Bedlam with Corned Beef on the Side: The Jewish Delicatessen in Baltimore Pt. 4

Posted on April 12th, 2017 by

Written by Barry Kessler. Originally published in Generations 1993, reprinted in Generations 2011 – 2012: Jewish Foodways.

Part IV: A Decade of Deli

Miss parts 1 – 3? Start here.

In 1907, of the eight delicatessen shops identified by the City Directory, two were in West Baltimore and six in East Baltimore. Harry Caplan, Harry Goodman, and Frank Hurwitz were joined by Charles Norberg on Central Avenue and Adolph Rothman on Bank Street. Wolf Salganik, a butcher who had been in East Baltimore since at least 1899, was listed as the owner of a delicatessen at 925 East Lombard Street.[1] L. Strauss and Company, near Lexington Market, appeared as a delicatessen only in the alphabetical listing. Given the name and location, this business was probably owned by, and catered to, German Jews.

In 1909 – 1910, the Baltimore City Directory listed seventeen delicatessens, thirteen of them in East Baltimore. Harry Caplan, Harry Goodman, Frank Hurwitz, Herman Buderak, Joseph Edlavitch and the Salganik Meat Products Company were clustered in four adjoining blocks of East Baltimore, Lombard and High Streets, while Joseph Amdur, Margaret Flum, Philip Resnick, Abram Linder, Ellen Jolden, Jacob Wollwich, and Kalman Lapides ranged further east. Two new delicatessens were located in the growing Jewish area near West North Avenue and two were near Lexington Market.

One of the delicatessen owners in 1909 – 1910, was Kalman Lapides. Lapides, a tailor, had a grocery on a South Baltimore corner in 1900. Perhaps the shop failed, since two years later he was again listed as a tailor, now on Little Gough Street in East Baltimore. From 1906 until 1919 he had a delicatessen at 1427 East Baltimore Street between Eden and Caroline.

By 1912, several non-Jewish establishments were among the fourteen delicatessens listed in the City Directory, including Louis H. Rettberg, R. Welforth and Son, John E. Schaninger, and Max Votel. Votel’s advertisement described him as a “wholesale and retail dealer in German produce.” The word “delicatessen” had expanded beyond the immigrant community and was being applied more generally to fancy groceries.

Continue to Part V: Heyshe Cohen and a Place to Sit

Notes:

[1] Salganik, an immigrant from Kiev, was listed as a delicatessen owner, but most likely his business was largely in raw meat. In the early 1930s Salganik went in to manufacturing delicatessen products and selling beef and pork at wholesale. From a large plant at Lombard and Exeter Streets he supplied numberous retail delis and groceries with corned beef, pastrami, rolled beef, salami, bologna, frankfurters, meat loaves, and sausage, as well as cured, smoked and cooked hams and bacon. Later he developed an extensive business as supplier to the Army and supermarkets. (Interview with Gordon Salganik, August 1993.)

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Bedlam with Corned Beef on the Side: The Jewish Delicatessen in Baltimore Pt. 3

Posted on April 10th, 2017 by

Written by Barry Kessler. Originally published in Generations 1993, reprinted in Generations 2011 – 2012: Jewish Foodways.

Part III: Caplan’s Delicatessen

Miss parts 1 – 2? Start here.

Caplan and Co, advertisement, 1933. Gift of Mrs. Renee Piel. JMM 1993.104.3.4

Caplan and Co, advertisement, 1933. Gift of Mrs. Renee Piel. JMM 1993.104.3.4

Harry R. Caplan’s was the longest-lived of this first crop of delicatessens, remaining in business – although in changed form – from 1897 into the 1960s. After several years in Baltimore as a tailor, Caplan had appeared under “provisions” in the City Directory as far back as 1898 and in 1904, in the alphabetical section of the Directory, his trade was listed as a delicatessen owner. His shop grew and moved around the neighborhood, from 911 to 915 east Baltimore Street, to 910 Watson, to 918 East Lombard, settling the 1920s at 23 South High Street (between Baltimore and Lombard Streets).

Caplan’s delicatessen is remembered today especially for the fragrant barrels of pickles and olives (maslines in Yiddish) in front of its counter, and for the high-quality sliced meats that people came to buy on Saturday nights. A 1933 calendar booklet issued in English and Yiddish by the shop claimed that it was the largest firm of its type in America.[1] Advertisements in the booklet for a wide range of groceries promoted brand-name products packaged by Rokeach, Manischewitz, and Goodman and Sons; the shop carried a full line of Carmel brand strictly kosher meats, including tongue, pastrami, and “wonder sausage.”

The shop sold many products it produced itself, such as Belvedere Coffee, “roasted and blended by us.” Fourteen varieties of fish were smoked daily by Caplan, including shad, Kieler sprotten (sprats from Kiel), capchunkes (salt-cured, air-dried whitefish), rybetz (Russian for big fish), and belerivitze, and he also imported fish directly from Scotland and Alaska – “packed by us in our specially equipped factory” and marketing in glass jars under the Gibralter label.

In 1940 Harry Caplan gave up retailing, turning over his distribution of name-brand groceries to the Joffe Brothers of West Pratt Street.[2] Trading as the Southern Food Corporation at 5 Lloyd Street, he was the regional distributer for the Hygrade Foods line of delicatessen meats from New York. Harry Saval, founder of what is now the largest distributor of deli meats in Baltimore, worked for [Harry Caplan] during this time.

Continue to Park IV: A Decade of Deli

Notes:

[1] Jewish Museum of Maryland, Gift of Renee Piel, 1993.104.4

[2] Baltimore Jewish Times, March 29, 1940.

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Bedlam with Corned Beef on the Side: The Jewish Delicatessen in Baltimore Pt. 2

Posted on April 5th, 2017 by

Written by Barry Kessler. Originally published in Generations 1993, reprinted in Generations 2011 – 2012: Jewish Foodways.

Part II: The Old Neighborhood

Miss part 1? Start here.

Color slide of ”Lexington Market” by Ruth Bear Levy. JMM 1999.12.13

Color slide of ”Lexington Market” by Ruth Bear Levy. JMM 1999.12.13

In Baltimore, Jewish immigrants settled in the small brick rowhouses of East Baltimore, a neighborhood bounded more or less by the Jones Falls and Patterson Park on the west and east, Orleans Street on the north and Eastern Avenue on the south. There were also immigrant neighborhoods in West Baltimore and South Baltimore; other Jewish families were scattered throughout the city, often living about their small grocery, liquor, jewelry, and clothing stores. By the 1920s, Eastern European Jews were migrating to the northwestern part of Baltimore in significant numbers and within forty years few stiff resided downtown, although they may have worked or shopped there.

The nucleus of the old East Baltimore neighborhood was along Baltimore and Lombard Streets, west of Central Avenue, where synagogues, shops, community institutions, and the densest Jewish population were concentrated. Lombard Street was a bustling marketplace. Along its length stores catering to both Jewish and Gentile trade sold clothing, shoes, and sundries, as well as foodstuffs in teeming variety. Besides a mingling of Italian groceries toward the Jones Falls, virtually every store was owned by an immigrant Jewish family. Baltimore Street had a more residential character, but many of the homes had ground-level shop fronts, especially on the corners.

Groceries, bakeries, butchers, confectioners, and dairies sprang up in the neighborhood to supply the immigrant community, preparing, importing, and selling traditional foods, just as in other ethnic communities. Some of the groceries may have called themselves delicatessens, but it was not until 1905 that there was a sufficient number to require a separate business category in the Baltimore City Directory under that heading.[1]

Five delicatessens were listed in that year, three of them on East Baltimore Street between Front and Exeter Streets. Harry Caplan’s delicatessen was at 915 East Baltimore Street, Frank Hurwitz’s two doors away at number 919, and Harry Goodman’s in the next block at 825 East Baltimore Street. Solomon Goldberg was around the corner at 537 Asquith Street. Isaac Baer’s shop at 1802 Division Street was the only delicatessen listed outside of East Baltimore. In preceding years Solomon Goldberg had been listed as a butcher, Harry Goodman as a grocery and under “meats,” and Frank Hurwitz as a butcher and a grocer.

Continue to Part III: Caplan’s Delicatessen

Notes:

[1] Baltimore City Directory, R.L. Polk and Company, 1905.

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