March 2, 2019 § Leave a comment
When most people think of Andy Warhol they think of his Campbell Soup cans or his Marilyn Monroe portrait, but when I think of Andy Warhol I think of his shoe illustrations and that he was the chief illustrator in the 1950s for I. Miller shoes when my grandfather was the General Manager. I like to think they may have worked together, but lately, I look at this shoe ad of one of my grandfather’s designs and I have to wonder did he illustrate it? The photos below were taken at The Whitney Museum of Art. The Warhol exhibit ends at the end of March. I was struck by how prolific he was as an artist and how at the time he was creating his pop art many didn’t think it was art and I assume there are some now that still don’t, but regardless of what you think about his art, he captured the 20th century creating a better time capsule for future generations than one could ever have imagined through his portraits, illustrations, and films.
August 12, 2018 § 1 Comment
My sister, former dancer turned television writer Liz Benjamin shared with me a video circulating on social media on how Freed pointe shoes are made. She reminded me that our grandfather, Ben Benjamin always wanted to inspect her point shoes, especially when she had switched from Capezio to Freed. She said he was fascinated by the workmanship. Watch the short video above and you’ll see why!
Pain, satin and paper towels: What it takes for ballerinas to dance on their toes Washington Post May 26, 2017
April 14, 2018 § Leave a comment
March 9, 2018 § Leave a comment
A couple years before I got out, before we moved into New York City. We talked it over, Ben Schwartz & I, about starting a factory out of town instead of NY. See? It was getting impossible to lead the business there because of the unions and their demands. Prices kept on going up higher, and new machinery was coming into place. So people out of town who made cheap shoes could make better shoes than what they were making with the new equipment. So we went. We went to Lynn, and Boston and St. Louis, Cincinnati. We went all around. When I came back we sat down and talked it over. I says Ben, after seeing all the towns, I think Lynn is the best place of the lot. A lot of the shoe factories have went out of business there. Not good shoemakers like we’ve got in New York, but they could be trained–taught to make better shoes. After I got out, Ben Schwartz did finally go to Lynn. – Ben Benjamin
All photos courtesy of The Library of Congress
February 1, 2018 § Leave a comment
Ben Benjamin: “Cause while he met me he didn’t know anything about me, so uh he went and spoke to his old boss about me, and a few other people. His old boss says to him, he says if you two can get along, he says you can be the biggest men in this town in the shoe business. He says you (Ben Schwartz) in the selling end of it and Ben running the factory. He’s a good factory man, designer – but you’ve got to learn to live with one another, and we got a long fine – When I first told him I wanted to get out, he says no, he wouldn’t let me. Now in all those years, we never had a fight. We never had an argument.”
December 20, 2017 § Leave a comment
For the record.
July 16, 2017 § Leave a comment
February 20, 2017 § Leave a comment
January 31, 2017 § Leave a comment
I wrote this a while back. My imaginary version of what it was like for my grandfather and grandmother when they arrived at Ellis Island. I’m horrified by the UN American cruel and inhumane actions of our President and his administration. You don’t appreciate what you have until you are faced with losing it.
The day that we arrived we were woken up by a loud commotion on the deck. I quickly dressed and climbed the stairs up to see what was going on. The passengers were facing one direction. They were crying and praying in languages I didn’t understand. We were finally here. I could see it in the near distance — The great lady of the harbor we had heard about. Rose was still sick. I hurried and went to get our things together and help her get dressed. We would be docking soon and I wanted to make sure we had all of our papers in order. When we arrived at Ellis Island we were separated. I never forgot the fear in Rose’s eyes as they took her away. She was put into quarantine and I wouldn’t see her again for 2 days. I now moved through everything quickly and was cleared to leave but had to wait for my wife. I didn’t know what I would do if they sent her back. They fed us and had beds set up in what was called the Great Hall. I became friendly with a guard who helped me get a message to her. On the second day she was released and we purchased our tickets for Pennsylvania where I had a cousin. We boarded the ferry to New Jersey and from there took the train to Harrisburg to start our new life in America.