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