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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:           ARTHUR HEYMAN

INTERVIEWER:      ANN HOFFMAN SCHOENBERG

LOCATION:            ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                     FEBRUARY 9, 1996

                                FEBRUARY 15, 1996

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Arthur Heyman II was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1926. He was the son of Herman Heyman and Josephine Joel Heyman, who were also both born in Atlanta. He graduated from Druid Hills High School and the University of Georgia with a degree in Economics. He served in the United States Navy during and after World War II. During his retail career, he was first a buyer for Davison’s Department Store in Atlanta and later owned and operated Arthur’s Men’s and Boy’s Shop in southwest Atlanta. During his subsequent career in real estate, he developed shopping centers and Kmart Stores throughout the Southeast. He was a founding member of Temple Sinai in Marietta, Georgia. He and his wife Elsye Harriet Weil Heyman had two daughters: Pam Lavender and Terri Weil Heyman.

Scope of Interview:

Arthur discusses his father Herman Heyman and his mother Josephine Joel Heyman, and their families. He talks about being a third generation American, beginning with his paternal great-grandfather Herman Heyman who settled and raised a family in West Point, Georgia. He talks about his paternal grandfather Arthur Heyman whose law firm partner was Hugh Dorsey, the prosecuting attorney in the trial of Leo Frank in 1913. He recalls spending time at his grandfather Herman Heyman’s home, Pinehurst, which was on four acres north of Buckhead in Atlanta, Georgia, next to what became known as Tower Place.

He mentions his paternal grandmother Minna Simon Heyman’s family in New Orleans, Louisiana, including her brothers Dr. Sidney Kohn Simon and Leon Charles Simon. He discusses his maternal great-grandfather Martin Menko, a charter member and vice president of The Temple in Atlanta, arriving in Atlanta after the Civil War. He talks about his maternal grandfather Lyons B. Joel and his business, Bass Dry Goods, in Atlanta.

He discusses his father’s professional and civic accomplishments. He mentions his father’s part in the landmark legal case that ended the county unit system in Georgia. He talks about his father serving as president of The Temple.

He talks about his sister Elinor Heyman Wittenstein and his brother-in-law Charles Wittenstein, who was one of the three people involved in securing a posthumous pardon for Leo Frank in 1986.

He describes living on Oxford Road in the Druid Hills section of Atlanta during most of his childhood. He mentions friends and prominent neighbors who lived nearby: his friend David Goldwasser; the Moore family who owned Moore’s Ice Cream; the Shepherd family who founded the Shepherd Clinic in Atlanta; William Henry Duckworth,, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia; his friend Larry Gellerstedt; Eugene and Herman Talmadge, governors of Georgia; Bert Parks Jacobson, who is known as Bert Parks and the emcee of the Miss America pageant; Sam Massell, Mayor of Atlanta; his friends Sonny and Charlie Held, Jack and Bobby Brail, Alvin Ferst, and Virginia Herzog; the Montag family. He remembers attending Druid Hills Elementary and High School. He talks about joining the Top Hat Club in high school and its activities and members.

He talks about attending University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens during World War II. He recalls living in the Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity house. He explains that he left UGA to join the United States Navy and served on the U.S.S. Sierra after the war ended in the Pacific, then returned to UGA to complete his degree in business and economics. He remembers attending Ballyhoo in Atlanta, Falcon in Montgomery, Alabama, and Jubilee in Birmingham, Alabama. He recalls his careers after graduating: as a life insurance salesman; as a salesman and buyer at Davison’s department store in Atlanta; and as owner of three retail men’s shops in southwest Atlanta.

He talks about relocating his family to southwest Atlanta. He discusses his participation in SWAP, Southwest Atlantans for Progress, and efforts to stop white flight in the area. He talks about integration, black-Jewish relations, and leaders including Dr. Martin Luther King, Andrew Young, and Rabbi Jacob Rothschild. He mentions his activities in the Jaycees and becoming president of the West End Rotary Club.

He tells how he eventually closed his stores, moved to the north side of Atlanta, and began a career in shopping center development. He recalls his job with Abrams Industries and developing 56 Kmart stores. He discusses starting a real estate development partnership, TOH Associates.

He recalls joining Temple Sinai, a Reform congregation in Marietta, Georgia and serving as a president. He says The Temple was the only other Reform temple in Atlanta when Temple Sinai was established. He talks about its first rabbi, Dick Lehrman. He remembers his first trip to Israel led by Dr. Leon Spotts in 1976. He mentions others on the group trip including Stanley Harris, Allen Shaw, and Dan and Selma Burke. He tells how he continued to study Bible with the group after the trip. He discusses joining the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) and his involvement in and advocacy of Reform Judaism nationally and in Israel. He recalls the growth of multiple Reform Temples throughout Atlanta.

He discusses his daughters Pam Lavender and Terri Weil Heyman and their accomplishments. He talks about his grandsons.

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