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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                     ELLIOTT GOLDBERG

INTERVIEWER:                 SHIRLEY BRICKMAN

DATE:                                APRIL 12, 2007

LOCATION:                        ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Transcript (PDF)

 

BIOGRAPHY: 

Elliott’s father, Joseph Goldberg, emigrated from Poland, Russia, to New York City where he worked as a tailor.  Elliott’s mother, Sarah Levitt Goldberg, was born in Covington, Kentucky.  Joseph and Sarah met in New York City. Joseph moved to Atlanta to open a grocery business on Mangum Street. Sara’s uncle Jacob Boss brought her to Atlanta where he operated a grocery store on Central Avenue. Joseph and Sarah reunited in Atlanta and married. The couple lived in an apartment behind their store on Mangum Street.

Elliott was born in Atlanta on June 28, 1919. He had five siblings, all older: Julia Butler, Bertha Cohen, Eva Marlin, Harry Goldberg, and Irving Goldberg.  Elliott’s father opened a wholesale grain business on Decatur Street and his family moved to a 2-bedroom house on Logan Street.

When an Atlantic Ice and Coal Truck crashed into the Decatur Street store, the building caved in. Since there was no insurance, the store on Decatur Street was closed and Elliott’s father Joseph joined his brother-in-law Abe Levitt, owner of Capitol Fish, in the fish business. Elliott’s family moved to Capitol Avenue when he was 5 years old. After Elliott’s father had a heart attack, his mother Sarah and her children continued to operate the fish store.

When Elliott was about 17 or 18 years old, the family moved to a large apartment on Washington Terrace.

Elliott attended Fair Street Elementary School, Hoke Smith Junior High School, and Commercial High School on Pryor Street—where he learned bookkeeping.

Elliott’s family were members of Ahavath Achim on Capitol Avenue, as were his grandparents. Elliott attended Hebrew School daily after public school, attended Sunday School, and had his bar mitzvah at Ahavath Achim Synagogue after completing his bar mitzvah lessons with Sam Geffen.

Elliott’s first job was as a bookkeeper for Primrose Laundry on Edgewood Avenue which was owned by Sidney Goldstein—now Sidney Cavalier. On Saturdays, he had jobs at a supermarket owned by Paul and Mary Tenenbaum, and at a grocery store owned by Simon Parks.

When Elliott was 18, he started work at Davison-Paxon—now Macy’s—as a salesman in the Men’s Department and worked there for two years.

In 1941, Elliott enlisted in the United States Army. He served as a First Lieutenant in Belgium, France, and Germany. His unit liberated several concentration camps in Germany. He remained in the Army until 1946. After leaving the Army, he joined his brother Irving in a chicken business started by Irving called “Double Breasted Fryers.”  He worked in the chicken business for 15 years.

After his war service, Elliott married his wife Sarah in a ceremony at Ahavath Achim Synagogue  on 10th Street. Elliott and Sarah first lived in an efficiency apartment on Greenwood Avenue. After his son Edward was born, they moved to Ponce de Leon Avenue, and a few years later his daughter Marsha Goldberg Brown was born. Elliott’s children attended Morningside Elementary School and Grady High School.

Elliott eventually left the chicken business and began a career in real estate, first selling homes and later commercial property. Elliott retired and pursued volunteer activities with the Jewish War Veterans, helped with blood drives at Ahavath Achim Synagogue, and helped run bingo games.

Scope of Interview:

Elliott discusses his parent’s origins. He says his father Joseph Goldberg was an immigrant from Poland—in an area sometimes under Russian rule—who landed in New York City where he worked as a tailor. He talks about how his mother Sarah Levitt Goldberg was born in Covington, Kentucky but was living in New York City when she and his father Joseph first met. He relates how Joseph and Sarah each moved to Atlanta where they became reacquainted and married.

Elliott tells how his father Joseph earned a living in Atlanta. Joseph first opened a grocery store on Mangum Street, then a wholesale grain business on Decatur Street. Elliott remembers that when he was 5 years old, an Atlantic Ice and Coal Truck crashed into the Decatur Street store, the building caved in, and the store was closed. Joseph then worked in a fish business on Capitol Avenue until he had a heart attack. Elliott tells how his mother then operated the business.

Elliott discusses his childhood in Atlanta with his three sisters—Julia Butler, Bertha Cohen, and Eva Marlin—and his brothers Harry and Irving. He talks about the family’s black maid Jesse. He remembers living ion an integrated neighborhood on Logan Street. He recalls moving to Capitol Avenue when he was five years old. Elliott talks about attending Fair Street Elementary School, Hokesmith Junior High School, and Commercial High School. For fun, he played football in the streets, went to the library on Capital Avenue, went to the movies, played basketball at Young Judea—a club for Conservative Jews—and joined his family for car rides out to the country on Rock Springs Road and Johnson Road. Elliott tells how his wife-to-be Sarah worked in her father’s store, Capitol Bakery, and the many cinnamon rolls he bought there as a pretext to see her.  Elliott discusses attending Hebrew School and Sunday School at Ahavath Achim Synagogue where he had his bar mitzvah. He explains how only German Jews were allowed to be members of The Temple in Atlanta.

Elliott tells about his first jobs—at Primrose Laundry working as a bookkeeper, at a supermarket, and at a grocery store. He tells about starting work at 18 as a salesman at Davison-Paxon—now Macy’s. Elliott tells about his war experience—serving in the Army from 1941 to 1946 in Belgium, France, and Germany. He recalls the shock of liberating concentration camps in Germany and the antisemitism of his battalion commander and company commander.

Elliott describes returning to Atlanta after the war, attending dances at the Jewish Educational Alliance, and marrying his wife Sarah. He talks about starting a career in real estate. Elliott discusses living on Ponce de Leon Avenue and his children Edward and Marsha attending Morningside Elementary School and Grady High School. Elliott talks about his children’s accomplishments and his five grandchildren. He discusses retiring. He tells about Jewish War Veterans meetings and his volunteer activities in blood drives and bingo games at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital.

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