Friday, November 27, 2015

Beginning ~ with a let-down

The Jew Store ~ by Stella Suberman, 1998,  memoir (Tennessee)
My mother always said she'd felt something of a let-down when she first saw the sign reading CONCORDIA TOWN LIMITS.  They had been riding for three days along rutted dirt roads north and west of Nashville.
"For a real bargain, while you're making a living, you should make also a life," according to Aaron Bronson.  In 1920, in small town America, the ubiquitous dry goods store — suits and coats, shoes and hats, work clothes and school clothes, yard goods and notions — was usually owned by Jews and often referred to as "the Jew store."  That's how Stella Suberman's father's store — Bronson's Low-Priced Store, in Concordia, Tennessee — was known locally.  The Bronsons were the first Jews to ever live in that tiny town (1920 population: 5,318) of one main street, one bank, one drugstore, one picture show, one feed and seed, one hardware, one barber shop, one beauty parlor, one blacksmith, and many Christian churches.  Aaron Bronson moved his family all the way from New York City to that remote corner of northwest Tennessee to prove himself a born salesman — and much more.  A Jew, born into poverty in prerevolutionary Russia and orphaned from birth, finds his way to America, finds a trade, finds a wife, and sets out to find his fortune in a place where Jews are unwelcome.  Suberman turns the clock back to a time when rural America was more peaceful but no less prejudiced, when educated liberals were suspect, and when the Klan was threatening to outsiders.
I wonder what this would have felt like, 95 years ago.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.


Laurel-Rain Snow said...

I'm intrigued by these characters and the sheer bravery of striking out like this, with nothing but prejudice surrounding them.

Here's mine: “THE BLACK WIDOW”

Lauren Stoolfire said...

I'm interested in seeing where this one goes.

Check out my Friday 56 (With Book Beginning).

Sandra Nachlinger said...

I find myself drawn to stories that take place in small town America, especially if they're set in the past. This sounds like a good one.
My Friday post features The Mirror.

Maria said...

This sounds like a very interesting read - I both love and hate small towns because of the magnification of both the good and the bad things in our society. Here's My Friday Post

Elizabeth said...

Love the cover, love the summary.

I hope you are enjoying the book.

Silver's Reviews
My Book Beginnings