Hilda who had accompanied me on 3 trips out of 22 that I made to Brazil and I made sure to bring her only during carnival and I enjoyed the “escola do sambas” ( the school of sambas) more than the other attractions during these festivities. Almost all the participants were Negroes who were blessed with the gift of rhythm. Also, one must realize that the Negro population of Brazil was the highest in Latin America. Approximately 8 or 9 schools would compete in a contest. The criteria were the original music compositions, the choreography and the costumes. This event would be held on one of the 2 nights on the widest avenue in Rio. Wooden stands were set up on both sides of the streets and would hold several thousand on-lookers. I fell in love with Latin music, especially that of Brazil; in fact, on each trip I would purchase phonograph records of this music- tapes and disks were not yet in vogue.
On one of our trips together, while watching the samba event, a rather humorous experience –at the time it was almost tragic- occurred. I always prefer an aisle seat at the theatre or at a sporting event; therefore I made sure to arrive early and secure an aisle seat in the stands. When all seats were occupied, people were compelled to sit or stand in the aisles of the stands. As luck would have it, a young Brazilian couple in their twenties who were either married or just friends stood at my left in the aisle. Seeing her holding a large and heavy purse, I asked her if I could hold the purse to relieve her discomfort. She immediately smiled at me and gave me her bag with many thanks.
Midway through the dance, either one of them or both had to leave temporarily. When she gave me the purse, I stupidly placed it on the ground between my feet not realizing that the rear of the floors of the stands were wide open. Several minutes after they left, I discovered that the bag was no longer at my feet and fell to the ground which was at least 50 feet below. Fear and horror enveloped me and Hilda and I kept saying in Yiddish so nobody could understand what I was saying “Er vet mir deharginen” – he will kill me.
I, therefore, decided that I will offer to reimburse them for the bag and all its contents. Money was far less important than my health and life. As we were contemplating our fate, the couple returned and we hesitatingly related our dilemma and made an offer to repay them for my gross error. Surprisingly, they smiled and allayed our fears when the young man stated that he would climb down the rear of the stands and retrieve the bag. It was quite a feat which I could never emulate. This experience only fortified my belief in the old axiom: “No good deed goes unpunished”.
In this same year, 1955, Hilda decided to spread her wings and return to a career. When we were “going steady”, she emphatically stated to me that if and when we would marry, she would want a large family and I of course agreed with her. After our marriage, she sang a different tune repeatedly informing me that her ideal life would be a career, no children and living in Manhattan. In fact, I would jokingly retort that I had grounds for an annulment, she deluding me and not advising me of her true intentions prior to marriage.
At any rate, Dennis now reaching the age of seven and old enough to be cared for by a maid gave my wife the opportunity to fulfill her ambition. Also, it is possible that my starting twice a year trips to Brazil was another factor in her looking for employment. The Garden Nursing Home was just purchased and one of the owners was my brother-in-law Al who wanted one of his relatives in the office to protect his investment. I cannot recall whether he proposed hiring her or she approached him; but, be as it may, she was hired as an assistant administrator to Mr. Maged, the administrator. Her administrative duties included admission of patients, liaison with their relatives, making daily rounds of all 300 patients and their rooms with the nurse’s aides, phoning daily the Dept. of Health requesting patients, and some others which I can’t recall.
She also had bookkeeping duties, i.e. preparation of patient bills –private and Medicaid- and posting to an accounts receivable ledger. Joe Saltz, my other brother-in-law who was Esther’s husband was also employed and handled accounts payable and payroll.
In order for Hilda to be able to go to work, we hired a wonderful, compassionate Negro maid named Ethel. She really was the surrogate mother to Dennis for many years. Since he was a problem child in school and a doll at home, he conveyed his most private feelings to her.
A typical working day at the Nailotex plant was as follows:
I would arise at 7:30, shower and dress, put on my tefillin and pray and then call room service for my continental breakfast which always consisted of papaya, rolls with butter and coffee. At 8:30, Stefan, Mr. Moskovits’s Hungarian chauffer who spoke no English, would arrive at the Jaragua Hotel to drive me to the plant which was about 30 minutes away.
I then would visit the offices of Mr. Moskovits and Joel Rosner to say hello and proceed to the office of Edith Rosner and chat with her for at least a half hour which we both enjoyed immensely. Edith designed the various lingerie lines – called collections in Brazil- and was the production manager of the sewing operations. Joel, being a textile engineer, supervised the weaving and knitting operations and the dye house as well. Mr. Moskovits, not being too familiar with textiles and not being as young as his daughter and her husband did not put in a full day’s work and devoted himself primarily with finance duties. Similarly to the U.S. where textile companies would factor their receivable invoices with factors or banks, Nailotex would assign their invoices –called duplicates– to several banks. Mr. Moskovits would handle this financial phase.
After leaving Edith, I then visited the weaving and knitting areas, the dye house and the sewing plant to obtain all the statistics necessary to ascertain the cost of each and every item produced. At 11 am girls would come around with small cups of black coffee –called café zinho– this precluded having a coffee break. At 12:30, the entire plant stopped operations for the lunch break. A large cafeteria holding approximately 200 hundred persons was the site where all the employees who had brought their lunch from home would congregate. Before the new plant was constructed, Edith, Joel-called Hessu- and I would drive to their home for lunch. Later on, because the new factory was further from their home, we would have our lunch, which they brought from home, in one of their offices.
An hour later we all returned to our labors. At 3 p.m. the coffee girls would return again and we all would not stop our activities while drinking the hot beverage. At 6 p.m. operations ceased and the three of us would drive to the Rosner home for dinner to be met by their son Alexander-called Zanny- and their daughter Frances-called Franny. Several years later another son was born to them, Bobby.
After dinner, I would return to the hotel and if I was not tired I would go to one or two of the several “night clubs” called boites which were usually small rooms that could hold anywhere from 10 to 50 persons. What attracted me to these places was my liking for Latin music. Each of these boites would have a small combo consisting of a guitar, bass fiddle and a drum; never other string or wind instruments. The music was primarily Brazilian, Paraguayan and to a lesser extent that of other Latin countries.
I could sit for hours sipping scotch and enjoying immensely the music.
Each of these “clubs” would have a few young girls available for dancing and sex, if you desired. You could sit and dance with a girl or girls the entire night without paying them and just buy them drinks. If a customer felt the need for having sex with one of them, taxis were ever-present outside the boite to transport the couple, usually to the home of the girl who lived alone. Most of the girls were originally from the poorer towns in Brazil and the money they made would sustain them and also allow them to send money to their families who lived in the Northern provinces and the interior of Brazil.
Whenever Hilda went with me on my trips, we would frequent these places and sit for hours enjoying the music. Also, although the Rosners had lived in Brazil for several years, they had no knowledge of these places and I introduced them to this music and we would go on many Saturday nights to enjoy a pleasant evening. Also, the four of us several times traveled to a most beautiful beach called Guaruja for a week-end and spent a most delightful time together as we enjoyed each other’s company quite a bit. Guaruja was on the coast of the Atlantic past the city of Santos which was a 3 hour drive north of Sao Paulo. Since Hilda always accompanied me only in February because of carnival, the weather was that of the summer, Brazil being south of the equator.
On one of our week-end trips with Edith and Hessu, as we were lolling on the beach, both of them proposed that we move with our children to Brazil as I could enhance Nailotex’s business by being at the plant permanently instead of coming twice a year for 3 weeks each trip. Also I would be able to increase my earnings considerably by making the move. Without a moment’s hesitation, I responded that I was quite happy in Brooklyn and with my profession. Instead, I suggested that they send their 14 year old son, Zanny, to live with us and to attend Yeshiva University High School where Kenny was a student.
I kept telling them that Brazil, being Sodom and Gemorah, was no place to rear children, especially those from Orthodox Jewish homes. In the few trips that I made I was witness to the moral deterioration of young boys and girls, even from observant homes. I can never forget that before my first trip, a member of Kingsway Jewish Center, knowing that I was to visit Brazil, asked me to please look up her brother who lived in Sao Paulo.
Several days after my arrival, I phoned the brother and he graciously invited me to come for dinner at his home. Of course, I accepted and went by taxi to his home where I met his family. After dinner, he suggested that we take a walk and get to know each other. While walking, he asked me if I or other men in the US had mistresses. Knowing he was a religious Orthodox Jew, I was completely taken aback by his question. I told him that, although many married men in the US did have mistresses or affairs, this was not common among religious Jews. Also, that I and my friends were devoted to our wives and would never think of doing what seemed to be prevalent in Brazil.
Also, once while visiting a boite, I recognized a congregant of the shul that I attended every shabbos soliciting one of the girls and leaving with her. He was dressed as a chassid with a black suit and hat. I also was told by some of the male Orthodox employees of Nailotex that the wives all knew of these transgressions and were not perturbed at all. Thus, my suggestion of saving Zanny was not without foundation.
What did surprise me was that Edith and Hessu did not need much persuasion to accept our offer. At the end of his school year, Zanny came to live with us and shared Kenny’s room which had 2 beds. We enrolled him at YUHS which was located a few miles from our home at Bedford and Church Avenues. In the 4 years that he lived with us he was treated no differently than our own sons; with love and guidance. I remember sitting him and Kenny down in our living room and speaking to them in very open and frank terms regarding sex. He told me that his father had never broached that subject with him. He felt very relieved after our talk and a bond developed between us which has lasted to this day.
From the day he entered our house he found in me a confidante who listened attentively to his thoughts and sometimes his problems. At no time would I divulge to his parents or to anyone else what he confided in me.
After he graduated from YUHS, Hessu enrolled him in Philadelphia Textile Institute to pursue studies to acquire a degree in textile engineering without ascertaining whether Zanny desired that route. As expected, he dropped out of school after 2 or 3 years and returned to Brazil to work for Nailotex. Despite his aversion to the academic phase of the textile business, he has always been related to that trade as a means of making a living for his family and always enjoyed his choice of occupation.
While Edith was in her terminal stage of cancer, he decided to expedite his marriage to Eva Sojcher from Los Angeles so that his mother could attend the first wedding of a child. They have two wonderful children, Jennifer and Joel; the former’s career being in criminal forensics and Joel enjoying a successful profession in law. We became very fond of Eva’s mother, Yoli, who has been our very close and dear friend to this day.
Years later, when he was living in Miami Beach, his present home, he was elected to the presidency of the Miami Beach Academy, an Orthodox day school. He asked me to attend his first officiating at a board of directors meeting. I was completely surprised and a bit embarrassed when his opening remark was as follows: “Many of you know Max Prager who is sitting with us today but none of you are aware that I consider him as a father.” I am sure that if either one of his parents were alive at the time, he would not have made that statement.
Unfortunately, Edith had passed away from cancer several years prior to this event and Hessu drove his car into Biscayne Bay and died instantly about 3 or 4 years after Edith’s demise. He had a problem of blackouts previously and the cause of his accident was probably attributed to this ailment. Three years ago, in June 2001, Zanny was elected president of Beth Israel Congregation in Miami Beach and on February 15, 2004 was honored at the annual dinner of this institution. The ad inserted in the journal by Hilda and me read: “To our third “son” Alex Rosner.” We both have been as proud of him as we are of Kenneth and Dennis.
About a year or two after my coming to Brazil, as I was working at Nailotex, I found it necessary to question Edith about some phase of the cost of lingerie production. As she was not in her office, I went to the showroom and sure enough she was showing the collection to the lingerie merchandise manager of Sears Roebuck. The woman was quite attractive and appeared to be in early forties, a bit older than I. Edith introduced me to Anita de Rosa and after a little chit-chat, I left and returned to my office.
It seems that Edith had a motive in introducing me to her; whether it was for my sake in making my social life better while being in Brazil or, perhaps, increasing the sales to Sears. One must realize that in the States, married and single salesmen in the garment industry were encouraged to entertain out-of-town buyers by taking them to dinner, shows and in some instances, sexual relations.
A few days after meeting Sra. de Rosa, Edith clued me in to Anita’s past life. She had married and divorced three men, each of whom was a diplomat in Spain, Portugal and Brazil, respectively. Edith, although not knowing Anita’s birthplace or her religion, suspected that she was a Hungarian Jewess; Mrs. de Rosa never divulged her true lineage. Edith suggested my making a date with her which I did and she was well aware of my marital status.
For the next 8 or 9 years, comprising 16 or 18 trips, I entertained her taking her to dinner, the cinema, shows and concerts, During one carnival season, we met in Rio and went in the evening to Sacha’s, the most prestigious night club in Brazil. As we were sitting and enjoying our drinks, we both noticed Lana Turner, Van Heflin and other Hollywood stars dancing. Anita, not being very bashful, suggested that I ask Miss Turner for a dance. Believe it or not, I did just that and Lana could not have been more gracious by accepting.
In all that time, she never invited me to her apartment, except for one Sunday afternoon when she called me at the hotel and informed me that she wasn’t feeling well and desired my company. When I arrived at her apartment building, I saw an exquisite and beautiful edifice that contained apartments that only the very wealthy could afford to purchase.
Her apartment resembled a Hollywood set of a home of the extreme rich. I imagine that each divorce left her quite wealthy. While being with her for the first time in that close environment, I anticipated that she would attempt to seduce me in either being dressed provocatively or being undressed to some degree. When I saw her lying in bed in a sick state, I knew that she honestly wanted a friend to be with her and not even thinking of sex. She liked me as a friend and enjoyed a platonic relationship; perhaps, it was due to the fact that she knew that I was happily married and not looking for a sexual partner. When I state: “I never had sex with that woman” a la Clinton, I really mean it.
One day, she advised me that she was coming to the US on business and told me that she was going to stay at the Biltmore Hotel. When she arrived, she called me and we made a date for dinner for the three of us, Hilda included. We had a most enjoyable evening together, Hilda being very impressed with her looks, brains and very vibrant personality. In fact, Hilda liked her so much that she graciously invited Anita to dinner at our home, to meet our sons. She, of course, accepted and we again enjoyed each other’s company. My desire was to end our platonic relationship fearing that, perhaps, it would lead to events that I would regret. She once told me that I should move with my family toBrazil and if I did so she and I together could make a fortune.
After she met my family and my not accepting her suggestion that I relocate, she also decided to put an end to our dating and although I would see her at Nailotex, we remained friendly but never dated again. Several Years later, Lulu Moskovits mailed me an article from “La Manchete”, the “Saturday Evening Post” of Brazil, which related the murder of Anita by her lawyer who wanted to steal her apartment.
It seems that the two of them were on a car trip on business between Sao Paulo and Santos and that she was slain and her body disposed of somewhere between the two cities. He was convicted for some offense; but not for murder since they never discovered her body. He served 18 months and was released.
Finally, in 1955, my beloved Dodgers whom I rooted for in Ebbetts Field since the age of 8 won its first World Series. This team had participated in 2 previous attempts at winning this prestigious honor in 1916 and 1920. In the former year, the Boston Red Sox defeated the Dodgers 4 games to 1. Babe Ruth pitched the second game going 14 innings winning the game 2-1; he batted 5 times without getting a hit. The Brooklyn pitcher, Smith, pitched the entire game with an earned run average of 1.35. Today, if a pitcher goes 8 innings in a game it is considered an exemplary performance. The more famous names on the Dodger roster were; Zach Wheat of, Jake Daubert 1b, Casey Stengel of, Chief Meyers c, Fred Merkle 1b, Rube Marquard p, Nap Rucker p. and Wilburt Robinson mgr. Their second loss in 1920 was to the Cleveland Indians 5 games to 2. Two additional names appeared in this Series, Burleigh Grimes p, and Otto Miller c.
After losses to the Yankees in 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953, my team finally reached nirvana beating their city rivals 4 games to 3. The Dodger starting lineup included Gil Hodges 1b, Junior Gilliam 2b, Jackie Robinson 3b, Peewee Reese ss, Carl Furillo rf, Duke Snider cf, Sandy Amoros lf, Roy Campanella c, and Walt Alston mgr. The pitchers were Carl Erskine, Don Newcombe, Johnny Podres, Clem Labine, Roger Craig, Billy Loes and several less known members of the bull pen. Johnny Podres won 2 games with an earned run average of 1.00.