Arthur L. Benjamin

May 24, 2014 § 18 Comments

Memorial Day is a time I think of my dad, Arthur L. Benjamin. Growing up I sometimes wished for a younger dad, but never a different one. Since I started this blog I’ve learned some new things about him. I always knew he went into selling shoes because he loved people and loved to travel, but I didn’t know that he had worked as a shoe designer and stylist for Minnehaha Moccasins (a contemporary of Minnetonka) and Golo Footwear. Before entering into the family business he also loved photography and in WWII worked as a photographer for the Army. He entertained us with his Army stories and we were in awe. Stories about following Patton around in a jeep and dinners with King Farouk.

Dad Northern Africa

He told us he had enough experience for a lifetime in those 4 years. The government kept his negatives, but he made his own prints and they were kept in his green Army photo boxes up in our hall closet. The Yalta conference and the great pyramids. He was about to be sent back to the states to teach photo intelligence when he visited Cairo on R&R. When he saw the way the army was living there, the hotel they had taken over, the villas and suffrages he decided that’s where he wanted to be. Some things though were hard to get him to talk about, like being one of the first people allowed into Dachau after it was liberated because he was Jewish. He still remembered some Arabic and used it whenever he had the chance. My grandfather told us a story about how my grandmother knew where he was when she recognized the back of him taking a picture in a photo in The New York Times.

tents

Photo: Arthur L. Benjamin

Photo: Arthur L. Benjamin

Photo: Arthur L. Benjamin

Photo: Arthur L. Benjamin

Photo: Arthur L. Benjamin

Photo: Arthur L. Benjamin

Photo: Arthur L. Benjamin

Photo: Arthur L. Benjamin

Photo: Arthur L. Benjamin

Photo: Arthur L. Benjamin

Photo: Arthur L. Benjamin

A true Renaissance man he could play any instrument by ear and had a beautiful tenor singing voice. After the war when he lived in California he had his own radio show.

singing

violin

He taught us how to make pinhole cameras and when I was older he gave me his Yashica 2 ¼ which I still have.


Advertisements

Tagged: , , , ,

§ 18 Responses to Arthur L. Benjamin

  • awax1217 says:

    Amazing pictures. I am Jewish so I empathize at the seeing of the camps.

  • jackiemallon says:

    Your father was six men in one! You must be proud. Happy Memorial Day!

  • Harriet says:

    It is so nice to learn about your Dad. I may have met him once but it was a very very long time ago. I may think I met him because I have heard so many wonderful stories about him. Harriet

  • Anonymous says:

    Julia, This was excellent. Please, tell us more about your parents.
    David Smith, Claire’s father

  • Dolores says:

    Julia: Arthur sang in Spanish on a station in Baja California. He was called:Arturo Benjamin(Spanish “h” for ” j”} In Hollywood, he played polo with the stars, In the Middle East, Emperor Haile Selassie presented him with a ring. He road through the desert in a jeep, singing with Nelson Eddy. He and his buddies dressed as Arabs and convinced a newspaper in New York State that they represented the United Nations. The stories go on. I think he was representing his father’s business in California, but had to move back to the East when your grandfather’s health required his help. You’ll have to sort these out. Mother

  • Oh, Julia! What a beautiful nod to your father. More stories and photographs, please. I also thoroughly enjoyed your mother’s stories. Nelson Eddy? Goodness. Gracious. I especially love the two bottom shots. Well, heck, I haven’t been able to stop scrolling through the set. Very interesting. More please! He had his own radio show?! ~Theadora (I’m now off to listen to Nelson Eddy’s “Rose Marie” tune.)

  • Interesting story about your father. It is just a short piece of real WWII history. From numerous stories of that kind everybody can make their own portrait of that terrible time. Thank you for sharing.

  • Julia says:

    Thank you for your comment Alexander. I recently heard an interview on NPR with author Anthony Doerr. If you want to listen in it’s entirety here’s the link: http://www.npr.org/2014/05/25/314566791/world-war-ii-in-a-new-light-empathy-found-in-surprising-places
    I think what he said was important and relevant. “Right now we’re at this incredible time. I feel really passionately about this. We’re losing thousands of people for whom World War II is memory every day. In another decade, there will be nobody left — very very few people left — who can remember the war. And so history becomes something that becomes slightly more malleable.

    And I worry about how my own sons, my 10-year-old sons, are learning about the war, whether it’s through video games or the History Channel. Often, particularly politicians, they’re often presenting the war as a very black-and-white narrative. I worry that that’s dangerous. I think it’s important to empathize with how citizens come to a certain point, and you know, that might be a more meaningful way to try and avoid what had happened.” – Anthony Doerr

  • What a fabulous story. He literally made history.

  • Julia says:

    He was definitely a part of it. He told a story about the last time he saw FDR who knew him by name. FDR gestured for him to come over and they wouldn’t let him through. He died shortly after that. Thanks for stopping by.

  • gpcox says:

    Outstanding, Julia!

Post a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Arthur L. Benjamin at Women's Footwear in America.

meta

%d bloggers like this: