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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                ELINOR ANGEL BREMAN (1922 -   )

INTERVIEWER:             RAY ANN KREMER

DATE:                           NOVEMBER 2, 1998

LOCATION:                   ATLANTA, GEORGIA

ID#:                              10096

NUMBER OF PAGES:     38

Transcript (PDF)

HIGHLIGHTS/EXCERPTS:

“The Ballyhoo blew me away, because Chattanooga was a very small conservative town.  I came to Atlanta . . . it was a big city back then . . . I was 14 . . . Things were much different then.  Here I come to this big city, Atlanta . . . big social life and college boys.  I had never been around college boys . . . They wore tails to the Top Hat parties, and had all kinds of cars . . . I saw Jewish people with Christmas trees in their house, just like the play The Last Ballyhoo.  Atlanta was exactly like that.”  3, 4

About starting her own art agency:

“. . . [the High Museum] had a little gallery called the ‘BBB.’  It was called ‘Browse, Borrow or Buy.’  You could rent paintings by local artists and take them out.  I used to work there and got very interested in the young artists who would bring their work there.  One day, one of the artists said to me, ‘We need somebody like you to represent us.  Would you help us sell our paintings?’ I said, ‘Yes, I'd love to do that.’  . . . We formed a little art agency, and we took my first two letters of both names and called it the ‘Elro Agency of Art.’  They just came in droves.  I screened their work, and I had about 38 artists in the various fields of art, in painting, sculpture, even plants . . . murals.  I made little slides of all their work, and I had a little projector thing that I would carry around.  I called on different motels . . . We went to see John Portman, before John Portman was who he is now.  He said, ‘You've got a great idea.’  I said, ‘I want to work with the architects and interior designers, pull the artists in the middle, and make it a threesome where they plan a building.  They're doing that now, but back then . . . John Portman said, ‘I've got the same idea, but we buy our art from New York.’  He said, ‘Atlanta is just . . . it's too soon. Atlanta is not ready for what you are trying to do, but it's a good idea.’  I had fun and didn't make any money with it.  It did fizzle out.  My house was always full of a lot of artists, and they would lend me paintings . . . That was an interesting part of my life.”  8, 9

“I had three sons growing up, and I had a Brownie troop, and I was driving carpools.  The usual Jewish housewife things. \Every Saturday night we would go to the Standard Club, which was at that time on Ponce de Leon [Avenue].  It is now a Masonic Temple.  All my crowd would get dressed up in their one cocktail dress.  We would go to the Standard Club and have a real good time and come home with a hangover the next morning to drive the Sunday school carpools.  This was right after [World War II].  It was a rebuilding with the social life of the communities, of the people, of the men who had been away.  There had a lot of traumas.  We had to all regroup and reorganize.  There wasn’t extravagant a lot of money among the group.  We were all very comfortable, lived in nice houses.”   10

About Ballyhoo:

“Ballyhoo was really a very exciting thing for everybody that came.  The thing was that people that would come to all three of them would know each other.  This is where . . . it was like a coming out party. The girls would get to meet nice Jewish boys, and some of them married . . . You met boys all from the South . . . It was all the Southern group.  I still run into people that [say], ‘You were at the Ballyhoo.’  It was a big social event.  They would have tea dances . . . A tea dance was from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and all the girls had little cards with little pencils on them.  The boys would come and put their name on a dance.  They would make an appointment for a dance with you.  You would have maybe ten names on there, and there was a little pencil hanging on it. You would wear it on your wrist, and each boy would come and get you to dance . . . that was fun . . . This was a very sophisticated world to me . . . My two girlfriends . . . I had one evening dress.  These other two girls had stacks of them, because they could afford them.  One of them had a father in the Vogue dress shop in Chattanooga, so she had lots of clothes.  She would lend me a lot of her clothes.  We would switch them around.” 13, 14

On antisemitism:

“I knew that the [Piedmont] Driving Club was restricted.  In fact, when I was a single woman . . . for 12-1/2 years, I dated some non-Jewish men.  One of them took me to the Driving Club one night for dinner.  He didn't tell me he was taking me there.  He asked me out again, and he said we were going to the Driving Club.  I said, ‘I'm not going to the Driving Club.’  This was just a few years ago.  He said, ‘Why not?’ I said, ‘Because they don't really want Jewish people there, and I'm not comfortable there.’  Even Harry Norman Realtors, who I worked for, stopped having his Christmas parties at the Cherokee [Town and Country] Club as he had more Jewish agents.  They just weren't happy about it.”  15

About writing a book on the real estate profession:

“It took me four years to write 122 pages, because I kept changing, and I didn't have that much time . . . I sent it to eight publishers and got back a lot of “thank you but no thank yous.”  They didn't think there was a big enough audience.  I knew that in Atlanta alone at that time we had 5,600 real estate agents, just in Atlanta.  I knew what the National Association of Realtors had all over the country.  I just got so frustrated with the whole thing . . . that I got a book on self-publishing . . . I had found an editor that would edit the book, because there are certain things that unless you are really [trained] . . . Even the fine writers have to have editors . . . It cost me $6,000 to do it, and I got back about $4,000.  I didn't go in it for the money. I had something to say, and I just was sure I was going to do it.  It was fun putting it all together.  I self-published it, and I promoted it.  In the heat of the summer, I loaded my car . . .   I had flyers made with order blanks and all that.  I went to Borders Bookstore. I had heard that the manager there loved local writers . . . [I] talked him into a book signing . . . I did a closing on it and opened my calendar.  I said, ‘Now what day do you want me to do a book signing.’  He took his calendar out, and he gave me a book signing.  That day we sold 80 copies, which was [unusual].  That's a lot of books to sell he said.  He said he was real excited about that . . . I took them all over to the big brokers in Atlanta.  It was a complimentary copy, an advance copy.  Through that it got out among the real estate agents.  I have about five left now.”  27, 28

On the various phases of her life:

“In 1972, I had been a Jewish housewife.  I did not know I could earn a living.  It was necessary to earn a living, so I earned a living. I was lucky that I was in the right field, that I just sort of fit into it.  When I became independent enough . . . [I] sort of found myself all over again. I became another person.  I have had so many phases in my life.”  29, 30

On her divorce, her career in real estate and personal growth:

“It was a sink or swim kind of thing.  It took three or four years of thinking about it before I did it . . . [but] I was professional, and I could take care of myself . . . I was single 12-1/2 years during that period.  I dated, and I traveled . . . I grew a lot. I grew up and found out a lot about myself I didn't know I could do, like taking a trip by yourself to Bangkok [Thailand] . . . I flew to Bangkok all by myself . . . It was very exciting. I had a guide over there, and then I got on a cruise ship.  I did it.  I went to Alaska by myself.  The first trip I took was to Hawaii by myself . . . anything you have to do, if it scares you to death, if you go ahead and do it, the next time you do it, it's not so scary.  I found that out.”  32

“My real estate friends . . . I miss the camaraderie and the challenge of the real estate profession.  I do not miss the business.  I have been out of it since 1993, but it was so exciting and so challenging.  The adrenaline flows a lot, and you have a lot of wonderful friends because you're all going through the same thing together.” 34

BIOGRAPHY

Elinor Angel Breman was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1922, a small conservative Southern town.  Her grandparents were from Russia and Poland.  Her father (Philip Isaac Angel) was from Knoxville, Tennessee and her mother (Sadye Rosenblum Angel) was from Brooklyn, New York.  Her father was in the printing business.  She has two sisters: Jeanne [Weil] and Celie [Helman].   Her family belonged to the Ochs Memorial Temple, a Reform congregation.  Her parents were active in the synagogue: her mother in the Sisterhood and her father was president. She grew up during the Great Depression and wanted to be a journalist.

Elinor participated in Ballyhoo in Atlanta and met her future husband, Herbert Jerome (Herb) Rosenberg, Jr. at one of the parties.  They were married when she was 18.  They had three children:  Herbert Jerome (Jerry) (III), Philip, and John.  Herbert Jr. served in the Navy during World War II as a Lt. Colonel, during which time he protected convoys in the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean.

Elinor participated in several Jewish community organizations such as the National Council of Jewish Women and the Service Guild.  She became interested in art and theater and eventually formed her own art agency, Elro Agency of Art, which represented the work of local artists.  Through this work she met and befriended many artists of all types and participated in the wider art community in Atlanta.  She also worked with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and with the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum during its formative years.

Elinor entered the real estate profession in 1972 and became a successful real estate agent, eventually writing a book about her experiences.  After her divorce in 1981 from Herb she remained single for 12-1/2 years until she married M. William (Bill) Breman, who had recently lost his wife, Sylvia Goldstein Breman, to illness.  Bill Breman died in 2000 at age of 92.  Elinor remains deeply involved with the Breman Museum.

SCOPE OF INTERVIEW

Elinor discusses her childhood in Chattanooga, Tennessee and her parents, Philip and Sayde, activities in the Jewish community.   She recalls how she wanted to be a journalist but could not go to college to study journalism because of the Great Depression.  She reminisces about her participation in Ballyhoo and the Jewish young adult activities in the South.  She describes her reaction to the ‘big city’ of Atlanta and exciting Jewish social life and compares it to the social life in Chattanooga, which was a small conservative town.  She recalls the dances and parties in detail.  She reflects on the relationship of the various Jewish sects in Atlanta and reflects that it was exactly like Alfred Uhry’s play, The Last Ballyhoo.

She remembers meeting Herbert Jerome Rosenberg, Jr. (Herb) at one of the Ballyhoo social events and their later marriage, when she was 18.  Elinor spoke about Herb’s time in the Navy in World War II after which they moved to Atlanta.  She discusses raising three children, her social life, which centered around the Standard Club, and her participation in various Jewish community organizations. 

She details her involvement in the art and theater world of Atlanta, during which she started her own art agency and her participation in the foundational years of the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum and the Atlanta Symphony. 

Elinor reflects on antisemitism in Atlanta, including at the various country clubs, and she discusses the downsides of Atlanta growth and development.  She also reflects on the impact of The Last Ballyhoo and Parade (both Alfred Uhry's plays) on the general community.

She talks about her divorce from Herb Rosenberg in 1981 and her very successful real estate career, as well as on her life as a single woman, including the challenges and fears she successfully faced.  She reflects on her personal growth during those times and the many personal changes she has lived through, including becoming an author.  She recalls her courtship and marriage with M. William (Bill) Breman, which was very happy but did raise yet more personal development issues relating to merging two families.

KEYWORDS

Ahavath Achim—Atlanta, Georgia

Alliance Theater—Atlanta, Georgia

American Jewish Committee

Angel, Philip Isaac

Angel, Sayde Rosenblum

Ansley Golf Club—Atlanta, Georgia

Antisemitism

Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (ADL)

Atlanta, Georgia—Growth and development

Atlanta, Georgia—Urban renewal and development

Atlanta Symphony

Art trade

Artists

Assimilation

Atlanta History Center—Atlanta, Georgia

Authors

Aviation, Crashes

Ballyhoo

Bangkok, Thailand

Birmingham, Alabama

Blonder Foundation

Blumberg, David

Blumberg, Janice Oettenger Rothschild

B’nai Torah—Atlanta, Georgia

Borders Book Store

Breman, Elinor Angel Rosenberg

Breman, M. William

Breman, Sylvia Goldstein

Breman, William

Broadway (New York City)

Brooklyn—New York City, New York

Browse, Borrow or Buy

Buckhead (neighborhood)—Atlanta, Georgia

Buckhead’s Men Shop

Carter, James Earl (Jimmy) (Governor)

Chatov, Constantin

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Cherokee Town and Country Club—Atlanta, Georgia

Christmas

Clubs

Cole, Johnnetta

Columbus, Georgia

Commerce Club—Atlanta, Georgia

Conductors

Courtship and marriage

Crime and criminals

Davis Academy—Atlanta, Georgia

Dyke, Dick van

Elopement

Elro Agency of Art—Atlanta, Georgia

Falcon

Feinstein, Abraham (Rabbi)

Fiedotin, Arnoldo

Fox Theater—Atlanta, Geogia

Frank, Leo

Frasier, A.D.

Freaknik

Gershon, Ruth

Glatt kosher

(Great) Depression

Haas, Joseph

Haight-Ashbury (neighborhood)—San Francisco, California

Harry Norman Realtors

Hart’s (restaurant)—Atlanta, Georgia

Hebrew—Language and instruction

Helman, Celie Angel

High Museum—Atlanta, Georgia

Hippies

Integration

Intermarriage

Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta—Atlanta, Georgia

Jewish-Jewish Relations

Jews—Relations with black

John, Elton

Johnny Escoe’s Patio Restaurant and Calabash Lounge—Atlanta, Georgia

Jubilee

Judaism, Classical Reform

Judaism, Conservative

Judaism, Orthodox

Judaism, Reform

Judaism, Traditional

Kashrut

Kaufman, Monica

King, Martin Luther Jr.

Kosher

Knoxville, Tennessee

Ku Klux Klan

Last Ballyhoo (play)

Lenox Square Mall—Atlanta, Georgia

Levine, Jay

Levy, Joel

Lipshutz, Robert

Loeb, Marcus

Maddox, Lester (Governor)

Magnolia Room—Atlanta, Georgia

Marcus, Billi

Marcus Loeb & Company—Atlanta, Georgia

Marist—Atlanta, Georgia

Meals on Wheels

Montgomery, Alabama

National Council of Jewish Women

National Honor Society

Neely, Rachel

Nemo, Carol Breman

New Orleans, Louisiana

New York City, New York

Northside High School—Atlanta, Georgia

Ochs, Adolph

Ochs Memorial Temple—Chattanooga, Tennessee

Orly plane crash, 1962

Parade (play)

Parker, Benjamin (Rabbi)

Parks, Jarvin

Paris, France

Peachtree Street—Atlanta, Georgia

Piedmont Driving Club—Atlanta, Georgia

Phagan, Mary

Planned Parenthood

Portman, John

Printing industry and trade

Public schools

Publishing industry and trade

Randolph-Lucas House—Atlanta, Georgia

Real estate agents

Real estate profession

Red, White and Maddox (play)

Religious education, Jewish

Restaurants

Rhodes Hall—Atlanta, Georgia

Rich’s—Atlanta, Georgia

Rodin, Auguste

Roller Coaster Ride (book)

Rosenberg, Herbert Jerome Jr. (Herb)

Rosenberg, Herbert Jerome Sr. (Dr.)

Rosenberg, Herbert Jerome III (Jerry)

Rosenberg, John

Rosenberg, Phillip

Rothschild, Jacob (Rabbi)

Rubenstein, Arnold

Schwartz, William B.

Schwob, Joyce Harrison

Sculpture

Sculptors

Self-publishing industry and trade

Selig, Cathy

Service Guild

Sinsimer, Cathy

Sisterhoods

Soldiers, Jewish

Soup kitchens

Standard Club—Atlanta, Georgia

Stock Market Crash, 1929

St. Luke’s Soup Kitchen—Atlanta, Georgia

Sunday school

Tallit

Tea dances

Temple—Atlanta, Georgia

Temple bombing, 1958

Temple Sinai—Atlanta, Georgia

Top Hat (parties)

Travel

Uhry, Alene Fox

Uhry, Alfred Fox

Vogue (dress shop)—Chattanooga, Tennessee

Weil, Jeanne Angel

Wein, Sidney

White supremacist groups

William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum—Atlanta, Georgia

Wits End Players—Atlanta, Georgia

Writers and writing

Woodruff Arts Center—Atlanta, Georgia

World War, 1939-1945

Yarmulke

Youth—Societies and clubs

 


 

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This website is supported by a generous gift from the Jerry and Dulcy Rosenberg Family in honor of Elinor Rosenberg Breman.

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