September 30, 2014 § 1 Comment
I designed the shoes and at first I cut them too, and I uh ran the factory, handled everything. I bought the machinery, equipped the plant, set up the plant, laid out the plans. — I invented a lot of things.
Ben Benjamin on starting Schwartz & Benjamin.
September 4, 2014 § 4 Comments
Below is part of a conversation transcribed from tape recorded interviews with my grandfather I did as a child. He tells me about how he formed his partnership with Ben Schwartz of Schwartz & Benjamin, Inc. prior to leaving Sigman & Cohen, the first shoe company he helped start.
“There was a mutual friend of Mr. Schwartz’s and myself that knew both of us and uh he use to sell supplies that use to go into shoes like counters and shanks.
He says, you know Ben Schwartz, don’t you? I says yeah. Well he’s not very happy with his two partners, he wants to get out. And uh we got together and spoke the thing over. He heard about me and all I could do and he’d met me a couple times down at the club…He decided to break up with his two partners cause he couldn’t get along with them. One of them especially. He had fist fights on the floor. See?
Ben Schwartz was a bookkeeper originally and he was a terrific salesman like your dad.
So uh he went and spoke to Max Wallacher his old boss about me, and a few other people. Max Wallacher 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 (my grandfather) 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.”
Photos from a visit to Schwartz and Benjamin, Inc., New York City, 1972.
July 8, 2014 § 2 Comments
I’ve been spending a lot of time at the library these days looking through The Boot and Shoe Recorder magazines from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I’m hoping to match the dates to events in my grandfather, Ben Benjamin’s shoe career. Today I found a notice in the trade magazine from June 15th, 1952 mentioning his new position as the General Manager of I. Miller Shoes.
January 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
Then I created a little pump with a certain bow on it…and that’s what kept us busy…Well that little shoe, forget now what the name… we had a name for it…And I kept on creating new things and I’ll never forget one shoe I created. A step in, kind of an open throat, I remember crossing the instep…there was a piece. There was no, no going there but it had a square on one tag and I got a hold of some buttons, brass buttons, some with pearl, with a loop in the back see? And uh…I put 4 buttonholes and I made the leather different on one side to two of the other. I had been sick. I went down to Bermuda for a few days just when the style show was on. Ben Schwartz cabled me in Bermuda. I forget the name of that shoe now. He says the shoes gotten over big, very big. Now I had patented that design but first thing I knew everyone started to copy it. All Manufacturers. But we did a lot with it. You had to sue them and we didn’t have that much money. We were a small company, see? Cost you and dragged on for 2 or 3 years. By the time the trial comes up the style is all gone, over. Wasn’t worth it. After a while I stopped patenting styles. It didn’t pay. – Ben Benjamin