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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:         BETTY NATHAN

INTERVIEWER:     LILS BETH YOUNG

DATE:                    SEPTEMBER 30, 1992

                            OCTOBER 4, 1992

LOCATION:            ATLANTA, GEORGIA


Biography:

Betty Weinstock Nathan was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1921.  She is the daughter of Jack Weinstock, owner of Weinstock Flowers.    Her father immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1906 at the age of 15 years.  He trained in floriculture in Germany.  When he arrived to the United States, he worked in a greenhouse in New York.  In 1909 he worked at the Pulitzer Estate summer home in Maine as the chief landscape architect and chief gardener.  He also worked for Wadley & Smythe, a New York florist, before coming to Atlanta at the age of 22 to manage the Nunnally flower shop.   In 1917, he started the family florist business, Weinstock’s Flowers.   Betty’s mother was Paula Mayer Weinstock.  They married in 1920, and Jack brought her to the United States from Germany. 

Betty married Morton Nathan in 1941.  Morton served in the United States Army at the Army Exchange in New York.  After returning from military service in 1946, Morton managed the Weinstock family florist business for 15 years.  After her husband’s death in 1980, Betty operated the family business until she sold it in 1989.   The Weinstock Flower Shop was an Atlanta business for 75 years.  The store front facade is now in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.

Betty attended Inman grammar school and Girls’ High School.   She attended Sunday school at the Temple where she was confirmed in 1936 by Dr. David Marx.   She was also married by Dr. Marx at the Temple.   Betty and Morton Nathan had one child, Lee Nathan Sheridan, and two grandchildren.    

Scope of Interview:

Betty Weinstock Nathan discusses her family’s florist business of 75 years, Weinstock Flowers.   She talks about her father, who trained in floriculture in Germany and immigrated to New York in 1906 at the age of 15.  She recounts that when he first arrived to the United States, he worked in a greenhouse in New York, and then worked at the Pulitzer Estate summer home in Maine as the chief landscape architect and chief gardener.  He also worked for Wadley & Smythe, a New York florist, before coming to Atlanta at the age of 22 to manage the Nunnally flower shop.   Several years later, in 1917, he started the family florist business, Weinstock’s Flowers, in Atlanta.  

She describes her father’s business as one of the first tenants in the Peachtree Arcade Building when it opened in 1917.   She remembers that he was unable to be involved with the synagogue because of the demands of the business, stating that his business was open seven days a week, many nights and holidays, with Easter being one of the busiest holidays.  She talks about how he would take orders by telephone and deliver flowers on his bicycle or truck.  She recounts that that her father had provided the flowers for the Gone with the Wind Atlanta premiere.  She tells also that her father provided flowers for the Ku Klux Klan.   She describes working in the family business with her sister, Carolyn, when she was a little girl, mainly taking orders over the phone. 

She discusses her mother, Paula Mayer Weinstock, who came to the United States from Germany in 1920 when she married Jack Weinstock.   She describes her mother as active with the Sisterhood at the Temple and recalls the Passover meals she cooked for the Temple.  She recalls one time she made one thousand matzah balls with another member of the Sisterhood.   She describes her as being the best cook and baker, and mentions that the first Sisterhood cookbook for the Temple was dedicated to her mother.  Betty reminisces about meals and desserts that her mother made and that she mainly cooked German foods. 

She discusses attending Sunday school at the Temple and being confirmed by Dr. David Marx.   She describes the Temple under Dr. Marx as being very Reformed [Judaism] and recalls the anti-Zionist movement.   She recalls that no bat matzvahs or bar mitzvahs were allowed.  She mentions that Dr. Marx was very close to her family and married her and her husband.  She mentions that he was very well-respected among the Christian population and that he helped heal the community after the Leo Frank case by uniting the Jews and Christians in Atlanta.   She also recalls Rabbi Jacob Rothshild and his involvement in the civil rights movement and offering a peaceful solution.  She remembers the bombing of the Temple and how the Christian community came forward to help.

She talks about growing up and having many Christian friends in the neighborhood.   She recollects that she may have gone on an Easter egg hunt or gotten an Easter basket.   She recalls that her family had a Christmas tree and exchanged gifts as her Christian friends did.   She states she knew that she was Jewish and describes Friday nights when her family would light candles and say a blessing.  She recalls her family celebrating Hanukkah and receiving presents on that holiday.  She recounts that when she was older, she belonged to the Standard Club and mingled mostly with other German Jews.   Most of her social life centered around the Standard Club, where she met her husband, Morton Nathan.  They were married in 1941.   She remembers being at the Standard club and hearing the radio announcement that Pearl Harbor was bombed. 

She discusses how that after the war in 1946, her husband worked in the family business.  She describes a very close relationship between her husband and her father.  After her husband’s death in 1980, Betty discusses how she operated the family business until she sold it in 1989.   She mentions that the Weinstock Flower Shop store front facade is now in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.

Betty and Morton Nathan had one child, Lee Nathan Sheridan, and two grandchildren.  She talks about intermarriage in her family.

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