I was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming on July 17, 1923. When I was around four years old, my father decided to move the family to 713 4 1/2 Street,S.W.Washington,D.C. The residence we moved into,was being vacated by Reverend Yoelson, father of the famous stage and movie entertainer, Al Jolson.My family members were my father and mother, sister Sarah, and brothers Phil and Sam. My Dad placed a sign in his front window,that advertised his profession–A.ROSEN - SHOCHET AND MOHEL FROM ,(JERUSALEM). A Shochet prepared chickens and other poultry to be kosher,by slaughtering the poultry in a prescribed manner with a special knife (CHALEV),and letting all the blood drain into a bucket.A MOHEL was trained to circumcize little boys.The going rate to slaughter chickens was 15 cents which included the plucking of all the feathers,and circumcision charges were on the average,$10.00, and possibly $25.00 if the new comer’s Dad had a more lucrative profession.
Our Brick home with its black iron steps,and small porch,was very visible to the neighborhood, because the majority of the neighboring residents operated small stores,usually living in the back or over their business.
On our extreme left,was Sam Hyatt’s barber shop,haircuts costing 25 cents,(about 60 times less expensive than today’s average price for a man’s hair cut, being around $15.00. On our right there was a Mr. Miller, operating a sheet metal store,(his family living in the back of the store).Later a Mr. Friedman occupied the premises as a shoe repair shop. I remember that his son Albert, always wore a cleanly pressed dress shirt.There was a Sanitary grocery store,on the corner of 4th and G Street,SW,that later became a Safeway,not yet offerering self service for the sale of its products.Across the street on the south east corner of 4th and G Street,SW.,a Mr. Sherman operated a liquor store, and provided a radio with a loud speaker to broadcast all the boxing matches of champ Joe Louis-(Many SW residents did not own radios).In the middle of the same block was a fairly large hardware store, that displayed small moving trains. In later years, when the entire SW neighborhood underwent redevelopment, Schnieiders Hardware protested their order to move from its location, all the way up to the Supreme Court, but unfortunately, everyone had to move on to other locations. In later years 4 1/2 Street,SW, became just plain 4th Street,SW.
Through out the SW neighborhood, incoming residents established small grocery stores on just about every corner,again living in the back or upstairs of the location.
My mother and sister assisted my Dad, by opening the chickens,and sometimes plucking the feathers. I provided the delivery service most of the time.In addition to his regular duties, my father also taught the Jewish kids,hebrew prayers,and prepared them for their special prayers on their bar mitzva days.
A synagogue was established at 467 E Street,SW,and again my Dad kept busy acting as a recording secretary (transcribing minutes in the Yiddish language),also chanting the weekly prayers from the Torahs (hand written hebrew scrolls).
The synagogue, called Congregation Talmud torah ,was beautiful,but was demolished during the 50′s when the entire neighborhood was redeveloped.At a later date, the synagogue merged with another house of prayer called Ohev Sholom,temporarily moved to some different locations,and finally built a beautiful sanctuary at 16th and Jonquil Street,N.W.,that today enjoys a large membership for its surrounding neighbors, under the direction of a young busy Rabbi,called Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld. The SW neighborhood continues to grow, establishing new retail stores, as well as new modern office buildings.
I do recall that little crime existed as I grew up,and both black and white SW residents all lived in peace.
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