They’re gone, but not forgotten!

Many of us here feel badly about current events in Israel and the continued murder of Jewish people. Our sympathies stem from the friendships experienced in this town with some fine Jewish merchants who certainly were among the founders of our New Atlantis!
Now they have all moved away and we miss them!
Let’s see, can I still list their names after all these years? The last to leave may have been Sam Silver and family from the fur coat store across the corner from the post office. You could always joke with Sam, a happy golfer.
The leading family—and longest established in this group—would have to be the Lermans, headed by Alex and younger brother, Dave, who has retired up Reef Point Road.
The stories here are plentiful, such as Alex trying to discourage one of our sports-minded but noisy collector of donations, which the Lermans would rarely refuse!
When the late Mike VanJura came collecting at the Lerman store door, now McTaggarts, he would bellow inside at Alex for some team assistance. Alex, finding it impossible to ignore Mike, would tell Dave, the more diplomatic brother, to shut him up with a cheque.
Alex was known to be a great money-maker and respected for the quality of goods he sold for men, women and children. But he could give money away just as quickly if he understood the need and was convinced this would make more friends and customers.
His style also was very well-suited to building tourism for the town. I watched him in action one day as Alex stepped up behind a summer visitor at the bank, tapped him on the shoulder and shook hands while introducing himself.
He invited the man, apparently an older American, to walk across the street to his store for “something to take home.”
This courteous—if old-fashioned—sales approach probably was well-practised, but the visitor seemed grateful to be welcomed to town in this way. Our tourism never depended on a better promoter.
Alex could be a charmer, but he also could work a deal from any direction, as when he told a local youth he would get a better price for taking two mismatched gloves tied together!
It’s said the Lermans’ father arrived here so long ago he sold clothing door-to-door from a back-pack to our first residents.
Our Jewish shopkeepers must have paid taxes on at least one-quarter of the retail space along the north side of Scott Street’s 200 block.
Start with Abie Katz at the Mowat corner, and then there was a pair of partners calling their store Cohn-Wrights before separating. One went into the next block and later sold to Ed Niznick the women’s wear store that became Dorothy’s.
The Lermans dominated much of our busiest block and Silvers were a small frontage, but altogether this was a great lineup before counting Louis Roseman’s furniture store over on Church Street.
Roseman, or “Low Overhead Lou,” was a good-natured joiner in men’s groups around town but none of them probably put in as much public effort as Dave Lerman, who would be out helping somewhere while Alex kept store.
Dave also knew his way around the Montreal factories and it’s said once he ordered a “boxcar load” of London Fog topcoats for the gents back home. He worked with the Chamber of Commerce as well as charities, generally.
Abie must have had a sense of humour to withstand all the chiding for his old store, which would be featuring work sox hanging from the ceiling for years. Eventually, it burned and left nothing but a hole in the street where a large iron safe stood for months afterwards.
One day, I saw Abie climb down into the hold and open the safe. I noticed he stuffed some of the contents into his pockets.
Apparently he had salvaged something that had been tugging at his memory and caused him to descent into that rather dangerous hole himself. And you could detect it was worth the effort.
Abie was an older man and did not linger much longer with us. The others also mostly went back to Winnipeg but his daughters and son, Max, made good friends here.
Now our Jewish businessmen have all departed. They were last heard from as owners of Winnipeg apartment buildings and became pillars of their synagogues while encouraging their families to respect their heritage.
Their traditions undoubtedly benefited us all here before they passed us on to other storekeepers and do-gooders.
But I’d hate to believe there won’t be other Jewish people coming in to help us get business done. They were all good at it—while keeping us entertained among their bargains!
• • •
You read it here first: John Myers of McDonald’s Restaurant has the greatest and most uproarious laugh in town! What a candidate for Santa Claus!
• • •
Opposition to school closings is running high while the school board, as usual, is going its own way regardless of democratic principles or majority rule. Their ideas—wherever they come from—were frequently unpopular and even unsound over the years.
The trustees have refused to listen to the home taxpayers so often it’s on record by now they have been wrong in every argument more often than right. The main idea being to ignore any and all criticism as something that soon will be gone and won’t last until the next controversy.
The trustees, after all, were elected to exert authority, weren’t they?
Just look back over the old high school debates, for instance, and think about how futile it always became to argue against changes past boards have preferred.
They regularly have enjoyed abandoning school buildings that still suited the taxpayers and parents! But at whose expense?
• • •
Besides leaving out La Vallee and other things in the new phone book, Ma Bell kicked out the Emo office of Gary Sliworsky, the district’s Ministry of Agriculture rep, but Gary had a good-natured reaction.
He was surprised, sure, but probably figures farmers are usually out of luck one way or another!
Phoning “information” to contact him was of no avail because it seems Bell has no knowledge of there ever having been an ag rep phone here! In fact, you can start with other provincial ag offices and find no way to contact the Emo branch!
Smoke signals once worked better!

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