During this period, our social life primarily revolved around the Lupkins and the Walkers. Both of our friends lived a few blocks from our home. Very often on Saturday nights, we met at each of our homes and spent a most enjoyable evening; the men singing cantorial songs and the women listening and applauding. After the “concert”, we partook of a “melava malka” (a meal celebrating the leaving of the Queen Sabbath). The hostess would feed us with bagels and lox, tuna and egg salads, cake and coffee.
We still to the present day are very close friends communicating with each other by phone once or twice a week. It is hard to comprehend that after 53 years we never had a falling out and respected each other’s opinions; be it political or religious. We took joint trips to Israel, Europe and other places over the years. Even though years later, the Lupkins moved to Great Neck to be near their children, we travel several times a year to have lunch with them. Of course, we all attend each other’s simchas as we are at least as close as blood relatives.
When we purchased a condominium in Miami Beach in 1975, I immediately contacted my friend Jack Walker to advise him of my purchase so that he too could take advantage of a good buy and, more importantly, have a close friend near us in our winter home. Without a moment’s hesitation, Jack told me to place a deposit on the apartment immediately below us and I complied with his request. The proximity of our two families in the winter cemented our friendship even more.
In addition to the above, we enjoyed the company of the Judds. Birdie and Bob would invite us for the breaking of the Yom Kippur fast for many years until they moved to Silver Spring, Md. to be close to their daughter Lenore and son-in-law Chuck. Also, we visited each other quite often and took occasional trips together. We loved going to the opera with Fay and Dave Hammerman. Dave was the president of Detecto Scales and hired Kenny as a shipping clerk for one summer while in college.
When the Korean War broke out in 1950, the Moskovits family after the experience of fleeing from Europe in 1940 became justifiably alarmed and decided to take up residence in Brazil in 1952. Having been in the textile business in the U.S., they formed Nailotex S.A. in Sao Paulo. Brazil not being at that time as industrially advanced as the U.S., it was necessary for a textile company to go the “vertical setup” route.
Nailotex would purchase nylon thread from the U.S., and produce woven textiles on its weaving looms called tecelagem in Portuguese. On their knitting machines, knit goods were produced called malharia. Both the woven and knit goods were dyed and finished in its dye house. The tecelagem were sold to mfrs. of woven items. The malharia were used by Nailotex for the manufacture of lingerie, children’s clothing, bathing suits and brassieres
Although Nailotex engaged an accounting firm to prepare its taxes and financial statements, Joel Rosner needed someone who was proficient in cost accounting in order to price the spring and fall lines before going into production. He, therefore in January of 1955, asked me if I would be interested in coming to Brazil twice a year to accomplish his needs. I didn’t need too much persuasion to accept his offer. The thought of visiting a country that I had never been to sealed the deal. Also, the compensation was very attractive.
Thus, on Jan. 8, 1955 I made my first trip to Brazil and my last trip was in 1973 when Nailotex was sold. I can still vividly recall that first trip. The commercial air lines at that time were still propeller driven. Since all my travel expenses were reimbursed to me by Nailotex, I booked a first class reservation with Braniff Airways. Since the trip took 24 hours, two sleeping berths were available on the plane for an additional $100.00 for each. I didn’t reserve a berth desiring instead to pocket the money. Never traveling first class, I was thrown into a new world of affluence and comfort. The quality and quantity of the liquor and wines were indescribable. Unfortunately, my adherence to the kosher laws did not allow me to partake of the delicious and expensive fare that was tendered to the first class passengers. However, there was enough for me to eat, especially the varied desserts.
The itinerary of my first trip was as follows: I boarded the plane at Idlewild Airport- now known as Kennedy- on a Sunday afternoon and the first stop was Washington, DC. After a short lay-over, we proceeded to Miami: again a short stay and left for Panama where we landed after midnight. We remained there for about an hour and flew to Lima, Peru where we arrived in the morning. Since we had a lay-over for about 2 hours, I shopped in the airport for a gift for Hilda. Peru was famous for silver and gold jewelry so I purchased a gold set of bracelets to give to my woman.
Incidentally, on each of my many trips to Brazil I always came home with a gift of jewelry for my wife. Hilda still has all these gifts except for 2 rings containing semi-precious stones which were mined in Brazil. These rings were stolen years later on one of our vacations at the Homowack Hotel in the Catskills.
Leaving Peru, the plane headed for Rio de Janeiro and after an hour or so I arrived at my final destination, Sao Paulo. Of course, after going through customs, Joel was waiting for me to take me to the Excelsior Hotel on Avenida Iparanga. After staying there for my first 3 or 4 trips, I decided to stay at the Jaragua Hotel which was more to my liking and where I always stayed on my subsequent visits. The entire trip took 24 hours.
When jet planes arrived, Braniff went out of business, and I traveled on my future travels with either Pan American Airways or the Brazilian airline, Varig Airlines. On one of my trips with Pan American, I was seated across the aisle from Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and his new bride, Happy, who were going on their honey- moon to a ranch in Brazil. They both spoke to me quite a bit and couldn’t have been more gracious.
I always took along a motion picture camera and snapped views of all picturesque scenes that came before my eyes while in the plane. Flying over snow-capped peaks of the Andes was awe inspiring. You felt that you were able to touch the mountains since you were that close. Also, flying over Lake Titicaca, which is on the Peru-Bolivia border and is the highest lake in the world, created an unforgettable impression on me. Then coming into Rio and viewing the Corcovado-statue of Christ- and Sugar Loaf Mt. in the harbor was a magnificent scene.
When I arrived at the Nailotex plant, I discovered an old building in need of repairs. I did realize that in their haste to flee to Brazil, the Moskovits family did not have the leisure of time in selecting a newer edifice. After a period of 2 or 3 years, a large piece of land was purchased and construction started on a much larger factory with modern features and after a year or so, the company relocated to its new home.
After inspecting the various components of the plant and interviewing the heads of departments and several of the more important employees, I was able to familiarize myself with all the functions performed by each and every department. This phase of my introduction lasted for about 2 or 3 days after which I began the work for which I was engaged.
My first task was to inspect the weaving and knitting machines to ascertain the time spent to produce each item of piece goods; also the type and quantity of yarn needed. Then I visited the dye house to determine the time spent in dying and finishing these goods and the cost of raw materials. The allotted time of production established the direct cost of labor of each item and together with the material cost produced the direct cost of each item of piece goods.
The next step in my cost accounting procedure was the most difficult. Since the sewing plant had over 40 or 50 items in their proposed line, it was a gigantic task in determining the anticipated selling price of each style. Again, each item had to be evaluated as to sewing time and the quantity of yards of piece goods and trimmings to arrive at the direct cost of each and every style in the line. I actually stood at the sewing machine and timed the operations. Joel, being a textile engineer in Europe was an invaluable help; without him, I could have stayed home.
What I required next was the indirect cost of every item produced. Analyzing all the indirect expenses; i.e. factory, selling and administrative costs enabled me to establish the indirect cost of each item depending on time of production. After my figures were complete, Joel and I would sit at his home, usually on a Sunday and discuss every item of piece goods and every style to determine if it was feasible for them to go into production and also set the selling price if they were included in the line. This procedure was done twice a year, in February and in August.
My first trip to Brazil was on Aug. 1, 1955. At that time, one had to obtain a temporary visa to enter that country. I would go to Rockefeller Center where the Brazilian Consul was located and receive my visa. This procedure lasted for one more trip in Feb. 1956 and then I no longer needed a visa.
In February, Christians throughout the world celebrated the holiday of Lent, a period of penitential preparation for Easter. Western churches once provided for a 40-day fast (excluding Sundays), in imitation of Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness; one meal a day was allowed in the evening, and meat, fish, eggs, and butter were forbidden. These rules have gradually been relaxed, and only Ash Wednesday-the first day of Lent in Western Christianity, when the penitents traditionally have their foreheads marked with ashes and Good Friday are now kept as Lenten fast days. Rules of fasting are stricter in Eastern Churches.
The carnival pageant is held in some Roman Catholic regions. The most famous and probably the most exuberant carnival is that of Rio de Janeiro, which is celebrated with masked balls, costumes, and parades. The first day of the carnival season varies with local traditions, but carnival ends on Shrove Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent. In Rio, carnival lasted for 3 days when the entire city, as well as others in Brazil, shut down and celebrated. It is a one-day event in France called Mardi Gras “Fat Tuesday”, but in the U.S. it lasts several days in New Orleans, where it is also marked by parades, street celebrations, and extravagant costumes.
You can just imagine my reaction to encountering on my first trip to Brazil the exciting and unforgettable event of carnival. Although I was living and working in Sao Paulo, I made sure not to miss an experience which was far more enjoyable than I had anticipated. The air trip from Sao Paulo to Rio was a little less than an hour. I was counseled by some members of the Moskovits family as to where to stay in Rio; they suggested the Hotel Gloria which faced the Bay, the Corcovado and Sugar Loaf. Whenever Hilda joined me, we always stayed at the Gloria when we came to Rio.
The city of San Paulo with a population of close to 17 million is located 30 miles from its Atlantic port of Santos. Founded by Portuguese Jesuits in 1554, it became a base for exploration in the 17th century and a city in 1711. In 1822 it was the scene of the declaration of Brazilian independence by Emperor Pedro I. It developed rapidly from the late 19th century. It is the foremost industrial center in Latin America, producing steel, motor vehicles, machine tools, and a wide range of consumer goods, including textiles and appliances. It is also Brazil’s largest city, an important cultural and publishing center, and one of the most populous cities in the western hemisphere.
Rio de Janeiro whose population is over 5 million is a port located on the Atlantic in southeastern Brazil. The site was discovered by the Portuguese in the early 16th century and became important in the 18th century as an outlet for mineral exports from gold and diamond mines. Located on one of the largest harbors in the world and known for its scenic views, it was the capital of Brazil from 1822 to 1960, when the national capital was moved to Brasilia in the interior which had practically no population.
Rio is the country’s second-largest manufacturing center after Sao Paulo. Major industries include metallurgy and food processing. Noted for its wide streets, public buildings, beaches, and public parks and gardens, it is a leading tourist and resort center, especially the Copacabana beach which is a district of Rio. The beach occupies a narrow strip of land between the mountains and the sea. It is famous for its magnificent 2.5 mile curved beach along the entrance to Guanabara Bay. Hotels, nightclubs and restaurants line the waterfront.
Although many of the Brazilian cities celebrate carnival with dancing in the streets and Balls at hotels, Rio has the largest, longest in duration and loudest; Sao Paulo does not engage in any festivities. As a religious Jew, I could not comprehend how a so-called event with religious connotations could display the amount of sexual promiscuity and moral decadence that I witnessed. In fact, when I returned home, I told Hilda that I had been to Sodom and Gemorrah. In my 37 years of life I had never seen so much debauchery. The women, mostly Negroes, danced in the streets almost naked; an unusually great number of transvestites accompanied them.
The Balls held at the Gloria Hotel and other hotels were populated by men and women, mostly white, engaged in excessive drinking of liquor and sexual fondling. Men would spray the women with a gas that they called “ether” which was supposed to act as an aphrodisiac.