).  The initial JMM catalogers had discarded the album covers, noting that they were too deteriorated to preserve, but naturally they kept the original order of the pages and filed each album separately. Fortunately one ceremony took place indoors and one outdoors, making it fairly easy to confirm that the two albums showed two different events. A quick comparison of the loose photos showed that they were a match for the outdoor wedding: the same floral chuppah, the same elderly ladies dressed in their finest, the same waiters carrying the same fish.  So we had only two weddings to worry about, after all.

Two of the loose photos next to their matching album photos. Success! Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.34 and .74; 1998.47.4.30 and .85

Two of the loose photos next to their matching album photos. Success! Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.34 and .74; 1998.47.4.30 and .85

Now for the actual details of who, where, and when. L. Manuel Hendler was the founder of the Hendler Creamery, a very successful ice cream business in Baltimore. He and his wife Rose had three daughters:

>Flora Bernice (1909-1990), who married Joseph Kolodny on August 27, 1931 at “Harlequin on Severn,” the Hendler country estate.

>Florence (1913-1994), known as “Tootsie,” who married Howard Caplan on January 21, 1932 at the Southern Hotel.

>Naomi (1917-1994), who married Leslie Legum on June 20, 1939, at the Hendler home near Druid Hill Park.

Elsewhere in the JMM collections we have invitations to the weddings of Florence and Naomi, including a pair donated by their cousin Naomi Biron Cohen:

Invitations to Florence’s 1932 wedding (left) and Naomi’s 1939 wedding (right). Gift of Naomi Biron Cohen. JMM 2009.58.9

Invitations to Florence’s 1932 wedding (left) and Naomi’s 1939 wedding (right). Gift of Naomi Biron Cohen. JMM 2009.58.9

These invitations are so carefully, exactly matched – the Hendler parents were clearly concerned about sisterly parity – that I made the initial mistake of assuming the matching albums were from the same sisters.  However, thanks to the Hendler family’s prominence and the searchable Baltimore Sun database, I soon realized that the outdoor wedding was not Naomi’s but Bernice’s. As newlyweds of local importance, Bernice and Florence were featured in the Sun and the Jewish Times, with – conveniently for me – bridal portraits published in the former. The Sun’s photos of Bernice’s pearl crown (hard to see in the album photos, admittedly) and Florence’s medieval-style gown and sassy little veil matched nicely with the formal portraits in each album, as did the newspaper reporters’ breathless descriptions of each ceremony. Thank goodness for the society page!  (And no, that’s not the first time I’ve had occasion to say that.)

Bernice with her attendants, and in her Baltimore Sun feature. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.63

Bernice with her attendants, and in her Baltimore Sun feature. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.63

Florence, introspective from every angle. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.58

Florence, introspective from every angle. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.58

The Jewish Times provided detailed descriptions of both sisters’ weddings (quoted below); in addition, Florence’s wedding was reported in the Sun – which lingered lovingly on the fact that the governor and the mayor were in attendance, and that the reception included “a bridal table with dishes and cups of solid gold” which had to be guarded by a police detail – and in the New York Times. (Evidently Florence chose to announce her engagement at Bernice’s wedding, which every older sister totally appreciates.) Florence, it seems, did not pull her punches.

The Jewish Times, August 28, 1931: Kolodny-Hendler:

Miss Bernice Hendler, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. Manuel Hendler, was married on Thursday, August 27, at the country home of her parents, Harlequin-on-the-Severn, to Mr. Joseph Kolodny of Boston.  The ceremony was performed by Rabbis Adolph Coblentz [sic] and Morris Lazaron. The bride was attired in a gown of ivory satin and a veil of rose point, and carried a prayer book used by her mother at her wedding.  Miss Florence Hendler, sister of the bride, was maid of honor and Mrs. Milton Silberman was matron of honor. They wore gowns of Chartreuse satin.

The Misses Rose Silberstein, Helen Fish, Florine Duke and Mrs. Abram Kenigson were bridesmaids. They were attired in yellow satin and wore Empress Eugenie hats] and carried bouquets of yellow roses. Mr. Albert Hendler was best man, and the ushers were Messrs. Howard Caplan, Milton Silberman, Bernard Hendler, Harry Hendler and Albert Duke.  Mrs. Hendler, mother of the bride, was gowned in black lace trimmed in rose point, and Mrs. Kolodny, mother of the groom, wore a gown of Patou beige satin. After the ceremony a reception was held for more than four hundred guests.  Mr. and Mrs. Kolodny will sail on Saturday on the S.S. “Kungssholm” for Norway and Sweden. During the evening announcement of the engagement of Mr. and Mrs. Hendler’s younger daughter, Florence, to Mr. Howard M. Caplan, son of Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Caplan, was made.

Joseph and Bernice under their floral chuppah with Cantor Weisgal and Rabbi Coblenz, 1931. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.83

Joseph and Bernice under their floral chuppah with Cantor Weisgal and Rabbi Coblenz, 1931. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.83

The Jewish Times, January 22, 1932: Caplan-Hendler:

One of the most outstanding weddings of the season was that of Miss Florence Hendler, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. Manuel Hendler and Mr. Howard M. Caplan, son of Mr. and Mrs. H.L. Caplan, who were united in marriage on Thursday at the Southern Hotel.

The ceremony was performed by Rabbi Morris S. Lazaron, Rabbi Adolph Coblentz [sic] and Cantor Adolph J. Weisgal. The bride was attired in a gown of antique velvet, trimmed in pearls, and a rose point veil worn by her mother, and again last summer by her sister at the time of her marriage to Joseph Kolodny. She carried a bouquet of white orchids and her mother’s prayerbook.  She was attended by Miss Elizabeth Ullman, who wore pale gold taffeta, and carried roses and a prayerbook. The matrons of honor were Mrs. Joseph Kolodny, sister of the bride, and Mrs. David Silberman, sister of the groom; their gowns were gold lace over taffeta. The bridesmaids, the Misses Naomi Hendler, Lorraine Katz and Dorothy Kemler, wore dresses of deep gold taffeta, carrying roses. The best man was Mr. Albert Hendler, brother of the bride, and the ushers were Messrs. Joseph Kolodny, David Kaufman, Mendel Silverman, Albert Duke and Irving Blaustein. After dinner and reception Mr. and Mrs. Caplan left for New York, sailing for Europe on the Europa on Friday. They will spend three months in travelling, after which they will return to the city, where they will make their home.

Florence smiles at the photographer while Howard greets a guest, 1932. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.62

Florence smiles at the photographer while Howard greets a guest, 1932. Anonymous gift. JMM 1998.47.4.62

And what about the third sister? Though we have a few lovely wedding souvenirs donated by Naomi herself, the only information I can find about the ceremony comes from the invitation in our collections, and brief engagement notices in the Sun and the Jewish Times.  Unlike her elder sisters, Naomi’s wedding – though fancy and fashionable, as best I can tell from the pieces in our collection – was not featured prominently in the press.  I suspect that this was a least in part due to the fact that in late 1932, brother Albert Hendler was kidnapped and held for ransom. (He was rescued, and went on to celebrate his own marriage to Peggy Siff in 1943.)  The Hendlers faced other extortion threats during the 1930s. This could make any family shy away from publicity, and I completely understand it… but I do wish that I had a description of Naomi’s ceremony.  Did she wear the her mother’s veil, and carry her mother’s prayerbook, as her older sisters did?  We sorted out the mystery of the photo albums, but there are still a few pieces of the sisters’ story missing.

Bride and groom dolls used on the wedding cake of Naomi Hendler and Leslie Legum, 1939. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Legum. JMM 1991.156.3a-b

Bride and groom dolls used on the wedding cake of Naomi Hendler and Leslie Legum, 1939. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Legum. JMM 1991.156.3a-b

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Once Upon a Time…03.04.2016

Posted on November 22nd, 2016 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church by email at jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org

 

2000135012Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  March 4, 2016

 

PastPerfect Accession #:  2000.135.012

 

Status: Unidentified! Who are these members of the AMIT Women, Sarah Ribakow Chapter, in New York, 1977?

 

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JMM Insights: Dross into Gold

Posted on November 18th, 2016 by

In the middle ages, alchemists sought out the philosopher’s stone that could turn base metal into gold.  They never found it.  But in 19th and 20th century America, entrepreneurs, mainly poor immigrants of Jewish or Italian heritage, found a way to turn waste materials into productive assets – in the process, not only transforming metal, rag and rubber, but also their own lives and their own communities.

In October 2018 the Jewish Museum of Maryland will launch a major national traveling exhibit called American Alchemy: Junk to Scrap to Recycling that will for the first time bring the largely untold history of this industry to a wider public.

Bales of rags. Shapiro Company, Baltimore, Maryland, 1942

Bales of rags. Shapiro Company, Baltimore, Maryland, 1942

We have been laying the groundwork for this project for nearly a year (in fact its origins go back to ideas generated in 2008).  We have been researching photos and artifacts, assembling an exhibit team, developing budgets and funding plans.  But it was just yesterday that the project had its formal launch as we invited leaders of scrap businesses from across the region to convene at JMM.  Neal Shapiro, former president of Cambridge Iron and Metal here in Baltimore, and a consultant on the project helped assemble the gathering.  We took them through Beyond Chicken Soup:  Jews and Medicine in America – a project that has much in common with our new venture:

> a similar scale and blend of “real things” and interactive experiences;

> a paired effort to explore both history and technology (and for the American Alchemy exhibit we will also add the art of recycling);

> an exhibition that works equally well for school groups and general visitors.

After the brief tour, I described our concept – it has a scope that stretches from an ad for scrap brass and copper by Paul Revere to the first car shredders to the latest metal analyzer guns.  I also explained that while it would inevitably have a lot to say about the Jewish community (it’s estimated that just a few decades ago 80% of all scrap CEOs were Jewish), this particular exhibit was about the whole story of the industry – and would include people from all ethnic backgrounds who made the transformation from push carts to global enterprises possible.

An automobile graveyard outside Baltimore, Maryland, August 1941. Courtesy Library of Congress.

An automobile graveyard outside Baltimore, Maryland, August 1941. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Next, we swapped stories.   We learned about businesses with unlikely sites (e.g. Jersey Shores, PA), unlikely artifacts (e.g. a terrorist bombed Israeli bus – it was saved, not scrapped) and unlikely misfortunes (e.g. what happens when you drop a large battery in downtown DC).  But more importantly we learned that we were “family” – as some of the senior members of the group recounted their memories of the parents and grandparents of their assembled “competitors.”  Even I got to tell a few stories about the scrap metal and rag businesses owned by my family – and lessons learned that carry over to my work in museums.

So many stories around the room

So many stories around the room

On Monday we take the next step in our project’s development – a team meeting in New York, with our curator, Jill Vexler (also grew up in a scrap business household) and our designer, Alchemy Studio led by Wayne LaBar.  We’ll be taking this huge topic and compressing it to 2,000 square feet – even a bigger trick than compressing a car into a bundle of metal with a hydraulic press!

If you are reading this newsletter and happen to have photos or documents related to the scrap industry, please contact Deborah Cardin at dcardin@jewishmuseummd.com.  If you are just interested in learning more about the exhibit and staying in the loop as our plans progress feel free to contact either Deborah or me.

-Marvin Pinkert

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