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Jewish Research and Education - Cuba Family Archives, Finding Aids

Dates:  1899-2006

Creator:  Mendel Romm

Summary/Abstract:  A native Atlantan, Mendel Romm was active in the Jewish community and a successful businessman. His papers include correspondence, certificates, newspaper clippings, photographs, and textiles.

Quantity/Physical Description: .2 linear feet

Language(s):  English

Repository:  The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Restrictions on Access:  There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Restrictions on Use:  Copyright restrictions may apply.  Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright.  Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation:  Box #, Folder #, Mss 275, Mendel Romm Family Papers, The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Separated Material:  Photographs removed to visual arts collection and textiles removed to textile collection.

Processed by:  Jeremy Katz (December, 2013)

Arrangement:  The papers are arranged in alphabetical order by subject and chronologically within each file.

Biographical/Historical Note:  Born on January 11th, 1929, four days before the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., and only five blocks away, Mendel Romm Jr. entered an Atlanta that was far from the diverse metropolitan city we know today. Mendel loved his city and used to argue with a friend from Birmingham over which city was larger. In an oral history conducted by the Breman Museum, Mendel reminisced, “I got in a big fight with a fellow by the name of Pizitz from Birmingham. Pizitz was a big department store similar to Rich’s and my mother’s uncle used to bring him to the baseball games to see Atlanta play Birmingham and we got into a fight as to which was bigger Birmingham or Atlanta. This was in the middle thirties and it was a drag out fight and I’m very embarrassed to say, he was right, Birmingham was bigger than Atlanta.” Unfortunately, this fight would not be the first scruff for young Mendel. When he was about ten years old, he went out to play and one of his friends threw rocks at him and yelled, “We’re not playing with you, you’re a Jew.” Mendel promptly ran to his mother who was at home playing cards with friends. She simply told him, “Go down and fight your own battles.” Mendel went back and stood up to them and never had any more trouble. Mendel attended Highland Elementary School, then Bass Junior High and Boys’ High School. He excelled in school and became active in many extracurricular organizations including the A.Z.A. youth division of B’nai B’rith and the Boy Scouts of America. He graduated from the University of Georgia in June of 1950, which also marked the outbreak of the Korean War. Sure enough, a week after graduation Mendel was called up to serve in the United States Army as a second lieutenant. Since he studied armored combat in ROTC at UGA, Mendel was assigned to an armored infantry division and entered training at Fort Benning in Georgia. He was then stationed in Mannheim, Germany, where he frequently patrolled the Fulda Gap. Mendel recalled, “We used to fire into mountains; the same mountains that the Russians were firing into on the other side. We always worried that one of us could make a mistake and have an elevated weapon and fire over the mountain. They could do it to us and start the war.” When Mendel returned home after two years in the service, he went into the insurance business with his father who was the chief underwriter for bonds for the entire southeast division of the United State Fidelity and Guaranty Company (USF&G). Mendel used his connections in the insurance business to become involved in real estate. He built low-income apartments that were intended to provide the African-American community with a higher standard of living. He also built one of the first condominium buildings in Atlanta. When the energy crisis of 1973 hit, Mendel refused to raise the price of rent on his tenants to cover the added gas prices and he lost everything.


One of Mendel’s favorite late-in-life ventures was chauffeuring nationally recognized authors when they came to Atlanta on book tours. His home library held a treasure trove of autographed books that he accumulated while on the job. While riding with the authors Mendel spoke about the history of Atlanta, a subject dear to his heart. This passion for history led Mendel to volunteer in the Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History at the Breman Museum. Mendel spent years reviewing and correcting names, streets, and places misspelled by the transcribers of The Breman’s vast oral history collection. Archivist emeritus and close friend of Mendel, Sandra Berman, speaks of his time at the museum, “Mendel’s arrival once or twice a week always brightened my day. His anecdotal knowledge of Atlanta Jewish history added much to my understanding of the past.”

Mendel passed away on November 18th

, 2013. He will be dearly missed by the entire Atlanta community. He is survived by his wife of over 60 years, Anta Pitlick Romm, his children, Lisa Kempler, Dr. Tracey Romm and his wife Dr. Aviva Romm, Amy Arogeti and her husband Robert Arogeti, eleven grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

 

 

Scope and Content

Researchers studying the Mendel Romm Family Papers will gain insight into Jewish life in Atlanta during the 20

th

century. The papers are arranged in alphabetical order by subject and chronologically within each file.

Collection Inventory

Box File Description Date
1 1 A.Z.A (Aleph Zadik Aleph) 1945, 1947
2 Baby book – Mendel Romm 1929
3 Correspondence 1938-2007
4 Don’t Worry Club 1928
5 Family history 1899-1925
6 Georgia history 1989-1992
7 Letterhead – Romm Insurance Agency Undated
8 Marriage certificate & invitation – Mendel Romm Sr. and Tootsie Goldman 1924
9 Newspaper clippings (Ben Massell Sr. tribute) 1970-2006
10 Progressive Club – play “The Living Link” by Rebecca Bloom Undated
11 War bond certificates 1943
12 Washington Seminary diploma Anta Miriam Pitlick 1951


Posted in: Finding aids

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