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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                      MEYER BALSER

INTERVIEWER:                 SHIRLEY BRICKMAN

LOCATION:                        ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                                 MARCH 11, 1990

Transcript (PDF)

Biography:

Meyer Balser was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1908 to Joseph Balser and Esther Mollie Seligman Balser.  He was one of seven children.  He and all of his siblings were born in the United States.  His parents were born in Russia.  His father and mother immigrated to the United States in the 1890s.  They met and married in the United States.  His family belonged to the Ahavath Achim Orthodox congregation.  His father owned a grocery store in Atlanta.  Meyer earned money selling newspapers as a youth during World War I.  Meyer later worked as a traveling salesman before becoming a successful insurance salesman.  He married Roslyn Stone in 1930.  They have three children and several grandchildren. 

Scope:

Meyer Balser talks about growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, during the Great Depression.  He mentions the need to work several jobs.  He talks about working three jobs.  He describes Atlanta streets and neighborhoods during the 1930s.  He recalls taking the streetcar while on dates.  He talks about Rich’s Department Store issuing scrip during the Depression.  He describes it as a cornerstone of the community and city.  He talks about buying his first suit at Pollock & Berg and remembers wearing knickers.  He talks about his brothers being bar mitzvahed.  He reflects on not being interested in his bar mitzvah because he wanted to work instead. 

He talks about his father working six days a week and his mother raising seven children.  He talks about his family growing up and the need for togetherness.  He remembers celebrating Jewish holidays as a community.  He mentions that his mother’s hamantashen was the best in the world.  He describes himself as a lover.  He talks about meeting his wife and his love for her.  He discusses dating and their marriage of more than 60 years.

Meyer talks about the need for community charity.  He discusses the importance of giving to the Jewish community and being involved in organizations.  He discusses leaders in the Jewish community who have influenced him the most and who have helped build a strong community.  He talks about the many Jewish organizations and charities that began during the 1930s to help the earliest immigrants.  He recalls Atlanta notable families who had contributed to these organizations. 

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