Friday, May 2, 2014


I have mentioned before that I find it interesting when someone has a quote put on their tombstone. However, there is as much, if not more thought as to which photo of the deceased to put on their tombstone. How would they want world to remember them?  What sort of impression would they want to make upon people who stand before their tombstone in future years?  One day last summer when I was "mowing the rows" at Jewish Waldheim Cemetery I came across this photo:

I'm sorry for the glare, but on a sunny day it is very hard to photograph grave photos that have a glossy finish without picking up some glare.

It is obvious from this photo that this young man loved his violin, and wanted to be remembered as a musician.  The young man's name was Saul Feldman and he died December 25, 1926 at the age of nineteen. Let's see what we can "dig up" about Saul Feldman the violinist.

Saul Feldman was born in 1907 in Chicago to Julius Feldman (1881-1946) and Sarah, nee Shapiro (1890-1951).  Saul was the first child of Julius and Sarah.  He was ultimately joined by Paul Edward (1909-1968) and Esther (1912-1993).  Julius Feldman was a tailor of ladies clothing by trade.

Julius Feldman was born in Pinsk, Russia and came to the US in 1903; Sarah Shapiro was also born in Pinsk, and came to the US in 1901. Julius and Sarah met in New York but were married in Chicago about 1906.

The 1910 US Census shows the Feldman family living in Chicago, at 1939 W. Taylor Street.  On that site today is a parking lot for the University of Illinois at Chicago.  There were Julius and Sarah, Saul (Called "Sollie") and his brother Paul.  Julius' brother Max Feldman was also living with them, as well as his cousin Max  Lerman.  Max and Max were also in the ladies' clothing business.  

By the 1920 US Census, the Feldmans were living at 1535 S. Ridgway Avenue in Chicago.  The house that occupies that spot now was built in 1998, so it is too new to have been the Feldman's home.  The Feldmans have now been joined by their daughter Esther who had been born in 1912. 

Sometime between 1920 and 1926 the Feldman family moved to 1865 S. Avers in Chicago:

1865 S. Avers, Chicago
Saul Feldman died at Mt. Sinai Hospital on December 25, 1926 of peritonitis due to a strangulated hernia. He had been ill for only nine days.  

Here is his Death Certificate:

Here is his Death Notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune of December 27, 1926.  He was only nineteen years old:

Saul (Sol) Feldman was buried at Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois in Gate 8 - Chevra Shomer Hadas under a tree-type tombstone:

His tombstone says "Gone But Not Forgotten" and features a photo of him gazing lovingly at his violin:

His death certificate says that he worked as a musician for the Balaban and Katz theatre chain.  1926 was the height of the era of silent films and theater chains such as Balaban and Katz featured live orchestras to accompany their films.  While today we might not think of a theater orchestra as prestigious, the Balaban and Katz theaters were the "top of the line."

Here is a view of the audience from the orchestra section of the Roxy Theater in New York.  It is similar to the view that Saul Feldman would have had looking out from the orchestra area toward the audience in one of the Balaban and Katz Theaters:

In addition to his work for Balaban and Katz, Saul joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1925 as a violinist.  He was obviously a young man of great talent, which makes his loss that much more painful.

The untimely death of Saul Feldman was not the end of tragedy for the Feldman family.  Readers of the Chicago Daily Tribune from May 8, 1951 we greeted with the following article:

Saul Feldman, who only lived for nineteen years, spent his time on earth bringing beauty to the world through music.

May he rest in peace.

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